September 13, 2013

New Movie Releases May be Coming to Your Home

Despite efforts to curb illegal downloads, online piracy continues to be a huge expense for the movie industry, costing $3.3 billion per year, according to Screen Daily. Even as the movie industry delivers its product through a variety of methods — namely digital streaming through providers Netflix and Hulu Plus, as well as through on-demand rentals facilitated by cable companies — industry experts continue to seek out ways to reduce the prevalence of illegal downloading, thereby protecting their product.

Production studios Sony and Disney think they’ve found one way to cut down on piracy. If a current test run in South Korea works out, a new streaming opportunity may soon come to American homes.

The Big Innovation: Streaming Movies Before they Leave Theaters

Sony and Disney are breaking the mold for movie delivery practices with a new system that lets consumers stream movies before they leave the theaters. Instead of making movies available exclusively in theaters before they’re released on DVD, Sony and Disney are allowing those films to be rented through digital streaming options just a few weeks after their initial release.

In South Korea, where this new system is being tested, consumers were able to stream “Django: Unchained” three weeks after its initial release in the country. Disney did the same with “Brave” and “Wreck-it Ralph,” according to Venture Beat. And those rentals can be purchased for $9 USD — more than a typical video streaming rental, but still much less than the cost of taking multiple people to the movies.

Lowering Costs to Appeal to Consumers

A key factor in whether streaming in-theater movies takes off will invariably be cost. The $9 rental cost proposed in Sony and Disney’s new system is much more economical than a past attempt to stream new releases. Previously, DirectTV had a rental system that offered in-theater movies for $30 each, according to Fast Company. The new system, by contrast, figures to be much more attractive among consumers.

In order for consumers to take advantage, though, they’ll need Internet service capable of seamlessly streaming high-definition movies onto a TV. Fortunately, those plans are becoming more accessible to people who can’t or choose not to spend large amounts of money on Internet services. Providers like Hughesnet and other economical providers are rolling out services plans where the cost is determined by each household’s expected usage. As a result, the costs typically run lower — Hughesnet plans capable of handling movie streaming start as low as $39 per month.

How Will Movie Theaters Respond?

Even if the new system tests well in South Korea, it remains to be seen how a similar movie delivery option would be received in the United States. The big hurdle, according to Fast Company, is getting domestic movie theaters on board with the idea. Many movie theaters, for example, have 90-day windows of exclusivity during which time the movies they play cannot be made available through other methods. Those policies are designed to push movie consumers into theaters, rather than in front of their televisions.

So even if the system does prove viable and popular among consumers, the movie industry will still need to figure out how such services can be sold to the theaters themselves.

About the Author

Eoin Friel
Eoin Friel
I grew up watching JCVD, Sly and Arnold destroy bad guys, blow things up and spew one-liners like it's a fashion statement. Action is everything I go to the movies for and the reason I came up with this site is to share my love for the genre with everyone.

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