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Web movie downloads trailing rental and cable

The immediacy of the web is one of its principle strengths. However, right now there seems to be a very ‘sound bite’ oriented mentality associated with the web as a means of media delivery.

Or at least that’s the findings of a recent ABI Research document:

“Watching short clips is the rage on the Web, but when it comes to full-length movies, many consumers would rather stick with cable and satellite TV offerings and video rental stores,…”

Might this have something to do with the relatively low speed of internet connections? I thought that was an obvious omission from the article:

“The biggest reason for not downloading movies was satisfaction with existing cable and satellite TV services, as well as DVD rentals and purchases. Nearly half of the online consumers interviewed by ABI said they would never purchase a movie online for download, because they were happy with the status quo.”

As surprising as DVD rentals sound as a viable alternative to the immediacy of the web, if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Even if you walk to your local DVD rental store, it’s still going to be quicker than waiting for the movie to download, if not less expensive.

I can’t find a link to the actual ABI Research document, which is annoying, but then again, I haven’t looked too hard! But then this closing admission sort of stopped me in my tracks, so to speak:

“ABI based the report on a Web-based October survey of 1,725 online U.S. adults.”

I’m reminded of an old saying around these parts: “One Swallow does not a summer maketh.” Which is to say, one month’s-worth of data among less than 2000 people is not enough to be considered a trend.

Over the long term, the web is going to be the medium to rule all others. In time, the web will be the media and the medium.

Evidence of this can be seen within the R&D labs of the likes of Apple, who see the internet (technically more accurate than the web) as the delivery mechanism for a variety of media offerings:

“Apple, a company that is new to the video delivery business, has never been involved with the traditional carriers, and has instead elected to assist their customers with viewing iTunes-purchased video content on their HDTVs (high-definition televisions) with a product code-named ‘iTV.’ This Apple technology is almost certainly seen as a threat to the status quo by the cable carriers.

As a result of products like the iTV, the traditional carriers are exploring ways to retain their customers – keep that cable service alive and generating revenue.”

And who can blame the cable guys?

So over the long-term, we’re looking at the smarter cable providers looking to either offer something truly compelling that can’t be easily replicated via the Net – at least not for the time being – while they plan their next move, which will ultimately encompass the Net.

Or, the smarter money is on the cable networks getting Net-savvy sooner rather than later and then getting in on all of the benefits usually associated with early-movers / early-adopters to new markets and new technologies.

Right in the mix is Motorola, who seem to be the ‘go to guys’ right now, but even they must be thinking they’re being asked to trick out a one-trick pony…

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

4 replies on “Web movie downloads trailing rental and cable”

Short and distinctive.. the climax. – not so deep thoughts : p

The content for web video is what intrigues me. (And I intend to write some posts on this myself eventually.) Though I definitely recognize myself and friends, seeing how slow(ish) internet speed, comfort of existing tv, cable and dvd is almost a must for watching anything of greater length (for the average user, non geek). I’m also guessing that most people consider video clips that are more than 5 minutes, long (regarding online content). And it’s about being able to squeeze as much of the juice and spicy stuff into as short time as possible. Personally I’m thinking, you’ll want to relax properly for a full length movie, just having a sofa infront of your tv, instead of the more work-focused chair infront of your computer screen, makes a big difference.

“Personally I’m thinking, you’ll want to relax properly for a full length movie, just having a sofa in front of your tv, instead of the more work-focused chair in front of your computer screen, makes a big difference.”

Couldn’t have put it better myself.

If it’s a question of desk chair or sofa, slobbing around on the sofa wins hands down any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Once you take the computer as an activity out of the equation and use the computer just as a delivery / storage device, the package sort of puts itself together…

Although the XBox can be used to download and watch movies on your TV, from a marketing perspective, it is still a video game system first.

When a product is made for a specific purpose, it usually sells more and works better. This is why I anticipate the success of Apple’s iTV.

Video games consoles are funny things.

It’s harder to sell three items when one will do, so it’s down to how that device handles those other services.

However, for me, I don’t really want to watch movies from my games console.

But then again, if I had one, I might not buy a separate DVD player.

So who knows…

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