Now Blockbuster Wants To Sell You A Proprietary Box So It Can Sell You Streamed Movies

from the broken-record dept

Stop us if you've heard this before: a company wants to sell people a box so they can pay to download movies. Sound familiar? That's because plenty of companies have tried it before -- all with little success. Consumers haven't shown much interest in buying service-specific hardware so they can buy movie downloads from a single provider for a number of reasons: poor selection of movies, the cost of downloads, the cost of the hardware, download times, and lack of portability to name a few. What's amazing is that so many companies keep lining up with their own efforts, without ever really fixing any of the problems, as if time will solve them. Now, it's Blockbuster's turn, as it's announced a $99 box that can access $2 movie downloads. Blockbuster says its service is different than all the failed ones before it because it has "more recent" movies. Netflix's streaming service has 12,000 films and TV shows -- less than 10 percent of its collection, thanks to Hollywood licensing schemes. Blockbuster has a whopping 2,000. But they're newer, they swear. So not only has Blockbuster failed to solve one of the problems of these services (narrow selection), they've exacerbated it and are calling it a feature. Now that sounds like the path to success.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  •  
    identicon
    Nobody, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 4:30pm

    Success

    "Now that sounds like the path to success."

    Not!

     

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    zcat, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 5:17pm

    suits me

    I'd rather they try and sell everyone a $99 box than the current approach, that the make DRM and "Trusted Computing" mandatory in every general purpose computer so that it ends up only allowing the functionality of a $99 box.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 5:21pm

      Re: suits me

      Um, the problem with this is the same issue with cable boxes. If you can't buy a cheap one that does the same thing there's an issue. At least if precedence is anything to go by, and the US it is.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2008 @ 7:06pm

        Re: Re: suits me

        I think the point is they'd rather the DRM stuff be concentrated in a box you have to purposely buy as opposed to getting it in a computer where you have no choice because it'll be built in what could be necessary hardware (monitors, video cards, sound cards, etc.)

         

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    LJSeinfeld, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 5:32pm

    Defective by design

    Why would anyone want to spend extra money on this crap when there's a version of this (I don't care which one, it's out there) movie that's readily available, and FAR superior in every way on Bittorrent for free?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 5:50pm

    For those that are interested in more than knee-jerking

    http://www.2wire.com/index.php?p=437

    That's the source code. It is GPL, which means you can do whatever you want to the damn thing, and there will be mods for it possibly even commercial ones.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 5:53pm

      Re: For those that are interested in more than knee-jerking

      Oh and its running Linux which means more people than know it can get it to do whatever they want.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 6:18pm

    And these CEOs make a bazillion bucks because they know what they are doing ....

     

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    Iggy, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 6:52pm

    The online model that Blockbuster is pushing is inevitable. The only people who don't understand that are the people who have the most to gain - Hollywood. I consider Blockbuster one of the most poorly run companies out there (investing huge sums in brick-and-mortar facilities) and yet Hollywood still out-stupids them by a mile.

    Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix, and soon Blockbuster all have the online infrastructures to support massively profitable online distribution of digital media content. But they can't, because the luddites who run Hollywood are technical retards. Instead of embracing the opportunity, they try to block it and almost force people to the dark side - people who would pay if they could. Does Hollywood think that online digital downloading isn't happening anyway? Do they think that there is even a single popular movie that isn't available for download? Hollywood has *nothing* to lose and *tons* to gain by embracing these models. Even if Hollywood only benefits from people like me who *want* to pay for a decent download model, that's still a huge gain over today's business. Sure, people will keep stealing, but it will be a smaller problem than it is right now. Clueless idiots.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 7:09pm

      Re:

      "The online model that Blockbuster is pushing is inevitable."

      I dont think so.
      Who, in their right mind, would buy into the proprietary lock me into your product bullshit ?

       

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        Iggy, Nov 27th, 2008 @ 9:39am

        Re: Re:

        I didn't mean the proprietary box model, I meant the online distribution model is inevitable. Sorry, I should have been clearer.

        However, proprietary boxes are a near-term necessary-evil until somebody pulls off a god-box or a cable-card equivalent. If Blockbuster didn't provide a box, how would they get movies to the main-screen TVs? PCs? Nope, not enough people have PCs close to their TVs yet. TiVo? Nah, that's just a more expensive proprietary box. Cable or Sat boxes? Apple TV? Oops, that's the competition. Game consoles? Uh... which one? See what I mean? A proprietary box is needed in the near term. What's broken is the business model. The box needs to be free. AND, if I were Blockbuster, instead of just defending my business with a me-too online video player, I'd also embed the best damn Hulu player on the market. Apple is soooo close with Apple TV. If they would productize a version of Boxee and add a fully functional browser to that thing, it would get a LOT more notice. Doing so should be very simple for them... so that's what I want for Christmas!

         

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        neil, Nov 28th, 2008 @ 2:54am

        Re: Re:

        I have two words for you Ipod and Iphone
        buy the hardware and your locked into one service provider

        thats what these companies are wanting

        then once they have a large user base, thay can tell the movie corps what kind of revenue they are missing out on.

        streaming is the way of the future we just dont know when its going to be the present.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2008 @ 6:30pm

        Re: Re:

        Who, in their right mind, would buy into the proprietary lock me into your product bullshit ?

        You mean...ahhh... like Windows.......?

         

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Nov 26th, 2008 @ 8:29pm

    They Locked My Movie In A Box (and kept the key)

    I have Tivo which is, of course, better than the proprietary, single-vendor box described here, but one can buy lots of content and move it to a Tivo. For example, Amazon Videos, Disney movies, independent films, YouTube, and more can all be downloaded to a Tivo target.

    This week I rented "Who Killed The Electric Car" for $10 as an electronic download. I only wanted to watch it once, so the price was a little high, but meh. So now I "own" the movie, but it's tied to certain accounts, and certain hardware such that someday my "ownership" will probably vanish in some upgrade, bankruptcy, or such.

    But more importantly, as things go, I talked up the film the next day at work, and a colleague who often shares his DVDs with me asked me if he could borrow my film. Hmmm. Guess not, short of carrying my Tivo box to his house. I don't really own the movie: I can't lend it, I can't give it, I can't sell it.

    So I like the notion of one-off on demand rentals for a couple of bucks, but this weird notion the studios have of "buying" a locked-down DRMed film for download is about as legit as selling land in the Everglades.

     

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    crystalattice (profile), Nov 26th, 2008 @ 8:38pm

    "More recent" crap

    The irony is that the "more recent" movies are the ones people hate. They generally have lower earnings overall compared to older movies because they suck.

    There are the occasional winners like the new Batman movies but, for the most part, people are tired of the suckage that is Hollwood and the comic book/video game/sequel madness that gets put out.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 8:56pm

    The only model I can see working is an improved set-top torrent box that lets you play whatever you want.. with a mini-laptop and TVersity I can do this now.

    If they try and push a monthly fee on the box, people will figure out a way to unlock them or build an alternative box.

    If they try and push a subscription service to access the files, the service must compete with the existing free services already out there.. essentially running a higher end torrent tracker with guaranteed seed-boxes.

    The big problem with this model is that going through legal channels they will have their movies/music/etc later than existing and freely available providers, so I think they would have to focus on having the infrastructure to provide storage for tens of thousands of older movies you're less likely to find seeded or to find in the quality of a master ripper.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 8:58pm

    So If I buy the $99 box do I get 50 free "rentals"?

    No, I didn't think so.

    What makes them think I want to SPEND $99
    to GIVE (exclusively) THEM MONEY?

    Does it make popcorn? Does it have ANY utility
    other than their service?
    I cannot understand why they believe I should (or would even want to) pay ANYTHING for it.

    The money wasted developing & prepping for sale of this device and "service" would be better spent washing the windows & cleaning their stores, they are looking pretty seedy around Chicago.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2008 @ 6:35pm

      Re:

      What makes them think I want to SPEND $99 to GIVE (exclusively) THEM MONEY?

      A buch of 28 year old MBAs who cheated their way through school, and now are trying to sell their fake market research to Blockbuster management. What the hell...it worked for them in school. They got their degrees, didn't they?

       

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    Tyler, Nov 27th, 2008 @ 6:58am

    @AC 8:58

    Actually the $99 box comes with 25 'free' rentals.

    http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2008/11/25/blockbuster_settop_box/


    The unit’s only initially available in the US, where film fans can pick up the box for free with any advance $99 (£65/€77) rental of 25 Blockbuster OnDemand films. After your 25 films are up, individual titles can be rented for a minimum of $2.

     

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    niftyswell, Nov 27th, 2008 @ 8:23am

    How is this different from a comcast cable box or a directv box that also lets me buy recent movies to watch? The box I have is HD, costs 5 bucks a month to rent and I can run it right through my media center PC where I can save any movie I want to watch however many times I want. I can also DVR movies, cut out the commercials and save them too! That box only cost me 300 and allows me to far more than blockbuster's.

     

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    Rekrul, Nov 27th, 2008 @ 3:18pm

    This week I rented "Who Killed The Electric Car" for $10 as an electronic download. I only wanted to watch it once, so the price was a little high, but meh. So now I "own" the movie, but it's tied to certain accounts, and certain hardware such that someday my "ownership" will probably vanish in some upgrade, bankruptcy, or such.

    But more importantly, as things go, I talked up the film the next day at work, and a colleague who often shares his DVDs with me asked me if he could borrow my film. Hmmm. Guess not, short of carrying my Tivo box to his house. I don't really own the movie: I can't lend it, I can't give it, I can't sell it.


    Which is why I'll never "buy" anything from these DRM crippled services. I'd consider paying for good quality DRM-free AVI files, but not for crap that's tied to a specific piece of hardware. I'll stick to downloading the scene releases.

     

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    Jasen Webster (profile), Nov 28th, 2008 @ 8:59pm

    Entertainment On Demand

    It would make more sense for BlockBuster to have a channel in my Entertainment On Demand with Charter Cable. Then I could just order the movie from it. Sure, cable is their competition, but why not form partnerships so they both win?

     

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    Chris F, Nov 29th, 2008 @ 3:59pm

    Awesome, another way to help me go over my 250GB comcast broadband cap.

     

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    Nitrous, Nov 29th, 2008 @ 9:45pm

    A little education could help

    Here is my take. You take an educated person that is completely ignorant on a subject trying to sell it to a bunch of other ignorant people. Why do I put it that way? Most of us in here know better, what we seem to forget about is those out there that don't. The only result you could possibly have is a stupid product that the ignorant consumer doesn't know how to use anyway and doesn't realize how useless it really is. Granted, it still doesn't work, but the ignorant consumer that keeps buying into it is what keeps these companies think they have a chance. I can't tell you how many people I run across in the IT field that don't even understand what the difference between HDTV and digital TV is. Again, they are ignorant enough to assume that I know about it just because I deal with computers. Even though those fields are merging, they really are still not one and the same. The biggest problem we seem to face is education. Even the smartest most productive business person in the world may still not know shit about how to change a spark plug.

     

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