Disney Vs. The Video Store

The Walt Disney Corporation has been working on Video-on-demand solutions aggressively for years. Now, Disney is piloting their MovieBeam service in three US cities. MovieBeam is a method of delivering motion pictures to a customer using a set-top box with a 160GB hard drive and an antenna. The box is shipped to customers with 100 of the latest films on it, and each film can be chosen for “rental”, which opens a 24hr. window in which the customer can watch multiple times, pause, review, etc. The service charges $7/mo plus $2.50-$4 per movie. Movies are updated at a rate of about 10 per month. Here’s the wireless angle: Disney will be using extra bandwidth available from their TV stations (mostly ABC broadcasters) to update the content, and the set-top box is equipped with a TV antenna. The service is upgradeable to piggyback on a customer’s broadband connection. This is a very interesting effort to cut out the middle man, whether it be video stores, distributors, and cable companies. My question is: will customers be able to get more than Disney owned content (Disney, Miramax, ABC, ESPN, etc.) Update by Mike: Over on the non-wireless Techdirt site, we trashed this idea, when they first announced it seven months ago. There are a ton of problems with it, which suggest it will have difficulty catching on.

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