Self-Destructing DVDs Again?!?

from the make-it-stop dept

What is it with business models that have failed ridiculously in the past that new companies feel the need to bring them out again every few months and claim that they’re somehow revolutionary? We’ve seen it repeatedly with in-store download kiosks, but in close second place has to be the concept of the “self-destructing DVD.” It started many years ago with Divx (not to be confused with today’s Divx, which is totally different), an effort by Circuit City to offer self-destructing DVDs so people didn’t have to return what they rented. That failed. As did Disney’s attempt at self-destructing DVDs. Then some indie movie tried to promote itself with self-destructing DVDs and the fact that no one knows what film suggests how well that went over. Last year, some other company thought it had come up with something new when it, too, announced self-destructing DVDs, though we haven’t heard from them since.

So, why is it that some new company thinks suddenly this is a market worth getting into? alex writes in and wonders why any company would try to beat this dead horse once again, as yet another company prepares to offer self-destructing DVDs. The big difference this time? They’re using more of a Netflix style model where they’ll send you the DVDs, but you never have to send them back. It certainly has more promise than Disney’s efforts at directly selling the DVDs that self-destruct, but historically people have shown that they’re not that comfortable with being put on the clock with content that expires. Also, it will be interesting to see if the company can actually sign up enough studios to have enough selection to make it worthwhile. Besides, with a fee noticeably higher than Netflix or Blockbuster’s subscription plans, why would anyone sign up for this service that seems to give them less freedom as to when they can watch their DVDs? The only advantage is not having to mail the DVDs back, but who knew that was such a pain point?

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Comments on “Self-Destructing DVDs Again?!?”

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Dima says:

Several Benefits

If the selection was right, I’d do it!
Clean DVDs – I’ve had netflix send me scratched up dvd’s – these are promised to be new. How new they will actually be- only time will tell.

No waiting – if the service is able to quickly produce these self distructos – and they claim new releases on release date – then that infamous “Long Wait” status on netflix goes away.

Scheduled deliveries – Their pricing plan is for a weekly delivery of two DVDs rather than a “max you can keep” and promises non-expiring content (limited by 3 plays).
To be honest, the only reason I got the 6 DVD plan from netflix is because I wanted to not have to wait the 2-3 day turnaround to get more movies.
I also always have a few movies that will just sit there for a few weeks. You think you want to watch a heavy drama but in the end don’t have the energy. Why not use this model and save ’em

Lastly – free beta for those who sign up to their email list. Why the heck not?

acousticiris (user link) says:

The *idea* is good, the *execution* of the idea ne

On its face, the idea is great. Here’s how it would work if it could work:
The Destructable DVDs would have to be the same price as rentals (on average, not the $3.99 that blockbuster charges per-rental) — probably around 1.00 to 2.00 in price. This price would offset the fears that would immediately ensue that the disc would just “not play” because it self-destructed too fast.
The discs would have to have a reasonable shelf life, not destructing for at least 7 days — even better would be destructing after several playbacks, rather than a time-period.
They’d have to be *very* reliable before destruction.

That being said, the technology doesn’t exist and the distribution model doesn’t exist. The last time I heard this concept, the discs were said to be at the $7.00 price point. That’s — on average — what I pay for a non-self-destructing DVD (used). If you’re going to eliminate my ability to resell, then it better make up for it in cost.
And there’s the crux of it. The self-destructing DVDs are seen more as an alternative to purchasing a *new* DVD by the studios, but compared to rental by consumers. The price points never match up with the customers expectations and probably will not for the near-term future. I’ve got to believe the manufacturing cost of the “self-destructing DVD” are higher than that of the normal DVD. Perhaps they’re even high enough that a $1.00 – $2.00 / disc fee is too low just on raw materials.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The *idea* is good, the *execution* of the ide

If you cared to read, Disney does have the technology.

It works like this:
The product has a shelf life of one year, unopened. Once you open the package, you have 48 hours to watch it before it self-destructs.

Also, manufacuring a DVD costs only a few cents, manufacturing a Flexplay disc costs only a few cents more. Almost all the money that is charged for a DVD is for content, shipping, packaging, and so on. Most of it is content.

The Flexplay disc is designed to replace rental stores completely, never was it intended to compete with the cash-cow of existing permanent DVD sales.

I would turn to this alternative in a heartbeat, if they offered it where I lived.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Ugh

If you read their actual website, they say their DVD’s go into your normal “recycle” bin. Granted, this is not as good as a real download service but recycling can cure some of the garbage woes.
PS – there are already biodegradable media. Nothing wrong with that.

Yes, there is something wrong with that. Waste is waste, whether it degrades in a short time or not. It requires energy to produce the DVDs, this energy needs to come from somewhere (and you can bet it’s not solar).
Recycling plastic is either subsidized by the government or paid for by you. This tells us that recycling plastic from an economic POV is not great. From an environmental POV it is almost as bad. Cleaning/sorting/chopping/melting (current methods) plastic uses more energy, time and money than making it from scratch. Recycling metals is the only thing that actually uses less resources than producing the product originally. We can see this easily when we take a bag of cans to the recycling center. They will actually pay us for them, instead of the other way around.
To summarize my point: it does not matter if the DVDs are biodegradable or recyclable, they are still a waste to just throw away.
Netflix is a much better solution as it is not much more difficult to put the DVD in the mail (and many Americans could use a couple of walks to the mailbox). Then the DVD can be re-used over and over again until it is lost or does not play any more. Only then does it get replaced.

Spyvie says:

Sounds great if they still work and they're cheap

Brinr em on, as long as I can still rip them to my HDD using DVD Decryptor.

$2 or $3 for the rental, then watch it off your HDD till your bored with it, or re-encode it to fit on a single layer DVDR, or burn it to a DL DVD.

I love Hollywood Video?s new $2.49 24hr rentals, I only need the disk for about 15min?

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

Actually, I loved Divx and was a strong supporter of it. I bought at least 2 Divx a week at the time. Now, with Walmart’s $5.50 bin, it wouldn’t make sense at the same price Divx was at then, but for the time, it was a good price compared to the price of regular DVD’s. Perhaps the reason they are “beating a dead horse” is because ultimately the idea isn’t half bad, it’s the execution that needs to be tuned properly.

Now, if they charge $5 per self destructing DVD, then it’s not going to work with stiff competition from Target and Walmart, but if it’s $2 or something, I’d buy it.

Alpharocker (user link) says:

Re: a movie?

Atul, did you just make a post where you didnt say anything? You just encouraged others to say something instead? Was that helpful?

Anyway, the fanciest thing i could think of would be to break the “cd”s up into little pieces and then glue the little pieces of “cd” to wire that is tied to a hanger or something like that and then hung from the ceiling, or something along those lines. Put it over a crib and its a mobile. Add a light bulb and its an uber-modern chandelier. Heat the plastic of the “cd” slightly and then press a diamond into each piece (or cubic zirconia for your diy-ers on a budget) for the ULTIMATE in fancy.

Regarding the actual issue, there is a grocery store near me that sells disposable DVDs, and a gas station that a friend worked at had one too. If I understand correctly, they come vacuum packed, and exposure to air is what destroys them. So, as far as I know they sit in the vending machine for weeks(?) and are fine, they should be fine for a few days in your home as well, until you open them. I dont see why you couldn’t (illegally) copy the discs. And if they really are recylable (and the packaging too!!!) that may be the best arrangement on a few levels.

Anonymous Coward says:


1) that wouldnt be a streaming dvd, it would simply be a movie streamed over the net
2) I think you forget how relatively slow even a nice cable connection is. A dvd’s max capacity is around 4 or 5 gigs (not sure how many of em are dual layer) – so figuring how much space a movie of decent length will fill up the disc, I gotta ask you this – do you feel like waiting a half hour just for a movie to buffer, and if it screws up or you close the browser or proprietary browsing program, you have to start ALL OVER – considering how relatively few people have a cable connection compared to even dsl, there’s gonna be a big difference, and then there’s the people stuck on dial-up – no way in hell a sizeable portion of em wanna wait for a movie on dial-up, so they go to Netflix

mark askey says:

Divx did not self destruct.

For the record (because I am tired of hearing it explained incorrectly)
Circuit City’s DIVX format did not self destruct. It was a rental format. The DIVX Dvd would play once after purchase and you had to purchase another rental or pay the “purchase” price if you wanted to watch it all the time. The price of the DVD was $4.99
Divx DVD’s only played on Divx compatible DVD players which connected to DIVX ever now and then to update subscriptions.
An idea that failed but not as poorly as self destructing DVDs.

Andrew Pollack (profile) says:

Well, it worked out well for 3M

The were some really bright folks working on what they hoped would be a new kind of glue that was super strong and reusable at the same time. It would bond, but could also be left open. Magic stuff.

Problem with it was that it was tacky but not really able to form a real bond of any kind. Basically, it would come apart at a slight pull without even damaging paper.

Most companies would call that failure. 3M called it “Post-It Notes” — the rest is history.


hautedawg says:

DIVX worked for me

I liked DIVX, it worked for me, the cost was right and if I liked the movie, I could “unlock” it. You could watch it as many times as you wanted in a 24 (or 48?) hour period. I still use the old DIVX player as a back up in the rec room and it works great. It was a predessor of NetFlix and beat the hell out of LackLuster. No rental returns, no waiting and a decent price. So..all you tech snobs think again…

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