by Carlo Longino

Amazon Takes A Baby Step Towards Fixing Its Movie-Download Store

from the at-least-it's-in-the-right-direction dept

Amazon finally launched its long-expected video download service a few months ago, and it was the equal of all the other services in the market, which is to say it's pretty unappealing. All of these services are riddled with the same problems, but standing above them all is that they make it way too hard for an average user to watch a movie they buy or rent on their TV set. This is a problem that's pretty obvious, but movie studios' desire to lock down their content as a pointless measure against piracy trumps it, and indeed pretty much everything else. Amazon, however, has announced a deal with TiVo that will let its users access content they purchase from Amazon's video service, Unbox, on their DVR. This sort of arrangement makes a lot of sense and is definitely a step forward, but it's not a huge step. It's only helpful to TiVo users, and then just a small set of those, since it won't work on TiVos through DirecTV, which is about two-thirds of TiVo's subscribers. It also still doesn't change the perception that users are paying roughly the same prices as for DVDs (Amazon charges $14.99 for movie downloads), but getting a less valuable product in return. That's the underlying problem, of which the inability to watch movies on a TV is a significant symptom, and this "pay more, get less" strategy simply won't work.

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  1. identicon
    jason, 7 Feb 2007 @ 11:17am

    What both Amazon and iTunes both need is to have online movie rentals at a decent price say no more than $1.99. If Redbox can rent movies for $1 for a physical DVD, I would think the same could be done online and I would rent way more movies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Kirby (profile), 7 Feb 2007 @ 11:42am


    Well, Amazon does actually already rent movies for $3.99 and TV Episodes for $1.99. This is a little bit too high, but that's just a pricing problem. The technology that you both are wishing for is actually already implemented today, and isn't subtle on the unbox.amazon.com site.

    Of course, TiVo users are the least likely to be buying TV Episodes - it's very rare that something goes wrong and I miss an episode of a show I really care $2 about. But I could see paying $4 for a new movie occasionally, if it comes fairly quickly to my TiVo in high definition. I'm already paying for my NetFlix account, so it's really not efficient to do this often, but if friends are over, and we all want to watch Little Miss Sunshine or something, sure, it beats driving to the video store.

    If only it were $2 for a movie rental... but the $14.99 pricepoint is a bit of a red herring for this, I imagine the vast majority of Tivo purchases will be rentals.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Jason, 7 Feb 2007 @ 12:16pm

    I honestly don't understand the pricing of online movie rentals. (I forgot Amazon had rentals). With Blockbuster renting new movies for around $4.69 (at least in my area), you would think that without the cost of running retail stores and the physical DVDs, rentals would be much cheaper.

    Now we are starting the see DVD rental kiosks that rent movies (mainly new releases) for anywhere from $1 to$1.50 per night showing up in McDonalds restaurants and various supermarkets. I would still think the costs of running these kiosks that give out physical DVDs and need to be maintained, would cost more than online rentals to operate.

    Therefore, I don't quite get why online DVD rentals shouldn't be at least that cheap. I personally can't wait until Redbox kiosks (or any other brand for the same price) comes to my are as I have been renting movies at a local Mom & Pop rental store for about $3 per movie and I look forward to the $1 rentals off new releases. Although I would prefer the ease of online rentals, I will happily drive a few blocks to my nearest McDonalds (they own Redbox) or participating supermarket to save $3.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    jason, 7 Feb 2007 @ 12:20pm

    I am referring to saving $3 from the $3.99 at Amazon not the from $3 I am spending at my local video store

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Feb 2007 @ 2:11pm

    Re: Re:

    I have been a TiVo user for 7 years, and I certainly a possibility to purchase shows.

    If the TV shows are released fast enough I could cancel my cable. I would have to watch 35 cable shows to justify keeping it.

    Hmm, maybe not, there are still live events on cable, but I hate the cable company right now because of switched digital video.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    CAM, 8 May 2007 @ 9:21pm

    Re: Re:

    Hi, my name is Carlos and I am not a computer literate (at least not much) I would appreciate very much if you can explain me when you said that "The technology that you both are wishing for is actually already implemented today..." Thank you for your time. Regards,

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Brandon, 10 Nov 2007 @ 11:58pm

    Just not good enough.

    It bugs me to rent a movie online for more then it cost me in a video store, and I won't do it. Also, so many of the online systems seem to hold back on the big new releases to be available for rental and they want you to buy it... that is, if they even have it. Usually I get so disappointed by this, I bitch about it the entire way to the video store, where I have to go to get the movie.

    I pay a monthly flat rate to my local video store, and I can rent two movies at a time and exchange them as much as I want, and I don't have to worry about late fees. I'd be willing to flip over and pay the say amount monthly to a online system to accomplish the same thing... but I ain't paying more for it, when it is actually costing them considerably less to provide the media this way.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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