Carving a New Window for the Super-Rich Entertainment Consumer
How much would you pay for say, the 2010-2011 season-ending May episode of "Grey's Anatomy" -- in January? That is, right now.
Well, we don't really know whether that episode is actually completed. But if it was -- and somehow was available digitally or otherwise -- maybe in the future ABC might charge $50 for an exclusive viewing. (That is, if they could also keep everyone from blabbing how it all went down).
In much the same way, a new digital media company, Prima Cinema, wants to sell same-day theatrical release movies into consumers' homes for a mere $500. Oh, by the way you almost need to buy a $20,000 digital projection system -- somewhat akin to what movie theaters have now.
I guess this is a far cry from the $1.99, $2.99, or so movie rental you can get at your local Blockbuster Video. And that's just the point. It isn't for everyone. The $500 movie price is for the super-wealthy billionaire types -- those that discard big bathroom towels like tissue paper.
For years, even before HD video, rich Hollywood professionals could get initial releases of movies, theatrical prints to be seen in their homes. What Prima Cinema is doing is just an extension of this. Prima's backers include Universal Pictures and the venture capital arm of Best Buy.
From Prima's perspective, this is just carving out another digital entertainment window -- albeit a small one. It is targeting an initial 250,000 homes. Still, this activity goes hand-in-hand with a new effort to push Premium VOD -- where new theatrical movies could be seen 30 days after its theatrical release for $20 or $30. All this would slice more into the beleaguered DVD rental business (and regular VOD business) where movies can be typically seen 90-days after theatrical release.
So, why not TV? We are told media companies want to give consumers their entertainment "anytime, on any device". Networks such as CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox don't want to make Google TV deals. (The inside read here is: There's not enough money). CBS feels the same when it comes to Hulu.
Forget about cheap or free. Why not go in the other direction? Charge a lot more for TV -- and then see what happens. The "Glee" finale for $50 dollars, commercial free in February? TV consumers might come running and put down the Benjamins. Sometimes their entertainment craving has no economic bounds.