The top studios have agreed to rent "premium VOD" movies for $30 a pop. What does that have to do with the Web? Everything and nothing, it appears. On the news, NBC Bay Area writes: "Now Hollywood is trying to circumvent the Internet but at the same time offer its own video rental service."
As GigaOm explains, "The introduction of Home Premiere comes as Hollywood faces sharp declines in box office revenues and theater attendance" -- for which the Web is partially responsible. "By introducing a new VOD rental window 60 days after films have their theatrical release, Hollywood studios are betting they can capture viewers in their homes."
All participating in premium initiative, Warner Bros., Universal and 20th Century Fox "have already succeeded in fending off companies like Netflix and Redbox, forcing them to wait 28 days after a film bows on DVD to offer those titles for rent through their online services," reports Variety. "Those same studios wouldn't mind lengthening that window even longer and have considered pursuing such talks.
"The fact that Hollywood can try it illustrates why the movie business is faring much better against the digital disruption that has blown apart the music and newspaper businesses," MediaMemo explains. "Hollywood has conditioned moviegoers to the notion of 'windows,' which gives it the ability to charge different prices at different times in a product's life."
Adds MediaMemo: "Even if you have no idea what a window is, you know you pay a certain amount to watch a movie in a theater, a different price to buy it on DVD, a different price to rent it via Apple's iTunes, or a certain amount a month to get it via Netflix, etc. ... That flexibility is now the envy of other media businesses that are just now trying to get there."
Still "It remains to be seen if the new service will be able to compete with the growing number of online services," Softpedia writes. "Netflix may be the poster child, but Amazon and others are making good progress." Naturally, the effort is drawing plenty of criticism and vitriol. "Hopefully [the premium initiative will] shrivel up and die before it contaminates any other VOD offerings," writes Gizmodo. "I'd pay $30 to watch the funeral."