Warner Green Lights Speedy VOD

Don't look now, but one of the windows just got a little smaller. You know - the windows. The time lag between the theatrical release of a movie, and its other releases. How many times have you heard Uncle Ernie say, "Why the heck should I shell out thirty bucks for a movie and popcorn, when I can wait four months and rent it for ten?" Why indeed? Asking the same question, Warner Brothers has decided to release movies for video-on-demand on the same day as their DVD/BD release. Good news for you. Bad news for Blockbuster.

Hollywood has devised time-tested ways of mining the utmost profit from a film. For example, a movie might be released theatrically, then a few months later it is released on DVD, then video-on-demand, downloads, HBO, broadcast television, etc. Generally, pay-per-viewing and downloading from places like Apple TV came weeks after the DVD release.

Now Warner has changed that. Their flicks will appear as VOD and downloads simultaneously (same day) with the DVD release. Companies like Comcast and Apple thought that was a good idea. Blockbuster was not amused. Of course, Hollywood doesn't do anything without checking the receipts first. Warner has been toying with this for several months, and found that DVD rentals dropped a bit, and DVD sales actually improved. Moreover, Warner saves some excess cost from disc manufacturing and distribution. That's because services like VOD are much more profitable for the studios.

This is another step toward the movietization of the web. Look for more and more titles online, and look for them showing up sooner and sooner. And who needs big theaters, surround-sound systems and sticky floors anyway, when you have a 2-inch screen and earbuds, right? -Ken C. Pohlmann

Warner Brothers