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Television Media Entertainment

Amazon Opens On-Demand Video Store 247

Posted by kdawson
from the bandwidth-caps-could-be-a-problem dept.
g0dsp33d writes "Amazon opened the doors on its new video on demand service. Some promotional videos are free and the quality seems to be good. You can preview the first 2 minutes of any of the offerings. Episodes of TV shows cost $1.99 and movies are $14.99. Movies can also be 'rented' for 24 hours for $3.99. Purchasing allows download to two machines and unlimited viewing online. The service claims 14.5K movies and 1,200 TV shows including pre-purchasing the rights to upcoming seasons. Considering alternative, ad-based, free online video sites such as Hulu, is Amazon's service too pricey?"
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Amazon Opens On-Demand Video Store

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  • by dword (735428)

    Considering alternative, ad-based, free online video sites such as Hulu, is Amazon's service too pricey?

    Yes.

    • by Ctrl-Z (28806) <tim@t i m c o l eman.com> on Friday September 05, 2008 @01:25PM (#24890389) Homepage Journal
      The correct thing to do is to tag it "yes".
    • Stupid DRM (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Once I buy it, I should be able to download it all I want. If my hard drive crashes, I should just be able to re-download it.

      If bandwidth is a problem, then charge me a one cent redownload fee. I could cope with that. But having to pay 15 bucks again is stupid. We live in the digital age, and these vendors really need to get with the program.

      • Amazon is currently charging $.15 per gigabyte downloaded (unless you move terabytes of data every month) for its web services, so a 1 or 2 GB movie should really cost about $.30 or so.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mr_matticus (928346)

        Once you buy a DVD, if your DVD gets eaten by a wayward snapping turtle, you have to buy it again.

        Only about $1 of the purchase price goes toward the actual cost. Like the materials cost of a DVD, the bandwidth cost of the download is really incidental to the price.

        Same thing with any other random purchase, whether it's a screwdriver or a dinner plate. If you lose it or destroy it, you have to buy another one.

        That said, it would probably be a popular feature to market downloads such that your purchase rec

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Here's a somewhat longer answer: of course it is.

      If you watch 2 hours of TV a night, that's almost 8 bucks a night on amazon. Over the course of a month, that's something like $240 just for TV. Are they out of their minds?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dpf44 (1212006)

      $2 for a TV show? I'd pay that if the quality is as good as you'd be able to download from TPB (ie. hidef - ~1GB for 45 minutes of video).

      However, like most of these useful ideas, I can't get it in the UK. I can see no mention of this service on Amazon.co.uk. and the .com site blocks access outside of the 48 contiguous states.

      Ah well, free wins!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Korin43 (881732)
      Considering you can only download it on two computer, all of their videos should be considered "rentals".
    • by Endo13 (1000782) on Friday September 05, 2008 @03:48PM (#24892707)

      And this demonstrates exactly why the MPAA is struggling against piracy. $14.99 to DOWNLOAD a movie that comes crippled with DRM? Are they really that disconnected from reality? (Yes, that is in fact a rhetorical question.)

      Sadly, I guessed this is exactly what they would try to force if/when someone actually tried to offer such a service. And anyone here on /. could have told them it will be an abject failure.

      If they actually want to be relevant in the digital age, they will need to sell their products at real market prices. Which would probably be about $8-10 for hot new releases, $5 for most movies, and $1-2 for older bargain-bin dross.

      At $15 each they won't even sell enough to pay the electric bill for running the servers.

  • Mac! (Score:2, Funny)

    Yay I can watch on my overpriced Mac! Unlike Netflix. :(

    • Re:Mac! (Score:5, Funny)

      by wattrlz (1162603) on Friday September 05, 2008 @01:47PM (#24890719)

      Yay I can watch on my overpriced Mac! Unlike Netflix. :(

      Or you could sell your overpriced mac, buy a computer that can view amazon and netflix; and still have money left over for a pony.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Darundal (891860)
        The big thing for me is that you can view (online at least) in Linux.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by LandDolphin (1202876)
        Mmm a Pony, Now, I'm hungry...
      • by popeye44 (929152)

        OMG! Ponies???? Really!!!!! :D

  • Wrong question! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bigtallmofo (695287) * on Friday September 05, 2008 @01:10PM (#24890161)
    Considering alternative, ad-based, free online video sites such as Hulu, is Amazon's service too pricey?

    This should read:

    Considering open access to ad-free shows and movies via BitTorrent, is Amazon's service too pricey?

    I firmly believe that if content owners and distributors charged a reasonable rate to download a TV show (maybe 10 cents), piracy would be a thing of the past. For 10 cents, very few people would choose black or gray market distribution channels. Of course, that would have the negative effect of MTV's Cribs not being quite as exciting. Instead of 5 Bentleys and 2 Cadillac Escalades they'd have maybe a Ford Taurus and a Honda Accord.

    Or we can just continue with this charade. Personally, I'd like to start charging people for looking in my direction. If you look at me without paying me, it's stealing. Because I say so.
    • Re:Wrong question! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mweather (1089505) on Friday September 05, 2008 @01:21PM (#24890325)
      Torrents take time. On-demand video does not. You can't really compare the two anymore than you can compare TV with a DVR with on-demand TV.
      • Torrents take time. On-demand video does not.

        Torrents, I can save, copy to a laptop (or a portable device), etc. DRM'd video, I can't.

        And are you saying the on-demand-ness of it is worth $15/movie and DRM?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by abigor (540274)

          The availability might be. There are many, many movies not available via BitTorrent, which tends by its very nature to only offer what's currently popular.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Peeet (730301)
        I live on the west coast and I can download via torrent and start watching a TV episode 15 minutes before it starts airing on cable / broadcast out here. All of the "on-demand" services I've seen don't even put the show up until the next day.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ByOhTek (1181381)

      > Considering open access to ad-free shows and
      > movies via BitTorrent, is Amazon's service too
      > pricey?

      When compared to that, anything is too pricy, if you ignore the potential legal hassles. This is for people who want to minimize their worry about the legal hassles (and would prefer to provide some compensation to the artists).

      > I firmly believe that if content owners and
      > distributors charged a reasonable rate to
      > download a TV show (maybe 10 cents), piracy
      > would be a thing of the p

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by maxume (22995)

        If the tv shows and movies were ~$0.25-1.00, it wouldn't give me a real big belly ache to buy Amazon bucks $10 or $20 at a time, mitigating the credit card transaction costs.

      • Re:Wrong question! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by iniquitous (122242) on Friday September 05, 2008 @01:47PM (#24890721)

        I pay $16.99 a month for Netflix's 3 at-a-time plan, enabling me both to rent as many physical copies of movies and TV shows in a month as I possibly can and watch an unlimited amount of their online content as I desire. I could pay $8.99 a month and achieve near the same thing--only giving up 2 at-a-time physical rentals.

        Yes, Amazon's service is too expensive.

      • Re:Wrong question! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by roc97007 (608802) on Friday September 05, 2008 @02:42PM (#24891563) Journal

        >> Considering open access to ad-free shows and
        >> movies via BitTorrent, is Amazon's service too
        >> pricey?

        > When compared to that, anything is too pricy, if you ignore the potential legal hassles.

        Not at all. For example, $19 for a CD is too much. I will not purchase any CD for that price. I'm more likely to pay $6.99 for a CD, (used) and even more likely to pay 89 cents per song for the songs I want.

        With a few minutes research, I can almost always find the title I want for a price I'm willing to pay. For the stuff that's not available for a reasonable price, wait a month or so and it pops up on the used market. (This assumes you can resist the temptation to be first on your block to own a new title.)

        Under those circumstances, piracy is unnecessary and unappealing because the price is in line with the customer's perception of value. When price is forced to be substantially above perceived value, piracy becomes more attractive. I firmly believe it's not about balancing the potential of legal hassle against getting something for free, it's about paying a fair price. And $19 for 9 songs, 7 of which are filler, is not a fair price.

        There's always going to be a hardcore group that pirates music for the challenge or excitement or just because they can. That yields good stories for the press but (going out on a limb here,) doesn't have a measurable effect on the bottom line. When the rank and file think they're being skinned, (...and perception is everything...) that's when piracy is more likely to happen in monetarily significant numbers. Especially since the hardcores have developed all those nice tools in the meantime. :-)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bwcbwc (601780)

        Well, let's see. If a 25 minute TV program is $1.99, then a 150 minute movie should be about $11.99, and a 100 minute movie should be about 9.99. So the movie price is definitely unreasonable. $1.99 for a TV show seems to be about the going rate. When you compare it to 0.99 to 1.99 for a 4 minute song, it seems pretty reasonable. As a consumer, though, I think reasonable would be about 25 to 50 cents for a song, a buck for a TV show and 7 bucks for a movie. You can't make it cheaper than an actual movie tic

    • Re:Wrong question! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gnick (1211984) on Friday September 05, 2008 @01:32PM (#24890525) Homepage

      If you think that the asking price to view/read/listen to copyrighted content is too high, then don't pay it and don't view/read/listen to it. But don't try to justify your illegal activities because you're trying to help the industry revise their business model. The truth is that you want what they have to offer, you don't feel like paying for it, and you don't want to admit that you're a criminal. The way to combat their broken business model is boycott, not copyright infringement. Piracy tells the industry that you want what they have to offer but want to avoid paying.

      In short, pirates are the reason that we all have to deal with DRM BS. Pirates are not Robin Hood - They're just people too cheap to pay for what they want and too weak to just go without it.

      Arrgh! Pirates with mod points off the port bow! Ack - I've been struck with a -1 Troll!

      =)

      • Re:Wrong question! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday September 05, 2008 @02:03PM (#24890947)

        In short, pirates are the reason that we all have to deal with DRM BS. Pirates are not Robin Hood - They're just people too cheap to pay for what they want and too weak to just go without it.

        So, when hollywood paid congress to enact retro-active copyright extensions, essentially stealing from the public domain, that's OK because hollywood is not too cheap to pay for what they want, eh? But when little guys take the matter into their own hands instead of paying off congress they are just a bunch of gutless bastards.

        Yeah, you've been drinking the kool-aid alright.

        • Re:Wrong question! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gnick (1211984) on Friday September 05, 2008 @02:34PM (#24891445) Homepage

          So, when hollywood paid congress to enact retro-active copyright extensions, essentially stealing from the public domain, that's OK because hollywood is not too cheap to pay for what they want, eh?

          That was pretty sleazy. I guess that, as long as you're downloading material that was re-copyrighted under the Copyright Term Extension Act [wikipedia.org], it seems just fine. But if you're downloading anything made in the last 50 years, that argument seems pretty unrelated [wikipedia.org].

          But when little guys take the matter into their own hands instead of paying off congress they are just a bunch of gutless bastards.

          I never said that they were gutless, although I fail to see how it takes any amount of guts to download a movie. I'd respect someone much more who had the conviction to just refuse to deal with the industries they're objecting to rather than partaking of their wares, refusing to pay, and trying to puff themselves up as a "little guy taking the matter into their own hands". You're not striking back at the industry - You're expressing interest and encouraging them to inflict DRM on the rest of us. I also never said they were bastards - I know nothing about the average pirate's parental lineage.

          Yeah, you've been drinking the kool-aid alright.

          No - I really dislike the RIAA/MPAA and they get very little of my $$ - Most of what they put out isn't worth what they're charging for it IMO. But it does sound like you're deluding yourself into thinking that you're somehow striking back and standing up for the little guy when in fact you're just too cheap to pay for what you want and too weak to just do the right thing and go without it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by geekoid (135745)

            Downloading isn't copyright infringement, distribution is.
            They like to call it 'piracy' and lump them all together, but read the code. Distribution is what it is about.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Oh, really? I already paid for their (MPAA) stupid content. See, I used to use CD's. Mostly for data backup, these days mostly just for new Linux installs and n-Lited Windows builds.

            A few years ago I found out that I was actually paying the fucking MAFFIAA for every single CD - even though I don't ever listen to their crappy music they were charging me for it.

            Fuck that. If they're going to charge me for content I don't use, I'm going to help deprive them of revenue streams.

            I don't even listen to/watch t

      • Re:Wrong question! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Friday September 05, 2008 @02:06PM (#24890989) Journal

        If you think that the asking price to view/read/listen to copyrighted content is too high, then don't pay it and don't view/read/listen to it. But don't try to justify your illegal activities because you're trying to help the industry revise their business model.

        It's not about what I think, or what GP thinks. It's about the fundamental reality.

        So long as the industry treats piracy as an evil to be fought, they will lose. As soon as they start to treat it as a competitor, they might have a chance -- because believe it or not, it is possible to compete with free. You just have to provide better value.

        Pirates are not Robin Hood - They're just people too cheap to pay for what they want and too weak to just go without it.

        Apple cites an 80 gig iPod as holding 20,000 songs [apple.com]. At $1/song, that's $20k to fill. That's more than a year's salary, at minimum wage. And they make 160 gig iPods.

        So no, it's not that they're cheap. It's that there's more available, more readily, and we have broader musical tastes -- and as a result, the perception of any one song has changed.

      • wrong answer (Score:4, Insightful)

        by speedtux (1307149) on Friday September 05, 2008 @02:28PM (#24891339)

        In short, pirates are the reason that we all have to deal with DRM BS.

        Bullshit. Companies don't implement DRM to combat piracy, they implement DRM to limit fair use. Without DRM, within a decade, there would be so many perfect, legitimate copies in the market that they couldn't make any more profit.

        Of course, the real reason we are in this mess to begin with is because copyrights have been extended far beyond the 15-20 years they should be; that's only been possible because of massive bribery and corruption of Congress. Turn back the clock on copyrights and most infringement goes away automatically.

        The way to combat their broken business model is boycott, not copyright infringement.

        It's not clear that non-commercial sharing should be copyright infringement at all. We pay a blank media tax (yes, even in the US).

        The dirty secret is that we're supposed to pay for the same content over and over and over again. That's what we need to fight.

      • Ya cause boycotting it really sends a message. If everyone did that then the movie industry would just assume less people want to watch movies not that their prices are too extreme. There have been almost no changes to pricing since the emergence of online media. With pirating you at least give them solid numbers in terms of people interested but just not paying their prices. Now if they were to drop that price they could easily see that the number pirating their content will go down and the number buying g
      • by infinite9 (319274)

        The truth is that you want what they have to offer, you don't feel like paying for it, and you don't want to admit that you're a criminal.

        I seem to remember a story about a group of people dressed as indians illegally throwing tea into Boston harbor.

        My point is that just because something is illegal, it's not a foregone conclusion that it's immoral or unjust. I wonder how people would respond if tickets to the Louvre in Paris were $1000 a head. Many would stop going. Many would protest. And many would

      • Is it really criminal if I give it back? According to the rule of four-fold compensation, I pay my proper dues. Everything I download from Bittorrent, I make sure to reupload above a 4.0 ratio!
    • Considering alternative, ad-based, free online video sites such as Hulu, is Amazon's service too pricey?

      I firmly believe that if content owners and distributors charged a reasonable rate to download a TV show (maybe 10 cents), piracy would be a thing of the past. For 10 cents, very few people would choose black or gray market distribution channels.

      Would $0.10 per show pay for disk storage, network bandwidth, accounting work to collect all those piddly amounts? It would probably be a money loser. iTunes $10-$20 for a complete TV show season is about right.

    • I firmly believe that if content owners and distributors charged a reasonable rate to download a TV show (maybe 10 cents), piracy would be a thing of the past.

      I don't think you're going to get as low as 10 cents, but I do think the pricing on TV shows is stupid. For one thing, assuming this is like iTunes, they'll let you rent movies, but make you buy TV shows. Sure, the TV shows are cheaper, but they still seem to be justifying the $2 per episode with the idea that you're buying it, and you get to keep it. But with most TV shows most of the time (with only a few exceptions), I just want to watch them once and be done with it.

      I don't mind DRM so much when the

  • Too Expensive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Real Veritas (933288) on Friday September 05, 2008 @01:11PM (#24890175)
    $15? Please. I'll just buy the DVD.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mweather (1089505)
      But then you can't copy it to a computer. If you do, you're breaking the law making actually legally purchasing the media moot.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851)

        That's not true. The DMCA copy protection provisions don't apply to items with negligible security and format shifting isn't a form of distribution anyways.

        It's mostly just FUD to scare people into over paying for multiple copies of the same product.

        • The DMCA copy protection provisions don't apply to items with negligible security

          Citation needed -- because I was under the impression that they do.

          and format shifting isn't a form of distribution anyways.

          It's not the distribution -- not the copying itself that's illegal. It's the the act of cracking the DRM that's illegal.

          • by hedwards (940851)

            In the DMCA itself: http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap12.html [copyright.gov]

            Â 1201. Circumvention of copyright protection systems2

            (a) Violations Regarding Circumvention of Technological Measures. â" (1)(A) No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title. The prohibition contained in the preceding sentence shall take effect at the end of the 2-year period beginning on the date of the enactment of this chapter.

            (B) The prohibition contained in subparagraph (A) shall not apply to persons who are users of a copyrighted work which is in a particular class of works, if such persons are, or are likely to be in the succeeding 3-year period, adversely affected by virtue of such prohibition in their ability to make noninfringing uses of that particular class of works under this title, as determined under subparagraph

            My understanding is that that is why it's legitimate. But of course IANAL so I may have misunderstood that. But it would be somewhat questionable if the DMCA were capable of over riding fair use provisions in such a way.

            So, I might have had the details a bit off, but it's definitely not supported in the DMCA itself. And I don't have the access to case law to look there as well.

    • Re:Too Expensive (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SlashdotOgre (739181) on Friday September 05, 2008 @01:35PM (#24890565) Journal

      It's too high for just a download service, but if they sent me the actual DVD in the mail and provided me this download immediately, I'd definitely consider it. Heck, I'd probably even put up with the download's DRM as long as a physical DVD comes in the mail.

      As an American, I like immediate gratification and I'm lazy, so getting immediate access to the material I bought and not having to rip the DVD myself (even if my rip won't have DRM) would definitely motivate me to buy the DVD for Amazon over "Best" Buy, etc.

      Even if there's a slight premium, eg. Best Buy charges $12 for just the DVD that I'd need to drive to the store for and Amazon charges $16 for the DVD in the mail plus an immediate download, I'd consider going with Amazon. Of course by that logic, their download would be worth about $4 to me which actually sounds about right. Basically I think what they're charging for rentals should be what they charge to permanent downloads.

      • "but if they sent me the actual DVD in the mail and provided me this download immediately"

        That is actually a godo idea. I could see people catchign onto this. You get to watch the movie asap, and you get a nice dvd for your collection.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MMC Monster (602931)

      Or 3 movies from the Walmart $5 bin. (The movies in the bin are often 5 years old. For new movies, the Walmart price is ~$15.)

      Or an unlimited number of movies "rented" from the local library for one week each. (Okay, I'm only allowed 3 movies at a time. That's still enough to get me through a weekend.) I've watched the complete Sopranos from my local library and will start on Deadwood next.

      I know that when I need to get rid of some of the DVDs in my collection, they'll end up in the library for others

    • I would consider it if it was a 1080p video then it would be a good deal. More convent then going blue ray. This is the same reason why I am not big on Apples offering even with Apple TV. Because it only goes to 720p. Ill wait for 1080p Apple TV or some other way to view High Def Movies.

  • If one of your top priorities is using your Internet connection for video downloads, and your ISP happens to be Comcast, you may find the 250 GB usage cap to be a bit uncomfortable...
    • by Vectronic (1221470) on Friday September 05, 2008 @01:28PM (#24890453)

      swap priorities with obsessions you might be right, but 250GB's is about 60 DVD's a month... so one movie (at DVD quality) a day, still leaves about 125GB's for anything else which should also be plenty.

      Nevermind that I don't think they are offering that high of quality, if you say 700MB's a video, thats 350-ish movies, a month

      If you are surpassing 250GB's a month and you arent running a business (even most of those), you've got some serious packrat issues, I dont think ive ever passed 100GB's a month...

      • Nevermind that I don't think they are offering that high of quality, if you say 700MB's a video, thats 350-ish movies, a month

        Say we do the math with Blu-Ray -- most movies have been single-layer, if I remember. So assuming you take the entire disc, that's 10 movies per month, or 5 if they use the full 50 gigs.

        Now, given the realities of the bandwidth available, I think the roughly 4 gig Blu-Ray rips (at 720p) are reasonable quality. So that's a bit better -- around 60, a month, assuming you do nothing else.

        The real question is, when the former becomes a reality (as full dvd9 rips are today), will Comcast up their cap (and availab

      • Ah, but you're not thinking long term like the guys at the cable company. Suddenly the product they're offering is threatening to canabalize their bread and butter - selling you 100 channels you don't need to get the 5-10 shows you actually watch every week, plus Pay-Per-View. If Amazon sold an "access pass" that gave me subscriptions to the shows I like and I payed a set fee, and they sent it to me in HD, I'd cancel my cable right away. The wall between content producers and content consumers is droppin

    • If each downloaded movie is encoded at 720p at 2.5 Mbps, thats nearly 8 hours of movies a day, or 4 rentals. 4 x $4 x 30 = $480/month in rental fees alone.

  • by Silverlancer (786390) on Friday September 05, 2008 @01:13PM (#24890209)
    At the price they're charging, they should be offering something on the order of 1 megabit H.264 or the equivalent. Yet I opened one of the free episodes they had up and the quality was almost as bad as Youtube. One could argue that the prices were reasonable if the video was nearly as good as DVD, or at least as good as broadcast, but this is ridiculous.
    • The CSI episode I got back when Amazon Unbox was just launched and they were giving away a show for free is ~2.3 megabits/sec WMV. It seems odd that they would decrease the quality, except if the videos were meant for mobiles.
    • At the price they're charging, they should be offering something on the order of 1 megabit H.264 or the equivalent. Yet I opened one of the free episodes they had up and the quality was almost as bad as Youtube.

      I opened up a couple of movies, and I thought the quality was excellent. Of course, I'm also on a 24 megabit (measured speed) cable connection. The service appears to measure your connection speed and adjusts the quality accordingly. It's possible either your connection is slow or the service measu

    • Right now, in another tab, I am watching an episode of Heroes, and it looks pretty damn good to me. I think for the convenience factor, the lack of commercials, the price seems fair to me.

      Especially, since I don't watch a lot of TV. For the occasional viewer, especially one with a Netflix account, this puts another nail in the Network Television coffin.

    • by ahoehn (301327)

      the quality was almost as bad as Youtube

      Urm. Not really. On my connection, it looked about as good as Hulu's "480p" option - considerably better than YouTube. I'm guessing the quality of your content - to a certain point - is dictated by the speed of your connection.

    • by ccguy (1116865) * on Friday September 05, 2008 @01:38PM (#24890599) Homepage

      I opened one of the free episodes they had up

      At least you could. I'm outside the US so it didn't work for me.

      I no longer buy DVDs since I'd prefer blu-ray, but definitely don't want to wait for stuff to be released here (I don't want dubbed audio, or translated boxes, etc) and they refuse to let me buy outside Europe. Region-free blu-ray players are incredibly expensive, and because firmware updates may be needed, they may stop working completely.

      So basically there's stuff I cannot get *at any price* (even if I'm willing to put up with shipping, import tax, etc). However, when the news talk about piracy they say "this was downloaded a million times, and the estimated lost revenue caused by piracy is XXXX". Fuck off.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mweather (1089505)
      Broadcast is actually higher resolution than DVD.
      • by compro01 (777531)

        Where do you get that? Unless you're referring to OTA HDTV, standard broadcast is the same 720x480 NTSC resolution as a DVD.

  • by been42 (160065) on Friday September 05, 2008 @01:15PM (#24890231) Homepage
    Is this just a new press release for a rebrand of Amazon Unbox, the badly-named service that I have been using with my TiVo for a long time now? I checked the site, and I don't see anything to indicate otherwise. As long as they don't change the way it works, then I'll be happy. If they added some new features, then I might be even happier.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Albanach (527650)

      Well it is Unbox but with live streaming. You no longer need to download the file to watch, and Flash should open up the number of architectures supported.

      Of course Unbox would let you watch almost as soon as you started the download if your connection was fast enough. My experience lately has been that my connection is fast enough and amazon's isn't.

      Hopefully they've fixed that if the plan to offer live streaming, or perhaps that's the reason others are mentioning the poor video quality. They might have us

    • by Otto (17870)

      Yes, it is indeed Unbox. All they did was to make streaming copies of all their content available.

      Once you begin streaming anything, click the link up top that says "Your Video Library" and you'll find the streaming video you just watched added to your list. From there you can download it or send it to your Tivo, with a somewhat nicer interface than previously.

      I do wish that you didn't have to start streaming the videos first though to make the purchase work. A simple selection of "stream" or "download" or

  • if it means when I watch shows, I NEVER AGAIN have to see that new Microsoft commercial with Jerry Seinfeld.

    Before seeing that monstrosity, I thought Bob was the worst thing we ever did.

    KHAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNN!

  • They are competing against Apple and the Apple business model. They are priced at exactly where Apple is priced at.

    And if I'm not mistaken (and if I am, I'm sure someone will correct me) Amazon doesn't put DRM on their downloads. I already use them for music, and I may start using them for video.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Rentals are for 24 hours, and purchases can be used on two computers. Sounds like some sort of DRM to me.

    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday September 05, 2008 @01:23PM (#24890357)

      And if I'm not mistaken (and if I am, I'm sure someone will correct me) Amazon doesn't put DRM on their downloads.

      You're mistaken. Amazon encodes all their video with Windows Media DRM.

    • by mweather (1089505)
      "And if I'm not mistaken (and if I am, I'm sure someone will correct me) Amazon doesn't put DRM on their downloads" It's kind of hard to limit downloads to two computers without using DRM. The honor system isn't an effective copy protection mechanism.
    • Apple has a whole cult who thinks that they do no wrong. Amazon has to sell to people without a application that is built specifically for a huge line of media devices. Aren't these prices just as high as Apples?

      Why would anyone migrate from a service with very few problems at no cost savings?

    • They are competing against Apple and the Apple business model. They are priced at exactly where Apple is priced at.

      If they were competing, wouldn't it be cheaper rather than exactly the same price? Not that I have any further evidence of it, but rather than competing it looks more like collusion to me.

  • By which I mean, where's the DRM?

    And I'm guessing this won't work on Linux?

    • by yuna49 (905461)

      I just tried watching a preview of "Eyes Wide Open" for a sample and, no, it won't run on Linux. The site complains about my version of Flash Player, but even after updating to version 9.0.124.0 from Adobe via yum, I get the same error. This is a free sample using Flash, not even the program itself.

      Of course, the error says I have the wrong version of Flash, and not the wrong operating system. For people using EEE PCs and other new, Linux-based devices, they'll be spinning their wheels in puzzlement.

  • If I didn't recently learn that I have bandwidth caps. Thanks Comcast!

  • Accessibility... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Friday September 05, 2008 @01:27PM (#24890433)

    Considering alternative, ad-based, free online video sites such as Hulu, is Amazon's service too pricey?

    It's not just price that matters. This new service is for "Mac or PC", and the expiration means that it will be DRMed. This means it won't run on my Linux system. Hulu is far from perfect, but it runs just fine on Linux, so it's what I use to catch up on the occasional show.

    Of course, most of the population doesn't care about Linux per se. However I've learned over time that "will it work on Linux?" is a good proxy-question for "will it be easy to get it working?" If it doesn't run on Linux, then it invariably means that on Windows it's going to require a custom download, non-generic codecs, DRM, etc. So basically it's going to be a pain for just about everyone.

    At the end of the day, something like Hulu (where a friend can just send you a link for a show; where you can just open it up in a browser; etc.) is more easily accessible and thus preferable (in my opinion).

    (Note: I fully agree that the video quality of something like Hulu isn't that great... but that's orthogonal to the accessibility question. A direct download of a generic video file is by far easier for everyone than a DRMed file and a custom playing app.)

    • by zsazsa (141679)

      This means it won't run on my Linux system.

      It runs just fine with Linux (I've tried it). It's Flash-based. The expiration just means that Amazon won't serve the stream to you after a certain amount of time.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Can I view Hulu, or Amazon's video for that matter, while sitting on my couch with my xbox? If not, neither of them are really accessible.

  • by Udigs (1072138)
    I don't know what kinda monitor the poster above is using, but on my screen it looks awesome. I went in expecting youtube. It looks great. Furthermore, I am an avid Hulu user. The video quality on Hulu is crap. But it's free, so you know. Seriously. Check it out, then decide.
  • And, like Hulu, the service is region-locked. Bittorrent 2 : everyone else 0.
  • by VEGETA_GT (255721) on Friday September 05, 2008 @01:31PM (#24890515)

    See this is where those fun download caps come in to play. Say Rogers standard 45$ a month internet is caped at 65 gigs a month. But I want to start doing more multi-media online like this my internet works against me. I thought the future was suppose to be cheaper unlimited faster internet so movies I can rent through the internet and smiler stuff can be done.

    I mean internet providers working against what the rest of the world are trying to do with the internet. All these great new tools/services become pointless as my internet provider puts a cap. Now the 250 gig cap of comcast is not to bad but its still a cap, in Canada even on expensive services its a 95 gig cap which my family blows through monthly as there are 6 computers online at my place. So when will services like this be actually usable because with caps its easier to go and rent the dam thing.

  • Do I really need another streaming web video site that doesn't work with all the other streaming video sites out there, and one that's limited to streaming-only?

    To it's credit, it is compatible with my TiVo. But if I want to watch, oh, say, Batman, The Animated Series, I'll set up a Season Pass for it and get it for free, rather than pay 2 bucks per episode.

  • by moore.dustin (942289) on Friday September 05, 2008 @01:32PM (#24890529) Homepage
    I believe the most important element in this may be how the actual service itself performs. Is the service easy to use and understand? Is the established Amazon user base going to be willing to give it a shot? Will the previewing, along with their peer-rated review system add value to the service? Will the quality, sound and technical requirements hinder the service in any way?

    Amazon can absorb some losses if their initial price point turns out to be too high. They will still gain the valuable data they need to improve the system for an update, which could include their price reductions for the service. These sorts of offerings are nearly impossible to get right the first time out. Amazon has the position and resources to take a risk now and still come out ahead in the long run if they are able to adapt to the consumers wants and needs.
  • not all are $15 (Score:5, Informative)

    by qw0ntum (831414) on Friday September 05, 2008 @01:35PM (#24890569) Journal
    Doesn't seem like all movies are $15. I looked for Full Metal Jacket and it's $3 to rent and $10 to buy. And, that particular movie, like so many others, isn't available on Hulu.

    This is clearly a step in the right direction. I hadn't paid for music for several years before Amazon MP3 came out. I always said I would pay for a service to download that was simple, fair, and appropriately priced. Now, I've purchased four or five albums in the past month. I've been waiting for an equivalent service to be available for videos; maybe this will be the one.

    Of course, I'm fortunate in that I have easy access to a Windows box to watch all this on... I guess Linux support is just too much to ask for. :\
  • Who is gonna pay for these? Not only are they overpriced for *downloads*, they'd be overpriced for actual physical DVDs.

    This thing is doomed.

    What really worries me is that this is the future. The MPAA would *love* it if they could do away with physical media, and instead sell us (at full price, of course) DRM'd downloads that we can't tranfer to another machine without paying a fee. I mean, that's their wet dream. Well, it's Stage 1 of the wet dream, anyway. Stage 2 is a full-on pay-per-view system for eve

  • price (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kurtis25 (909650) on Friday September 05, 2008 @02:14PM (#24891139)
    At the movie kiosk in the local grocery store and fast food stores I can rent 4 movies for 29 cents more than amazon charges me for 1 movie. Even with the price of gas I'll stick to that system.
  • Note to slashdot editors, Never ever create a question that can be answered yes or no if you want discussion :D

  • Subscriptions (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Friday September 05, 2008 @02:36PM (#24891475)

    I know there are people who want a subscription-based music service; but I think what the typical person really wants is a reasonably priced subscription-based television service. After all, (unlike with music) that's really what we've been already doing for the past 60 years. For most TV shows, one viewing is all anyone ever wants - so why attempt to charge us $48 to watch a season of a show that, once viewed, we'll never watch again?

    I do think this is priced too high, as well. As others have noted, I can buy a DVD movie for less than what they're charging for online delivery.

  • Why is there not an On-Demand (DirecTV, Cable, etc.), Download Service (Amazon), etc. that will offer movies for the same price that Redbox does at my local Walmart or Grocery Store?

    I can go rent one from the Redbox vending machine for $1.00/day, yet download prices are still artificially inflated to match the old fashioned video store price of $3.99? This is ridiculous.

    If Redbox or anyone else offered a download service for $1.00 or even $2.00 the total volume of rentals would go way up.

    I don't mind grabb

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