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A Workable Downloadable Movies Business Model? 365

sane? writes "Following on from the music industry attempting to push up the cost of iTunes music downloads comes word that Sony is looking take robust control of the pricing for legal movie downloads - to the tune of $8 a movie. What is the maximum acceptable price that slashdot readers would give to different types of downloadable product, taking into account their perception of its true value to them? How can sensible pricing and workable business models be reconciled?"
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A Workable Downloadable Movies Business Model?

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  • iTunes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:33AM (#13949647) Homepage Journal
    Well, if Sony is going to be trying to install rootkits onto my computer, they could not pay me to download their movies. Screw-em.

    However, barring malware distribution by major corporations, I believe that Apple has showed the industry exactly the business model to follow for media distribution, so, provided a fair and reasonable DRM policy like that of iTunes, I would be more than happy to pay $5/movie, but not more than that. Come on now, the industry has the opportunity here to make far more money off of not just recently released movies, but following a long-tail model [], they could make obscene amounts of money off of older movies/content that is no longer available or being distributed. Think about all the old classic Sci-Fi movies or classic movies that are only available on TCM on occasion? What if you really could watch them "on demand" rather than waiting for them to rotate through. How about old TV shows?

    Being able to watch movies at home on your computer or on your laptop on the plane is not just a convenience that they should be charging premium costs for. It is a mass market scheme to drive insanely high revenues if the price point is made attractive. If they were smart, these movies would be made available more cheaply and the "premium" experience could still be had at the theatre.

    So, for an industry that already is sitting on media that is no longer generating significant income, they have the opportunity to create potential huge revenue streams for media already bought and paid for, so why gouge the customer? It is a surefire recipe for slower adoption, delayed revenue streams and potentially failure.

    • Re:iTunes (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ThunderDan ( 788062 )
      Think of it in terms of how much entertainment you get out of one song compared to one movie. If we were buying the song from iTunes, would the worth of the movie be only five times that of one song? The length of the movie alone should warrant more than a five-times increase.
      • Re:iTunes (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        yeah but you will listen to that song many times, and the movie you may only watch once.
      • Re:iTunes (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Narcissus ( 310552 )
        I think that that's only a valid argument if you watch the movie once, and listen to the song only once, too.

        I know that I'll watch a movie a few times, then not again for years. Listening to songs on the other hand...
      • Re:iTunes (Score:5, Interesting)

        by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:48AM (#13949791) Homepage Journal
        Don't try your mind tricks on me young man. :-) Seriously though, the amount I will pay is what I believe it is worth to me, and that is up to $5.00. I go to matinees specifically because the average Hollywood fare is simply not worth the $7-14 that theaters charge for prime time showings and it is not because money is tight for me. Quite the contrary, I am more than happy to pay extra for quality products, but in this case, movies are entertainment that while entertaining are usually are quite dispensable and having to deal with an increasingly rude population who does not have any concept of proper theatre etiquette simply drives me away from theaters. There are rare cinematic exceptions however.

        • To me the competition isn't so much the theaters, but the movies I already get at home. The cable company already sends dozens or hundreds of movies to my house every month, and the ones on HBO are pretty new. My homebrew PVR is so stuffed with movies I can't put a dent in the backlog. I can't see the movie co.'s going lower than you $5 figure, but I doubt I would pay it very often.
        • Re:iTunes (Score:3, Interesting)

          by newend ( 796893 )
          Here's the price model I'd likely be willing to pay

          TV Show (20 minute or 40 minute): $0.50-$1.50

          Movie: $3-$4

          Song: $0, I'll d/l for free and if I like it I'll buy the CD.

          All of this can change if it's based on a "rental" model. I'm not willing to spend as much if I can only watch it once or only for a certain period of time. I'd say for $2 I might be willing to "rent" a movie in which I could d/l it and watch it for so many hours after the first time I played it. Then have a cheaper rate to rewatch it if
    • Re:iTunes (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Michalson ( 638911 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @11:17AM (#13950003)
      believe that Apple has showed the industry exactly the business model to follow for media distribution, so, provided a fair and reasonable DRM policy like that of iTunes

      Could you explain that point further? If you want everyone to follow Apple's "Fairplay(TM)" DRM model, what is it specifically about that model that makes it more attractive then the others? What where your logical reasons for choosing that as the best DRM solution?

      It can't be the robustness of the data - if the latest iTunes update (or OS X update) kills your harddrive (again), or the computer simply dies as they sometimes do, it's Apple's policy to charge you for the music all over again, even though they have the records showing you legally own it. Apple DRM certainly isn't making digital music as long lasting as the physical disk technology. Even Apple's closest competitor offers a partial though far from perfect solution - the proof of ownership can be backed up seperate from the music (meaning you can make as many copies as you want), and then can be used to obtain the music without being charged again if you suffer a harddrive crash.

      It can't be the number of copies you're allowed - most other DRM schemes also allow 3 copies (again, Apple's closest competitor allows any number of copies to be specified, and can even allow the ability to create "lending" copies - you can give a time limited copy to a someone to try out, and you don't have to worry about them returning the licence to you)

      It can't be the ability to burn to CD - again, Apple's competitors support this too.

      It can't be the future proofness of the format - "Fairplay" is currently glued to Apple, you can't play Apple DRM music on anything that doesn't have an Apple logo. One of the best arguments for open source is that closed source software leads to documents that can no longer be opened because the application required only exists for an obsolete platform. With "Fairplay", all the eggs are with one company - if Apple, just one company, disappeared, your music would left stuck in a format dieing of player entropy. This is what we call "vender lockin", and it's a bad thing. Some of Apple's competitors avoid this through partially open standards, other avoid this by spreading the format to as many companies as possible - if one dies, the others can fill the gap.

      So please help us understand what specific, technological or contract, parts of Apple DRM we should be trying to make more widespread. Why is "Fairplay(TM)" so superior, other then the fact that it lives within the safe confines of the Apple reality distortion field, guarded by a phalanx of Apple fanbois?
      • Wow, a cogent and reasoned argument! On Slashdot, of all places :)

        Anyway, very well said. The only good DRM is no DRM. The only advantage to Fairplay is that it's already broken, so nobody has to put in the effort to break a new DRM format when it arrives.
      • Re:iTunes (Score:5, Interesting)

        by 2nd Post! ( 213333 ) <.gundbear. .at.> on Friday November 04, 2005 @11:51AM (#13950374) Homepage
        If you step on your CD, it is Best Buy's policy to charge you for a second CD, even if you have a receipt proving you legally purchased said CD last month.

        Apple's policy, however, does not prevent you from doing four things:
        Burn the music to a CD (something like 10 at a time; change the playlist and burn ad infinitum)
        Burn the file to a CD (infinite times)
        Copy the file to another HD (infinite times)
        Load the file to an iPod (infinite times)

        In any event, only an act of God would wipe out your clever backups.

        The model that Apple has demonstrated to it's success is threefold:
        1) Software doesn't suck. The same software and interface used to interact with your own music library is the basis for the interface for their online music store.
        2) Hardware that doesn't suck. The iPod
        3) THe price doesn't suck. If Sony wants to charge 8, I'm willing to bet Apple will charge less ($4.99? $3.99?) for a movie.

        Fairplay can be actually played on HP Media Center PCs, Motorola ROKRs and soon RAZRs, iPods, Macs, and PCs. More to the point, you can burn to a CD and play on any CD player you want; there are also numerous unlocking tools of dubious legality, but not of dubious morality.

        So if Apple disappeared, no, the music would not die; you would still have your iPod, still have your iTunes, still have your CD player, etc.

        The reason Fairplay is superior is that it was the first that allowed you to:
        1) Connect a song from a PC to an MP3 player without extra charges
        2) Burn said song to a CD any number of times, with a few constraints
        3) Make as many copies of the file as you want

        If the other DRM have caught up, it isn't because Fairplay isn't superior; it's because it is, and the others adopted Fairplay's design.
      • Re:iTunes (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @12:09PM (#13950577)

        It can't be the ability to burn to CD - again, Apple's competitors support this too.

        Well originally that was a big part of it since Apple's competitor's did not allow burning until they were beaten to a pulp by Apple. Many people who evaluated the different DRM schemes in the past have not realized this is now available on other DRM systems. Also for Windows Media based systems less technical users don't realize that the CD is a way of removing DRM, since Windows Media Player applies DRM to ripped files by default, unlike iTunes.

        I think a big part of the reason people favor Apple's scheme is that it does not get in their way (for the most part). People are unhappy with Real and WM because when they try to play them on a portable it does not work (most portables are iPods). That is just the way the market has shaped up and has nothing to do with the DRM scheme per-se. For slightly more tech savvy people, look at the competition. No one trusts Real since they killed their reputation with spyware. No one trusts MS since they always abuse their formats to lock people in. Who else is a major player in the space?

        I've purchased songs from the iTunes store, but not because their DRM is any better (now) but because they had what I wanted and it was unavailable elsewhere and because they don't use a stupid rental scheme, and because they were not too expensive, and because I could take the DRM off of the music easily and legally using the CD burning method, or using easily available freeware without losing any quality.

        I agree that DRM in general, and closed, proprietary DRM is a terrible thing for the industry, but at the same time if I am going to buy something with DRM on it, I'd rather it was from Apple rather than Real or Microsoft simply because I trust them more. Also, it is apparent that Apple executives know that DRM is useless and will always be able to be bypassed, so they don't try too hard to do annoying new things with it. Basically the DRM is not really any better, just the people providing it are more trustworthy (IMHO).

      • Re:iTunes (Score:3, Interesting)

        by daviddennis ( 10926 )
        I think the biggest advantage of Fairplay is having Steve Jobs negotiate price and terms on my behalf.

        Whatever other faults the man has, he's a master negotiator and manipulator, and although he wants to make a buck, he knows that there are two sides to the transaction, and low prices are necessary for the two sides to enter into an agreement. He was also the first DRM advocate to understand that people would rather buy music than rent it. This is sensible since right now I'm listening to music I've bough
    • Re:iTunes (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bkr1_2k ( 237627 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @11:19AM (#13950025)
      Keep in mind I am in the US and consider my price points accordingly:

      I would pay the price of a movie ticket or perhaps $10, whichever is cheaper. That, to me, is a reasonable price. Not as much as a DVD (yes I know you can buy some DVDs for under $10) because I would have to provide my own media to use if I wanted to travel with it, but certainly as much as I would pay to see it once in a theater.

      Unless this is a temporary use model that I couldn't save and reuse. If this is a temporary use model, I wouldn't pay more than $2, personally. I can rent movies for that price via netflix and other stores so why would I want to pay more?
    • Re:iTunes (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Spacejock ( 727523 )
      The amount I'll pay decreases as the restrictions on my use of the movie increase. I'll pay a lot more for a film I can stick on a DVD and watch on another PC when this one carks it. I will pay nothing for a movie with fifteen minutes of non-skip trailers which has to be watched through DRM'd LCD glasses at five minutes past midnight on the 1st of December.
    • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @11:33AM (#13950188) Homepage Journal
      Do you buy many movies on DVD, or is $20 for a movie on DVD too much in your opinion? The price you're offering is 1/4 the going rate for most movies, and so it seems like a pretty lowball offer to me. It would cost you nearly $4 to rent the movie, and that means you have to return it.

      A DVD is more flexible (at the moment) than a downloaded movie. It can play on any computer or DVD player, which is a cheap device. Your downloaded movie would be considerably harder to play on your TV or portable device, and even if they were to incorporate the DRM code to allow you to authorize that device it would be inconveninent and jack up the price of that object.

      So, let's say that DRM'ed downloads would be of less general utility than the DVD. The downloads would have some advantages (e.g. the ability to back them up), but that's relatively minor.

      Still, it sounds like you're really lowballing them on the price at a mere five bucks. Can I then infer that you think that $20 for a DVD as it is now is too much, and that you don't buy many DVDs?
      • by Zenaku ( 821866 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @12:12PM (#13950610)
        Hell, I think 5 bucks is too much. I would have said $3.50, maybe $4.00. Here's why.

        $20 bucks IS way too much to pay for a DVD. I will do it occassionally, for films I really love, and will watch over and over, films where every deleted scene, commentary track, and outtake are precious to me.

        There aren't very many of those.

        Most films I will watch once, and if I can keep them around, maybe a couple more times later on, if I want to show them to a friend that hasn't watched them. Hell, seeing them in the theatre is cheaper than getting a DVD if you only watch it once or twice.

        Now, a rental price is more reasonable. 4 or 5 bucks. But I still never do that, because it is inconvenient. The price is fair for the value of the entertainment I get, but they don't get very many sales out of me because it takes too much effort on my part.

        Enter netflix -- The monthly subscription model means I am spending way more money on movies than I would without netflix. The price per movie is less than a rental, but the convenience means that I watch way more movies. Win-win. I get more movies, and they get more money. . . just less money PER movie. It's like a discount for buying in bulk, and giving them a guaranteed amount of business each month.

        Any downloadable movie distribution service needs to accept the same philosophy. Since the product isn't physical, and they don't actually deplete their stock of content by letting me download it, it isn't about how much 1 movie should be worth -- it is about what price will maximize the total amount that I spend.

        If they will sell me one downloaded movie for 5 bucks, I might buy one, now and again. Maybe once a month. But if they sell them to me for 3 bucks each, I'll probably buy two a month. They just made an extra dollar by charging me less per film.

    • Re:iTunes (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hodar ( 105577 )
      This appears, to me, to be a direct competitor to Hollywood/Blockbuster. So, if I can 'rent' a DVD for less than $5; why would I saturate my broadband connection for 2 days and wind up paying more?

      Consider, Dishnetwork has pay-per-view movies for ~$5, I can purchase the DVD (hard drive crash insurance)for $15 at Wal-Mart. So, the download must compete against physical information (purchase) as well as temporary physical (rental); weighed against inconvenience (download time).

      Now, if these companies want t
    • A Brilliant Mind (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Simonetta ( 207550 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @11:49AM (#13950347)
      A Brilliant Mind An interesting movie. About a very smart man with a brain disorder that enabled (forced) him into creating a parallel reality that simply wasn't there. All his energy and brilliance went into coping with this imaginary world.
          He was able to regain his senses and apply his intelligence to real-world problems. For this he was acclaimed and honored. But for the rest of his life, he was never sure whether the people that he met or even his interaction with daily routine was real or part of his unbalanced imagination.

          Such an apt metaphor for the movie industry. $8 downloads per title is fantasy, and all the financial projections based on such a figure are fantasies. Maybe, just maybe, for some excellent movies, for some wealthy people, $1 per download might work.

          Movies are simply too available now for there to be any vast difference in price between what is there and what is new. Blank DVD ROMs are about 25 cents each. This is the current 'swap meet-water cooler exchange' rock-bottom price for a movie. Anything above this price is the utility that is added by the MPAA companies. Store prices of last years theater releases are $15. That's the max upper price for a physical disk, box, packaging, and resellable legal license. Older movies go for $5 for the same deal, regardless of quality.

          So what Sony is saying is that their new movies are so good, so special that they are worth far more than any of the titles of the 20th century. And this is so without the disk and packaging. And you have to pay for the downloading and storage costs.

          Such incredible arrogance.

          I give them about 10 years before they're gone. And that's because they are such an integrated hardware-software company and have a lot of built-up good will from the 20th century to squander on madness.

          Someday, someone will point out to them that the era of 200 million dollar movies with $30 theater tickets-popcorn-baby sitter costs are over. Whether the fantasy infected minds of the top executives will be able to separate reality from fantasy will determine the fate of their company and the people who work for them.
  • Not $8 for Consumers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by duerra ( 684053 ) * on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:34AM (#13949652) Homepage
    FTFA, $8 is the price that Sony is expected to be charging the content distributors. This is not the price that we would be paying as end consumers, which would look more like it would be to the tune of $10, or something along those lines.

    Of course, this would probably all be highly compressed, DRMed to hell video files, too. Given that I can go to a local Wal-Mart or Target and get a lot of these old titles for $6 at full quality, and make my backups using something like CloneDVD, I'm not likely to be purchasing a $10 movie download anytime soon.
    • by TGK ( 262438 )
      Put very simply, if Sony wants to charge $10 then they're going to have to bend over backwards on this.

      A new release DVD cost, lets assume, $20.

      $20 New DVD
      $02 But I don't get packaging. Minus $2.
      $01 I don't get fixed media. I have to store this myself. Minus $1
      $05 DRMed to hell! I can't make backups! Minus $5.
      $05 I have to download it and pay for the bandwidth. Minus $5.

      Well there's the $8. Now if they don't screw up ANYTHING else that's fine and I'd probably buy it... but only for a new DVD. No w
    • by theJML ( 911853 )
      Ever hear of 2 for $20? Best Buy runs that deal all the time, so I could OWN a movie WITH the DVD and case and all for 10 bucks. Heck, even newer more popular movies run $15 bucks tops (unless it's imported/anime and then you just have to look for sales)...

      So lets see here. I pay 8-10 bucks to be able to download it. Then I have to also pay for the bandwidth used to download it (sure I pay monthly for cable, but if you only download movies and it costs $20-40 a month, you have to factor it in), the
      • Downloading movies isn't for people like you that value the flashy physical media and packaging. Downloading movies is for people like me who hate going to a store, search through all the movies just to find something that isn't THAT important to me and who would copy the data to the harddisk first thing at home anyways.
    • My thoughts exactly. I suppose their reasoning is that the extra money you spend on downloading the movie is for the convenience of not having to go through all of the trouble to get out of the house and go see it accompanied by friends on an enormous screen with hi-definition surround sound.

      Looks like Internet movie piracy will still be alive and well for the time being.
    • Of course, this would probably all be highly compressed, DRMed to hell video files, too.

      And when talking about "what's a reasonable price", that's what it comes down to. Are these files DRM encumbered? what can I do with them? Burn them to DVD?

      If, for example, someone offered movies of sufficient quality (say a full-res mp4 encoded at a high bitrate?) that I could turn around and burn it to a DVD and have it look ok, than $10 would be fine. Because $10+$1 (for a blank DVD) $20, and the download might

    • Given the 'discount bin' movies for $5-10. at most big box stores, already on a platter in a box, unless they were willing to provide content *ahead* of DVD release (unlikely), they're pricing themselves out of the market.

      Add in the fact that most folks are more interested in watch-once than ownership, and the cost for Blockbuster, Netflix or even cable VOD is about half this, they're way off the mark.
  • rental cost (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SamSeaborn ( 724276 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:34AM (#13949656)
    Unlike songs, I don't want to *own* movies. Just watch them once.

    For me, the cost would have to be the same or less than a movie rental for me to buy in. $8 is too much. I'd say $2.99 is about right -- and I don't care if the $2.99 movie expires after a certain period of time or anything. Like I said, 99% of the time I just watch a movie once.


    • You might only want to watch something once, but the very nature of digital information is that they can't take it back once they've given you (although that hasn't stopped them from trying.) Movie makers actually have a good buisness model for the the watch-something-once market i.e. Blockbuster.

      This is aimed at the I-don't-want-a-disc market, which the media companies have been wholly unable to figure out.
      • Re:rental cost (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SamSeaborn ( 724276 )
        Movie makers actually have a good buisness model for the the watch-something-once market i.e. Blockbuster.

        Well, they think they do. When I rent a movie from Blockbuster, rip it to my PC with DVDShrink [] and then I have a copy I can watch whenever I want (even though 99% of the time I only watch it once). What's the difference between that and letting me download the binary version for $2.99? If it saves me the trip to the store and back, I'll use the online service.


        • Re:rental cost (Score:3, Insightful)

          by AndersOSU ( 873247 )
          2 words market segmentation

          Theres a legitimate watch-it-once market, and a legitimate I-want-the-box market. The question is whether the I'm-cool-with-a-digital-copy market is something that is acutally worth getting into.

          If everyone in the digital-copy market is a subset of one of the other two markets the answer is a resounding no. However, if there are new people who don't rent movies because watching it once isn't enough, and also don't buy the movie for whatever reason then it may be a market worth
      • Re:rental cost (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dslauson ( 914147 )
        A really good business model would include a less expensive option with an expiration date for those who only wished to rent, and a more expensive option for those who wish to keep the videos around for future viewing, like me.

        I'm thinking, like, $3 for rental or $6 for purchase. And, it would be nice to have the option after paying the $3 for rental to then kick in $3 more if you really liked it to invalidate the expiration date.

        As long as there were no shady malware problems and stuff like that, that is
    • Try Movielink []. The only downside is that you'll need Windows and IE. (Well, that and the fact that their good selection is transitory.) :-(
    • Re:rental cost (Score:2, Interesting)

      by isotpist ( 857411 )
      Rental may be $3.50 or pushing $4 in some places (for new releases). For many people in suburbs or rural areas, or even in cold weather it may be more convienent to download, so maybe $5, but I'm not going to pay $10 to download what is basically a video rental to me.
      On the other hand I own zero movies, and a lot of other people own many, so maybe they will pay $20 to own it on their computers. It still seems to me that people who would pay $20 and like to have a video library would prefer to have the di
    • I'd pay $3.99, IF

      I could keep it as long as I want (backup to removable media is not required, but I should be able to retain it on a hard disk as long as I can spare the storage)

      I have full DVD-like control of play

      It is high-definition.
  • First post (Score:2, Troll)

    by xintegerx ( 557455 )
    There is not an easy answer. I would pay $5, to answer your question. But I would also want the ability to 1) redownload it again for free 2) watch it anywhere like cell phone using streaming video as well and 3) own the full viewing rights to that movie, so when new formats or display devices come out (such as toasters and refrigerators and cell phones), I get it in a better and newer format. If you are upset you didn't get first post, simply wait until tomorrow when this story will be posted again.
    • Re:First post (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SamSeaborn ( 724276 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:40AM (#13949697)
      watch it anywhere like cell phone using streaming video as well

      I don't get this phenomenon of wanting to watch movies on your cell phone or iPod or even sitting at your desk in from of your computer.

      To me, movies are a *big* experience; I want a nice big screen, a great sound system, dim the lights, a big bowl of popcorn and a giant soda.

      Watching movies on "cell phone" is contrary to everything I hold dear about the cinematic experience.


      • Big wig movie types are afraid that people like you, looking for the big screen and the popcorn and the 'theater' experience are getting fewer and further between. I am with you, I like the big screen and the surround sound and all that, but I have actually read some articles predicting in 30 years we wont even have movie theaters, all gone the way of the drive-in.

        I certainly hope this doesnt happen... but I think products like the Video iPod are preparing themselves for that new type of market.
      • I guess you don't "get" it because you have the extra money lieing around to blow on these huge screens and nice sound systems. For that matter, are people in planes, trains and automobiles supposed to rollout huge projector screens to watch a movie?

        Movies are movies. You shouldn't require a cinematic experience to watch them. They are not one-in-the-same.

        • "Movies are movies. You shouldn't require a cinematic experience to watch them. They are not one-in-the-same."

          Oh man, does this statement sum up all that is wrong with today's theaters. It's a shame you feel this way, but I guess that's what most people think, too. That's why nobody cares. They just want more explosions and sex in their movies.
      • "Watching movies on "cell phone" is contrary to everything I hold dear about the cinematic experience."

        But more inline with *today's* cinema experience, now the annoying teens can talk on their cell phone and watch the movie. Now that's convergence.
      • I agree, and I'm not even a big "home theater" guy with my now modest and antiquated (but still bright and happy) 36" CRT TV.

        However, I do like to watch movies in bed sometimes (no, not pr0n), and will stream a ripped DVD from my desktop computer to my laptop which is sitting on my stomach (on a heat shield), so the 15" LCD *looks* pretty big. Put the Bose noise cancelling headphones on and, hey, bedroom cinema. :)

  • Hard Copy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NETHED ( 258016 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:35AM (#13949668) Homepage
    If I can burn it to a DVD, watch it on ANY DVD player, and treat it as if it were mine (IE, let my friend borrow the disc), then yes, I'll pay 8 dollars/movie. Otherwise, I'll keep my netflix subscription thank you very much.

    • Re:Hard Copy (Score:3, Interesting)

      by afabbro ( 33948 )
      Exactly. I want something I can store on a hard drive as a file, because 20 years from now when I want to watch -Murder on the Orient Express- again, I won't have to worry that they're not making DVD players or iPods or whatever anymore. Or if I want to watch it on a different format, a different kind of player, etc.

      I replaced a lot of my music collection when I went from vinyl to CD.
      I replaced a lot of my video collection when I went from VHS to DVD.
      I'm not paying for the same bitstreams again!


    • That's just it. What makes iTunes work is that the DRM isn't so grossly inflexible you can't work with it.

      I'd consider downloading movies for $8-10 a pop, but only if the movies were provided in a ISO-type format that provided content identical to the store-bought copy (extras, menus, digital sound, etc). This also means dual-layer sized movies, which I know might be a download limitation. No heavy-handed DRM. I should be able to burn the movie to a DVD and watch it in any DVD player or on another compu
  • Too expensive (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slavemowgli ( 585321 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:37AM (#13949677) Homepage
    It's hard to say where the limit would be, but 8 bucks simply is too much - I can go to a video rental place and get pretty much every movie I want for considerably less than that (the local one in the town where I live charges up to 4,50 per movie, depending on how recent it is; not sure what the big chains take).

    Sure, it requires me to walk there first (I don't have to drive, considering that it's pretty much just across the street), and they might not have what I'm looking for; but on the upside, I get the movie within minutes instead of having to wait for a big download first.

    So for me at least, an online place would have to be considerably cheaper than a real store in order to be attractive. And considering that a lot of the costs associated with having an actual walk-in store with real DVDs and real employees don't exist here, I'd say that they could still make a comparable amount of money even if they charged less than the offline stores do, too.
  • That's Easy (Score:3, Funny)

    by Groo Wanderer ( 180806 ) <> on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:38AM (#13949683) Homepage
    How much is a bittorrent client again?


    P.S. If you think the current rootkitting DRM schemes are bad, wait till you see the next gen ones, like the ones for HD movies. Yikes.
    • At least with paid media, customers know what they're getting, and it's guaranteed to be what they're getting. With BT, it's totally up to the person who's creating the .torrent file to give it a name (I know, I'm taking this to the extreme), so, in one word, simplicity.
  • Everyone above me got it right. This idea fails pretty hard. Now, Sony's going to dump more money into a project that -- if anything -- will only take business away from actual DVD sales. Most people that are willing to buy a lesser product because it's finally legal won't be getting the physical disc too, which means less money for Sony. "How do I shot web?" indeed...
  • No hard copy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Deathbane27 ( 884594 )
    If I don't get a seperated backup copy (an actual, physical DVD), I will pay no more than 20% of the DVD price.

    This isn't like music where one usually only wants 1-3 tracks from the album. Buying 1-3 tracks from a CD, you're paying... 20%!

    I'd want the same discount on a downloaded movie, 20% for what I want, even though that's (usually) the entire thing.
    • This isn't like music where one usually only wants 1-3 tracks from the album.

      Huh? Why would you only want 2 or 3 tracks from an album? I could understand if we were talking Fela Kuti [] here. Generally the album is the logical unit of musical expression, and it wouldn't make any more sense to just listen to 2 or 3 tracks then it would to just read 2 or 3 chapters from a book. Besides, if someone is talented they don't have any problem filling an album with worthwhile material.
  • Movies... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Manip ( 656104 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:39AM (#13949692)
    If we are talking new "On at the cinema" movies, I would pay just under what the local cinema charges me; primarily because you get surround sound at the cinema.

    If we are talking "Out on DVD" movies, I would pay up to 50% of the cost of the DVD version... I mean with a internet version you get "nothing"; with the DVD version you get higher quality, a box, a disk and perhaps bonus features.

    I am from the UK -- And purchased a couple of lost episodes even though the DVD versions of series 2 will be cheaper; but those episodes aren't on in the UK yet, and thus the extra cost was well worth it.

    I would also be willing to pay a smaller fee to "rent" an internet movie (one that stops playing after n time limit)... So like $3.50 and you get to watch a new movie for a week wouldn't be all too crazy...
    • I am from the UK -- And purchased a couple of lost episodes even though the DVD versions of series 2
      How did you do that? Aren't those iTunes movies only available in the USA?
      I don't see them in the belgian store.
  • $8!!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by alecks ( 473298 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:40AM (#13949699) Homepage
    For 8 bucks they better include at least 20 min of previews before the movie
  • At most.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ltwally ( 313043 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:43AM (#13949726) Homepage Journal
    At most, I'd be willing to pay half of what it costs to buy the DVD at Wal-Mart. This assumes that the download is of comparable quality and includes any extras that are usually reserved for DVD.

    I see little reason to pay more than half, considering how much cheaper it is for the studios to put it out on the internet rather than produce, package and ship DVD's. In fact, even if the internet downloaded movie costs half as much as the store bought DVD, the studio will still make more money from the transaction.

    Of course, this is all a pipe-dream. Looking at the track record of greed and abuse by the movie studios and their lackeys, you can be sure that internet downloaded movies will have artificially high prices. They'll intro the service at $8 for all movies, and then after a year or so they'll start demanding $15 for new releases. And, to top it off: you know there is no way in hell that these downloads will be legally transferable. If I buy a DVD, and decide it blows, I can at least take it down to the pawn shop or give it to someone else. Can the same thing be said with these DRM laden downloads? I seriously doubt it.
    • > I see little reason to pay more than half, considering how much cheaper it is for the studios to put it out on the internet

      Thing is, I don't think it's actually that much cheaper. Looking up a very quick quote, I can get 1,000 DVDs in card envelopes for $1250 []. That's $1.25/DVD for card envelopes. Given the quantities we're talking about, that's probably quite high, but we'd want plastic boxes, so lets call it $1.25.

      Not living in the US, I'm not entirely sure how much DVDs go for in the shops, but Amazo
  • ... I'm not paying more than I'd pay for a rental.
  • There is already a model for what people will pay - Pay Per View.

    The quality had better be as good as or better than DVD, however (choosable by the user). Unfortunately, the typical internet media is actually lower quality than what it replaces. did a great job of offering a choice of either mp3 (lossy) or flac (exact CD quality). flac cost a few bucks extra.
  • The real issue of cost is probably going to be closely tied to bandwidth. Movies (at least of any sort of decent qualtiy), tend to run about 500mb an hour for decent quality. Now, surely $5 will more than cover the cost of the transfer, but still, it's a lot of bandwidth compared with a song which is just a few megs.

    If they could manage some sort of P2P style service while retaining their DRM, this could probably help lower the prices a bit.

    The thing to keep in mind is that this is almost all, cash in the b
  • iTunes has latest releases pretty much instantly.

    99% surely this 8$/movie means, at best, 'just out on DVD' movies. As DRM-crippled, crap resolution, no extras...

    Nope, won't fly.

    Now if it's 8$/movie for full DVD image (2 images, if needed with all extras etc), burnable to completely normal DVD+R disc for later viewing. Maybe with slight compromise in quality to fit 4.7GB. Basically what bittorrent is offering right now, I think I might bite.

    Will never happen tho. It would make them too much money. They want
  • For those of us who live on the outskirts of Far South BFE, such an offering means very little. I have exactly two options for 'Net connectivity: satellite (cost-prohibitive at this point, and unreliable in winter) [], and dialup (too slow to be workable; I typically get data rates of *gasp* 26.4k on the copper). BPL is an available option for some, but limited deployment and reportedly poor performance, not to mention the uproar from the amateur radio sector, restricts that option as well. So marketing su

    • People at the middle of nowhere without internet connections are surprisingly not their target market.

      And no, dialup doesn't count.

      Bit like movie studios don't exactly market their movies to blind people, because they have trouble seeing the product in question.
  • I personally would not pay more than $5, and this seems a little steep to me. The whole attraction to the download a movie thing is that it's spur of the moment, it's an impulse buy. I am not gonna spend $10+ on a movie unless I really like it. And if I really like it, I might as well drive to Target and buy the DVD (or HD-DVD?) with the box and all too for an extra couple bucks.

    If they were asking for a couple dollars for a movie though, I am more likely to grab Friday the 13th on Halloween and It's a W
  • Why don't they vary the price according to demand? i.e., the movies most in demand would be more expensive. They could then drop the price as demand tails over time. There are mathematic models they could use to maximise revenues this way.

    A big benefit of this type of pricing is that it maxmimises revenues, whilst at the same time feels fair to the consumer.
    • Very true. They would most likely vary price by movie. For instance, some of the crap that was in theaters this summer they couldn't pay me to watch, and when someone considered bringing it to our theater on second release, we basically laughed them out of the meeting. However, there are a fair few good movies available. I would pay to see Serenity at home. I would pay to have a copy of Batman Begins. But I'd only download it if was cheaper than DVD. And when you figure on tying up 1.25 GB of bandwid
  • Does it allow me to burn a DVD-quality video once and maybe a few more times for backup?
  • They can charge about as much as DVD rental, if they manage to make it as convenient as P2P (or more convenient), people would pay for it.

    People don't use file sharing software for the thrill of breaking the law, but because it is so much more convenient than going to the video store, browsing the many rows of plastic objects by hand, picking out the ones you like, then paying and taking them home, and then returning them to the video store after watching them.

    Another reason to use P2P is to obtain TV shows
  • There's a used DVD shop near me. Most new movies cost around £5 (~USD$9). I think the most I ever paid was was £7.50 (~USD$14) for the Extended Special Edition of Fellowship of the Rings.

    And, I can sell back any of the discs I no longer want. New releases are usually there a few days after they're released.

    Screw putting money into the movie studios' paws - give it to local businesses instead!
  • to the tune of $8 a movie.

    That's how much a lot of films go for at the local Best Buy. Now they want to use my media and my bandwidth and not give me a price break? Please. No one would agree to this in the business world, why should I agree to it as a consumer?

    I don't even know if I'd pay for something online that I really wanted to own, the packaging and pressed disc makes it worth a few bucks more to me. I guess if it was more of a spur of the moment type of thing I'd say 3 USD or maybe 4 USD for a ne
  • by macemoneta ( 154740 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:56AM (#13949856) Homepage
    I use an existing model - Netflix - to determine reasonable pricing. It's about $1 per DVD (including any extras). For that dollar, Netflix is able to pay round-trip postage (i.e., network transport) and give the movie industry their cut.

    Movie downloads should cost no more that $1.

    Music downloads, compared to other media downloads (movies, above), should cost no more than 10 cents per track or $1 per album.

    After all, I can go to my local library and get the DVDs/CDs for zero dollars.
  • Depending on the quality and delivery mechanism I might be persuaded to pay out 6 dollars per movie. There are a number of caveats in that though. I'd have to be able to watch the movie anywhere I wanted anyway, I wanted. It would have to have a fast delivery mechanism, and It would have to be a new release. Older releases I wouldn't pay that much for. For your standard movie that's not a new release I'd pay about 4 dollars for maybe 5. The cost of distribution if they do it right(ie bittorrent or similar)
  • Sony can kiss my ass and pay me!

    I will never buy another Sony product after their DRM bullshit.

  • I very rarley watch a movie more than once. I listen to music a lot more. I can not watch a movie when I am on my mountian bike, driving my car, are programing. I can listen to music.
    What I would really like to see is old TV and radio shows available for free download! How? really simple leave in the old commercials or of the company doesn't exist anymore try to find a commercial from that time for an existing company. I would love to see the Jack Benny Show or any number of old tv shows from the 40s, 50s,
  • to the tune of $8 a movie.


    I can rent it for 3 dollars or wait until it hits the bargain bin at the Wal-Marte' for the same price.

    Sony used to be a great company, now they're just a greedy, pathetic corporate troll. The Gollum of the entertainment industry. They wants to copy me preccccioussssssses. Nasty, stinky customers!

  • I'm not giving them ONE RED CENT! Not after that stunt they tried to pull with the Van Zandt brothers' CD installing rootkits on your computer. No way.
  • For $8 I think I can accept a resolution about 30% less than DVD, but I can place onto a portable unit, or 720p quality but computer-playable only.
  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @11:24AM (#13950088) Homepage
    I would like to cut through the phony unrealistic responses.

    I keep seeing posts saying "I won't pay $8 for a movie" even though that is what 4 million people do every day []. Today you pay $8 to go to a theater, wait in line, watch 20 minutes of previews, watch 10 minutes of commercials, listen to cell phones and annoying people... Yet suddenly $8 is too much to pay. Oh, right: I post on Slashdot, so nobody must know that I once bought a Brittany Spears CD or that I watch anything other than the Sci Fi channel. Oh the horror!

    Another poster said that they would only pay $2.99 because they would rather rent. That makes some sense. Except that the very same poster points out that they currently pay more than $2.99 and that they must also include the price of gas, the chance of the rental store being out of stock, and the time involved in finding the movie.

    Maybe asking people what they would pay for a product is just not a realistic way to determine what it is really worth. People say $8 isn't worth it, then the go buy it anyway.
    • Quite insightful.

      The market will set the price. If 8.00 really is too much, it'll come down. If it's not enough, it'll go up.

      The great thing about the market today is that p2p stands as a safety valve. When the cost becomes too high, p2p traffic goes nuts, and the stores and studios are forced to lower prices.

      I'm glad to see someone finally offering movies, but I think a lot of its failure/success will depend on the DRM. 8.00 is more than I pay for most of the DVDs I buy (----bargain rack junkie), and if it
  • I can get a DTV pay per view for $3.99.

    Factor in my extra effort for doing a download, I'd say $2.99, and a defninte buy at $2.00

    And it has to be of adequate quality to burn well to a DVD.

    *And* i have to be able to burn it to a DVD easily- and I mean drag the file into Toast Titanium and click the burn button easy.
  • While offering more pricing options increases service costs, I think that pricing should be variable based on:

    1. resolution: 320x240, 500x300, 640x480, 1200x1024, etc. resolutions should be priced differently both because of bandwidth cost differentials and also value of being able to view on larger displays for more people to comfortably watch.

    2. DRM timeout period: I would expect to pay different amounts for a 24 hour, 2 day, 1 week, etc. viewing period.

    And, the cost should be much lower than purchasing a
  • If Sony realise that there's no point putting DRM on any movie that's available on DVD, given how easily DVDs can be ripped, then they could clean up by selling their back catalogue in a DRM-free open format that can be easily transcoded for use on portable devices, streamed around the house, lent to your friends, and so on.
    • You realize this is the same company that installed a rootkit on its customer's computers to "protect their IP rights" correct?

      I'd expect the DRM would just go ahead and cripple any DVD burners it finds on a host machine. You know, to manage our digital rights.
  • Or at least 99.99% certain that the answer will be easy, and that being: Nothing. Because they will be using DRM. A DRM'd file (even if it will play on my OS, which is normally not the case) is worse than worthless.

    On the off chance someone's smart enough not to, I'd say $5 or so for a movie that's still in theaters, $3 during the new release phase (about the price of a rental), and about $1-$1.50 after that. Otherwise, Netflix is cheaper, and they're paying postage.

    I'm not holding my breath, though. If

  • I'd pay $20 for a movie that is free of "DRM", has no "platform dependencies", has no region locking, and can be conveniently backed up / transcoded / burned to the prevailing media format of the day.

    I'd fully expect the movie to contain watermarks that contained transaction information (i.e., showing I'm the licensee of the content).

    However, for each nuisance "feature", I would deduct 90% of the value of the product. A movie with DRM: $2, that is dependent on a codec that I can't license for my "VideoWidge
  • Netflix (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @12:46PM (#13950942) Homepage
    Netflix has already established what the market will bear. Its a little under $2 per movie (12 movies a month for around $22). Yes, I know that's for rentals, not purchases (wink, nod). Sony is welcome to try for $8 but they're in for a painful learning experience if they do.
  • Never from Sony (Score:3, Interesting)

    by inkswamp ( 233692 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:24PM (#13952239)
    Sony could not set a price low enough for me to do business with them, and this coming from someone who, at one time, religiously bought Sony products every time I could--even when they were more expensive than the competition. 10-12 years ago, their products were the absolute best, but then they started cranking out utter crap, refusing to properly honor their warranties and destroyed their reputation. And they've relentlessly gone downhill ever since. Their little rootkit incident just being the latest sign that they are the suckieset company on the planet and to be avoided at all costs.

    So, Sony could price these things at 2 cents and I wouldn't touch them.

  • by c0d3h4x0r ( 604141 ) on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:37PM (#13952357) Homepage Journal
    What is the maximum acceptable price that slashdot readers would give to different types of downloadable product, taking into account their perception of its true value to them?

    Personally, if content is DRM-crippled in any way (such that I cannot freely convert it and copy it to all devices I own, etc) then its true value to me is basically zero. I would be willing to pay $8.00 US to download a high-quality (TV-quality or better) movie that was not DRM-crippled. I would be willing to pay no more than about $0.50 US to download the same DRM-crippled content.

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.