Consumer electronics blog, Engadget.com, is reporting that DirecTV's much touted premium HD video on demand service will launch this Thursday, April 21st, for $30 per download. The service will be open to DirecTV clients who have the HD package (about $90 per month) and an HDMI connection.
• Read more stories like this in our Feature News section.
• For more detailed information on this, check out our original article on the DirecTV premium VOD service.
Movies will be available about 60 days after their theatrical launch, which means in many cases the film might still be showing theatrically. Theater owners will not be happy about this much in the same way Dish Network isn't happy about not having the NFL, but DirecTV knows that in order to keep growing their 50,000,000 subscriber base, they must compete with the likes of YouTube, cable TV pay-per-view, Apple's iTunes, Blockbuster (now owned by competing Dish Network) and players like Netflix, VUDU, Redbox and CinemaNow.
DirecTV has the superior distribution system and automatic billing is superior to that of most of the players listed above. DirecTV boasts Blu-ray-like video which is an embellishment as it's compressed significantly to fit on the limited bandwidth of satellite TV. Compared to Blu-ray, the 5.1 audio on these $30 downloads is 15 years behinds the state of the art. Other than the fact you might have to wait another few weeks to actually own the movie on a disc for $30, Blu-ray is better in every way than these streaming, non-recordable showings.
The significance of this development is that it is the first real scoop of dirt on the casket of movie theaters. DirecTV will agree to whatever revenue split the studios ask for (my sources say its in the 80/20 range) to get this gem in their broadcast crown. So how long will it be before a studio tries to go Black Opps and release a blockbuster film a week early on DirecTV? How much money will DirecTV spend to promote the hell out of it to show that they above all other VOD, rental and streaming sources are the leader? I bet it will be tens of millions for that first movie.
This is the end of movie theaters as you know it. However - the lack of uncompressed audio and video that matches what you can get on Blu-ray - this news is also an attack on the world of home theater. Everything about Blu-ray is better for the home video and home theater enthusiast other than the date of the release. Those who love quality and who have $30 burning a hole in their pockets should wait, unless the movie is so good that they simply cannot wait to see it.
Major props to Engadget.com for their image of the Russian guy from the DirecTV commercial. My wife has me looking for a baby giraffe for her upcoming birthday.