Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Movies On The Move

It won’t be long before cable and satellite television companies will start complaining about the unfair advantage the Internet is having on their business. Microsoft's Xbox LIVE and Sony's PlayStation Network will soon become formidable competitors to incumbent Pay-TV services. Leveraging broadband-enabled game consoles as Over-the-Top video platforms - thus bypassing cable and satellite TV operators - these companies will offer a compelling alternative to traditional TV programming by providing a more immersive, interactive video experience.

Xbox 360 is the only game system that lets you instantly watch movies and TV episodes streamed from Netflix. This movie-watching innovation is available to Xbox LIVE Gold members ($49.95 a year) who are also Netflix members ($8.99 per month minimum) and allows them to instantly watch movies streamed from Netflix via Xbox LIVE for no additional monthly fee.

Sony's CEO Howard Stringer noted, "Sony's unique position in electronics and entertainment will enable us to provide specialized offerings for Sony customers directly to their televisions outside conventional distributors and without the need for any set-top box." Sony's PlayStation Network is not only a Blu Ray player, but allows it’s users to choose from hundreds of full-length movies from top studios including 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Entertainment, MGM Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Bros. Entertainment and The Walt Disney Studios. Plus, choose from a large inventory of TV episodes from a variety of television partners, many available in standard-definition (SD) or high-definition (HD).

Even before the launch of Experience, Microsoft's Xbox LIVE had amassed some 15,000 movies (1,000 of which are HD) and some 13,000 TV shows for download-to-own. Xbox LIVE was the first online video portal to offer HD downloads for TV viewing. The Netflix partnership adds 12,000 movies and TV programs to the mix, all for free streaming to Netflix subscribers. This enables Xbox 360 users to access on-demand movies and TV shows within the Xbox Experience social environment with a click of their remote.
Sony's PlayStation Network has collected close to 1,000 movies and hundreds of TV programs for download-to-own. As well, it has announced plans to expand dramatically its video library in the next few months in order to compete with Xbox LIVE.Even Nintendo, staunchly dedicated to pure gaming experiences, enters millions of new homes each month as the set-top box du jour, it's no video player. There's no Netflix, no Blu-ray drive, not even a proper DVD slot. However, Wii isn't without its possibilities when it comes to streaming video, and there, a Japanese company called Fujisoft is leading the charge. Fujisoft has introduced 'Everybody's Theater Channel' to Japanese Wii users the service launched this January 27th, it will be second, following the BBC "iPlayer" which hit the UK in early April 2008.

Fujisoft prices by the block, with one block of three TV episodes equal to one movie -- and will charge 300 Nintendo Points for one 2-day rental, 600 for two 3-day rentals, and 800 for three 5-day rentals. Currently their video library is limited to Japanese anime, movies and TV programs. But they are in talks with Nintendo America, and if talks go well everything could change.

The future for satellite and cable television companies does not look bright. In fact the current model facing the cable & satellite industry makes these companies PAY upfront for the films they want to show. Future licensing deals with one of the video gaming companies could totally change to a pay per view or pay per download with NO upfront costs involved. This would basically open the platform to unlimited viewing with NO COST to the video gaming companies.

Movies are on the move, and that move seems to be away from satellite and cable television.

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