In today’s hyper-connected world, the idea of having to drive to a video store the rent a movie and back the next day to return it seems pretty ridiculous, but in reality it’s often still the best way.
Video-on-demand movies rental services are everywhere these days, but how many people actually use them ? While the promise of having movies streamed instantly, no late fees and no car trips to deal with minimum wage video-store clerks sounds great, it’s often hamstrung by internet download usage caps.
Microsoft has the Zune Video Marketplace on Xbox 360, the Sony have Playstation Movie Store and TiVo has CASPA. Whilst there’s differences of price, resolutions, catalogue and instant-start vs download first, ultimately the only one that’s actually practical to use is CAPSA. Despite being a much smaller company, Hybrid Television Services, licencees of TiVo in Australia, have been able to successfully negotiate deals with key Australian ISPs to allow video downloads to go unmetered.
Sure CASPA only offer SD quality movies (at the moment), but wether its 2-3GB or 6-7GB your downloading, if it counts towards your monthly download cap, it will restrict your ability to use the service. By having an unmetered solution, the real cost of renting a movie is the rental price.
I’m a big fan of the 1080p instant-on streaming (when it works) that Zune offers, but realistically it means I have to then spend $5-$10 for additional data blocks. This means the real price for renting a movie wasn’t $5 or $6 but rather closer to $15. So the inconvenience of going to the video store may be a pain, but its still more economical that paying the real cost of convenience, plus you can rent the highest quality blu-ray version.
Given broadband data caps are a fact of live for most consumers, the real question here is how two of the largest tech companies, Microsoft and Sony, have been unable to achieve the same unmetered deals for all customers. Even ISPs like Westnet that have been able to negotiate unmetered Xbox demo’s, trailers, arcade games and updates have an exception that excludes Zune video.
If your hoping this madness will end with the introduction of the NBN, you’ll be sadly mistaken. The deals announced for the first rollout areas like Tasmania still maintain data caps. So the dream of instant on high definition video from the the comfort of your couch is still about as close as that magical unicorn with a money tree strapped to its back.
Leave a comment and let us know about your experience with VOD services and if you use them or still visit the video store.