Movielink Steps Up (A Little)

Some good news for those who are interested in legally downloading film: Movielink, one of the major services originally created to sell movie downloads, is going to allow consumers to burn their downloads to DVD.

Will this be the magic steriod that will kickstart the mostly-ignored film downloading service? Probably not, but it is a start.

But only a start. As Kassia pointed out a few months ago, Movielink faces many other major hurdles: bandwidth, price, picture quality, and the fact that they don’t even support Firefox, which I just verified about three seconds ago.

These are all major hurdles, but I still think that the ability to burn to DVD was the largest. While that there is still the tiny little fact that none of the studios have actually signed off on allowing their downloaded movies to be burnt to DVD, let’s say that they do.

If that happens, here are a few more things that Movielink needs to do:

  • Ensure compatibility beyond Windows 2000/XP and Internet Explorer. Why restrict your customer base?
  • Logical DRM restrictions surrounding burning to DVD. It goes without saying that this is what makes the studios nervous about film downloads in the first place. Customers would understand why unlimited burning wouldn’t be allowed, but studios should allow up to, say, five burns of a purchased film. That’s a number that would discourage piracy, but should give the vast vast majority of customers enough leeway to make copies for their own personal use.
  • Lower prices for new releases. Movielink has a long way to go before being a true Long Tail business, so for now, they will be new-release driven. Fine. But give people some incentive, for frack’s sake. Why would I possibly download Syriana from Movielink for $19.99, when I could purchase it from Best Buy for the same amount? You need to give people that price incentive in order for them to take the time and effort to purchase your product. Otherwise, all you have is novelty. And while novelty creates first-time customers, it sure as hell doesn’t create repeat customers.
  • Higher picture quality. I realize that higher picture quality usually means larger files, and more bandwidth, but I also believe that bandwidth is the one thing that anybody who downloads has come to terms with. Meaning, you start a download, and go do other stuff while you wait for it to finish. It’s been that way since the dawn of the internet, and while we are all getting faster connections, we are also downloading fatter files.

I think that if Movielink (or their competitor, CinemaNow) did all of these things, that they might be able to make a go of it. Assuming, of course, the studios play ball.

2 Responses to “Movielink Steps Up (A Little)”

  1. Kassia says:

    I saw this and my heart went pitter…plop. Because I could picture the suits in the office saying (while stroking their not-quite-bearded chins), “But if we give them the ability to burn to DVD, the world will truly end.” I think we’re in agreement that early adopters — the people who buy into novelty — are a key component of the success of new media. And if the early adopters are turned off by the restrictions of a new technology, they’re not gonna come back day after day to see if anything’s changed.

    How many iterations of the MP3 player did it take before people stood up and took notice? And then the next day, we had the iPod and the whole was nodding and saying, “Yeah, I was waiting for that.”

    Same thing for downloadable video. Keep it cool, don’t make it inaccessible.


  1. […] A couple of days ago, I discussed the announcement by the film download service Movielink that they had licensed software to allow downloaded films to be burnt to DVD. Of course, there was still the tiny little hurdle of getting the studios to go along with their plan. Maybe by the end of the year. […]