Today Fox is launching their Digital HD initiative, offering HD movie releases for purchase digitally three weeks before retail release for about $15 each. The first will be the movie Prometheus, which is supposedly available starting today on iTunes, VUDU, PlayStation, Xbox, Google Play and YouTube.
I say supposedly because it wasn’t available on many of these channels until literally as I was writing this. I could find it on Xbox and on iTunes (if you open it in the iTunes program), but during the writing of this little article (roughtly 11-11:30 Central time) it also showed up Google Play and YouTube. Not sure about VUDU, as I didn’t check them til last – I can’t check Playstation at the moment.
What’s also interesting is that this isn’t just the movie – it’s also got a couple alternate scenes as “bonus content,” and at least Xbox claims to have an additional featurette on the VFX. Traditionally these special features have been reserved for retail release, so it’s real cool to see them coming to digital release.
And let’s look at that three week window. Know what happens in the weeks before retail release on almost every big movie? If you’ve been reading my Piracy Report, you know – it gets pirated like crazy. Hell, Prometheus popped up on the list 2 weeks ago. So I’m sure that specific window is no accident.
This is a solid first step for digital distribution of movies, and one that every other studio needs to take yesterday – abandon the made-up need to time digital releases with retail, don’t charge ridiculous prices, and distribute through as many channels as possible. Nice job, Fox. But it’s not enough.
This still ignores one pretty important trend among consumers, especially those of us most likely to embrace digital distribution: we don’t want to own things. Digital distribution shouldn’t be about me hoarding a massive library of content; it should be about making available a massive library of content to me. My shelves and shelves full of DVD’s are simply an attempt to manually create that experience because technology couldn’t.
Now it can.
So make it happen, content people. Follow Fox’s lead, expand on it, and finally give consumers the product they want.