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Downloadable movies and the DVP5960

So Mulley mentions that are planning to offer downloadable movies. Great concept, but I can guarantee the execution will be crap on a stick. :(

First off, the content available:

‘When the service goes live on 1 May, customers will be able to avail of content from several Irish producers including Network Ireland Television, as well as Video International’s film library which includes films like The Little Shop of Horrors. The company is also seeking content from both the History and Biography Channels, which would mean a substantial back catalogue of documentary shows.’

Sorry, but: snore.

Secondly, the technology used:

‘ content must be downloaded onto a PC or laptop but can then be transferred over to digital media players like the iPod Touch for viewing on the go. This service will be compatible with Apple Macs but only if the user downloads Windows Media Player.’

So in other words, it’s Windows Media. That means it won’t play on my TV through my MythTV box, on a USB stick plugged into a Philips DVD player, on my Linux laptop, or even on a normal DVD player using a burned DVD.

Too little, too late. Plenty of Irish consumers are already consuming downloaded video — as the popularity of the Philips DVP5960 demonstrates. For legal video downloads to work, they need to be somewhere remotely near as convenient and usable as BitTorrent.

Using DRM is just falling down the same rabbit hole that swallowed up downloadable music for 5 years. Nobody used that either, until gradually the companies involved realised that opening up was the only way to get customers, bringing us to where we are today — legal downloads using the MP3 format.

BTW, I know that’s the same DRM technology used by Channel 4’s “4oD” download service. Big deal — I don’t bother trying to watch that stuff either, for the same reasons. If Channel 4 jumped off a cliff, would jump after them?


(By the way, that Philips DVD player is a total success story. That’s a name-brand hardware manufacturer, making a low-end, $60 DVD player, with support for viewing downloaded XviD AVI movies on a USB stick. Apparently it’ll also play off USB hard disks, too. It’s immensely popular; for example, here’s a customer review of 10/10: “Best thing ever”. Several of my friends have them, and praise them highly. I’m coming up to DVD player replacement time, and I’m planning to get one too.)