Print 68 comment(s) - last by Drexial.. on Nov 29 at 11:44 AM

IBM's plans make some fans of rental movies queasy

You microwave your popcorn, you curl up on your couch and you fire up the latest DVD release, hot out of your local movie rental joint.  As the story begins to take off, all of a sudden the movie freezes.  There is no more movie, just a blaring commercial filling your screen.  You blink in confusion, wondering what just happened.  You reach for the remote, but you cannot fast forward through this commercial.  Only after a few long moments does your movie resume.  Over the course of the movie, you are forced to endure this process multiple times.

This is the concept behind a new patent application from IBM, which is either a genius business ploy or maniacally evil abuse of the consumer, depending on how you choose to look at it.

The patent details a scheme where the user could rent and purchase movies at either a standard rate, with commercial interruption, or pay a few extra dollars to avoid the annoyances.  When a DVD is inserted into a player, the player will automatically check if it is commercial-loaded or commercial-free.  If it is the commercial-loaded version it will either play embedded ads on the disc over the course of the movie, or connect to the internet to download new ads to embed in real-time into the film.

Though not exactly trumpeted by IBM, the patent, if granted could seriously shake up the movie industry.

Could the result be a miracle or would it be a disaster for all parties involved?  The possible results from such a technology could be a very intriguing observation on human behavior, and the mindset of the average modern consumer. 

On the one hand it could be a win-win situation for consumers and the film business.  Movie studios could make a bit of much needed extra cash from advertisers or customers willing to pony up the extra fee for the ad-free content.  Consumers might like it as they might be able to save a couple of dollars on the versions with ads, and it might not be worse than watching a tv show, if properly timed.  Imagine renting new movies for $2.99 instead of $3.99 -- it is attractive proposition, despite the downsides.  And movie studios could elect to front-load the advertisements, as is done in the theater to make sure the consumer sees them, but to provide less interruption.

On the other hand it could be seen as intrusive, and greedy in the consumer eyes and cut into sales and rentals, erasing any potential profit gains.  Movie studios could implement the feature sloppily and ruin the watcher's experience and turn them off.  They could also elect to ad commercials to releases of the current price and only have a higher priced version without them.  And advertising companies might get poor reception from consumers who go to their fridge to get a soda or beer whenever the commercial comes on.

This technology poses a question similar to Fox and NBC's buzz-generating free TV episode online service, detailed at DailyTech, which includes embedded ads, similar to a traditional TV broadcast.  However this technology goes one step further, by seeking to introduce ads into a niche they did not typically occupy. How these technologies, and others, such as Walgreen's new DVD burning kiosks, will effect the lives of movie lovers is yet to be seen, but it almost certain that they will bear an effect.

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RE: ...
By Moishe on 11/27/2007 2:03:59 PM , Rating: 5
Why would you be willing to put up with more crap?

See what we're getting is less control for PAID content.

That's the rub. I have the intrusive TV popups, but at least it's all free. When I rent or buy a movie I expect to be able to skip the garbage and get right down to business. This concept is smart on IBM's part... they're not the jerks, they're just making sure they will have future income by building their patent portfolio.

The real problem will be if the MPAA decides that they can fleece their current PAYING customers. This is not an enforcement solution, it doesn't stop piracy, and it only hurts those who are legally paying for the product. I don't pirate, but having this as my only option would make me instantly go buy AnyDVD and CloneDVD and every movie I would rent or buy would be "pirated" so that I could watch my own movies the way I want.

When it comes right down to it consumers would have four choices:
1.) stop watching movies (consumer loses entertainment)
2.) accept the ads (consumer loses control)
3.) pay extra $$ for a movie w/o ads (consumer loses money)
4.) pirate (consumer is a criminal)

The consumer loses in all scenarios. If I'm going to be treated like a criminal, I may as well just be a criminal and get something out of it.

RE: ...
By JKflipflop98 on 11/27/2007 2:07:24 PM , Rating: 2
You, Sir, win the smartest post of the day.

You know what really scares me? How some people are already bending over in anticipation for this crap.

RE: ...
By Alexstarfire on 11/27/2007 6:13:28 PM , Rating: 2
It is a smart post, but even so it would only affect me a little. Even if I bought a movie that had the ads, more than likely I'd just use DVD Shrink to get rid of them or at least let me be able to skip them.

If they want them cheaper that way, then fine by me. I'm not gonna be watching the commercials on the DVD either way.

If I ended up being forced to watch them, then they would no longer be getting my money. Why would I pay twice to watch TV?

RE: ...
By numbnuts on 11/27/2007 8:19:30 PM , Rating: 2
But you are forgetting that MPAA is pushing for the closing of the "Fair Use" loop-hole and the banning of copying your own DVDs on to any other media (ie re-burning to another DVD w/o the ads, or to your hard disk and streaming) .. so you still become a criminal.

RE: ...
By Alexstarfire on 11/28/2007 12:14:21 AM , Rating: 2
Well, then I guess I'll either be a criminal, but who isn't these days, or they won't get my money. I don't usually buy DVDs anyways. So many of them are crap. I mean, if you can only stand to watch a movie once then it's pretty bad.

RE: ...
By ADDAvenger on 11/27/2007 10:55:52 PM , Rating: 2
The article was vague on whether we'll be charged more for ad-less movies, or simply pay more relative to the ad supported versions.

If they jack up prices on adless movies just so they can make us think we're getting a discount by going ad supported, I'll scream right alongside you.

But, if adless movies stay the same price, and ad supported rentals come in at a buck less, I would be perfectly fine with that.

RE: ...
By Moishe on 11/28/2007 9:20:42 AM , Rating: 2
I hear you, BUT I see this as just a temporary method to get into our wallets and then jack the price. They simply introduce "cheaper" movies with ads and wait until you get used to it then raise the price of the adless movies. But one way or another you're still paying .

It's easy to raise a price from $1 to $2. it's more difficult to raise it from $0 to $1 because what was free (paid for by ads) is not still paid for by ads, and no longer free. I'm against any entertainment where I pay and am still forced to watch commercials.

"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay
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