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 sviola on 11/27/2007 3:18:08 PM , Rating: 4
I think you're being naive here. EA did add ads to BF2140 (not sure of the year, but I know it's in the future) and the game had no reduction in price...still was $50 at launch.

Do you think movie studios will lower pricing (remember Sony is a big player in the movie market and they stripped the PS3 of the EE and still charged the same price of the PS3 with it)?

It's much more probable that they'll increase the price of the non-ad version.

RE: ...
By omnicronx on 11/27/2007 4:30:48 PM , Rating: 2
I find it funny how you all compare the big bad 'MOVIE INDUSTRY' or even the gaming industry with that the movie rental industry. And who is 'They' anyways?

Of course if the MPAA controlled the rental business I would be afraid of dramatic price increases, but the fact remains they really dont. Movie rentals are at an all time low, the chances licensing prices for movies raising significantly is very small because of this.

Amazingly the MPAA has no authority on pricing other than licensing fees, so what do they have to do with it? Companies like blockbuster will set their pricing to remain competitive, as they now have the competition of movie pirating and Movies on Demand.

It just does not make good business sense for a company like blockbuster to raise their prices (more than inflation) especially when as many of you noted, the reason you rent videos is because they do not contain commercials. Unless they plan on shooting themselves in the foot, I do not see this coming any time soon.

I am not even going to counter the video game comment,
compare apples to apples, or have some sort of relevance linking the two. Did EA make two different versions and charge more for the non commercial version?
Theres no reason to bring in commercial rentals at the current rental price point, its just not going to happen not anytime soon at least.
When people stop renting movies, this may become a possibility as it will be a necessity to stay in business.

As for the ps3, There was NOT a ps3 at the 399 pricepoint before the 40G model came out, the lowest price before the 40gig release was 499.

RE: ...
By Drexial on 11/29/2007 11:44:51 AM , Rating: 2
2 days late but i dont care

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.

do you see anything in there about the rental company? and the words "EXTRA FEE" for the ad-free version?

granted this is still all speculation.

"My sex life is pretty good" -- Steve Jobs' random musings during the 2010 D8 conference
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