Universal hates digital distribution (and customers)

(via The Consumerist)

I will admit to being in love with the “Company X hates blah” general title, but it just seems so many companies don’t want customers, or don’t want customers to have a good experience.  This latest is based on the news that Universal pictures is going to offer movies for download starting next month.  That doesn’t sound bad, until you look in to pricing.  The first movie available will be King Kong, for the amazing price of $35.  The same movie I can get from Amazon.com for $15 and rip to digital format myself using free tools, I can download in a Digital Restriction Mangled (DRM) format for only $35.  I can’t decide if Universal is doing this to show how much they hate consumers, to show the market how “selling downloadable movies doesn’t work,” or if the executives in charge of this just have no clue how this works.  I’m pretty sure those are the only three choices, but I’m willing to entertain other options if my readers have other thoughts.

Some interesting or entertaining bits from the article:

Films will be available to download the same day the DVD is released. Consumers will get the film in three formats: two digital files available for instant download — one for a PC or laptop and one for a portable device — and a DVD copy sent by mail.

Actually, this alone sounds good.  For your money, you are getting a physical product plus a digital product.  But converting to digital on your own is just too easy to justify the price.  Besides, what about people who only want a digital version?  I guess they have to ebay the DVD, or get stuck with a product they don’t want.

Initially, 35 Universal films will be available, including “Pride And Prejudice,” “The Bourne Supremacy,” “Love Actually,” “Nanny McPhee” and “Bridget Jones.”

They will be priced from £19.99 ($35) for the latest releases to £9.99 ($17.50) for older films. Downloading a film will take between 40 minutes and an hour.

The $17.50 price point sounds far better.  And I suspect that many movies will sell at that point.  But even new movies don’t seem likely to do well at $35.  But hey, I could be wrong.

Eventually all 6,500 movies in the Universal catalogue could be made available for downloading, PA reported.

This is also good.  But we’ll have to see what pricing is, and we’ll need to see if all of the offered movies are 2 digital + 1 DVD versions, or if there is a way to go digital only.

Security measures will make it impossible to e-mail the film to somebody else.

With people like DVD Jon around, I don’t believe this.  And the folks at Stardock have already shown with Galactic Civilizations 2 that people are willing to purchase digital products, even when those products are not copy restricted and are available illegally for free (yes, even when companies which provide Digital Restriction Mangling software provide links to illegal copies to show how unprotected software gets pirated).  Why don’t the companies just give consumers a chance to buy usable digital products?  The world might never know.

[tags]Universal pictures, Digital movie distribution[/tags]

One thought on “Universal hates digital distribution (and customers)”

Comments are closed.