Sunday, February 24, 2008

Why are Cable VOD Rentals Just 24 Hours?

The kids were bored on a Saturday afternoon and the weather was cold and wet. A perfect opportunity to watch a movie. The choice was to get in the car and head off to the movie theater or stay at home and watch a movie on demand. What was not in our decision process was to get in the car and go to the store and rent a movie. Financially, a day at the movies for a family of 4 can approach $50 with popcorn. A movie on demand, $5. And if we had gone to the video store, about the same.

We chose the movie on demand. As the economy appears to enter a recession, I would expect more families to opt for their living room than the movie house. And while it was financially more pleasant, it was not as easy to watch. First, it took a few times to get through the on demand menu because of contention on the line. Second, we were interrupted an hour into the movie the dual DVR feature began recording two shows and our on demand movie stopped. Third, the movie was saved, but did not know where we stopped and so we had to slowly fast forward an hour. That trick feature took 10 minutes and made me wish that VOD worked like a Tivo and could advance in 15 minute increments or like a DVD and fid the correct scene. Fourth, and last point, the movie, while inexpensive was only available for 24 hours while a video rental of the same price has a much longer rental period. While adults tend to be fine with a single viewing experience, kids like to watch shows over and over again. It is hard to believe that a longer rental period could not be made available for movies, especially to further compete with the video rental experience.

Now of the four issues, while the 24 hour rental is irksome, it can be bypassed in a kids world by buying the film say on a Saturday afternoon and watching it again on Sunday morning. For the kids, they feel like they got the multiple viewing. What might make me reconsider the video rental experience is the scene selection and flexibility to access points in the movie. Perhaps cable should worry about Netflix or Apple overtaking them.