Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fox Movies Come to iTunes; DRM-Free Warner Music Tunes to Amazon

More and more content is becoming available "on-demand" through things like specialty cable channels or PVRs. But one of the biggest ways of obtaining content "when you want it" is via the Web. Two big announcements were made this week that bring additional content to the online arena.

The first is from Twentieth Century Fox, which reportedly will soon offer its movies for "rent" through Apple's popular iTunes digital download service. This is great if you want to catch the latest DVD release on your iPod Video while flying or taking a train out of town; or even if you just want to view the content on your computer screen at home (which, surprisingly, many people are quite happy doing). How will the traditional movie rental business feel about this? With movies available on-demand through cable services like Rogers, and more and more movies purchasable via the Web, are movie rental retailers on the way to becoming obsolete? Or will they continue to serve a different market that appreciates the physical format, or who prefers the high-definition DVD formats, perhaps?

The second announcement hails from Warner Music, which will begin to offer its artist's tunes for download without DRM restrictions through Amazon's online digital music service. This means that, once a track has been downloaded, the consumer can do with it as he pleases: burn it to a CD for listening in the car, transfer it to an iPod or other digital music player, or just catalogue it on his PC.

As announcements like these slowly come down the pike, we're seeing a major shift in the way content is not only consumed, but also produced. With the Hollywood Writer's Guild strike still in effect, new TV programming has been scarce, yet online content continues to thrive. CD sales have also been dropping as consumers become more and more inclined to download songs via the web.

The Internet certainly can't serve as the main hub for everything entertainment: it simply isn't logical to put every egg in this one, delicate basket. But it certainly needs to be on every entertainment company's radar as an important, and potentially lucrative part, of their future business.

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