Streaming Movies: Best Buy Preparing For A World Without DVDs

Best Buy announced a “a Best Buy-branded offering, available starting early next year,” that will stream “first-run DVDs” online directly to consumers, says the NYT Bits Blog.

“We’re going into this business in a big way,” Mr. Homeister said. “Our goal is to have broad availability in the marketplace, across multiple devices.”

The idea is to allow consumers to pay once for a DVD and then be able to play it “any device: television, Blu-ray disc player, personal computer, handheld media player or smartphone.”

Are you into this?

Best Buy Prepares for the Post-DVD Era [Best Buy]
(Photo:chhipkali)

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  1. TheSpatulaOfLove says:

    This smacks of Circuit City’s miserable attempt in the ill-fated self-destruct DivX rental thing they tried so hard to push.

    • mac-phisto says:

      @TheSpatulaOfLove: from the way it’s explained, this is more akin to popular digital stores like itunes or kindle. it’s a smart move for a big electronics retailer like BB.

      the devil’s in the details, though. divx failed b/c it was too proprietary, too costly & the real benefit to consumers was too small. if BB can roll out a digital store that’s easily accessible, provides cost incentives to consumers & is easy to adopt (like itunes), then i can see this being an awesome offering.

      • TheSpatulaOfLove says:

        @mac-phisto:

        Knowing BB’s business practices and the MPAA’s demands, this will likely be much the same as the DivX fiasco. I’ll agree, the devil will be in the details, but I don’t expect the combined ham-handedness of BB and the draconian policies of the MPAA to allow this to be an awesome offering.

        If I’m proven wrong and it actually is a cool offering – you now have my public offer to have me eat my words! ;)

        • secret_curse says:

          @TheSpatulaOfLove: I’ll throw this out: Napster kicks ass since BB bought it. $60/year for unlimited streaming plus at least 60 DRM-free mp3 files (you get some bonus downloads if you pay by the year or quarter). I didn’t think I’d ever say “Napster kicks ass” in this century.

          Hopefully they will do as well with their DVD service. I loves me some Netflix, but I’m all for any competition.

        • vastrightwing says:

          @TheSpatulaOfLove: @subtlefrog: Right on! This will not end well. Combine BB practices with MPAA industry greed and practices, the result is FAIL.
          1) Convenience – forget about it!
          2) Price – forget about it!
          3) Service – LMFAO!
          4) Compatibility – (limited)
          5) Performance – Sometimes may be OK
          6) Video/audio quality – (probably better than YouTube)
          Mark my words, “this will be a total dismal failure”
          The BEST we can hope for will be DRM that isn’t worse than what is already available. But my bet is that someone thinks they have the best DRM now. Problem is that any DRM is a fail DRM. So there will be no convenience. The price will be about the same as a regular DVD, forget about pricing below current levels, even Apple can’t pull that off. There will be no service or maybe a knowledge base self help system (best possible case). Compatibility will be what ever will run their proprietary software, which will be very limited. Performance will probably be OK to fail depending on how bad the DRM scheme is. An Atom (mobile) powered device will probably not work well. The audio/video quality will probably be better than youtube, but not by much. This scenereo is BEST possible case. I think reality will be worse than this.

  2. logicalnoise says:

    Disney announced an identical program a week ago. As usual the industry learns from the pirates then magically one studio does it and the rest follow.

  3. Gorphlog says:

    Why would anyone want to stream movies. The bandwith isnt there for most people, especially for 1080P content, and even if it was, what happens when your internet goes down and you want to watch a movie. Plus it’s nice actually receiving a physical copy of something you buy. streaming from your PC to TV would be OK though

    • Aesteval says:

      @Gorphlog: But it depends on what you want to stream. Streaming works well enough for a replacement of the rental model: you stream movies that you may want to give a shot but may not want to actually buy.

      That said, it doesn’t sound like that’s what BestBuy is trying to do.

    • logicalnoise says:

      @Gorphlog: silverlight streaming via the zune store on xbox 360 is in fact pretty darn close. 1080P requires a monster connection on there but it scales beautifully on the fly even.

      • Gorphlog says:

        @logicalnoise:

        Thats only true if youre lucky enough to have a FIOS connection of like 20MB or more otherwise you cant download it fast enough without a long buffer. Many people across the country are still stuck with DSL or worse

      • anduin1 says:

        @logicalnoise:
        wish I could stream anything properly, I’m essentially stuck on a 2mb wireless connection because the two big ISPs here don’t reach my area yet. So when I want to watch a show I’ve missed, I actually need an average quality stream like something by megavideo.

  4. Chairman-Meow says:

    People, we are talking about Best Buy here.

    You know they will only offer DRM-laden downloaded that will only be allowed to play once, not be tranferable acrossany platforms, will be subject to remote deletion without notice, etc.

    Downloaded content will never fully succeed until they offer the downloaded without DRM and that, once you download, it is yours permanently.

  5. Goatweed says:

    I see this failing miserably – CC tried this a few years ago and noone cared.

  6. redskull says:

    So if I buy one of these movies from BB, will they allow me to burn it to a DVD? If not, your hard drive full of downloaded movies is a ticking time bomb that’s going to eventually die one day, taking all your precious movies with it.

  7. sean98125 says:

    I’d be willing to do this, but only if I have to bring all of my devices to the Geek Squad to be optimized.

  8. esc27 says:

    It sounds like BB is going to be essentially renting DVDs at full price. Good luck when they cancel the service and your DVD’s are gone.
    The streaming model only works for rental/subscriptions where customers expect temporary access and are charged less because of it.

  9. That's Consumer007 to you says:

    Will we have to buy online warranty packages for each download at 3 times the cost? lol

  10. CentralServices says:

    The simple fact is, the broadband infrastructure in the USA isn’t developed enough for this to be feasible yet, and the strain on the existing networks is already reaching critical overload. The fastest plan offered by Concast is 50M, and this is actually slower than the average speed in Japan (~65M), and it’s absurdly expensive to boot (like all their services). I also feel that this is another attempt at removing what little control end-users have, while appearing to do the opposite. Call me a luddite if you wish, but I won’t give up physical media; how do you resell a digital download? You can’t, and that is what the content providers want to do away with by turning their IP products into consumables.

  11. techstar25 says:

    Good luck with that. Twelve months from now the headline will read “World preparing for a world without Best Buy”.

  12. Trai_Dep says:

    Apple : Microsoft -> Netflix : Best Buy

  13. Blueskylaw says:

    Anything that these media/entertainment companies say is bad for you is actually good for you and anything that they say is good for you is actually bad for you.

    Richards Maxim

  14. lunasdude says:

    Look, Best Buy doing this is just like Block Buster or any other kind of “not well liked retailer” doing it.
    I am buying a 50″ or larger HDTV and was looking at BB but not now.
    not since their going to start selling their “streaming enabled” system in almost all of the web connected electronics they sell.

  15. junip says:

    where’s the option in this poll that flat out says “i don’t trust best buy”?

  16. Vejadu says:

    If I can’t buy a movie, cd or video game on a physical format, I’ll simply stop buying. Digital distribution removes the consumer’s ability to backup, lend out or resell the product. DRM often makes digital copies extremely difficult to transfer between devices, like digital copies of a movie that come with a dvd/blu-ray. It’s a coin-toss wether you’ve got a device that supports the digital copy format or not.

    I’m a collector, so I enjoy keeping a nice collection of my DVDs, Blu-Rays, video games and CDs. I have the freedom to use them however I choose instead of being restricted to a proprietary format that can only be played in approved devices. I also stream movies from my computer to my living room through my XBox, though if my hard drive fails I don’t have to re-download a 2TB of movies or even worse, repurchase them. I have the physical discs on hand as the primary format and the backup format. If they get scratched, I can have the scratches buffed out for $3, and Blu-Rays are really difficult to scratch, as they have a different type of coating that’s highly scratch resistant.

  17. brandiniman says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHA Divx

  18. zandar says:

    @The Cynical Librarian:

    This happens to me, too, and I’ve decided it’s more of an Operating system/ AV software problem.

    There are programs you can use- Windows Media Center, Meedio, even Tivo analogues like BeyondTV that can manage audio and video files, organizing them so you don’t forget they exist.

    Mind you, none of the products mentioned are perfect. Some of them might not even work with your hardware. And this is a HUGE problem, as I see this as the future form of most home PCs. yeah, you’ll still use them for word processing and web surfing, but the lion’s share will be investing in managing local media collections and accessing media in the cloud. All of this uncertainty is making a vacuum that a startup with the right brain power could fill immediately. Hopefully someone will step into it soon.

  19. rhys1882 says:

    @The Cynical Librarian: You know AMC reruns the latest Mad Men a few times during the week before the next one.

  20. The Cynical Librarian says:

    @zandar: It’s more an issue where I forget it exists, and considering there’s no physical reminder of it existing, it’s tough for me to quantify it as actually being owned. It’s getting to the point where ownership of media is pointless though, so I guess I can’t complain.

  21. The Cynical Librarian says:

    @MostlyHarmless: I’m assuming he has the Zack Morris cell phone plan

  22. diasdiem says:

    @GMFish: To watch. The impressiveness is a bonus. Troll.

  23. Coelacanth says:

    @GMFish: Ummm… looking at one’s DVD/book collection can be quite a conversation starter – and very informatative – when you’re beginning to get to know somebody.

  24. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    @GMFish: Have you seen four people trying to decide what movie to watch? It’s so much easier to actually stand in front of some bookcases and talk about it, rather than designate one poor soul to list movie names off the computer.

  25. tbax929 says:

    @The Cynical Librarian:
    Sadly, no. I think the Phils needed to win at least two at home, and Lee can’t pitch every day. But it’s been a fun World Series regardless. Even more off-topic: as a life-long Yankee hater, I often find myself rooting for your Red Sox.

  26. UGAdawg says:

    @diasdiem: I like having a hard copy in case I don’t have access to the internet for streaming. Plus it’s nice having a back up in case a hard drive goes wonky. That’s one of the reasons I haven’t thrown away my CD collection. I threw away the jewel cases a long time ago but have my collection in a binder style portfolio.

    However I think Netflix has Best Buy beat if they charge per DVD. I like Netflix’s one time fee and unlimited access to streaming. I may not have the hard copy but it’s nice knowing that I can stream unlimited titles while I’m at home. It may not work while I’m traveling though. It would be great if Netflix allowed you to ‘rent’ a movie like iTunes by allowing you to download a digital copy that expires after 30 days or within 24 hours of viewing. That would rock.

  27. Dawnrazor says:

    @diasdiem: You can add me to the list of luddite holdouts who refuse to abandon physical media. In my case its music (I don’t really care much about movies, one viewing is usually enough for all but the best films), and I’ve NEVER downloaded a single track from iTunes or anywhere else.

    First, I want ALL of the bits. (Actually prefer the nice analog waveforms you get directly off vinyl, but I digress.) Compressed audio just DOES NOT sound as good as uncompressed redbook CD (not to mention SACD or vinyl). The same applies to compressed video. If I have the actual CD/SACD, I have all the bits, AND I retain the ability to rip at whatever compression I want if going “mobile” (all without DRM, of course). I’m stuck if all I have is a 128 or 256 kbps file crippled with DRM or other restrictions on its use/distribution.

    Next, I want the physical media because it’s more pleasurable to actually use. I sit in front of a garish computer display all day at work, and just don’t want to do more of the same when I get home (especially if there are software or hardware problems, which is not uncommon). The dimly lit, warm ambience (often with a little incense/aromatherapy) I prefer when listening to music is just not compatible with a computer display! It’s simply much more relaxing to browse through shelves of CDs and LPs (looking at artwork and liner notes in the process) than it is to scroll through lists with a mouse. Particularly with vinyl, and to a lesser extent, optical media, the act of interfacing with the equipment and preparing to listen builds anticipation and turns it into an “event”.

    Also, as you alluded to, maintaining a music/movie COLLECTION has its own intrinsic rewards. It has nothing to do with impressing anyone; some people (like myself) simply enjoy the activities involved in maintaining a collection. Some folks collect coins, some collect beanie babies, some collect die-cast models of their favorite cars, and some like to collect music and movies! It’s a nice little “subhobby”.

    Finally, I like my CDs because I retain “custody” of my music at all times. Hard drives fail, back up services involve companies that may or may not survive long-term (then what happens to your stuff?). If I have everything shelved in my own home, I only have to worry about fire and theft.

    I can’t imagine I’m the only one who feels this way, and I don’t see physical media going extinct anytime soon (despite what Wal-Mart and BB do – I get along quite nicely never darkening the doors of either!)

  28. diasdiem says:

    @UGAdawg: A lot of the online titles eventually expire and become unavailable, but there are plenty of titles that seem to always be available. It’s saved me the expense of buying them. Great thing about the hard copy, there’s no DRM to prevent you from sharing with or borrowing from friends like there would inevitably be with digital copies.

  29. AI says:

    @thesadtomato: We’re hardly ruining the environment by making DVDs. If you’re going to worry about useless plastic, complain about bottled water or something.

  30. The Cynical Librarian says:

    @rhys1882: Normally they do, but with Halloween being last week they cut out their usual 10:30 Monday night showing by playing Thirteen Ghosts followed by Halloween (original version).

  31. UGAdawg says:

    @diasdiem: Exactly. It’s nice being able to go to a friend’s house and sharing a movie with them or borrowing one from them. You don’t have to worry about them having a media pc hooked up to their TV. It’s just a matter of having a $50 DVD player and you’re set.

  32. secret_curse says:

    @AirIntake: And that helps you when you lose or scratch the disc?

  33. The Cynical Librarian says:

    @Dawnrazor: Of course CDs can get scratched, etc… Similar to a hard drive failure, you’re out of luck.

  34. UGAdawg says:

    @The Cynical Librarian: Actually you can repair a CD fairly cheaply. There are disk polishing kits that can buff a scratch right out. Trying to repair a hard drive is cost prohibitive and there are no guarantees that the area where the data is isn’t physically damaged from a platter crash. Having physical media is still the way to go. Even large companies that own software still keep a hard copy on file even if they’ve got a copy on a server.

  35. Dawnrazor says:

    @The Cynical Librarian:
    True enough, but in true anal complusive fashion I generally avoid any problems with a little care (have plenty of CDs from the early 80s with pristine playing surfaces which have never been cleaned). This mostly involves simply taking care of the discs: handle them by the edges only, and always store them in jewel cases (NEVER, NEVER use storage cases in which you have to slide the discs in and out of pockets, and certainly avoid the car sun visor cases).

    Unfortunately, some new CDs are being released in packaging which in and of itself risks damaging the discs; a good example is the stereo Beatles remasters-very disappointing packaging, especially the White Album. (Conversely, the mono box discs are BRILLIANTLY packaged in replica LP jackets complete with replicas of the paper inner sleeves-typical awesome Japanese attention to detail contrasting with typical American half-assedness when it comes to CD pressing/packaging).

    Also, I NEVER load CDs into any player that makes contact with the playing surface (such as slot-loaders common in cars and computers); drawer or top-loading players are the easiest on the discs. If I want to listen in the car or take discs with me, I simply burn a copy and leave the original safely at home. It IS a little bit of extra work, but I have a fairly large collection with lots of OOP stuff that would be very difficult (and expensive) to replace.

  36. thisistobehelpful says:

    @floraposte: COLD DEAD HANDS.