Disney’s MovieBeam Goes HD

Dave Zatz —  February 14, 2006

MovieBeam, who just received a large cash infusion, is relaunching in 29 markets this year. In fact, my neighborhood already appears to be online. Basically you buy the Linksys MovieBeam set-top box, every week a few movies are downloaded via a digital over-the-air (OTA) signal, and then you choose which you want to rent. The movie rental includes a 24 hour viewing period and typical DVR controls. Initially, only Disney and Warner Brothers content will be offered.

If they weren’t upgrading the service to include HD movies, I’d say they’re doomed to fail with this pricing model. By offering HD, they may have a chance… though I wouldn’t bet on it. I believe most people will still prefer Netflix’s understandable low-tech methods and reasonable rates. Not to mention, anyone with a cable or satellite box has access to some sort of PPV or VOD without MovieBeam’s upfront hardware fee. Things could get interesting since Disney, the originator and a major investor, is leveraging their movie library by making flicks available to MovieBeam 30 days prior to when cable providers can offer them via VOD.

LA Times says: The service allows customers to rent movies from a library of 100 titles stored in a set-top box. As many as 10 new films, including some in high definition, are automatically delivered to the device each week via television airwaves. The MovieBeam box costs $199.99 after a $50 rebate and requires a one-time service activation fee of $30. Movie rental fees are $3.99 for new releases — $4.99 for films in high definition — and $1.99 for older titles.

3 responses to Disney’s MovieBeam Goes HD

  1. So basically, it’s a new service that exists solely because release windows still exist for Hollywood movies. I wouldn’t hold out much hope for this…

  2. Dave,
    Check the site; I think several more studios like Paramount and 20th Cent/Fox are on board.

  3. Yeah, I had noticed multiple distribution partner logos on their site. But I also read in the one of many articles that the initial selection of films will be just Disney and Warners. Though, it’s probably worth noting I did see conflicting info amongst sources (23 v 29 sites, studios involved, rental prices, etc).

    By the way, HD Beat did a great job speculating how this service will most likely fail: http://www.hdbeat.com/2006/02/15/moviebeam-who-wants-it/