Moviebeam Acquired By Movie Gallery

Talk about irony… I was drafting a “How To Save Moviebeam” post, when low and behold they’re purchased by Movie Gallery. While an acquisition wasn’t on my list, an expanded retail presence (in video rental stores) won’t hurt — though Best Buy end caps and shelf space in Radio Shack hasn’t seemed to be of much help. The selling price wasn’t disclosed, though Cisco, Disney, and Intel invested $48+ million after the unit was spun off from Disney. Presumably, Movie Gallery sees this as a way to get into digital delivery of content – much like Blockbuster is eyeing Movielink.

I’ve had Moviebeam in the house for about nine or ten months now (review here, YouTube video here), but it’s been sitting under the coffee table collecting dust for at least six of them. The idea to utilize unused broadcast bandwidth to “beam” movies over-the-air seemed clever, but in practice my reception was spotty… even after taping the antenna to the window (which wasn’t so attractive). MovieBeam also requires a telephone line to periodically dial up for billing purposes (pay per movie rental), which doesn’t work so well with the early adopters who might be interested in their product. So the first tip of my original “How To Save Moviebeam” post was to introduce them to the Internet and suggest they leverage the provided Ethernet jack.

My second suggestion was to go: All HD, all the time. Again, the market for this is (was?) the early adopter crowd. We’ve got HD sets and we want to use them. Three to five HD movies on the box at a time is not sufficient… Especially if they’re charging $200-$250 for the hardware. (At one point, they did offer an online promotion to get the box for $50. Looks like it’s $100 online at the moment.)

It’s not clear yet how the new owners of Moviebeam will position the product and how or if the service will evolve. Honestly, I was about ready to borrow a torx screwdriver to cannibalize the harddrive and pick up an enclosure for some external storage. However, I think I’ll hang tight for now.

7 thoughts on “Moviebeam Acquired By Movie Gallery”

  1. For those of you not familiar with Movie Gallery, they are a video rental chain. There aren’t any in my area, though they own Hollywood Video which is.

  2. Great post Dave. I will be very interested in seeing how Movie Gallery integrates Movie Beam into their brand. The most logical step to me would be to rent pre-loaded MovieBeam boxes for XX per month. Then you take away the pay per movie charges that people don’t like and you can help subsidize the cost of the box by letting people pay for it over time, instead of up front. I’m not sure what type of inventory MovieBeam is sitting on, but that would seem to make the most sense.

    On the other hand, if Movie Gallery is planning on charing $100 – $300 for the box, plus $3 – $5 movie charges, then they are toast.

  3. I’m glad you didn’t have to pay for that box, Dave – but your blog resulted in more of the product moving than any advertising we did. And no, there is no way to recycle the box & drive – I had a hacker friend in Seattle dismember one and it’s almost impossible.

  4. Too bad the movies weren’t on the house too. ;) Got any new clients with gear to review? Drop me a line.

    FYI Since Moviebeam, we’ve enacted an editorial policy in which everything goes back (or is given away) as soon as we’re done reviewing. Jason Calacanis (formerly of AOL/WIN) and Mike over at Hacking Netflix have been good role models for me.

  5. It sucks that you have to have a conventional land line in order to be billed. What with VOIP and digital lines becoming more popular, I dont know why they decided to cut this corner, its going to limit their market seriously.

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