Before Disney+ Streaming There Were Moviebeam Downloads

Cord Cutters News recently asked, “What was your first streaming player?” And, as one might expect, quite a few “civilians” replied with Roku devices. But all sorts of digital video products and services pre-date the very first Netflix streamer and it’s fascinating to reflect upon the various technological and corporate arcs.

For example, one of the early movie download solutions was Moviebeam, a joint venture of Disney and Cisco. You’d purchase the 160GB set-top and then rent movies for a few bucks… that streamed down over an antenna, of all things. The device was a commercial flop, which is why you’ve likely never heard of it, but notable to see Disney dabbling in this space all the way back in 2006.

Although, as much as things have changed. Many have not. 15 years later, release windows are still a thing. You can purchase a digital copy of Frozen 2 today from a MoviesAnywhere partner, another Disney business, but my daughter is likely stuck waiting until June to stream Frozen 2 on Disney+. ‾\_(ツ)_/‾

6 thoughts on “Before Disney+ Streaming There Were Moviebeam Downloads”

  1. Not so old time, but my first streaming box was a TiVo HD (series 3) dvr. Before Netflix, you could rent videos from Amazon’s “Unboxed” service (later known as Prime Video). The download came via internet (in my case, a wifi connection to a DSL modem) and was stored on the TiVo drive. It could not be started until the download was completed- and once started, had to be viewed within a set time frame before it turned into a pumpkin and was deleted.

    It was somewhat mind blowing at the time, and quickly became the video rental choice over the neighborhood blockbuster.

    The app for Amazon was withdrawn from the HD some years ago, and my understanding is that the Netflix app was (or will be soon) removed from the HD as well.

  2. I loved the “Unbox” branding. “Amazon Video” was so lame by comparison (and now superceded by “Prime Video”). I spent a lot of money on Unbox via TiVo. :)

    Alan, I tweaked the sentence to be more precise.

  3. Anyone remember their was a DVD service that tried to launch in the 90’s similar to the unbox as well. You could buy a disc for a couple of bucks, after you played it, it would stop working. The service never really took off. I worked at a circuit city at the time and they were supporting the format (maybe even owned a stake in it?)

  4. Reading this post made me recall joining a VUDU beta program back in 2007. I dug up the welcome email (below) just for historical preservation and anyone who may be curious.


    Mon 12/3/2007 3:50 PM

    Dear VUDU Beta Applicant,

    VUDU is currently recruiting people to join our evangelist program.

    We believe VUDU has the opportunity to transform the way we enjoy movies at home-in other words, to change the world. Why is this important? Because today people are not watching what they want to watch-they’re watching what’s available to watch. The truth is we deserve an on-demand experience.

    To learn more about VUDU, click here:
    We expect evangelists to:

    * Educate others about the benefits of getting movies delivered over the Internet and directly to the TV.
    * Respond to third-party blog postings.
    * Participate in online surveys and help us shape the product’s evolution.
    * Present the product to friends and acquaintances by hosting movie parties.
    * Be our eyes and ears in the marketplace.

    If you qualify, we’re prepared to offer you a VUDU box for $99 (regular retail price is $399). In addition, we’ll credit your account with $99 worth of movie credits.

    We have a limited number of units available for evangelists, so I ask that you respond within four days of receiving this invitation. To confirm your interest, please visit:

    You will be asked to fill out a short survey, to see if you qualify for the program. If you have any questions, please email This e-mail does not guarantee acceptance into the evangelist program.

    We are excited about the possibility of your joining our customer advocacy team.

Comments are closed.