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)_/‾

View Comments

  • Nitpicky, I know, but Movies Anywhere is a locker service. You can't actually buy anything from them.

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    The app for Amazon was withdrawn from the HD some years ago, and my understanding is that the Netflix app was (or will be soon) removed from the HD as well.

  • 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 "Amazon Video" was so lame by comparison (and now superceded by "Prime Video").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.

Published by
Dave Zatz