Renting Movies is Still Difficult

I don’t have cable service so XBox and now iTunes movie rentals should make perfect sense for me. I hate going to blockbuster and sometimes I can’t wait for my next Nexflix movie to arrive. But it’s still difficult to rent movies on my terms.

I have two problems with online rentals.

1. The rental process is not pain free. If you are using iTunes, how do you get the movie onto your tv? Can I watch it on another computer on my network? What does this offer over pay-per-view? What is really annoying is that you have to wait for movies to fully download before watching them – Average download time for me is 3 hours, something that will be solved in terms of future bandwidth speeds. Fred Wilson had a great idea for texting in movie rentals to iTunes. The movie would then begin downloading on your computer at home, ready for you watch when you got home.

2. $3-4 per movie. Come on, if RedBox can do it for 99 cents, surely Microsoft and Apple could at least match that. I was thinking a buck, Seth Godin suggests 50 cents. Why not just grab the movie I want from bittorrent? Either way $3-4 is way to high for something that can and will scale. Set Godin makes a great point about finding the right price (50 cents):

All desire for piracy goes out the window, replaced by convenience, ease of use and a clear conscience.


I just hope these issues will be solved with realistic solutions as suing your potential customers is not the route to take.