The price of online movies
Sooner or later full-length films over the Net will happen ... it's just a question of for how much.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Last weekend, I had a craving to watch "Blazing Saddles" again.
Don't ask me why. The words "Mongo like candy" were just echoing through my head.
But, unfortunately, "Blazing Saddles" was not in my meager DVD collection. So I just channel flipped in and out of "The Last Samurai" instead.
What a wonderful world it would be if I could just go to my iTunes and download "Blazing Saddles" with a few clicks of a button, much like I download songs when the wisp of a distant melody slides into my head?
Of course, two major problems loom.
One is the time-and-technology factor. Downloading a major piece of music can take way too long sometimes. Can you imagine downloading something by Martin Scorsese? (I stole that line from our media columnist, but it makes the point).
I've noticed, though, that the technical barriers tend to fade away with time, especially with entertainment on the Internet. The pornographers usually lead the way.
The other problem is money: How much do you charge for a full-length movie through iTunes? Apple, no doubt hoping to replicate the simplicity and appeal of its 99-cents-a-song success, is apparently pushing for a simple $9.99-per-movie model. That's seems like a deal to me. I pay that to see a first run film in the theater ... and to put up with people talking on cell phones and 15 minutes worth of ads.
But movie studios, much like their music label brethren, want to charge more for popular things and less for not-so-popular things.
The movie studios should probably give a little here.
"Right now, a consumer can easily find any full-length movie on DVD or on-demand," pointed out Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster in a recent note to investors. "Apple has focused on TV shows because unlike full-length movies, there is a clear value proposition to the consumer and the networks in offering TV shows.
"For a consumer, if you miss an episode (or entire season) of a show, iTunes is the only way to see it unless you want to wait until the episode comes out on DVD," Munster said. "The benefit to the networks is that this is a new way to monetize original TV content."
Well, movie studios are eventually going to want to sell their stuff, old and new, over the Internet. And to do that effectively, they'll have to dance to the iTunes. It does control more than three-quarters of the online download market. That will mean one price. The question is, what price?
My new "Blazing Saddles" DVD cost me $14.99.