Tech Connect: Online Distribution a Reality?

While the debate and speculation rages on over the next generation DVD format- HD-DVD or Blu-Ray.

But, new formats aside, this Slashdot article, a new company is offering a service where one can download and burn the material to your own DVDs. The service works like other online rental services; the customer pays a monthy fee for unlimited downloads and from there one can burn them to DVD for play later. As the service is just beginning, the company, CinemaNow, only has a number of titles around 100 and they are not exactly A-list titles. But now is the important test now is to see if the service can be profitable. If it can be profitable on this level, then most likely, irregardless of the Next-Gen Format Wars just beginning, we could see the big Hollywood firms taking advantage of this or similar distrobution services.

So, how does this relate to the Anime companies? The actual retail costs of DVDs in the US is a point of contention among many fans. With consumers looking for the cheapest prices, often finding Internet retailers cutting MSRPs from single percentages to a full 1/3, and many US licensing companies facing minimal profit margins on individual disc sales, perhaps a method of online distrobution as provided by CinemaNow or similar service would be something to look into. Ideally, marketing to old fashioned retail stores, shipment, and packaging models would change completely and in many of their current capacities, be compltely eliminated from the cost structure as we know it. Though CinemaNow offers a monthly subscription, perhaps individual licensing companies could offer a "flat rate" per episode or cost for a batch of episodes, still dropping prices but at the same time increasing their profits on products. Should this movement gain popularity, especially in the tech communities which are frequently citing "outdated distribution models" and requests for more online distribution, this might be an important factor in continuing to pull the anime industry out of its current slump.



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