Starting on December 8, Sony plans to make the movie Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs available for streaming, at 720p, a month ahead of the retail release, to those who have broadband-enabled Sony TVs and Blu-ray players. The catch? It will cost users $24.95 for a 24 hour rental, or the same price as buying it on Blu-ray.
While some studios have been experimenting with the idea of "day-and-date" release, this offering by Sony isn't even that. While one could argue that you're streaming the movie a full month before you can even buy it on DVD or Blu-ray, charging $24.95 for a rental simply means that Sony is setting themselves up for failure. It's ironic that for all the noise some studios make about offerings like this, they are never willing to go on-record and give out any details on how many movies were sold. I wonder why.
How Sony can think this is a value to any consumer is beyond me, except for the fact that the studios have been treating customers like this forever. Two years ago, many of the major studios talked about doing day-and-date releases, which is the act of releasing a movie on DVD, VOD and on digital services like iTunes all on the same day. Consumers got excited with the idea, but according to Rentrak, only 30 movies were released last year day-and date on DVD and VOD, not including iTunes. Sadly, none of this comes as any surprise though since according to Rentrak, cable and telco VOD transactions are up 14% year over year. The studios, with their short-sighted vision, are still worried about digital distribution eating into their VOD and DVD profits and would rather fight it, even though consumers are demanding it.
Updated: As if this should surprise anyone, Sony's CEO was quoted in the NYTimes in reference to the $24.95 price saying. "We don’t need a war with Wal-Mart or any other organization, and I don’t think they’re hostile to this." More proof that the studios only care about their DVD revenue.