SureWest to Mix VoD With DVD Sales
SureWest will start off by pitching six new Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. titles on DVD and Blu-ray (Arthur, Hall Pass, Something Borrowed, Sucker Punch, Red Riding Hood and Unknown) directly to customers who can also get them on the service provider's VoD service.
Does this idea stand much of a chance of being successful? When was the last time you wanted to buy a DVD after you just paid to watch it on VoD?
The idea of combining VoD with DVD sales, though new for SureWest, has been tried before, and it wasn't exactly a hit.
Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) and Popcorn Home Entertainment gave it a shot in 2008, whereby Popcorn sent the physical DVD directly to customers after they ordered the movie from the MSO's VoD service for $9.95 to $19.95, plus shipping, depending on the age of the title. Cablevision confirmed that the DVD purchase capability was shut down a while ago. And a visit to the URL Popcorn Home Entertainment was using in 2008 (www.popcorntv.com) suggests that the company is no longer with us, either. (See Cablevision VOD Gets Physical.)
So, SureWest, which is the first operator to deploy SeaChange International Inc. (Nasdaq: SEAC)'s Watch & Buy app, doesn't exactly have history on its side.
But it'll likely have access to more content down the road. The initial focus of Watch & Buy is on new releases, but "[u]ltimately, we have access to the full Warner Bros. film library," SeaChange says.
Title quality will of course play a role here, but how successful SureWest is will also hinge on how it executes. SureWest initially will charge for VoD and purchases separately, but the operator can configure it so the price of the VoD rental could be applied toward the purchase of the DVD.
Maybe SureWest wants to see how well it can do by first selling DVD titles for full price, but I imagine customers might be tempted a bit more if the price on the VoD rental was akin to a down payment for the DVD.
Business models aside, the concept of mingling DVD sales with VoD rentals is probably due for another go, but I think this idea will stand a much better chance once it gets buy-in from many more top studios.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable