Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Off Topic: Video on Demand for the Long Tail

I was on twitter this morning, when I noticed a cry for help from @wilsondan in the UK. He was in search of a movie from 1962 called Jigsaw starring Jack Warner. Well, movies are my specialty so I told him I would find it for him.

I did my normal searches and found info on the film, but nothing about its availability on DVD or even VHS. It looks like this film, like 1,000's of others, is just available for the occasional broadcast on TV.

What was interesting about my search was that, not only was Dan looking for this film, so were several others and that got me thinking:

VOD (Video on Demand) has not really taken off like music downloads, mostly because of bandwith issues and the fact that movies are meant to be played on a big screen, not a computer monitor, so why doesn't Amazon use their experience in self publishing for the book business and start doing the same thing for the movie business.

Lets face it many films don't have the sales potential for a large DVD production run, but there are still lots of people out there who would like to watch them or own them, so here is the idea.
  • Allow rights owners to upload their films and specialty videos (the really long-tail) to Amazon's servers for resale.
  • Amazon could make a digital download, or stream available for those who wanted to view it quickly or they could do what they do in the book biz and produce the item as orders came in -- Burn it to a DVD with Amazon packaging and ship it to the customer.

The studios still have a huge list of films in their deep catalog, that have never been released on DVD, why not do an exclusive deal with Amazon for VOD on these titles? No need for a big production run, marketing campaign and lots of bells and whistles just upload the films to Amazon's secure servers and collect the money on the sale. Instead of selling 1,000 units of one film they could sell 1 until of 1,000 films. Since the costs of storing the item on a server is so low, volume for any particular item wouldn't matter. The price could be higher because these are low demand items and the sales data could be used to gauge interest in the film for a possible DVD release.

They could also link to the download from the IMDB database for a quick purchase. In fact Amazon has all the search query data from IMDB, so they could even solicit certain films with lots of searches.

Anyway, just a little off topic idea, now back to eBay bashing :)

Update: Well, ask and you shall receive. After posting this I was contacted by one of my new best friends at Amazon, to tell me that they did have a service like the one I suggested; called CreateSpace.com. In fact "just recently, MTV agreed to use CreateSpace DVD Demand Technology to offer exclusive content on Amazon.com."

See I've got some great ideas, sometimes others get there before me though.

Just my 15%


Cliff Aliperti said...


Have you seen this yet? I haven't researched it, but as a Netflix subscriber it looks like a no-brainer buy as long as word of mouth is decent (which I haven't checked yet).

This is kind of what I'd always pictured as the first strike against my Media Collections as being antiquated.

Also, mentioned it on twitter, but if stuff is long long out of print, then I put any moral qualms aside and look for the DVD-R, usually starting on iOffer. Like this.

Anonymous said...

In the future, a little black box will attach to your TV set and for a fee, you will be able to watch every movie ever made. Believe me, it is in developement...

DVDs probably have another good 8 to 10 years of life or so but technology is moving very fast...

People once bought music on 8-track tapes and cassettes, ya know...yikes!

Cliff said...


Check my first link--I think it might be the little black box!


Anonymous said...

I want one!

Anonymous said...

Digiview often will press OOP movies to DVD, if enough people ask.


Try them. Who knows, maybe they'll roast up a couple thousand of your Jigsaw!