DRM delivers download-to-own 'holy grail'

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Digital rights management (DRM) systems allowing consumers to download movie and television content and keep it forever are about to revolutionise the film and TV industries, says a new report from Screen Digest in association with DRM consultancy Rightscom.

Published a few days after Movielink, the movie download venture owned by the major US studios, launched its first download-to-own service, the Screen Digest report—Digital Rights Management and New Entertainment Business Models—says studios and broadcasters need to develop effective services that mimic the DVD business model that has generated profits worth billions of dollars.

The download-to-own business model—otherwise known as "electronic sell-through" or "digital retail"—allows content owners to charge a higher price than other forms of video-on-demand. Movielink pioneers that model, as does a new UK venture recently announced by Universal Studios and new entrant LoveFilm, and the German In2Movies offering being established by Warner Bros.

Report joint author Chris Barlas of DRM consultancy Rightscom said: "This year will be the first year that internet video delivery really starts to take off. Powered by DRM technologies, the telcos and big internet players, together with hungry new Internet start-ups, will challenge the traditional gatekeepers.

"The fact that DRM was discussed at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos underlines its critical importance", said Barlas.

Screen Digest chief analyst Ben Keen said: "Digital download-to-own is the new holy grail of the film and TV industry as it fights to respond to the twin challenges of piracy and new market entrants. However, the consumer must be at the centre of all new strategies and DRM systems that are not sufficiently flexible are doomed to failure.

The 84-page report examines lessons learnt from the music industry's digital experience and highlights the groundbreaking business and distribution models developed by firms like Akimbo, BrightCove, CinemaNow, Comcast, Greengrass, Lovefilm, Kontiki, RipeTV, and TiVo.

Lovelace Consulting  |  10.04.2006

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