Today, six of the major studios began selling downloadable full-length movies online through the Movielink service, which is owned by Warner Brothers, Sony Pictures, Universal, MGM, and Paramount. Until today, only rentable downloads had been offered by the studios, which could be watched only during a 24-hour window. The movie files will take up around a gigabyte of storage, and will take an hour or two to download, depending on the internet connection.
The new downloads can’t be transferred and played on video-capable iPods, nor can they be played on portable media players that support Microsoft’s WMV format. Pricing of the films may also be a deterrent. New releases will cost about $20 to $30 to download, while older titles will cost as little as $10. New releases will be available for download on the same day that the DVD is released — much quicker than films available for rental, which are put online about 45 days later and cost $2 to $5.
Fortunately for iPod owners, iTunes may not be too far from offering iPod-compatible movie downloads itself. The Times reports:
Apple, Amazon.com and other online retailers are also busily trying to cut deals with Hollywood to sell downloads, according to several studio executives. In general, the studios want to make downloads available on largely the same terms, in as many places as possible. “We are talking to a lot of people, and hopefully our movies will be on many other sites shortly,” said Rick Finkelstein, the president of Universal Pictures.