Saul Hansell writes: "Will people pay $230 and hook a new gizmo up to their television sets so they do not have to drive to the video rental store? ¶ That is the question to be answered by MovieBeam, a service being introduced in 29 major markets today. The service was originally developed and tested in three cities in 2004 by the Walt Disney Company. Disney has brought in new investors and streamlined the service's pricing to offer it on a broader scale. ¶ MovieBeam is built around a technology that broadcasts movies slowly over unused portions of the television signals to set-top boxes that store them on a hard disk. Users will have a choice of 100 movies — mainly those that have been recently released on DVD's — with 10 new titles replacing old ones each week. ..." Link: New York Times. Last week, NBC announced that it was going to offer on-demand programming via a set-top box. The one box per programmer business model seems to me completely non-scalable due to what my friend David Liroff calls the "topple factor." Remember that digital terrestrial television will be a set-top box in most homes that can receive it at all, and so are cable and DBS services and, of course, your TiVo. Your MovieBeam box could compete for space on top of your viewers' TVs with one to receive your DTV programs. I wish MovieBeam and NBC well -- and I sure as heck wish my PBS station colleagues well (they're the data carriers) -- but multi-service broadband solutions have a better long-term chance of surviving.
And see: Rafat Ali's Unsolicited Advice To MovieBeam: Get Rid Of The Box (link: paidContent.org), Staci's More On MovieBeam Relaunch (link: paidContent.org), Phillip Swann's Can MovieBeam Ride HDTV to Success? (link: TVPredictions.com), and (added 2/18) Martino Mingione's God, I Hope We Don't End Up With One Set Top Box Per Media Company (link: The Digital TV Weblog). Here's a review of the system at CNET.
Also, see Gary Blievernicht's comment below. --Dennis