Napster, one of the largest players in music downloads, is considering offering a film download service. The new service would sit alongside its music offering and help to give the company a competitive edge over its rivals. The technology is already in place to download movies, so the same service model could easily apply to films, television programmes and video games, now that broadband connection speeds are getting faster and more prevalent.
In a move targeted at the younger video-game generation, Napster won’t be the first company to enter the legal movie download market. In the US, MovieLink and CinemaNow are already offering a service to a growing customer base in America. Films on these sites start at around $2.99 (£1.59 Euro 2.29). However, similar to the music industry five years ago, the film industry is struggling to keep piracy at bay with technologies that allow movies to be downloaded quickly and in full to users with high-speed Internet connections. The Motion Picture Association of America has already filed lawsuits against pirates and is cracking down on distribution networks such as eDonkey and BitTorrent.
Regardless, legal film downloads will be a winner and are the future – just like audio downloads. Since broadband, film downloads have surged considerably, and around one in four people online have now downloaded a film, according to the MPAA. Such statistics have encouraged Napster and others to keep an eye on the market.
Since Christmas, Napster UK has reduced the price of its entire music catalogue of over 1 million tracks by 20 per cent. In response to record sales, the more aggressive pricing strategy will mean that full albums now cost £7.95 (US$14.89 Euro 11.43), while individual tracks cost 79p (US$1.48 Euro 1.14) when bought by Napster subscribers or purchased with Napster Pre-Paid Cards and Online Music Vouchers. Pricing for movies has yet to be announced, but it’s obvious they’ll have to be a lot cheaper than the latest DVDs for the service to takeoff.