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PVOD on the Horizon: Movie Studios Plan Premium In-Home Rentals

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The idea of shortening the theatrical release window and making Hollywood movies available for in-home streaming sooner got new life today, as Bloomberg broke news that all the major studios except Disney are looking to move ahead with the option sometime in the next year. Called premium video-on-demand (PVOD), the option would help studios make up for declining DVD sales by making high-priced rentals available sooner. Shortening the theatrical release window would allow rental campaigns to piggyback on a movie's main marketing budgets and allow viewers to stream movies while they're still getting buzz.

While studios would make out on such an arrangement, theaters would lose out. Theater owners want a revenue split for PVOD rentals for up to 10 years as compensation, but that's too long for the studios. Today's news says the studios are pushing ahead with a plan with Apple and Comcast even without theater owner support. The deal could be finalized in early 2018 and offer sales two weeks after a movie's debut. Previous talks have proposed offering a $50 rental 17 days after the theatrical debut or a $30 rental 4 to 6 weeks after the debut.

Just because there's discussion, however, doesn’t mean anything will come of it. One skeptic is industry-watcher Michael Pachter, an analyst for Wedbush Securities. “[The studios] always claim they’re going to do something dramatic, and then they don’t,” he told Bloomberg.

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