AOL joins the online movie crowd
The Register has the news that AOL has launched an online movie rental service, AOL Film Downloads. This will allow people to download films starting at £2.99 per film, after download you have between five and seven days to watch it, and once you've started to play it the content will expire in 24 hours.
The service is available to users from any service provider, and is touted as offering the latest films. Given that AOL has access to the Time Warner library of films including Harry Potter and Batman it may prove popular. Download times are estimated at between two hours and fours for a 1Mbps connection, but with speeds of faster than 2Mbps around the corner for many, this time will become a lot more reasonable.
The service offers the films in varying levels of quality, for example Batman Begins which runs for 2 hours 14 minutes, is available as either a 690MB download, or a larger 1.48GB download, though it costs an extra 50 pence for the larger version.
Whether people are willing to pay £2.99 or more for a movie is debatable, the legal online movie market is only just beginning, so everyone is feeling their way around. Certainly for people who have a limited usage allowance each month, the AOL service is preferable, since it looks like a straight download, rather than the peer to peer system used by Sky at present. The danger with the peer to peer systems, is that while the download may be 650MB in size, in the hours it took to download, you may have actually consumed another 300MB or more of your allowance, as others download the movie from you.