March 8th, 2008, 17:17 Posted By: wraggster
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is taking an experimental approach to embedding digital copies of its movies on DVD, including offering a half-dozen catalog titles exclusively through Wal-Mart and two DVD premieres to the entire market.
Since late last month, Wal-Mart has been exclusively offering six Sony catalog titles that come loaded with a digital copy for playback on the PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3 and the PC. The embedded copies—within Blood & Chocolate, Bobby Z, The Contractor, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and Wind Chill—all expire within three to six months of going on sale at Wal-Mart. Additionally, titles may be offered widely at retail after 30 to 60 days. Wal-Mart has priced the discs at $13.72.
In order to enjoy these copies, buyers register online using an individual code that is included in the DVD. That registration will notify people about whether the file has timed out or not. Sony reserves the right to extend the life of the file at any time.
One possible benefit to a short-view copy is the ability to curb rampant file-sharing or copyright infringement.
In January, Sony also offered a copy embedded in the two-disc special edition of Resident Evil: Extinction exclusively at Wal-Mart.
At the same time, Sony is marketing digital copies on the DVD premieres Hero Wanted and Diamond Dogs, both due April 29. The digital files on these titles appear not to expire after a limited time.
Sony is unique among studios testing digital copy in its use of catalog and DVD premiere titles. Warner Home Video and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment are plugging files into major new releases, including March 18 release I Am Legend and April 15 release Juno, respectively.
Sony also is the only studio so far to steer those files to play on Sony gaming consoles. Plus, it is pioneering the placement of limited-view files.
“We are testing the whole concept right now,” said Lexine Wong, Sony senior executive VP of worldwide marketing. “There are space requirements to include files, so we’re choosing titles that don’t feature a lot of bonus features [in order to fit copies]. Also, we’re choosing titles that would resonate with customers that like PSP, with [action] titles like Diamond Dogs and Hero Wanted.”
Sony is additionally angling for a one-two punch using digital copy to elevate both the value of DVDs and the PSP. Although a hit for gaming, the PSP has struggled as a movie playback device. Sony is the only major studio releasing new film content for the PSP, which is produced by sister unit Sony Computer Entertainment. MTV also has licensed certain TV programs for the console.
To watch a Sony copy on PSP, people insert the DVD into their computer and transfer the file onto a memory stick. That drive device is then plugged into the PSP, which stores the movie file for playback. It is a similar process to watch the copy on the PS3.
Already, Sony is buoyed by the results of its experimentation. Although it was not offered everywhere, Resident Evil generated 30,000 copy transfers from the DVD.
“We are really excited, where the [copy] concept is letting us manage the convergence between packaged media and digital downloads,” said Wong. “This is added value.”
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