We all knew it was coming, but even we didn't expect it to happen this soon: TiVo today announced that they'll be launching a "Movie of the Week" service in conjunction with Blockbuster to start on December 1 (although some users will get the service early).
It's quite a slow roll-out for video on demand in many ways, with one film being made available each week, starting with The Waterhorse and followed by Men In Black. TiVo are emphasising that the slow roll-out is intentional, so users can grow accustomed to how it effects their monthly broadband quota and speeds. And considering that for the time being, the movies are free aside from your broadband data used, they really are trying to hold users' hands through the shift to IP-based entertainment.
Come March next year though, TiVo's promising a multitude of movies and TV shows for download, as well as progressive downloads and better file compression.
We're waiting to hear back from TiVo about exactly how the movies are encoded, what quality you can expect and whether HD movies are on the cards for the future, and we'll update you when we hear back from them.
UPDATE: We've just heard back, and we can tell you that all movies are standard-def. They'll be encoded in MPEG2 at launch, but will eventually move to MPEG4, (we're guessing that'll happen around March next year).
TiVo® launches Movie of the Week with Blockbuster® in Australia
Weekly movie downloads available through TiVo media devices - starting with 2008 release, The Waterhorse
Sydney, Australia, Wednesday 19 November 2008 - Hybrid Television Services (ANZ) Pty Ltd, the exclusive licensee of TiVo® products in Australia and New Zealand, has today announced the launch of the Blockbuster® Movie of the Week download service. Launching initially to a small customer base next week, the service will be available to all TiVo users from 1 December.
Hybrid TV and Blockbuster will make one film available for download every week onto the TiVo media device. The aim is to provide TiVo customers with the ability to road test downloading video content over the internet straight to the lounge room and understand the critical role both internet speed and download quotas play in ensuring the service is a pleasurable one.
The Blockbuster Movie of the Week service is in fact an introduction to the multitude of downloadable movie and TV content launching in March next year where the service will enable progressive downloads and greater file compression.
Hybrid TV CEO, Robbee Minicola, commented: "Australians have grown up with outstanding free-to-air TV content. With the introduction of a TiVo media device - they are now liberated to enjoy even more television because the TV experience can be adapted to their individual lifestyle.
"This new service marks a significant milestone for us - aside from growing our free Games Pack and Services Pack delivered via broadband - we can now provide another benefit to having a TiVo media device...movies.
"There aren't many products on the market today that just keep adding new services...with our product we will continue to grow the portfolio in broadband while the broadcasters grow their free-to-air digital channels. Again and again it simply proves the argument that Australians do not need to pay for television - the sponsorship model works...especially in difficult economic times such as those we are experiencing now. And with the full service on offer from March next year, viewers will have a choice of what movie they want to watch on television without subscribing each month for hundreds they've seen before or never want to see."
The inaugural Blockbuster Movie of the Week will be The Waterhorse followed by Men In Black, with subsequent movies released every Monday. TiVo users will be notified in the preceding week the next film to follow. The idea is that TiVo users can take a careful exploratory look at downloading content and the impact this will have on their broadband allocation. The intention is to have effective dialogue with users about downloading content as well as recommending to them to check with their internet service provider to ensure that they have the best plan at the best price to get the most out of the full service when it launches next year.