AOL announced today that it has finalized deals to offer download to own deals with 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group through Video.AOL.com. AOL will now distribute content from all 6 the corporations owning major studios in the US, either through download to own or online.
Downloads will cost between $10 and $20 dollars each and with no option to rent. Downloaded videos will be viewable on multiple computers and portable devices, presumably via Windows Media Player. Next up in coming months will be episodes of television shows from Fox Entertainment Group and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The AOL Video site currently offers free short video clips and user generated video.
It’s hard for me to get excited about this in terms of creativity, there’s not much new here – but at a time when AOL is giving so much away, it’s an interesting play to make themselves the dominant download-to-own portal on the web. Competitors MovieLink and Cinemanow both offer rentals as well as purchase, Guba wins on price to own and Sony’s newly acquired Grouper P2P technology may win on speed of download. Amazon has a forthcoming desktop video on demand client as well. But for now at least, if you’re looking to own and it’s selection from major studios you seek, then AOL may be the place to go when these partnerships come online. I’m still waiting for someone to partner with the studios and do something truly innovative, we’ll see how long that wait lasts.