NBC Universal announced yesterday a deal with Wurld Media that will allow users to legally rent movies and television shows through Peer Impact, a file sharing network. A spokesperson for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which recently called pirated DVDs the newest "drug on the street", said many other companies are exploring similar kinds of relationships.
Could this be the first step in Hollywood rethinking the way movies are distributed? TIVO is changing the way people watch television; viewers are no longer restricted to a network's viewing schedule -- they watch on their own terms. It was really only a matter of time before someone in Hollywood woke up and realized they'd better find ways to give viewers what they want, when they want it. Mark Cuban and Steven Soderbergh already have plans to release six films simultaneously in theaters, on television, and on homevideo, through Cuban and partner Todd Wagner's 2929 Entertainment.
Although some people will always prefer a traditional theater-going experience, between ticket prices and the price-gouging at concession stands, a night out at the movies is pretty spendy. More and more people have sweet home theater setups, and, given the choice, will likely prefer to download a movie at home and watch it right there on their 60-inch TV with surround sound. Personally, I think peer-to-peer movie distribution is going to be a major model in the future, and I'm glad to see companies like NBC Universal and 2929 Entertainment leading the way with new distribution models.
What do you think? When new releases become available to you to (legally) pay for, download and watch right in the comfort of your own home, will you spend less time in movie theaters? What would still motivate you to go out to theaters at all, if the P2P distribution model becomes widespread, and most films you'd want to see were available that way?