DVD

Reporter: David Richardson

Many of us will avoid the crush on the highways and opt for a quiet weekend at home, this weekend, perhaps watching movies. For years that's meant ducking into the local video store for the latest releases and returning them next day but still cheaper than taking the family to the cinema itself. Now DVD stores are in a price and technology war. With anyone who loves movies, the winner. You can buy virtually anything from a vending machine these days. Now the humble machine is the local DVD store. "Basically we are like a video store in a box," said Ian O'Rourke form instant DVD.

"The machines only stock new release movies. There's 300 movies in each machine and that would be about 80 to 100 new release titles," said Ian. It's called Instant DVDs and it's the latest piece of technology that threatens to push the corner video store towards extinction. It's an idea that started in America, where 11,000 vending machines are scattered through supermarkets and fast food outlets....renting movies for less than half the normal price.

"We don't actually have late fees. you can rent the movie for as long or as little as you like. we charge $2.99 a day to a price of $36 after which you OWN the movie and just keep it in your collection," said Ian. "It's simply a touch screen so look through the movies I am interested in, the one I would like to rent. Simply click on that movie. I click the rent button and I swipe a credit card and then it's delivered. Then the movie is delivered from the slot and you take it home," said Ian.

If video killed the radio star...then the cyber world is slowly strangling the video store. The big three...Video Ezy, Blockbuster and Civic still hold the upper hand.On their busiest days, up to half a million people will walk into almost 1200 stores across the country and rent out a movie. It's a $528 million dollar business....but it's dropping. "What we're seeing is that the market is going to change. maybe 20% physical rentals then 80 percent download digital rentals," said Mark Pesce.

Mark Pesce from Sydney University believes the assault on the corner video store is just beginning. "I'd say in the next ten years you are going to see the video store die a slow and lingering death. It's going to be a while before someone puts it out of their misery but its days are numbered," he said.

The big video stores aren't going down without a fight. They're offering deals, two for one, get it first time or get it for free. Not to mention a raft of mid-week specials in some cases under $3. And of course there's the selection. Video stores can hold more movies than vending machines.

A new player in the market is Quickflix. It's an online service with 20-thousand titles, delivered to you from $9.95 a month, if you order two movies a month.10 movies a month lets you hire for under $3 a film. The top package lets you order unlimited DVD's for $56.95 a month. This has become the DVD store....a veritable production line....where Quickflix DVDs are assembled and sent to you. The only downside, you need to decide and order in advance. You can't order and get it immediately.

It's the same concept as Bigpond movies, a service that provides legal downloaded films. In the past you had to watch these movies on your computer not your wide screen plasma TV but that is all changing. "People will be able to connect little boxes up to their TV sets. Things like the apple TV device or the X-box 360 and use that to connect between the internet and their television sets so you will basically order the movie right there," said Mark.

For more information:

www.quickflix.com.au

Instant DVD's are now being installed in shopping centres like IGA as we speak.

www.instantdvd.com.au