Sony Electronics announced this week that it is making an early, high-definition stream of the animated movie "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" available to all customers who own networked Bravia HDTVs and Blu-ray players. Twenty-four hour rentals of the movie will be available a full four weeks before it hits video stores, and Sony clearly thinks people will be willing to pay a premium for early viewing, as the rental charge is $24.95.
Given the state of the economy and the fact that video streaming services like Netflix offer unlimited movie rentals for a fraction of that cost, I find it difficult to believe that this offer will attract consumers. I am, however, curious to see what happens because as internet-enabled TVs and video devices get more popular, offers like this could become a trend.
"Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" will be available to Sony customers from Dec. 8 to Jan. 4, and the company will probably get a lot of eyeballs on it despite the exorbitant rental fee. That's because it's offering free rentals to anyone who buys and registers a networked Bravia HDTV or Blu-ray player between now and Jan. 4. The television or Blu-ray player will have to be connected to the Internet in order to stream the film.
While a free, early look at the movie might entice already interested buyers to make the leap and get a Sony product, I don't see many people actually paying $24.95 for the rental. That's the price of two and a half movie tickets in many markets. And, in my hometown, the film played several weeks at a second-run movie house where tickets are just $3. What's more, anyone with the patience to wait four weeks will be able to purchase the DVD for $24.95 or less.
What do you think? Would you pay $24.95 for an early stream of a feature film? Do you think this sort of offer will become a trend? Post your thoughts below.
Photo © Columbia Pictures