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Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. and Disney are working out a scheme to charge as much as $30 per viewing for access to movies still in theatrical release, via cable partners.Bloomberg said that Time Warner CFO John Martin told the Goldman Sachs investors that Warner Bros. studio will start tests later this year for a service that will price out at $20 to $30 per viewing.

The films would be made available in a partnership with In Demand, that company's CEO Bob Benya told Bloomberg. The news service also reported that In-Demand, which is a joint VOD effort from Cox Communications, Comcast and Time Warner Cable, will likely be joined by other platforms for Disney streams, including connected devices like the Xbox console and PlayStation 3.


There are a number of other products that we will be able to create through Internet-connected television, particularly when you consider our brand focus," Robert Iger, CEO at Disney said at that same Goldman Sachs conference, driving home the point.

The appeal for the consumer? Seeing brand-new movies at home without having to spend the money on gas, popcorn and drinks that a theatre visit almost always entails: well-worn economy-driven stats point to more American families staying home with Netflix rather than spending the $60-$75 for a family of four ($35 for a couple) that a night out typically costs.

With the National Bureau of Economic Research reporting that 16.7 percent of the American workforce is un- or underemployed, and fears of a double dip recession running high, that effect is unlikely to shift much despite the recent news that the recession has officially ended now that the GDP has begun growing again after 18 months of contraction.

In theory the service would also appeal to the counch potato/film junkie combo personality that can't--or won't--wait the now-typical three months for the DVDs or VOD release, and who in the past might have turned to piracy. Or perhaps not, considering that the pirated material would likely not be paid for.

The theatres themselves, of course, are unlikely to be pleased, having already been hammered by the stay-at-home trend. Any promotion, advertising, marketing or testing of premium VOD needs to be done within the existing in-home window time frame, the National Association of Theatre Owners said on its Website.


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