Although Google Video has been grabbing the headlines the expected release of a Google Video download/rental service, many other services have been around for a couple of years while others have just come online. These services allow customers to record, search, browse, download and/or purchase video content online.
We're not talking about stores selling you a DVD (like Amazon) but suppliers of streamable content for online and offline viewing. In other words, find your content and watch it immediately online or save it (in some cases) for offline viewing on your desktop, laptop, or in some cases, portable device.
What follows is a selection of a few of these services and tools. By NO means, is this a comprehensive list. It focuses on services available in the United States.
Vongo is a brand new service launched this week by the Starz Entertainment Group. Unlimited access to over one thousand movies, many just out of theaters and many exclusives to Starz/Vongo. Download and playback on Windows-based PCs, laptops, and select portable media devices, as well as on a TV. When movies are no longer available, they time out and are removed from the hard drive. New content added each week. More info about Vongo and access to the client here. The cost is $9.99/month. The price also includes live streaming of the Starz movie channel. Additionally, some titles are available on a pay-per-view basis for $3.95.
Current titles include: + The Incredibles + Hitch + National Treasure
Starz also has a deal with Real Networks (Starz Ticket) that offers a rotating library (about 40 titles/week) of movies for downloading and offline viewing at $12.95/month. Unless you have a 300Kbps or higher bandwidth connection you cannot access the Starz Ticket service.
The digital video recording service announced in November that content recorded on your TiVo can be transferred to your iPod or Playstation Portable. In other words, you take your TV picks selections with you which is quite appealing. This new service is expected to go live sometime this quarter. In 2005 TiVo announced a feature that allows TiVo recorded content to be transferred to a laptop or computer via a home network. TiVo also announced a deal last year that allows the actual recorder to be programmed remotely using Yahoo.
Just announced is DIRECTTV's new DIRECTTV 2Go service for portable media players. "The DIRECTV 2Go service will allow DIRECTV customers to transfer programming content from their DIRECTV Plus DVR to a wide variety of portable media players."
Download video content to your computer and then transfer to your video-capable iPod. You'll find TV shows from ABC, NBC, USA Network, Sci-Fi Channel, and Disney Channel. Oh, and speaking of NBC, MSNBC offers free online access to The NBC Nightly News. Other shows like Meet the Press can be downloaded as podcasts. It's also worth noting that NBC on iTunes is bringing back classic shows like Adam-12 for download and viewing. One episode costs $1.99. iTunes also has video content from Pixar (that makes sense) as well as music videos ($1.99) and movie trailers. This week they have also added 15-25 minute reviews of the 4 BCS College Football Games. They cost $1.99.
This service (Windows only) allows the user to rent both new and old films (over 2500) and other video content to view online or offline on their computer or television. New movies like Sin City rent for $3.99, all other movies are $2.99. Both have a 24 hour viewing window. Search (the advanced interface offers many fields) or browse to find titles of interest. Movies are automatically made non-viewable 24 hours after they're first played. CinemaNow also offers a library for downloading to the Windows Mobile Portable Media Center, a small library of high-definition videos, and some movies for sale. To use CinemaNow you'll need to use your IE browser. A seven day free trial is available. Btw, CinemaNow is also testing a subscription-based model for some content.
MovieLink (Windows only) is a service that I've used many times and without any problems. Again, download a small client and then select from a collection of hundreds of movies for rental (prices start at $1.99 for a 24 hour viewing window. Tim Burton's, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is listed as a new release and costs $3.95 for 24 hours from the time you click play. In many cases you can get another 24 hours of viewing time for $1.99 without having to download again. Like the other services, after your viewing time has expired the film is no longer viewable. Search or browse for titles. Movielink permits you to view content on either Microsoft Media Player or Real Player. In addition to movies you'll find content from National Geographic, BBC, and Discovery Networks. Movielink also offers a 25% discount on all rentals for students and members of the military. Finally, Movielink also has a beta where they will sell titles. Prices start at $8.99. Details here. Btw, you'll need to use your IE browser to access the MovieLink web site.
We could go on but that's enough to get you started. Look for enhanced services and many new ones moving forward. Assuming, Google's new service comes, it will also test of the Google's phenomenal branding. In this situation they will be competing in one form or another with two other companies and services that also have the Google "buzz" -- those being Apple and TiVo.Postscript: Also worth mentioninig is an AOL beta I blogged about in November that delivers high quality video directly to your computer while your system is inactive. Download info here. Hmmm. Perhaps with their new deal with AOL, Google will also begin delivering content this way.
Postscript 2: Please see Google Video Store OpensPostscript 3: It's not only the services I've mentioned above offering video but it's also Audible.com that Google will be competing with. Google Video will offer Charlie Rose interview shows. They're also available as audio podcasts via Audible.com. They offer monthly and yearly subscriptions (a full year is about $50). You can also purchase individual shows/interviews for $3.95.