Google Faces Plenty Of Competition In Online Video Rental & Sales Marketplace

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

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.

TiVo

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.

DIRECTTV


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."

iTunes

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.

CinemaNow

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

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 Opens

Postscript 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.