DirecTV launches $30 premium movie rentals

Just Go With It (poster)

Starting tomorrow, satellite television operator DirecTV will launch its DirecTV Home Premiere movie service, and unlike other online movie rental services, movies available through Home Premiere will run a whopping $29.99 for a 48-hour rental window. What justifies that cost? Well, the movies are available in 1080p high definition, but more importantly the movies are available for rental before they’re launched on DVD or Blu-ray. The first movie in DirecTV’s Home Premiere plan is the Adam Sandler/Jennifer Aniston comedy Just Go For It, which went into theaters (somewhere) just 60 days ago.

DirecTV Home Premiere represents a new experiment from movie studios trying to make up for falling revenues from DVD and Blu-ray sales. Although $30 to rent a high-definition movie seems like a lot, the argument goes that it’s still cheaper than going to a theater, particularly for families: theater tickets routinely cost $10 to $15, plus there’s the cost of overpriced concessions and ancillary expenses like parking, hiring a sitter, and more. A trip to the movies can easily cost more than $30, and studios are betting folks with disposable income—and home theater setups—will be willing to spend a little extra for recently-released movies they can watch at home.

Of course, theater operators are less-than-excited about studios further shrinking the window between a movie’s theatrical release and its home video availability, whether on physical media or via streaming. It used to take six months or a year before a movie would hit home video: now, that window is typically for months, with some outlets getting an additional 28-day delay before availability. DirecTV’s Home Premiere service cuts that window to about 60 days—at least for customers willing to pay extra. Theater owners argue the industry’s moves are in effect teaching people not to go to theaters: just wait a few weeks, and the same material will be available at home.

The success of the experiment might depend on whether anyone wants to watch the movies available for $30 a pop…and the initial selections won’t exactly be blockbusters. According to the Hollywood Reporter, initial titles for DirecTV home premium will be Just Go With It (available for pre-order now), The Adjustment Bureau, Hall Pass, and Cedar Rapids, each with two-week windows of availability.

To access DirecTV Home Premiere, DirecTV customers will need the company’s HD DVR, and they’ll have to connect it to an HDTV via HDMI.