The DivX video format has long been a popular option for folks encoding video to hard disk and DVD (since it gets good compression while maintaining decent video quality)—and, of course, DivX is a frequently-seen video format on torrents and fire sharing networks. While a growing number of consumer electronics devices have been intregrating support for DivX—including set-top boxes, HDTVs, disc players, and systems like the PlayStation 3—there has been a good source for movie fans to (legitimately) set hands on major movie releases in the Unuted States—until now. Film Fresh has recently relaunched its service, and has inked agreements to offer download-to-own versions of major movie titels from Paramount, Lionsgate, Sony Pictures, and Warner Bros. via its Web site. The movies will play on any DivX-capable device—including mobile phones and portable media players—and users are free to transfer their movies between devices—or stream them over a network.
Pricing for DivX downloads of Hollywood titles seems to range from $9.99 for catalog titles to $15.99 for recent releases. Currently, major studio films are being offered in standard defintion—which might be a dealbreaker for folks looking for content for high-end home theater setups, but may not deter folks looking to load up small screens or portable devices.
“Film Fresh is now a one-stop shop for film enthusiasts of all kinds, and we are quite excited about our expansion into premium Hollywood content,” said Film Fresh CEO Rick Bolton, in a statement. “We have always believed that DivX offers the best download choice for consumers, since it gives people the freedom to own and watch films on a wide variety of electronic devices from many different manufacturers. [..] Download-to-own is going to play a critical role in the future of film distribution, and Film Fresh will provide the films people want to see, in whatever form they want to see them.”
The number of Hollywood releases currently available from Film Fresh is relatively limited, but contains popular entries, including major award winners and installments of franchises like Spider-Man and Harry Potter. Film Fresh says it expects its catalog will grow rapidly as more releases from all four studios become available for digital distribution.
The question is whether Film Fresh can gather the market momentum to compete in the increasingly crowded online video marketplace—services like iTunes, Netflix, Amazon Video-on-Demand, and CinemaNow are already well-established. But if Film Fresh and DivX can make a case for DivX content being significantly easier to use than DRM-protected video from other sources—with quality and content every bit as good—Film Fresh might become a very real alternative in the marketplace.
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