Sony Pictures Goes Gaga for Guba

It seems like only last week that Usenet media horde Guba.com entered into a deal with Warner Brothers to sell movies online. Well, this week, Sony Pictures is joining the party, announcing it will also sell movies online via Guba.com.

“We are open for business on the Internet. GUBA is a powerful user-generated community and this deal demonstrates our strategy to find the best ways to make our content available to consumers online,” said Benjamin S. Feingold, President of Worldwide Home Entertainment, Digital Distribution and Acquisitions, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. “This is consistent with our studio’s history of bringing the finest entertainment to people through new technologies and channels.”

Sony Pictures offerings via Guba.com currently encompass more than 100 titles, including recent hits like Spider-Man 2,Memoirs of a Geisha, and Underworld: Evolution as well as catalog films like Bridge on the River Kwai. Sony Pictures expects to offer more than 500 films via Guba by mid-2007. Films are currently only available to customers in the United States.

As with Warner Brothers pictures, prices for films range from $9.99 for catalog titles to $19.99 for new releases; some titles will also be available for video-on-demand purchase. Video can be downloaded and played on any system capable of handling Microsoft Windows DRM: this includes most Windows PCS, but not Macs or Linux boxes.

“Our partnership with Sony Pictures is another major validation of our platform and a significant effort by Sony to make online distribution of film attractive to the Internet audience,” said Thomas McInerney, CEO of GUBA.

Still, one has to wonder how many customers will line up for movies which have to be downloaded, can only be played back on a limited number of computers and/or portable devices, and (for new releases, anyway) cost just as much a standard DVDs while lacking things like commentary, extras, and bonus features. And it’s unclear whether you’d have to buy your digital movie collection all over again if your Windows Media Center hard drive went south. Really now: people don’t back up their email and documents, do we really think they’re going to back up movies? Especially ones where DRM prevents them from being burned to DVD?