Streaming movie services like Netflix are revolutionizing the home video market, but they can be a little frustrating for people who need to see the latest releases right now: studios are often imposing 28-day delays on the availability of new DVD releases to services like Netflix to maximize their retail sales of DVDS. Now, new streaming service Zediva thinks it has found a way around that 28-day window and is streaming new film releases to customers for as little as $1.00—by renting a DVD player and a physical DVD in their data center for their customers’ exclusive use during the rental.
Zediva’s business model is more akin to a video rental store than a movie streaming service: when customers pay to stream a movie, they’re actually paying to rent a DVD player and physical DVD in Zediva’s California data center. They can then control that DVD player from PCs, Macs, and Android devices—the full panoply of DVD player controls is available, including pause, play, and skipping forward and back. And, because Zediva is providing access to the full DVD, users also have a variety of options that may not be available via other streaming services, including access to on-disc commentaries, subtitling, multiple language support, closed captioning, and DVD extras.
Once customers rent a movie from Zediva, they have up to 14 days to finish watching the movie. Each time a customer rents a movie, they receive control of the DVD for four hours. If users get interrupted or don’t want to watch an entire movie at once, they can return the DVD to Zediva and rent it again at no charge within that 14-day window: the movie will pick up where users left off. DVDs will be auto-returned to Zediva if users pause for more than an hour.
Zediva’s business model has some drawbacks: for once, the company must have enough copies of DVDs (and enough DVD players) to keep customers happy: it’s possible customers will find the movie they want to watch simply isn’t available. Zediva is also focusing exclusively on new releases: Zediva doesn’t have a library of older movies. Zediva says it plans to add Blu-ray and HD content in the future, but no plans have been announced.
How much does all this cost? Zediva prices rentals at $1.99, but the company is currently running a promotion enabling customers to rent 10 movies for $10. For now, pricing is on a movie-by-movie basis; the company does not offer subscription plans.
It remains to be seen whether movie studios will try to take action against Zediva: film distributors have been remarkably keen on keeping a window of retail exclusivity for their new releases, withholding them from services like Netflix and Redbox in an effort to maximize retail sales of physical discs. Zediva’s business model undermines that strategy; however, it’s possible Zediva will not be able to scale its rental operation enough to represent a significant threat to studios’ retail marketing.
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