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Movie downloading? You'll have to wait

European market will trail music for some time

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Arguably the iPod phenomena built on existing consumer familiarity with portable music, the equivalent of which has not existed in the movie sphere. Although portable video may yet become a mass market for television and short form content, Screen Digest remains skeptical as to this being the case for feature length movies.

The Hollywood studios are proactively encouraging digital distribution models. However, there is still a great deal vested in current and next generation DVD. There is no clear assumption that business models will be moved online soon with the same vigour that the music industry has done so (which after all has taken many years to happen). What is clear is that existing movie download services have severe usage restrictions, both in terms of portability and the ability to buy and burn downloaded movies as a DVD. Although Screen Digest believes that this will change and that digital sell-through (with burn rights or bundled with packaged media sale) of titles will be the most significant driver of the European movie download market, there are at present no signs that portability and burning will feature dominantly in short term strategies as key security issues have yet to be addressed.

There is as yet no evidence, as Rethink Research suggest, that piracy over P2P networks will "evaporate". It is irresponsible and erroneous to treat Internet piracy so lightly and dismissively. It is still a major concern which needs to be addressed by the film industry as a whole.

Broadband connectivity is growing, but there are still many technical restrictions - not least of all average download speeds. The assumption by Rethink Research that a "considerable proportion" of European Internet connections will benefit greatly from being upgraded to ADSL2+ is ill-judged - for a consumer home to be able to experience the full benefits of ADSL2+, or even VDSL, it would have to be within 1.5km of the exchange - not a realistic assumption for many consumers.

Screen Digest is the pre-eminent source of business intelligence, research, and analysis on global audiovisual media. To find out more visit www.screendigest.com

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