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Video downloads: destroying British high streets

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The days of high street DVD sales are numbered, if new poll figures are to be believed.

Video download gremlins are holding growth back, however. The poll of 1,008 internet users said 39 per cent have been scuppered by poor quality. Users expect downloads to be cheaper too, but as we saw with the launch of Disney movies on iTunes at $14.99, so far they're not.

As with music downloads, the subsription model is finding an audience, particularly among younger users. More than half would prefer to fork out once a month for unlimited viewing, despite the likelihood of DRM software nixing further viewings when the subscription is ended.

Despite the problems and lack of proven business models, two-thirds have already been convinced by hypesters that video downloads will be the norm inside three years.

Kim Bayley, secretary general of the Entertainment Retailers Association, which represents more than 90 per cent of stores in the sector, thinks that date is somewhat ambitious. She conceeds that hardware makers like Apple have stolen a march on high street stores; 41 per cent were unaware that iTunes and iPod don't have to be used together, and just 16 per cent of downloaders used the site of a primarily bricks and mortar operation like HMV.

The research was conducted for pollster ICM on behalf of video download distributor British Internet Broadcasting Company (BIBC). Managing director Paul Hague was predictably upbeat about the figures. He said: "For years people have talked about the death of the high street, and video downloads are set to offer a new challenge.

"This is particularly pertinent to the DVD market, which cannot compete with downloads as they cannot possibly offer the same cheap, environmentally-friendly, high-quality, and secure offering that video downloads can provide." ®

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