TV Tech: The Biggest Flop of 2011?
Washington, D.C. (August 14, 2011) -- In a year in which the economy has
taken a number of dips, it's not surprising that it's been a
rough seven months for the TV technology sector. For instance:
* Sales of 3D TVs (and 3D theatrical movies) have actually
declined from their anemic first year numbers;
* Cable and satellite TV services have lost subscribers in
* The number of retail video stores has shrunk further despite
Dish Network's rescue of one-time industry giant Blockbuster
* Noting stagnant TV sales and other problems, CE giant Best Buy
has reported declining profits for two straight financial
Yeah, it's been a bad year so far for a lot of folks. Lots of
failures; lots of flops.
But in my humble opinion, the biggest flop of 2011 has been
DIRECTV's $30 Video on Demand service, called Home Premiere.
The controversial service charges $30 per viewing of movies made
available 60 days after their theatrical release and at least
one month before their DVD or Blu-ray launch. Prior to Home
Premiere's launch on DIRECTV, several Hollywood studios
suggested it could be a game changer, eventually leading to
moviegoers being able to watch new films at home on the same day
they are released in theaters.
Industry publications and the mainstream media echoed this
theme, quoting theater owners who threatened to pull certain
movies from their theaters if the studios didn't back down. And
the hysteria rose when reports surfaced that Comcast and online
VOD service Vudu, owned by Wal-Mart, were getting ready to
launch Home Premiere soon after DIRECTV's debut.
But nearly five months later,
Comcast and Vudu have yet to add Home Premiere to their VOD
lineups -- and DIRECTV often doesn't even list a Home Premiere
selection in its VOD menu. And when the satcaster does offer a
$30 VOD movie, it doesn't even promote it on its VOD Home Page.
Clearly, DIRECTV subscribers have decided that $30 is too much
to watch any film, much less one that will be released on Blu-ray
or $4.99 VOD in just a month. And it's equally clear that
DIRECTV has decided that $30 VOD is a loser, or else the
satcaster would be trying to promote it rather than
Of course, this is not very surprising. I predicted last spring
that the concept was doomed because of the exorbitant price tag.
(And I should note that other industry observers forecast the
But if you could time tunnel back to the spring and listen to
the many industry "experts" who said this would be the beginning
of the end of the movie theater, well, you would be reminded how
often a new product is over-hyped.
My new prediction is that the studios and DIRECTV will take a
breather this fall and bring back Home Premiere in 2012 with a
new price tag ($20) and a new window (30 days after a movie's
theatrical debut). The buy rates will rise a bit, but trust me,
it will have little impact still on theatrical sales.
Until the studios decide to go all in -- and offer movies at
home on the same day as their theatrical debut (and close to the
same price) -- Home Premiere will flop.
And in 2011, it's the industry's biggest flop of all.
Swanni is Phillip Swann, president and publisher
of TVPredictions.com. He has been quoted in dozens of publications
and broadcast outlets, including CNN, Fox News, Inside Edition, The
New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The
Financial Times, The Associated Press and The Hollywood Reporter. He
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
or at 703-505-3064.
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