VOD-Plus-DVD Idea Died a Quiet Death

The “DVDs on demand” concept ended not with a bang but a whimper.

In February 2008, Cablevision launched a service in partnership with startup Popcorn Home Entertainment proffering video-on-demand access to movies the same day the DVD was released — if a subscriber also bought the physical DVD (see Cablevision Takes New Spin on Day and Date).

Evidently not many customers were interested in paying $25 per movie for the privilege: Cablevision discontinued the service around a year ago, according to a spokesman. Efforts to reach Popcorn Home Entertainment, started by Steve Brenner, former CEO of InDemand Networks and president of USA Network, were unsuccessful. Cablevision had been Popcorn’s only partner.

When the service launched on Cablevision, Brenner described the model like this: “We pay for the DVDs from the studios, pay a certain amount to the cable company and hopefully there’s something left over for us.”

But it was never really clear how much value Popcorn was bringing to the table. Not only did it carry a steep price tag — $19.95 for 24-hour VOD access and the DVD, plus $4.99 shipping — but studios already have been offering more of their movies day-and-date on VOD (see On-Demand Window Is Wide Shut).

The VOD-plus-DVD service was recalled during Cablevision’s presentation Tuesday about Optimum Select, which lets subscribers request product samples from advertisers. The MSO’s early clients include Gillette, Benjamin Moore and Unilever (see Cablevision’s Interactive Ads Click With Four Marketers).

Get free stuff while you watch TV? Yeah, that’s probably got more legs than trying to plug the movie-windowing gap.