There’s a new DVD rental service in town, and it’s name is Zediva. Fresh out of a year in beta testing, the DVD rental service is now open to the public (though struggling under a backlog of membership requests) and now looks poised to rival established services like Netflix and Redbox.
The details look promising: the rentals cost as little as $1, with users able to keep a title for up to 14 days. Because the company uses digital streaming, you have to have a pretty fast Internet connection to watch the movies, and obviously you’ll want a semi-large computer screen (or hardware to connect your laptop to your TV) to fully appreciate the picture.
But what is Zediva, really? It’s a bit of a hybrid between traditional DVD rentals and digital streaming. Zediva buys the physical DVDs from the store on their release date, then loads them into a DVD player at their data center.
When a Zediva user opts to view a movie, instead of receiving the disc in the mail, the user watches the movie on their computer, via streaming video from the DVD player in the data center. In simpler terms, the movie is playing from a physical disc, but it’s remotely streamed to your computer.
Confused? Zediva seems to think it’s all very simple, and they’re using this business model to avoid one of the legal strangeholds still aggravating Netflix customers: the dreaded release window.
Netflix (along with competitors like Redbox) can’t get around the legal threats from the big Hollywood studios who want rental services to wait 28 days (or sometimes longer) after a DVD’s release date before offering the movie to renting customers. The theory is that this window will drive impatient consumers to buy the DVD instead of waiting to rent, therefore boosting sales.
Instead, the 28-day release window has largely served to aggravate consumers, which is why Zediva’s announcement that it will not be restricted by the waiting period is likely to draw customers. But there’s one big problem with their theory.
Zediva seems to think that because they’re streaming physical copies, not a digital “thing”, they’re in the clear. But even the giants like Netflix, Blockbuster, and Redbox rent out physical discs, and they’ve been bullied for years by the studios about holding to a 28-day waiting period.
If Hollywood went after giants like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video, and then after non-traditional rental outlets like Netflix and Redbox, then they’re certainly not going to shrug and let Zediva get away without some legal struggling.
Spokane movie fans who want more info about Zediva can visit their website: Zediva.com.