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New startup aims at the big shots: Netflix, Redbox, Amazon, iTunes and movie studios
A new video streaming service launching Wednesday, Zediva, thinks you’ll want to do just that. Placing themselves in direct competition with other Web services like Netflix and Redbox, Zediva offers users the ability to stream new films at a fraction of the cost.
Single rentals are $1.99 each, or $10 if you purchase a 10-pack rental. That’s already way better than rentals on Amazon and iTunes, which are generally priced at $4. On top of that, because you’re renting an actual physical DVD with Zediva, they give a full two weeks access to that DVD. That means you can watch the entire film plus bonus features on the DVD as many times as you want within that two week window, starting and stopping whenever you want, all for the same price. On iTunes, you get either a 24-hour or 48-hour window.
Furthermore, Zediva doesn’t have to negotiate with the movie studios for new releases, meaning the service will typically get new movies around a month in advance of other companies like Netflix and Redbox.
As for video quality, I’d say it’s alright--good enough for the casual viewer. But then, videophiles probably won’t be happy with any mainstream video streaming service at all.
If it sounds strange to rent a physical DVD and DVD player, let me say that you won’t even notice if you don’t think about it. It just looks and feels like any other movie viewing service. The unconvinced are free to try out two rentals on Zediva before having to enter a credit card on the site.
The biggest problem Zediva will encounter, even before they get wildly popular, is the problem of scaling. There are only so many users you can serve with a giant building and stacks of DVD players and DVDs. Are they going to just keep buying bigger and bigger buildings to keep up with demand? Already, the night before Zediva's public launch, all the best movies were already rented out. A little bit disappointing.
Besides that, movie studios can’t possibly be happy with Zediva’s workaround. A lawsuit could be just around the corner, though I think Zediva isn’t doing anything illegal (just tapping into a loophole).
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I asked the company what their name meant. Apparently it means nothing, but it sounds cool anyway.
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Zediva offers online DVD rentals via placeshifting. Instead of streaming a digital copy of the movie, Zediva customers rent a physical DVD, along with a DVD player (both located in Zediva's datacenters) for a fixed amount of time. They then control that DVD player remotely over the Internet — and watch the DVD instantly in the privacy of their homes. This model has been described as using the Internet as a “really long cable and a really long remote. Customers can also opt to receive a DVD rental by mail if they should so choose.
The rental DVD can be watched instantly on a wide range of Internet-connected devices, including TVs, laptops and smart phones with high-speed connections. Users have full access to DVD controls to play, pause, rewind and fast-forward as if the player was sitting in their own living room. Unlike many other online movie rental services, Zediva offers access to additional features like multiple languages, directors’ commentaries, subtitles and closed captioning.
Zediva is located in Sunnyvale, CA.