Get Ready For Online Video Price Wars


With Apple and Amazon about to throw their hat in the ring, existing players are looking to fight back with price cuts and content promos that will suck the profits out of the legal video download business.

The first salvo in what will be a brutal price war is being fired by San Francisco-based Guba, which is going to announce that users will be able to download the movies for $9.99 on the very day the movie, is released on DVD. In addition, they are going to sell catalog movie titles for $4.99 and television shows for 49 cents an episode. Movies can be rented for 99 cents.

These prices are going to put pressure on existing download services, Cinema Now and Movie Link, which despite a big head start have been puttering along. The competition is only increasing. Amazon and Apple are next up, joining the ranks of existing players. Microsoft has its own plans, both as an infrastructure provider and also as a competitor with its Zune line of devices. (Also, Playing into Apple’s hands.)

The mad dash to the video market is predictable. In-Stat, a market research company predicts that the global market for “online content services is expected to expand by a factor of 10, growing from about 13 million households during 2005 to more than 131 million households by 2010.”

The big driver of online video content is easy broadband access and faster downloads. In-Stat predicts that households with broadband will more than double between 2005 and 2010 globally, growing from about 194 million in 2005 to more than 413 million by 2010. Of the current broadband homes, nearly 12.8% are getting content from online content aggregators the research firm predicts.

ABI Research analyst Michael Wolf predicts that networked devices, which decrease the reliance on personal computers, will boost the demand for Internet-delivered video even more. He predicts that the percentage of Internet-delivered video viewed on a portable device will go from just 3% today to 16% by 2011.

Such forecasts are one of the reasons why everyone wants a piece of the online video pie. Which makes me wonder if we could a painful shake up in a few months. Frankly, I am not at all surprised that Guba is getting aggressive, and using pricing to get a big enough slice of the market. It would not be surprising if others respond to Guba’s moves with their own “promotional offers.”



I believe a service like Akimbo is an example of “When a company comes out with a Netflix type subscrption model and possibly a set top box that plugs into the TV…”

Jeremy Pepper

Ron, isn’t that the whole place-shifting shtick? You download on your computer, you shoot it wirelessly to your TV, and get to watch it on the big TV? That’s why the whole download movie thing makes sense to me, but heck, that’s the whole digital living room scenario.


When a company comes out with a Netflix type subscrption model( at the same price or lower ) and possibly a set top box that plugs into the TV so you can use your braodband connection to download movies , the game is over for the rest of the players.


which movies will you be able to downlaod off of Guba on DVD-day? Is it a good selection because so far the DVD lag time has been significant (save for a few exceptions.) Also, when are companies going to realize that most people probably don’t want to watch movies on their PCs? What did I buy a home entertainment system for?

Om Malik


couple of things about GUBA. They have basically spun out their USENET search business purely for the reasons you mention. It is not surprising because it could have become a big issue for them going forward.

Apart from that, the founders are smart – they want to be able to cash in on the current boom. playing by the rules helps them exit their business easily.


Interesting to read a report on the coming age of online movie download services without having Netflix being mentioned. Are they still having issues worked out with the studios and DRM? Would they “miss the boat” if they don’t resolve these issues quickly before other players launch and gain traction?

David Ulevitch

I was talking about GUBA this weekend with Matt Levine from CacheFly and we thought it was interesting that GUBA was working so closely with the movie industry after being at odds with them for so long. Maybe the fear of being sued by the RIAA and MPAA became so great they actually decided to cease the usenet download business.

Comments are closed.