Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Limited-viewing movie DVDs at Staples, truckstops & airports

Staples has begun selling self-destructing DVD movies.

The discs, manufactured with Flexplay’s time-limited technology, can be viewed for only 48 hours after removal from a special sealed pouch. After two days the DVDs become unplayable and can then be discarded or recycled.

Flexplay discs can be viewed on any standard DVD player and remain viable within the package for about one year.

Staples sells the DVDs for $4.99. Initial titles include “Semi-Pro,” “The Kite Runner,” “There Will Be Blood” and “The Golden Compass,” among others.

Flexplay uses a proprietary adhesive on disc halves that form a DVD. Removing the DVD from its package exposes it to oxygen, triggering a chemical reaction that causes the adhesive to interfere with the ability of the DVD player’s laser to play the disc.

Staples isn’t the only store Flexplay movies are sold.

Flexplay is selling discs in truck stop Travel Centers of America and Luv’s Country Stores. Flexplay also has a deal with airport retailer Paradies, which is selling the discs at newsstands it operates at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and other locations.

Flexplay tried to market its discs before, doing a trial in 2003 with Walt Disney Studios. Disney sold movies on the disposable discs, dubbed EZ-D, in 7-Eleven stores and Papa John’s pizza for a year before giving up.

A lot has changed since Flexplay first tried to sell disposable discs. In 2004, Flexplay Technologies (parent of Flexplay Entertainment) was bought by the Convex Group, which took the lessons from the failed 2003 trials and incorporated them into a new strategy.

The company has dropped the price on its discs and revamped its business model to go after non-renters rather than take on traditional DVD retailers.

Warner Home Video, New Line Home Entertainment, Paramount Home Entertainment and DreamWorks have signed licensing deals allowing Flexplay to sell disposable disc versions of select movies. In most cases, the studios aren’t releasing movies on Flexplay until a month or more after they’ve been released on standard DVDs, and the studios aren’t putting all their movies on Flexplay discs.

The product reminds me of a big expensive flop promoted around the turn of the last century by Circuit City -- the DIVX limited-view DVD. (info from TWICE and Video Business)

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