When it comes to watching digital video, 28 days later might soon be a service's most important selling point. Not whether they have Danny Boyle's zombie epic in stock—but whether sellers and rental companies offer films and TV shows on the day of release, or four weeks after.
Today, retail giant Sears scored that 28-day advantage in a new agreement that will give the company a leg-up over competitors such as Netflix.
Sears this week launched an online movie download service to provide its and K-Mart's customers with digital flicks the same day as they're released on DVD. Part of a multi-year deal, the service runs on Sonic Solution's platform (known for its content-delivery system RoxioNow and recent acquisition of digital codec Divx), and is set to be available on mobile devices and HDTVs.
Unlike Netflix, which under agreement with movie studios must wait 28 days before offering new releases, non-subscription services like Sears' are not subject to the delay window. Similarly, most films are available day-of release digitally on Comcast, iTunes, and Best Buy's platform CinemaNow. Selling the films is more lucrative for the studios, which would prefer the higher price of a DVD or digital download than the fractionable amount it earns from a Netflix subscription.
Still, that 28-day delay hasn't slowed consumers from flocking to Netflix so far. Its digital offerings have ballooned thanks to aggressive (and expensive) deals with media companies, and have helped to attract millions of new customers and streaming subscribers.
But maybe Sears will have more luck than Blockbuster.