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This makes absolutely no sense to me, and seems far from "ingenious". A few questions:

a) Who on earth at this point doesn't already have a DVD player? Why do they send a player along with the DVD?

b) How does online streaming fit with this odd DVD+Player model? Why can't you just "rent" a stream instead of having relatively bulky electronics shipped all over the place?

c) How exactly is this a "hack"? What is being hacked? Is it simply a way to get around release-date waiting periods?

It just seems like an awkward, odd system. I honestly don't get the appeal at all. Someone will have to explain it to me.


Just to follow up to my last comment -- so they're not actually shipping DVD players around. They're streaming the output of "rented" DVD players online. That makes more sense.

It still seems strange. I guess the waiting period just doesn't bother me very much. A good movie today will be just as good 4 weeks from now, and I can watch it on a Blu Ray with no awkward playback restrictions when renting through Netflix.


They don't send you the player! They stream the video from the player over the internet. Somehow this is supposed to avoid the legal necessity to acquire streaming rights, but seems sketchy at best.

Andrew Lynch

This hurts my head trying to figure it out.


Years ago blockbuster rented VCRs if you didnt have one.


While this may be "legally" a good idea in theory to get around the streaming availability of new titles, I don't see it catching on.

Personally, I'm still waiting for the Remote Storage DVR system that Cablevision went to court and fought for and was supposed to roll out the end of last year. A similar way to "skirt" the system.


You can't stream Hollywood DVDs without breaking their copy protection. If what they're saying is true (they actually stream to you from a physical DVD) they have to violate DMCA to do it. Then there's the whole thing about streaming rights being different from physical rental rights, as far as content providers are concerned. I don't see there's any way that this is a legit operation.


This seems very similar to Slingbox to me. I suspect both skirt the letter of the law, and DEFINITELY upset content owners.


I like it. In fact, I like anything that challenges the movie exec's grip on what they think they own... even if it is some sketch unheard of business.


We'll see if this catches on. 50/50 at this point. Biggest drawback right now (for me anyway) is unless you have one of the few devices they support, you're watching on your PC or Mac. Or running a cable from your PC to the TV which in my case isn't really feasible. Always nice to see another player in the field though chipping away at the studios grip.


Interesting. I figured they'd be swamped after the Times article and the company has already suspended new memberships. I think it's a low-tech idea that's not really going to work over the long haul. Maybe, but doubtful. Also doubt they'll turn any sort of profit once the studios get hold of them. Still, clever boys!


There are two models, subscription like Amazon (a fixed monthly fee no matter how much or how little you use it), and a la carte rentals like itunes and amazon. It seems to me this is more of a competitor to the latter than to Netflix; though to the extent that Zediva may be the only streaming source for a given title, they could be a competitor to all of them.


I doubt they're using set-top DVD players. They're probably using software players. As I see it using a player, physical or virtual, neatly sidesteps the DMCA.

In layman's terms the first purchase doctrine lets you do whatever you want with a disk you purchase, but I don't know if it can be stretched as far a streaming it (virtual lending). Apparently their lawyers think so. In any case, I'm sure this will be challenged in court if it's successful. I do hope it's upheld in court; this would be a way for NetFlix to start streaming their entire library (albeit in a limited way) and give the studios a huge up-yours.


this business model is insane and unsustainable.


Ya, this will last long...


I always wondered why no company tried this. Its ingenious and promises profits better than 10 video stores combined, but really can't be scaled very well. Even with big DVD jukeboxes and automated loading. I could start one in my basement for a couple thousand dollars.

Imagine trying to scale to Netflix level using this tech, you would need millions of DVD players in warehouses all over the nation. I will be curious to see how the studios go after this, technically its completely legal even though a bit impractical.


Cheap DVD player is $35, and very compact. I can absolutely imagine a rack full of DVD players, with computer control and RCA outputs, or a computer-based player that streams. The majority of copy protection is focused around making a perfect digital copy; a stream is expected to be watchable, not a perfect copy. Biggest concern would be the audio track, but for a desktop viewer, no problem.

On a technical basis, the criticisms I see listed, are just not realistic. This is a feasible model, and the point many seem to miss, is this is to get around Hollywood licensing restrictions. Netflix would like to stream their entire library; they aren't allowed, due to licensing.

As to convenience and "is it worthwhile", I'd say yes. The reason people buy DVD's, is convenience - you can watch it anytime you want, and you don't have to leave your home to do it. Hollywood is scared of losing margins on post-theatrical release, since streaming is likely to further shrink DVD sales. HD, 3D, etc. isn't an evolution of technology, it's an attempt to maintain profit margins, by widening the quality gap.


The only advantage Zediva has is that they're using DVDs that have all the extra features intact, not the watered downed discs sold at reduced rates to Netflix that contain only the movie. I can't imagine this model being sustainable if you have to wait for a DVD player slot to open up.

You can't even register on the site right now because they're so backed up. They put you on a waiting list. This is insane!

At this rate, I think I'm better off viewing a watered-down Netflix DVD and then watching the extras on YouTube.


It's great to see this not just as a concept, but actually implemented. It really highlights just how silly the current laws are regarding content privileges.


@Tracy, the dvds they will be using do not have the special features. They will only have subtitles/languages enabled. There will be no deleted scenes or bonus features on the discs. Basically what netflix offers for streaming.


Love it anything to chip at the DMCA most idiotic thing created.


This is an early April Fools joke.

Having physical DVDs and DVD players would never scale beyond a limited number of users. Are you really going to have a bunch of monkeys running around and pressing EJECT/LOAD/PLAY on 100 different physical DVD players? Even if you had virtual machines running on computers, you'd still have to have 100 individual DVD drives and a way to load and exchange movies. With physical DVDs (they say in their FAQ that they're using physical DVDs and if they're not they're probably violating copyright laws) you're going to always have to deal with a limited number of copies of the movies that people actually want to watch. Unless you plan on getting a reasonable number of copies of each popular movie, your customers are going to have to pick from a poor selection of available movies.

It's absurd that anyone would even try to defend this. I guess common sense isn't frequently traded commodity in today's world.


"Even if you had virtual machines running on computers, you'd still have to have 100 individual DVD drives and a way to load and exchange movies."

And they do. Commercial scale juke boxes have been around for some time. A little creative use of disk caching (assuming you can figure out how to do it legally) and it could be quite scalable.

Does it have limits? Of course it does, but that doesn't mean it can't be profitable. As I see it this model is closer to RedBox than NetFlix, and it has some advantages over RedBox (disks can be returned and re-rented much faster). I don't know that it'll succeed but I don't dismiss the possibility.


Apples and oranges...

The american dream, ideas and success.

Zediva has just challeged the studios, (as many others have). Their idea is just sort of a backhand, roundabout try. I wish them well..not in a "illegal" manner but that they succeed "legally".

I have been a longtime NF subber and 'streamer'. Nary a complaint, and I will remain with NF...but soon I will be strictly 'streaming'. In past 8yrs I always waited out the 'queue' for my new release movies. They arrived in a much faster short timely order. Then when they contracted for the 28 day delay, still not a problem. However, this past few months the situation has been a real 'waaaiting' game, up to 2 months,(after 28 day delay) for many titles. Worked a bit faster, (sometimes) by 'deleting' my entire queue and placing only (1) title.

So instead of 'moaning and complaining' to NF, I welcome the advent of another source for, (hopefully) faster, delivery,(streaming) of a reasonably priced new release.

I have talked to a few Zediva customers who seem happy. I am waiting to be added to list as a new subber,when they have updated system, (to handle traffic). Just recieved email from them stating they are about ready to roll again.

We will wait and see what, if anything, transpires.

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