A new way to hire DVDs has launched in Cape Town. The service is called Pushplay and the way it works is that you sign up, pay between R89 and R139 per month for up to 3 DVDs. The DVDs are delivered to you and you return them when you are done. Yup, that’s right, you return them when you are finished with them, no late fees. Sound familiar? It should; Pushplay is based on Netflix, an extremely successful DVD rental service that works pretty much the same way. As Pushplay’s network of drop boxes builds up, so will its reach.
I have a DVD shop about 200m down the road and it would take me about 15 minutes to go down the road to hire a DVD. So why would I want to make use of this service? In you are in a similar position, why would you? Well, the reasons could include a better price and the ability to keep the DVD as long as you like. Another reason could be the approach to their customers’ desires:
If you can suggest a title which we dont carry, and it is available on DVD format in SA, we will endevour to track it down as quickly as we can. And what’s more, when we do, you will be the first person to rent it.
I am curious to see how this service works in practice. In the United States the postal service is light years ahead of ours. DVDs sent out by Netflix are delivered virtually overnight by post. Can Pushplay match the delivery speeds? How many DVDs will disappear into the hands of some movie crazy postal worker? On the other hand, it does look like Pushplay may make use of a courier service to deliver the DVDs to you postbox so if the DVD disappears, you can narrow down the list of suspects.
Down the line it remains to be seen how sustainable this sort of service (or any DVD rental service for that matter) will be. When better bandwidth becomes more widely available and services like the full iTunes Store or Amazon Unbox become available locally, people will be able to download the movie and TV series of their choice. Problems we commonly experience at a DVD shop like limited supplies and scratched DVD copies will be things of the past and the only delays will be download times. Differentiating between these download services will become a matter of preference and the flexibility of the service itself. By this I mean that services that enable more flexibility to decide which device to play the movie on may well be more popular. On the other hand, content choice (which could improve with relative inflexibility due to content providers’ concerns that their content be adequately protected with digital rights management technology) and price could sway users. Either way, we probably won’t know which option suits us best for a little while still.