When iTunes announced the availability of top tier television content for Internet download late last year, tremors rolled through the Hollywood Hills.
Hollywood studios had tied themselves up in a Gordian knot of digital rights management (DRM) issues, delaying the distribution of popular movies and television episodes via broadband downloads.
Meanwhile, the horse was clearly leaving the barn. According to the Motion Picture Association of America, of the $6.1 billion their studios lost to piracy last year, $2.3 billion were illegal Internet downloads.
Once the success of iTunes video proved consumers would pay for content, the tipping point soon followed. Earlier this year, MovieLink announced "Brokeback Mountain," would be available for Internet download the same day as the DVD release—an industry first. With most studios and Internet downloading services now following suit, the digital revolution has finally arrived in Tinseltown.
"It is a huge move for the studios," says Aki Kishore, director of the Media & Entertainment Strategies Decision Service at the Yankee Group. "They have built an entire business on time-based exclusivity and a set of staggered release windows that generate more revenue."