Same-day Movie Downloads: Good News for ISPs?

Broadband service providers looking for ways to upsell higher-speed (more expensive) connections now have the perfect come-on: same-day downloads on Apple’s iTunes store from most of the major Hollywood studios.

While the news doesn’t cover rentals, it’s good enough. Others, like VUDU, are already offering similar same-day download services. Given its history, the odds of Apple replicating the success it’s had with music in the movie download business are pretty high. The near ubiquity of its iTunes software and easy download process render it a good candidate for making a habit out of downloading movies. There is, of course, one problem when buying and download movies online: It takes forever.

Unlike music singles or even television shows, movies are long, with an average two-hour movie coming in at around 1.5 gigabytes. For broadband subscribers that average around 3 megabits per second, downloading a movie can seriously test one’s patience.

But a faster connection can make downloading easy. I have a nifty Covad ADSL2 Plus connection at home and more often than not, I get around 8 Mbps downstream speeds — good enough to download movies from the Apple store at an acceptable rate.

As a result, I end up buying at least one movie a week. On other download services like Jaman, I end up downloading (mostly to rent) at least two movies a month. If I had a pokey 1-megabit connection, there’s a very good chance I wouldn’t be downloading movies as often.

With growth slowing down, the broadband service providers, as noted earlier, are desperate to goose up their broadband revenues. Apple movie downloads could be the app that makes spending more to upgrade to higher-speed tiers a palatable option for Internet users.

I hope BSPs use this opportunity to push all non-legit online download services. Sure, there are some carriers who will whine, and will avoid raising the speeds because this might cut into their VOD sales, but in the end, the money they make from selling more bandwidth will make up for that hit.