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Dixons UK Launch Broadband Internet Film Rental and Download Service

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012 (10:50 am) - Score 438

Dixons (Currys, PC World etc.), a popular UK and European focused electrical retailer and services company, has just become the latest to enter a growing market of internet video streaming based broadband film and TV distribution services with the launch of KNOWHOW Movies (available from 1st March 2012).

The new subscription-free service claims to be a transactional based on-demand movie and TV solution. By comparison its arch rivals, LOVEFiLM and Netflix, both tend to offer “unlimited” monthly subscription solutions (LOVEFiLM also does physical rentals) from between £4.99 and £5.99 per month respectively.

As a result KNOWHOW Movies users can individually rent or buy films and TV episodes from major studios including Disney, Warner Bros and Momentum Pictures (more to follow “imminently“). New releases are priced at £3.99 to rent and £12.99 to buy, while “catalogue” titles are priced from £2.99 to rent and from £5.99 to buy; TV shows start at £1.99.

Niall O’Keeffe, KNOWHOW Development Director, said:

With KNOWHOW Movies we are offering customers the most flexible service available – they will only pay for what they watch, will have access to all the latest releases instantly, and can buy and view films and TV shows on a wide range of their connected devices. As a high street retailer we are also in the unique position of being able to help customers who are less confident with tech by showing them how to install and use the service.

TVs and the home entertainment sector is a cornerstone of our business, and it’s hugely exciting to be taking this next step and offering our customers great content to be enjoyed on their connected devices.”

The service, which is also set to support the new Ultraviolet™ digital distribution standard, will initially be available for PCs and Macs, although Smartphones, Tablets, Smart TV’s and video games consoles (e.g. PS3, XBox 360) are expected to follow “within the next six months“.

So how does the service stack up? It claims that Full-HD playback will be supported for content and “new releases will be added to the library on the day of release” (i.e. customers will have access to them as soon as they become available). The site states that it will deliver “the very best cinema has to offer straight to you” (marketing speak), although ironically it won’t include the latest cinema releases.

At the time of writing the site hadn’t launched and so we couldn’t see what kind of broadband connection speeds would be required for the different video quality options. Both LOVEFiLM and Netflix tend to benefit from stable connection speeds of between 1-5Mbps (Megabits), so make sure that your package supports all the extra usage that a service like this would incur (Netflix’s HD stream can easily eat 2-3GB per hour).

Cost could be more of a problem. Many people will find it hard to justify paying £3.99 to rent a single new film release when a streaming subscription at £4.99-£5.99 (monthly) gets you so much more. Watching a whole season of a single TV show would also quickly break the bank.

Much will depend upon what KNOWHOW Movies offers when it launches tomorrow, yet both Netflix and LOVEFiLM have chosen their models because they’re proven to work. By contrast KNOWHOW Movies looks expensive and would need to offer something truly unique, such as cinema releases, in order to break away.

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