Download movies to your XBOX 360

Download movies to your XBOX 360

Summary: As of November 22nd, Microsoft will sell you TV shows and let you rent movies, both in SD and HD formats, through XBOX Live. They have a bunch of content on tap, but I figured this line from the November 6th press release (which I missed till now) would appeal to ZDNet readers: For the first time CBS will deliver high-definition download-to-own TV shows including “CSI,” “Jericho,” “Numb3rs” and remastered “Star Trek” episodes; gamers can buy them and watch them repeatedly.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Hardware
36

As of November 22nd, Microsoft will sell you TV shows and let you rent movies, both in SD and HD formats, through XBOX Live. They have a bunch of content on tap, but I figured this line from the November 6th press release (which I missed till now) would appeal to ZDNet readers:

For the first time CBS will deliver high-definition download-to-own TV shows including “CSI,” “Jericho,” “Numb3rs” and remastered “Star Trek” episodes; gamers can buy them and watch them repeatedly.

Rock on. Personally, I'm a huge fan of the original Star Trek, possibly because their inability to create realistic effects forced them to emphasize story over glitz. Plus, you have to love Shatner as Captain Kirk.

Anyway, this is just one of those things that falls into the "really good idea" department. It also supports Bill Gates' claim that the new HD DVD format (whichever format won) would be the last physical disc format we'd care about. What is the point of the HD-DVD vs. BluRay war if people will start to download the content they want? Permanent storage may be one reason, but with drives getting ever smaller, the notion of carrying a single disc around with only one movie on it might seem as quaint as carrying around a single album on a CD instead of storing all your albums on a large drive contained in a portable music player.

Most people think of the PC when they imagine downloadable video, but that's hardly a natural form factor for couch potatos (though it does provide a more interactive experience, so I see it as a good parallel option provided seamless and simple home networking). Game consoles are a good start, though I can easily imagine this moving beyond the XBOX 360 to all the other living room devices in Microsoft's planned home ecosystem.

Will it ever be possible to buy a truly permanent copy of a movie or TV show through XBOX Live (correct me if I'm wrong, but I see no evidence that you can move the purchased TV show off the XBOX device). Possibly, once movie studios feel safe about allowing content to move beyond the controlled environment of a game console like the XBOX 360. I expect those assurances to happen - someday - and then the issue of which HD DVD format wins will become even less relevant.

Topic: Hardware

John Carroll

About John Carroll

John Carroll has delivered his opinion on ZDNet since the last millennium. Since May 2008, he is no longer a Microsoft employee. He is currently working at a unified messaging-related startup.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

36 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • John, Just thought I'd mention... (OT)

    On Thanksgiving, "Star Trek:New Voyages" released their next web-isode "To Serve All My Days" guest-starring Walter Koenig. Not quite up to stuff with the previous episodes, but interesting.

    What to do with video on the XBox 360? Nothing, but you had mentioned STOS (just in case you were wondering STOS was shot in colour 35mm, and so can easily be issued in an enhanced edition).
    John Le'Brecage
    • Curious

      Still think that the future of media is a bunch of big studios, a much larger pool of medium sized studios, and a swarm of individuals and groups making YouTube-style content that will migrate up the feed (and money) chain as they demonstrate an ability to attract larger audiences.
      John Carroll
      • I never thought that...

        I never thought that the future of media was big studios. Like you I've been involved with productions of pro-mateur video and film (usually as a director and writer) - and this in the days before digital editing. Ever have people started at the bottom and made their way up the value chain - read Spielberg's biography for a good insight. Yes, the future you posit in curiosity is much what I thought about three years ago - however I see DRM as a preventer, rather than an accelerator of the growth.

        One need only view a few ADVs to see what I mean. The people who create these are using existing video (not PD works) and music (not PD works) and fusing them creatively. They're learning the craft of timing in editing at a very low cost - much as I did with 8mm, a vintage projector, a razor blade, scotch tape, and a quick hand on the play button. If all the media comes with DRM, except for some clips the movie houses have said "all right you can use these", that avenue for creativity will whither and die.

        What Hollywood forgets is that what they produce at the top feeds the creativity rising from the bottom, providing them with future possible employees. Someday, I envision, the people rising from the bottom will be those solely interested in money, completely disinterested in craft, and capable only of producing crap.

        Movies are sort of like code. Anyone can write it. Only a few can write it well. They start by looking at, and modifying, the code of others. Prevent that and I fear we turn many more into consumers than producers.

        Youtube is a fine example of Sturgeon's Law in action, but then so is Hollywood.

        Still, DRM aside, you won't hear much protest from me about rising up the value chain. Cream floats. crap sinks. People motivated by money eventually find a way to be compensated, usually at the expense of people who love their art.
        John Le'Brecage
        • But...

          [i]If all the media comes with DRM, except for some clips the movie houses have said "all right you can use these", that avenue for creativity will whither and die.[/i]

          How essential is the ability to borrow bits from movies to the creation of new ones? I DO think there needs to be more of an ability to borrow snippets from copyrighted works, much as I have the ability to copy whole paragraphs from articles or published documents. Right now, if I include a coke can, or a bag from McDonalds, or snippets from a copyrighted movie running on a TV set, I can get in trouble. That's ridiculous.

          I also think the time limit for copyright in media is too long. Why are movies from the 30s and 40s still under copyright? There should be a limit, and right now, it has been extended far too long.

          I consider DRM to be an enabler provided proper limits are created on how long they are allowed to keep their content protected. Small creators can sell copyrighted work under DRM protections on the Internet, and limits ensure that such works (from both small companies and large) eventually find their way into the public domain in reasonable timeframes.

          [i]People motivated by money eventually find a way to be compensated, usually at the expense of people who love their art.[/i]

          I would say that both those who create for free and those who create for money are creators, and don't see why those who create for money do so at the "expense" of those who do so for free.
          John Carroll
  • Wow, another JC/MS blog without the word advertisment...

    anywhere.

    Not even a mention of the HD format supported, just a link to an
    MS press release. Must be good with the Xbox 360 analogue
    connections;-)

    Well done ZDNet - your overlords must be prouder than ever.

    JC - what about an ad for Zune;-)
    Richard Flude
    • Actually

      Actually, it looks great on Xbox 360 and an HD TV! The HD content is very good looking. Methinks you are just upset because poor little Apple got spanked by Microsoft and Apple crossed that finish line last. Even though the Apple fans would like to tell us Apple is "ahead" when it comes to the "digital lifestyle". You know, Apple's iTV vaporware and all...

      But I am also amused at you being upset about the "ad" for MS. So let me guess, you are [b]not[/b] upset about all the free ads Apple gets in the media? Amazing...
      Qbt
    • Another advantage for Mr. Carroll

      Because of his employer he is forgiven the mandatory Microsoft hate session at ZDNet each day.

      The meetings began with circulation of emails titled "Showing how much we hate MS". The news reporters already use special software to remove all the M$ references in their initial copy and this is applied to emails as well.

      Soon the anti-MS group merged with the All good software comes from the web group and the Only open source is moral software group to make up a single group of fanatical believers.

      And though held on MSN messenger, the daily meetings include songs and stories, chants and sermons.

      People are hired for being consistent with orthodoxy, so there's a lot of fanaticism on display. But still, ZDNet can advertise exciting staff meetings. Once they get past singing Kumbaya at every open source near brush with success. Sounds terrible over computer speakers, I'm told.
      Anton Philidor
  • Compatibility and transfer issues

    You raise a good point--are you ever actually buying the movie? What happens when MS comes out with a new iteration of the Xbox, or if you decide instead to buy a PS3? What happens to your movie collection? Will Sony license their movies to MS to sell on their competing device? Will I need to buy a videogame console just to watch movies? Will I need to buy multiple consoles to watch movies from different studios?

    Here's a story that might be of interest here, on more lockdown of content in the works for MS' devices:
    http://www.ehomeupgrade.com/entry/3285/mce_cablecard_limitation
    tic swayback
    • Typical

      So instead of telling us how the competition is better than MS, you cry about some imaginary issues to try and deflect attention. Please tell us how your beloved Apple is doing better than MS. How is Sony doing in this regard? No-one is saying the MS solution is perfect but show me what is better. I can walk over to my Xbox 360 and pick TV shows or movies and watch them [b]right now[/b] on my high-def TV.

      LOL, and if you think your beloved Apple is going to be any less restricted in the content, then I have some sad news for you. Well, I guess we will only know once their iTV starts being more than just vaporware.

      At least admit that MS is way ahead of the competition when it comes to downloading and showing movies/TV on your HDTV.

      Or can't you even admit that?
      Qbt
      • I don't want this product, not from any company

        Wow, you really seem to have a serious chip on your shoulder when anyone criticizes your beloved Microsoft. Do you work for them, or do you own their stock?

        The reason I didn't tell you how Apple or Sony were doing this product better is that I think this is a terrible product, no matter who it comes from. I don't want to lose more and more control over the objects I "purchase". I don't want locked down content that I can't use the (legal) ways that I want to use them. I don't want a movie locked to one device, locked to one room in one house. I don't want to have to take my computer over to a friend's house to watch a movie over there.

        ---At least admit that MS is way ahead of the competition when it comes to downloading and showing movies/TV on your HDTV. ---

        Okay, sure. MS is way ahead of everyone else in pushing a crappy product that only idiots would buy. Apple and Sony (and others) are going to try as well, and odds are they'll be just as crappy. Does this make you happy?
        tic swayback
        • Well then

          I am sorry to tell you then that the future of TV looks dim for you. If you don't want a product that downloads TV/movies over the internet then you will be left behind in the dark ages. This is where TV is heading. Cable will become obsolete and you will no longer be able to "own" (lol) the content you get from cable companies.

          The fact is that MS is ahead here but since the concept is so alien to you (TV/movies on your HDTV via the internet) you can't even see that this is where it is all headed.
          Qbt
          • Never said that

            ---If you don't want a product that downloads TV/movies over the internet then you will be left behind in the dark ages.---

            I never said that. I said I don't want a crippled, locked down product that severely restricts what I can do with the content I purchase (that's right, I said "purchase", not "license). You may be willing to settle for less, you may be willing to give up all your rights and pay every single time you watch something, pay every time you want to watch it in a different room, pay for amenities like being able to use the fast forward button on your remote control, but I will not accept such limitations.

            ---The fact is that MS is ahead here but since the concept is so alien to you (TV/movies on your HDTV via the internet) you can't even see that this is where it is all headed---

            I'm not really sure where MS is ahead of anyone else here, perhaps other than offering the same content in HD (no big deal for me, I have no intention of buying a new television until my old one dies), and of course locking it to one particular proprietary and very limited set of hardware. Since I don't play video games, I'm not going to buy an Xbox just to watch movies. Guess that either means I'm behind the curve or perhaps I'm smart enough to see a bad deal when it's glaringly obvious.
            tic swayback
          • Video download service

            Just so you know, you cannot PURCHASE movies via this service. You can RENT them like going to the video store. Then you have 14 days to start watching the movie. And once you start watching the movie, you have 24 hours to finish watching the movie. Seems pretty reasonable to me - most people rent a movie and watch it within a week. It's True you have to wait for the movie to download before you watch it though - probably an overnight proposition for most people.

            With TV content, once you've bought it, you don't have to pay again. The biggest problem with this is that the XBox 360 hard drive is a meager 20 GB. Microsoft's solution: You can download the content again in the future.

            Now I'm not sure if the content is locked to a device or to the user account (Gamertag). Can anyone answer that? If it's locked to the device, then yes, you are FUBAR if you want to watch it somewhere else and not move the XBox 360. Of course, having two XBox 360's and swapping the hard drive may be an option here. If it's locked to the account, then you can watch it on any XBox 360 that you're willing to enter your account information on.

            As to HD, you will be left behind in 2009 when all US broadcasters are required to switch to HD. That leaves you a little over two years to enjoy your current TV before you will have to buy a down-converting box from your cable company to continue to watch standard TV.
            brilang
          • Correction

            ---As to HD, you will be left behind in 2009 when all US broadcasters are required to switch to HD.---

            This is a frequently made mistake. In 2009, US broadcasters are required by law to switch to digital broadcasting, not HD. I already get digital cable, so no further changes will be necessary for my television.

            As for the rental downloads, really still sounds like Netflix is a vastly better deal. More flexibility with how long you keep it, when you watch it, how many times you watch it, where you watch it, etc., etc. Often if I get a really good movie from Netflix, I'll lend it to a friend before returning it. Try doing that with an Xbox download.
            tic swayback
    • This is a first step

      [i]Will Sony license their movies to MS to sell on their competing device? Will I need to buy a videogame console just to watch movies? Will I need to buy multiple consoles to watch movies from different studios?[/i]

      I don't think a game console is the best conduit for this, though I think it is a useful conduit. TiVo is also doing something like this, and I think they are better positioned to do something interesting with this (though the same problem exists: would Sony license to TiVo the right to download VoD movies from Sony Pictures if they decide to do the same thing with the PS3?)

      I talked about the XBOX 360 because I have that, and the fact that I can now rent movies through it interests me.
      John Carroll
  • What's the download time?

    How long does it take to download a 2hr movie or a 40 minute
    (sans commercials) tv show?

    Just curious about it but, if it takes a real long time, my guess is
    that sales would be negatively effected.
    j.m.galvin
    • Not 100% sure, but

      I am not 100% sure how long a full-length high-def movie will take to download, but given that the Xbox 360 can download 4 items in the background while you use it to play games/watch a previously downloaded movie etc, I'd say it really doesn't matter too much. Maybe 1 to 2 hours for a full-length high-def movie?

      I am sure your available bandwidth plays a huge role here, though...
      Qbt
      • Where's that pumpkin?

        Peter, you're off by a factor of four - a high-def movie is 4 times the length of a DVD movie. That the XBox 360 can "download four games in the background" is meaningless when estimating "how long it will take to download a high-def movie". A more reasonable estimate is: take the bandwidth of the smallest "pipe" to your XBox 360 and divide it into the average sixe of a high-def movie, which number of bits + error correction + TCP/IP overhead + protocol overhead.

        The average size of a high-def movie is highly dependent on the codec chosen - the smaller the file size, the less [u]really[/u] high-def it is, both because of lossy compression and framespace parameters. Length of the film - 40 miuntes to 3 hours - is also a determining factor. However, let's pull a number out of our arse and guess at 15GB for the longest of the films?

        The limiting factor on your network connection is either your long haul line (unless you're lucky enough to have fiber-to-your-doorstep and most don't) or your 100BASE-TX connection to your router. Assuming that you have fiber and that it's unmetered and [u]net neutral[/u]; you can download the movie in:

        161,507,273,600 bits / 100,000bp/s

        =16,507 seconds

        which is approximately 5 hours. Once you factor in unpredictables, like load on Microsoft servers, network collisions, tcp/ip overhead, repeated packets and so on and on, you'll end up with a transmit time of 8 hours (roughly double).

        So, if you do nothingelse with your XBox 360, do nothingelse with any other device connected to your network, have a perfectly clear FIBER line, are the only person on the Internet for all your downloading time and have the wind at your back; you might be able to start your download before dinner and watch the movie afterwards. Since [u]miracles[/u] don't happen, better to start your download at breakfast; you might have a movie before dinnertime.
        John Le'Brecage
        • Well, yea...

          That is why I said I am not 100% sure. Although your worst-possible-case scenario is bogus. For one thing I believe the max size for those movies will be around 10GB.

          And what I meant about downloading four items in the background is that it doesn't lock up your Xbox while it is downloading, not that it somehow increases download speed. So you are free to use it for other purposes during that time (unlike the PS3 which shows you a progress bar the whole time). So, your conclusion that you can't do anything else with your Xbox while you download such a large movie is bogus.

          Of course we should also mention that most media content on Xbox Live is nowhere near that worst-case size, and would download substantially faster.

          Look, I realize you need to do everything in your power to make the Xbox 360 look as bad as possible, but your reason for why the Xbox sucks has zero to do with the Xbox itself and everything to do with real world bandwidth limitations. So when Apple gets their iTV out of vaporware status they will have the same exact limitations. At least with the 360 we can do it [b]today[/b], vs the iTV which is just a fantasy in every Apple fanboy's dreams (yet somehow Apple is ahead in the "digital lifestyle" race?). Some talk the talk, and others walk the walk...
          Qbt
          • Pay attention Peter

            ---Look, I realize you need to do everything in your power to make the Xbox 360 look as bad as possible...---

            Sigh, one should always try to learn the culture of a discussion site before posting. John is one of our resident FOSS/Linux geeks, not an Apple fanboy. Your accusations seem based in rampant paranoia, that anyone who doesn't worship a product from MS must be a secret agent sent from Cupertino to wreak havoc on our beloved Microsoft.
            tic swayback