Movie watching 2.0

Michael and Brittany Rogers of Grand Junction select a movie from the redbox kiosk at City Market at First Street and Rood Avenue. They usually pick up a movie every time they shop because the process is quick, easy and inexpensive, the couple say.



Gone are the days when most people headed to a video store to rent movies, returning a few days later to drop them off. For the tech-savvy, videos and television programming is a click or two away thanks to modern devices.

“Plugging in” no longer means sitting in front of the television, as people more often reach for mobile devices. And it appears to be the way programming is headed.

According to The Nielsen Co., more than 10.2 billion videos were streamed in America in June, nearly a 4 percent increase over the number of videos streamed the month before. Here are the ways we watch videos now:

• Pay per view and on demand

Television viewers use their remote control to purchase a wide range of movies and programming through their cable- or satellite-television provider without leaving their home. Users can watch programs at any time. Cost per movie ranges from free to $5.99, according to satellite provider Direct TV.

• Video kiosks

Coinstar’s redbox and other companies’ automated, self-service, video-rental stations usually are located at grocery stores and fast-food restaurants. Movies are usually $1 a day, charging another $1 for each following 24 hours before the movie is returned. Credit-card payment is required. Selection is limited to the amount of movies that can fit into the dispenser, and that usually includes new releases. Popular choices often sell out at busy kiosks.

• DVD home delivery

Netflix currently is the most popular DVD movie-delivery service, although other companies have copied the model. Subscribers order movies online that can be delivered to a home within about a day. Streaming video and television shows also is available to watch instantly, but the selection is limited. New releases are not immediately available on Netflix, but they offer a vast selection that include a range of genres. Prices start at $8.99 a month.

• Video rental stores

Video rental stores have employed some incentives to lure customers, such as $1 rentals and eliminating late fees. For example, Hastings Books Music & Video, 2401 North Ave., offers a discount on future movie rental purchases for movies returned within a day. Rentals of older films also are offered at a discounted rate.

• Video streaming

Videos and other programming can be uploaded directly to devices such as smart phones, computers and Apple’s iPad. Several companies offer the streaming service, as well as free websites, such as Netflix also offers streaming video via the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3 and Xbox video-game systems.

Wanna watch a movie?

There’s more than a few options anymore, the possibilities seeming to expand daily.

You could always check the listings and head to the nearest theater.

But for the at-home experience, watching what you want when you want is becoming more tailored every day.

A stark indication that big-box video rental stores are becoming less relevant to movie and television viewers lies in the recent closure of Clifton’s Hollywood Video, 3205 Interstate 70 Business Loop.

The company, which is heading into bankruptcy and shuttering its stores, was the nation’s second-largest movie-rental chain.

Blockbuster, too, is facing bankruptcy, but the company has evolved to offer video kiosks, DVD shipping and on- demand video streaming.

Deanna Forney of Grand Junction doesn’t subscribe to many of the newer movie-watching habits.

However, her son has his own Netflix account, ordering movies online and having them shipped to the front door. Other family members use redbox, an automated, self-service, video dispenser usually found at grocery stores and fast-food locations that rents movies for $1 a day after swiping a credit card.

Forney and her husband watch movies on television’s HBO and treat themselves to an occasional date night at a movie theater.

Still, none of their family’s movie-watching habits revolves around going to a video store to pick up a movie and dropping it back off a few days later.

Forney is sure of one thing: She doesn’t want to pay a high price to rent a movie for a week when she’s bound to watch it in one night.

“Why would you pay $4 or $5 for a movie when you don’t need it for that long?” she said, while scouring Hollywood Video’s going-out-of-business offerings a few weeks ago, seeking half-price Blu-ray videos for her daughter to take to college.

For more than a decade, Netflix has offered to ship DVDs to subscribers’ front doors, the ubiquitous red envelopes peeking out from countless handfuls of mail delivered by U.S. Postal Service carriers.

But even that trend is evolving.

According to Netflix, in 2008 its more than 13 million subscribers watched an average of eight movies a month that were delivered to their doorsteps.

In the second quarter of this year, that number dipped to an average of six movies a month per subscriber.

But the company is enjoying increases in its numbers of subscribers because more customers are choosing to stream video directly from the site to a computer or TV, rather than wait about a day for a DVD to arrive.

In the first quarter of the year, 55 percent of subscribers streamed video for more than 15 minutes a day. By the second quarter, 61 percent of subscribers streamed video for more than 15 minutes a day.

DVD shipping by Netflix and other companies has been a boon for the post office, U.S. Postal Service spokesman Al DeSarro said.

It’s questionable whether the movie-delivery company will experience any backlash from a dropped day of home mail delivery, a proposal the Postal Service is considering to stem financial losses.

Postal Service projections show the agency could lose $7 billion this year, and dropping Saturday service may help cut costs.

Loss of Saturday service for Netflix subscribers would put a dent in weekend video-watching habits, DeSarro said, but the movie-delivery company is not protesting a dropped day of delivery.

“They really understand our financial situation,” he said.

According to this year’s first-quarter reports by Nielsen, an agency that tracks media usage, 63.5 percent of Americans have broadband Internet access in their homes, and nearly 25 percent of Americans have some sort of smart phone or portable device to watch video wherever they are. It’s not just teens watching video this way, but 55 percent of people ages 25 to 49 who have portable devices use them for watching video, Nielsen reported.

Those studies show that 138 million people who watch video on the Internet watch for an average of three hours, 10 minutes. The 20.3 million Americans who watch mobile video spend on average three hours, 37 minutes each month watching video on a mobile phone, the group reported.

While larger video stores may be affected by new Internet mediums, smaller “mom and pop” video stores remain a mainstay for residents of small towns, said Kevin Steele of Palisade.

Steele enjoys the process of actually handling the movies, turning them over to read the descriptions. He also appreciates the camaraderie he long has shared with the owners of Grand Valley Video, 309 West Eighth St. The business has been in operation for 17 years.

“Not everyone has high-speed Internet,” Steele added.

Movies choices from redbox sites are limited, he said.

Besides, he would miss the opportunity to chat with the store’s affable co-owner, Tony Tom.

The video store offers two-for-one movie rentals on Tuesdays, and some titles are $1, comparable to prices for redbox movies.

Tom knows most customers by name, and people seem to like it that way.

Plus, the Palisade location in a small strip mall is near a pizza shop, a liquor store and a gas station. What more could one need?

“When you support small business you help everybody,” Tom said. “We have a loyal client base. We know their names.”


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