Edward Jay Epstein covers Rupert Murdoch's drive to kill off the movie rental business by adding DVRs to the DirecTV network to create video-on-demand. The main challenge is that Wal-Mart has forced the movie companies to give physical retailers (Wal-Mart) a 45-day window of time where movies cannot be distributed electronically.
Is this a Wal-Mart vs. DirecTV battle? I can't imagine it being that simple. However, a future where we don't travel to Blockbuster (or Tsutaya here in Japan) is obvious for those who enjoy NetFlix. With the 100 and 1000 Gb/sec. retail consumer fiber-optic networks in Asia, VoD for movies is not far away.
Even before Murdoch completed his acquisition of DirecTV, he told financiers at Morgan Stanley's Global Media Conference that he planned to marry the satellites above with TiVo-like home recorders below, explaining that "every subscriber will be getting either a free digital video recorder or one for nominal amounts of money." And, to this end, he placed an order for 20 million digital video recorders for his customers.Murdoch plans to digitally deliver movies and other programming from his satellites to home digital video recorders that would be the same quality, or higher (HDTV), than a DVD. Since there are not enough transponders on satellites to stream movies to individual subscribers on demand, Murdoch needs DVRs in every home to make his digital-delivery system work. With DVRs, the satellites can upload movies in the middle of the night in encrypted form onto subscribers' hard discs without us having to do anything or even be aware of it. (One idea now under consideration at DirecTV is to provide these DVRs with an enormous 160-gigabyte recording capacity. The subscriber would only be told about 80 gigabytes, with the remaining 80 gigabytes reserved for encrypted movies.) Once the movies are placed on the DVRs, a customer "rents" them by clicking on his remote control.
If you haven't invested in companies in the HDD storage industry, now's your chance :)
Full disclosure- I went to elementary and middle school with James and Lachlan, but that was decades ago and half a world away.