The hated 24-hour limit on online movie rentals has seen its first breech, more or less.
Download service Vudu, in its latest set-top box software upgrade (1.5), slipped into a model in which rentals can be extended beyond the 24-hour frame — for a price, of course. Certain, um, restrictions apply.
Call it a digital late fee.
So if you’re trying to muddle through the metaphysics of “Revolver” and time has run out, you’ll pay a buck less than the original price for the renewal (this can only be done once). That’s $2.99 for a standard extension. (You get $2 off on the high definition.) The renewal has to selected within a week of the first expiration. Then you have 30 days to re-engage with the video. Once you’ve hit play (again), the movie can be viewed for up to 24 or 48 hours, depending on the film.
Of course Vudu consumers pay something like $300 for the box. To start with.
Vudu, to its credit, probably achieved some kind of breakthrough with the studios in getting them to agree to this. The 24-hour cap is a prime source of grumbling among you early adopters — like a return to the bad old days of Blockbuster late fees.
Still, it’s hard to get too excited when you’re paying twice for the same movie to be watched once. And that combined price is almost as much as buying the film from, say, Apple’s iTunes Store download service.
The studio-mandated 24-hour rule is another of those head-shaking eyeball-rolling policies from the old-media elite in Hollywood. My geezer ears are hearing Peter, Paul & Mary: “When will they ever learn, when will they eh-ver learn?”