(Originally published 12-8-13. Updated 12-2-13 with new consumer observation)
I just noticed a new business practice being offered by Comcast to video consumers that leaves one very few options for certain new video releases. But don’t worry, I found a work-around.
The Wolverine, starring Hugh Jackman came out on DVD/BD last Tuesday (12-3-13). And like I’ve always gone and done with movies I want to see, I would usually go ahead and rent it that following weekend via my Comcast / Xfinity VoD (Video on Demand) service.
That’s the way it’s always been and I’ve been a pretty loyal renter with that service.
A side-note/observation: I’ve seen new advertising on Comcast where you can now buy TV shows and movies via their Comcast/Xfinity VoD. My guess being that they’re trying to now compete with the Ultraviolet (UV) options that are becoming more prevalent with movies that come to the DVD/Blu-ray market.
It makes sense, considering the DVD market is slowly fading away, with consumer preferences to only renting or buying the UV version of a product.
But it seems that Comcast / Xfinity has a different idea on how to handle new video releases and what options to give the entertainment consumer, that being you.
When I went to rent The Wolverine, the first menu I encountered only had purchase options. I thought maybe I landed in the wrong screen and started navigating their VoD menus.
But as I was cruising their menus, it became evident that not only was I not in the wrong menu, but that I only had a purchase option for the movie, no matter where I was.
And not only that, but I also saw that The Hunger Games on VoD is only available for purchase. No rental options. Period.
This is starting to feel like those DVD rentals where you can’t skip past the trailers and ads!!! Or are they banking that like Netflix customers, Comcast/Xfinity customers don’t mind waiting some extra time before being able to rent a new release?
Other options I’ve also noticed via my Xfinity service experience is that past TV series seasons individual episodes can only be purchased or rented, not viewed for free like they used to be.
Yep… I used to be able to pull up episodes of older seasons of various programs and watch them. For free, as part of my service that I pay for. But now, I would have to pay for that same option.
Wow, not only is that a first for my Comcast/Xfinity consumer experience, but it also has me reconsidering my services with the cable TV provider.
Heck, back when NBC/FOX/DISNEY owned Hulu started charging for some specific content, I never went back. I still had other options for picking up various services and video options. It wasn’t a spiteful or angry choice… I just had other options like my Comcast … oh, wait. Never mind now.
And this reminds me of when Warner Bros was going to introduce a 56 day release delay to rental agencies like Red Box, to force more movie purchases than rentals. But that was met with such consumer ire that they backed off that decision.
But if you have a hankering to view a movie that just came out, just because you don’t see it for rent on one service does not mean it is not for rent somewhere else.
I’d be negligent if I did not point out other options that you might have available to you.
The biggest warning I can give you is READ THE PRINT/OPTIONS before hitting buttons that used to rent movies, and BE PATIENT.
Remember, you always have options and I did find a work-around for my inability to rent a new movie release.
If you have a decent laptop or networked/internet-enabled TV and an Amazon account, you are in luck! \
Amazon has The Wolverine (<- link to) on it’s Amazon Instant Video options for the same price I would have rented it for from Comcast for $4.99.
And being an Amazon Prime Member, The Hunger Games is available for free viewing. (You get free shipping and a lot of free video offerings with a prime membership that seems to make it worthwhile and it pays for itself if you buy a lot of product off of Amazon from Prime eligible sellers.)
If you don’t have an Amazon account, maybe you might want to reconsider and sign up. It’s free and they do provide a pretty decent consumer experience.
(And for me, their streaming content is bullet proof, versus Netflix’s sometimes intermittent choppy experience.)
On the bright side, though they haven’t been released yet, Xfinity is offering Kick-Ass 2 and Percy Jackson 2 for purchase now!
UPDATE: The Wolverine finally came up on the “rent” options on Comcast on 12-21-13. 18 days after it came to market. And only the standard cut was available for rent. (But that’s nothing new. They’ve always held the extended cut versions for several weeks. But this “can’t rent” thing is new… and frustrating.