Virgin announced today its new generation of broadband services, with fat wide pipes pumping up to 10Mb of internet goodies into households. This is a major development for the film industry, which needs these higher speeds to accelerate its video-on-demand and streaming plans.
Already video-renting companies like Lovefilm are offering downloading services, and obviously customers are illegally downloading content left and right. If the industry can formulate a reasonably-priced, easy-to-use, high quality content delivery platform, customers will pay for it (as the success of iTunes has proven).
Malcolm Gladwell, in his review of Chris Anderson's (The Long Tail) new book, says that if the new technologies have shown us anything, is that there are no iron laws when it comes to the future of content delivery systems, and that free is not the only option. This will come to relief to everyone from filmmakers and distributors to cinema operators, who rely on customers spending money on films.
Bernard Dick, in his book Englufed, which chronicled the history of Paramount studios, says that exhibition is the key. He doesn't mean just cinemas, but anywhere a film is shown: internet, DVD, movie theatres, even iPhones. Finding the right way to deliver this content so that consumers will adopt it, and everyone can make a living, is the Holy Grail of the industry.
So well done to Branson, for (once again) being ahead of the curve.