Comcast , North America's largest cable operator, is offering a service allowing customers to buy Video on Demand (VoD) films on the same day as the film's DVD release.
Films are traditionally not made available for download so quickly in order to maximise profit from the DVD release. Warner Brothers is one of the studios signed up for the scheme.
"I don't expect it to cannibalize sales on DVD." says Andrew Mellett, vice president for the Video on Demand division of Warner Digital Distribution. "What we are really interested in seeing is whether this increases the buy rates."
Movie fans can pay $4 to 'rent' a newly released film, which will be Digital Rights Management (DRM) encoded so it can't be copied.
While it is only a trial in Pittsburgh and Denver, in the US, movie studios will be keen to see the results, as they struggle to keep up with digital distribution trends. It may also affect high-street rental companies like Blockbuster , who rely on physical DVD rentals.
However, in November this year, Blockbuster did hint that it may move into downloadable rentals in 2007.