I streamed The Hunt for Red October on my office computer the other day. Now that I have a fast cable modem and a nice big monitor, it flowed beautifully. No glitches. And in theory--although I couldn't get my BlackBerry to cooperate--if I had wanted to stop the action and continue watching on my PDA, I could do that too, for the price of a $4.99 24-hour rental on mSpot.
As the iPad hits the streets, being able to stream movies on mobile devices may pick up steam. You can do it on your computer via Amazon, Netflix and Epix easily enough. But you can stream movies on your mobile too--says mSpot CEO Daren Tsui, who offers both computer and mobile streaming. As of last week, users can now access instant streaming movies on virtually any device. You can start a full-length movie on a Mac or PC at home, pause, continue watching on your cell, stop for a lunch meeting, and then pick it up at the office. Impulsively.
"It's the first time ever that consumers can have a seamless experience watching a movie and take the content with them," says Tsui. "And you don't have to download an app. You just pull it up on your browser. With streaming you can rent any title instantly."
MSpot is the first service to combine mobile and PC streaming of full-length movies. It's available to over 40 million mobile phone customers on cell phone web browsers for ten U.S. wireless carriers (including AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and T-MOBILE) and over 50 handset devices (including iPhone, Blackberry, Palm, Android, Windows Mobile). MSpot had to create 18 versions of each title to accommodate all the different formats.
Most of the studios are supplying content inside the VOD window (sometimes even the DVD window), including Disney, Lionsgate, Paramount, Sony and Universal. (No deals so far with MGM, Warners or Fox.) For the moment, mSpot is focused on commercial studio product, to be followed later by episodic TV.
You can either access mSpot Mobile Movies via phone or PC, and use a credit card to rent and stream a movie for $4.99 or join a monthly Movie Club for $9.99 a month for up to four movies, $12.99 for six movies, or $15.99 for eight movies.
Among the 1000 available titles at launch are such recent 2009 films as Inglourious Basterds, Paranormal Activity, Star Trek, Transformers Revenge of the Fallen and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra as well as such older titles as Bruce Almighty, The Bourne Supremacy and Knocked Up.
Competition comes from Apple TV and the likes of Epix, Blockbuster and Netflix when they start to support mobile streaming. Hulu is more focused on episodic TV than PPV/VOD movie services. "The big trend is the growth of mobile," says Tsui, who admits the Android and iPhone are the two friendliest platforms for his service. "Folks are not tethered, not stuck at one location. They enjoy entertainment they can take with them."