Paramount to distribute movies on flash media

Movie studio Paramount Pictures and tech company Kingston announced a partnership in which Paramount will offer select full-length movies on Kingston flash drives.

“This unique agreement enables PDE (Paramount Digital Entertainment) to make available its entertainment offerings on USB and SD cards,” Paramount GM Alex Carlos said in a statement.  “As more and more movies are viewed on computers and other portable devices, having a relationship with Kingston will become increasingly important to Paramount for years to come.”

Movie watchers are looking for an increased number or methods to view content, and bundling movies on flash drives may be the next content distribution strategy to gain attention.  Once purchased, an owner must plug in the flash drive into a PC, and leave it plugged into the system to watch the film. Consumers will also be able to transfer files to and from the drive.

Although Redbox is the No. 1 rental kiosk service, it doesn’t utilize an SD slot. Rental kiosks e-Play and BlockBuster, however, are anticipating an increase in demand, and have SD slots embedded in their rental kiosks.

The cost of flash memory has significantly dropped, so the movie studios and memory makers may be able to split revenue while consumers get movies on a new format.

The movies can be transferred to a PC for backup, and can be used on any PC or product that has USB ports.

One major downside is that even though flash drives are declining in price, movies on SD cards still cost more than DVDs and most Blu-ray movies.  For example, the “Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen” movie on SD is available for $29.99 on a 4GB Kingston DataTraveler flash drive.

Another downside is the decrease in video quality, which is a complaint among some viewers, as a movie on dual-layer DVD takes up 8GB, while a regular single-layer DVD is 4GB in size.  If the 4GB Kingston drive has room for additional storage, then the movie likely underwent additional compression to fit it on the flash drive.

Judging from the press release, it’s not clear whether or not these movie files will contain some form of DRM or whether you’ll need special software to play them back. Those details might be a key component in the success or downfall of the program.