Hawkeye on XBL Video Marketplace

As per Major Nelson’s blog, the XBL Video Marketplace went live yesterday. Being off work yesterday (vacation time: use it or lose it), I fired up the ol’ 360 to have a look see for myself. V for Vendetta in HD? Cool. 6GB? Not so cool. Guess I’ll have to blow away some of the demos that I’m not playing in order to make space.

The amount of HD space needed for HD movies begs the question, why isn’t Video Marketplace available for PC? My 20GB of Xbox HD space is taken up with game demos and downloads. But my home PC(s) can spare that kind of space. I’d much rather download the content to my PC then stream it across my home network to the 360 when I want to watch it. Not sure how DRM (I assume the content uses WM DRM) impacts network streaming, but I would guess that’s a solvable problem.

While I’m talking about DRM, why do I have to pay to download DRMed rental content? Shouldn’t I pay when it’s time to actually watch the content? I understand having a time limit (24 hours) to finish watching content I rented, but why is there a time limit (14 days) to start watching it? Once it’s downloaded it, I’m no longer using XBL resources, so why put any limit on it at all?

The pricing model seems pretty much in line with iTunes and/or Blockbuster. $2 to own a TV show, $3 to rent a “classic” movie, $4 to rent a new release movie, with a 50% markup for HD content ($3/$4.50/$6). While these prices are pretty typical, where’s the all-you-can-watch subscription plan? The all-you-can-listen model is one of the key values of Zune or PlaysForSure services like Napster and Urge not to mention NetFlix. I’d probably scrap my premium channel cable plan if I could get an unlimited subscription to XBL Video Marketplace.

I’d also like to see more content pricing tiers. Owning a 45 minute CSI for $2 seems pretty fair. But $2 for an 11 minute Space Ghost Coast to Coast seems overpriced. And while I’m making requests, how about making it easy to buy an entire season of a given show – both from a pricing perspective (i.e. a discount for buying an entire season) as well as a user experience perspective (i.e. one click to buy the whole season).

So all in all, a pretty cool service with some room for improvement. The availability of significant amounts of good HD content is a MAJOR winner for this service and a great foundation to build on. Like all things XBL related, I assume Video Marketplace will evolve over time. Can’t wait to see how it goes.