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Movie studios starting to push online releases before DVDs

I like to imagine a day when you can download or stream any TV show, movie, or other video before or at about the same time as it's available for viewing on TV. Oh right, the pirates have pretty much already made that possible. But I mean legally, where you either pay for a video or watch ad-supported media.

While we're not quite living in my utopian world where cable and satellite boxes are obsolete, the Wall Street Journal reports that we're getting a little closer. Sony Pictures and Showtime are starting to move up the digital delivery of select content so that you can get it online before you can walk into a store and purchase the DVD.

For instance the film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs comes out on DVD next week, but it's also ready available for digitla rental if you have a Sony TV or other device. Lionsgate is making the latest season of its Showtime TV series Weeds available online a week before it's available on DVD.

Of course, web sites like Hulu have been offering free, ad-supported episodes of broadcast TV shows within 24 hours of the air-date for a while now. And some cable shows are available for download from services such as iTunes shortly after broadcast. But premium content like Hollywood movies has usually been available either at the same time as the DVD release or later.

Up until recently, content producers have been reluctant to do anything that would jeopardize more traditional revenue streams such as DVD sales or you know, the money generated by showing TV programs on a TV. But as broadband becomes more common and consumers continue to purchase portable media players and smartphones for watching TV on the go and set-top boxes (or computers) for watching digital content on a TV set, physical media such as DVDs and Blu-Ray discs could be on the way out. If movie and TV producers don't want to cede the new territory to the pirates, they're going to need to step up and offer convenient and reasonably priced alternatives.

Tags: cloudy with a chance of meatballs, CloudyWithAChanceOfMeatballs, digital ditstribution, DigitalDitstribution, dvd, online video, OnlineVideo, weeds