Amazon.com has created CustomFlix Labs, which produces DVDs on demand for sale on Amazon. The service has been in the news lately on two counts. First, it has settled on the HD DVD format for its discs, and is offering free authoring and setup services for the first 1,000 indie film titles to be offered through the service. The second bit of news is that CustomFlix and ABD News have reached an agreement that will make content from a wide range of ABC’s news programming available for purchase on demand on DVD.
This development is interesting on a number of counts. First, it’s interesting that CustomFlix picked HD DVD for its format instead of Blu-ray. The whole “print-on-demand” model is also interesting, as this has created a small revolution in the printed book industry. Services such as LuLu.com have made it easier for authors to self-publish, and Amazon certainly has reaped the benefits of selling these low-volume publications. It only makes sense that the company would try to set up a similar service for video publication. (CustomFlix also produces DVD and CD titles as well.)
Finally, it’s interesting that Amazon and ABC News are betting on DVD as a distribution medium. Certainly in the short term, it remains the most practical and widely-accepted format for video, but broadband Internet access and inexpensive Flash memory media could cut that short. Amazon has hedged its bets already with the development of their Unbox video download for sale or rental service. No matter what the distribution method of choice will be in the future, it appears that Amazon plans to be in a position to profit from it.