As much as I love the service that film rental company LOVEFiLM provides, I can’t help but feel it already feels like a thing of the past.
Looking back the old days of video rental seem so cumbersome now: Drive to the nearest Blockbuster / Choose a VHS / Hand over your membership card / Pay / Return home / Watch film / Return film to the shop before the given deadline (inevitably a last-minute rush to avoid hefty fines).
LOVEFiLM’s process is much simpler: Set up online account (1 time) / Choose plenty of films to fill your rental list / Receive film in post / Watch film / Return film in post / Receive new film in post a few days later / and so on…
But you can’t but feel in the the digital age, in which you can now download a film to buy or rent within minutes, that this process still feels lengthy. Surely LOVEFiLM’s business model can’t last for much longer?
It does have some good aspects – Premium accounts allow you to rent more than one film at a time, eliminating the wait for delivery and reducing trips to the postbox. The spontaneity of not knowing which film you will receive is something of a mild pleasure too (unless of course you cheat the system and only put your desired film on ‘high priority’).
LOVEFiLM does of course already offer a download service, but is only PC-based. The question is whether, like Netflix, they will be able to strike a deal to integrate with one of the set-top box companies to make their downloads viewable on your home TV (without the hassle of syncing up your computer). If not, it may be that a company that currently holds a fantastic monopoly over its rivals could soon disappear without a trace.