In the instant movie rental world, Netflix, Redbox, iTunes, and others each
come with loyal users – but also restrictions. Sometimes, the latest releases
aren’t available, and other times, users are limited by how long they can rent a
movie. Zediva founder Venky Srinivasan thinks he’s hit on the perfect formula
for movie rentals – rent a DVD and a player online. This new business
model means that newly-released DVDs, typically held back from other services
due to licensing agreements, could be watched online they day they are released
for as low as $1.
“We don’t rent digital copies of a movie,” he said. “Our users rent a physical
DVD, along with a DVD player, from us for a fixed amount of time. They then
control that DVD player remotely over the internet — and stream the movie
privately to themselves.
“Think of it as a really long cable and a really long remote control,” he added.
Renting a movie from the site means you are renting both a movie and a DVD
player from Zediva. The site is Flash-based, and provides real-time streaming
video, from its data center located in Santa Clara, CA. The site is currently
has about 50 movies available for streaming, including Toy Story 3 and
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (which aren’t available for streaming anywhere
else yet). The site may eventually hold a larger
library of films, but is currently concentrating on new releases, Srinivasan
“Our goal is to have the top two or three movies of the week,” he said. “Right
now, we’re focusing on new movies because of the capacity we have.”
Zediva also hopes to attract users with its prices. A movie can be rented for
$1.99, and 10 movies are $10. Only the user who rented it can watch the movie,
which can be re-rented without additional charge over a 14-day period.
“Our goal is, we want to make movie watching simple and affordable, without
[people] worrying where you are, or what device you have,” he said.
Because the user is streaming a DVD to his- or herself, and is not streaming
digital files in the same way as Netflix, Srinivasan says the company operates
in the same way as traditional move rental stores. And because of the limit on
who can view the movies, it will limit piracy. Srinivasan said he believes
Zediva will be embraced by the studios as a new way to reach consumers – and
that they won’t run afoul of digital copyright law.
“We’ve researched this as well as we can,” he said. “Plus, we’ll be buying tons
Srinivasan hit on the idea for Zediva while he was traveling – and in need of an
“I used to travel a lot for consulting jobs,” he said. “I’d have Netflix movies,
but I’d never have time to watch them. I thought it would be cool if I could
watch my DVDs anywhere.”
The site has a staff of five, and has just come out of limited beta testing
among 1,000 users. Check it out here.