Warner Bros. is about to try a new distribution model in South Korea. They will start releasing movies online two weeks before they are even available on DVD. This is a trial but if it proves successful it might get exported to China (the worlds largest market for home entertainment) and other countries.
The move shows that Warner is the bravest and smartest Studio today - they’ve previously narrowed the release windows on DVD and VOD and today most movies are released the same day. The other Studios haven’t made that jump yet.
Releasing digitally before physical is of course an attempt to monetize the (illegal) downloading and the high broadband penetration but also an attempt to compete with cheap pirated dvds.
By releasing movies online before they’re available on DVD offers the customer something new - the movies are available faster. This have been one the advantages of going to pirate sites before. And if the online releases are priced right, this could work very well. In fact, I sense this will prove really successful - because Warner’s profit margins are higher on a download than on a disc which means prices can/should be lower (another advantage of pirate sites).
This could change the industry again - in only positive ways. And because digital releases have higher profit margins than physical versions, shouldn’t ALL releases (music, books) go digital first?