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Studios prepping $30-per-film rental service?

Three major studios are considering a service that would let people watch new films at home for $30 per viewing, according to a report.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
Would you have paid $30 to view the just-released "Avatar" a single time at home?

Would you pay up to $30 to watch a film before it comes out on DVD? Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., and Disney certainly hope so.

The studios are considering launching a new service that would enable people to watch the latest films from home through their set-top boxes, Bloomberg reported. The films would be available long before they make it to DVD, Blu-ray, or on demand, the news service said.

For now, details on how the studios plan to bring films to home customers are scant. According to Bloomberg, an unidentified Disney representative said the company plans to test it out with a single film early next year, and Warner Bros. is planning to test the idea later this year.

Time Warner Chief Financial Officer John Martin said at a Goldman Sachs conference in New York last week that Warner Bros. films could cost for $20 to $30 per viewing, Bloomberg reported. But paying up to $30 to watch a film one time could be a tall order for some consumers, especially since many are content to wait for a film's release on physical disc or on demand.

The studios' decision to offer a new-film service may be due to their concern over slumping physical disc sales, which declined 13 percent in 2009 compared with 2008, according to Adams Media Research. Last year, disc sales generated $8.73 billion.