I think Bigpond is the first Australian company to launch movie & TV downloads so I have to try it.
The sign-up process is smooth overall but could be improved.
The sign-up page provides popup hints describing why they need your DOB, email address & phone number - tick! After filling that in you're prompted to download the Bigpond Media Manager (a 1.68MB download). Save it to disk, run the installer, then BMM launches. At this point you're left without any direction as to how you should begin using the service - you actually need to go back to the browser which is still displaying the "please download BMM" page, and then click on one of the Browse links in the left nav column.
During the installation of BMM you are asked to enter a computer name - this is later used to specify which computer you want a download to go to, as you are only allowed to download each video to one computer.
The TV content is garbage and the movie selection is also limited. Let's ignore this for the moment as it has just launched, the more interesting components are the usability and pricing.
Each download can only be downloaded to one computer. This creates a somewhat retarded scenario for the end user. I had Bigpond Media Manager open and had selected an episode of "Double the Fist". After entering my credit card details the episode is added to "My Downloads" on the website, but BMM does not start downloading anything as I would've expected. You have to go to "My Downloads" and there is a list of your installed BMM instances. Clicking one of them will tell BMM that there is a new video to download. This is as far as I got as BMM is now stuck saying its downloading but the progress meter is sitting on 0% and there is no data being transferred.
BMM also appears to give no indication of how long your download has left even though my "Double the Fist" experiment is listed as a 7 day rental on the "My Downloads" page. Update: BMM does indeed indicate the expiry & deletion times once you have successfully downloaded your video.
I couldn't find a TV episode selling for more, or less, than $2.95. I'm not sure how much I'd be willing to pay, but given that I typically follow about 5 weekly series that would cost me about $15/week if I were to download all the episodes (and assuming they were available, which isn't the case). The press release says shows would be available the day after their TV airing as well so I don't think this makes a terribly compelling service unless you forget to watch/tape the TV screening.
Its not a great option for die hard fans who want to collect a whole season since the episodes have limited viewing time and the cost of a season would be somewhere between $50 and $90 which is higher than the DVD sets one could buy.
Movies range between $3.95 and $5.95 with a viewing period of 1 day.
This will be quite interesting when compared to what's available on the P2P and torrent networks which typically do high res XviD and DVD rips with surround sound (DD5.1, DTS, or AC3 5.1 for TV).
UPDATE: Finally managed to download my episode of "Double the Fist" a couple of days later. It came down at a blazing 1 megabyte/second which I suspect is as fast as it'll ever go as I was on a 20 Mbit/s link. Video bitrate is 1213 kbps meaning my 26m32s episode is 244 megabytes. Video resolution is 720x576 which is pretty nice even on my laptop LCD. Audio is just standard 96 kbps Windows Media 9.1 encoded stereo.
The TV service is next to useless, and whilst the movies are IMHO reasonably priced I don't see why anyone would watch to watch one on their PC.
I fail to see any realistic market for this so as it stands its a fairly pointless service but to be fair it is very early days.