Online movie services have so far failed to find critical mass adoption. “Even Steve Jobs recently noted that Apple, among others, has failed to figure out what combination of features will prove sufficiently compelling to consumers.” That is the conclusion of a Michael Greeson, president of The Diffusion Group, in a new report that aims to identify what consumers really want from an online movie download service.

As companies like Vudu, Apple TV, Amazon Unbox, Movielink and CinemaNow unveil new services and features, consumer interest remains low. Only 10% of adult broadband users in the United States have used an online download service either to rent or purchase movies and most of them do so infrequently.

The challenge, notes the report, is not only to increase familiarity with online movie download services, but to make sure that when consumers do use such services that they find high-quality content and a set of compelling features free from the complexities and irritations of traditional web media sites.

Based on a survey of 2,000 broadband households, the report analyses the consumer response in relation to ten different service attributes ranging from content considerations to interactive features and viewing platform preferences.

One attribute that consumers considered most important is getting movies delivered online to the TV as opposed to the PC screen.

“Asking consumers to view full-length movies on a PC monitor is a radically different experience than asking them to view shorter-form content such as TV shows or user-generated video,” says the author of the report. Service providers are finally realising the truth of this, but until they deliver the right combination of features, even a television based service “may appear to be a poor alter native when compared to emerging cable VOD services or rental services from Blockbuster or Netflix.”

While current users rank the importance of customisation and interactivity notably higher than average adult broadband users, they are no doubt early adopters and thus more likely to demand high levels of customisation and interactivity. Bringing an online movie download service to the mass market requires that the complexity associated with such applications be masked behind easy-to-use, intuitive interfaces and guides.

Attributes of a Successful Online Movie Download Service — What the Consumer Wants is published by informitv partner The Diffusion Group and is available for purchase from their web site.