Mum doesn't want to watch the game tonight. And she doesn't particularly want to sit down with her 10-year-old and his friend to watch The X Factor either. So off she toddles to the peace and quiet of her bedroom with a cup of tea. She logs on to the internet, punches her password into her iSky account and settles into a recent film release. Something like 500 Days of Summer or Confessions of a Shopaholic.

This week, Sky Television announced it would be delivering via its "iSky" service, a raft of online content and channels. That would include a movies catch-up channel, and an extensive library of pay-per-view films, documentaries and TV series.

Sky communications boss Tony O'Brien says iSky supports subscribers' viewing habits, especially those who have embraced programme time-shifting technology like the company's MySky recorder - to watch what they want, when they want, where they want, rather than what the networks broadcast to their living rooms in the evenings.

The company already delivers movies to living rooms as viewers demand them as it owns online DVD rental company Fatso.co.nz, which works on the assumption that people are too busy to actually go to the DVD store to select, pay for and return their movies.

Bill Hood of the Video Association and Motion Picture Distributors Association of New Zealand (MPDA) argues that people are still leaving their homes to enjoy the range of DVDs on offer at their local store, just as they are still going to see films as they are released at the cinema.

"There is no alternative to the big screen," Hood says, citing that in the year to date, cinema visits have risen 13 per cent. 3D releases also help to keep the magic of the big screen alive. But he admits people are more inclined to buy DVDs than rent them these days, as they are sold at prices not much higher than the rental price, and are easier to store than the old clunky videos. An example is Boy, which has been selling well since its recent DVD release. But there's no denying the market is slumping due to the ease of online streaming and illegal downloads.

Last week Blockbuster, one of the biggest video and DVD rental businesses in America, filed for bankruptcy, a direct impact of the online movie sphere.

Specialist rental businesses like Videon in Auckland and Aro Video in Wellington might be expected to buck the trend, since they offer huge selections of hard-to-find films, but both admit they are feeling the pinch like anyone else.

Both have noticed they are attracting older customers, those who perhaps don't know how to use the internet to access films, or doesn't want to.

"Younger people have not only the means to find nefarious ways of consuming movies, but they have less disposable income and more social pressure to be on the cutting edge," says Andrew Armitage, the owner of Aro Video.

Armitage's customers don't usually match the usual Top 10 DVD rental charts (unless it's Boy).

They are more likely to hire more discerning films like A Single Man, Fish Tank or Robin Williams' black comedy World's Greatest Dad.

"I think what many of our customers want is an authentic experience, not some timidly calculated product off the Hollywood conveyor-belt or any other conveyor-belt," Armitage says.

"There are also wonderful films being made, and a rich history and world of cinema available to those who want it, or those who just want to catch up with the original Wall Street.

"That's what we're here for, and what makes it still worthwhile and exciting."

The company has responded to customer demands by going into online rentals and is managing to hold its market position, but he says it takes a lot of investment in time, money and love.

Mauricio Freitas, the founder of technology website geekzone.co.nz, says the reality is people are going to keep demanding convenient, competitively-priced home entertainment and technology just has to keep up with it.

He says Sky's announcement will move New Zealand a little closer to the American benchmark. US viewers can rent and watch television shows from any major network, as well as films, in one place through integrated websites like Hulu.

Sky Television touches on the idea by offering both television shows and films on one site, but the licensing rights, which prevent all the networks coming together on one platform, and broadband speeds here are holding us back.

It might not be all that far away though. Freitas is trialling Telstra Clear's new ultra-fast broadband now, ahead of its launch next year. He says it allows him to download an entire high-quality movie in about 10 minutes. That beats an overnight download, grainy streaming or waiting two hours for your DVD rental to arrive.

Where will those sorts of speeds leave the humble DVD store? "You can think of them as archives," Freitas says.

-TimeOut