This Teacher Offers New Lessons

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Movie release windows continue to change before our very eyes. Bad Teacher -- the raunchy comedy starring Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, and Jason Segal -- is being made available digitally now, ahead of next Tuesday's DVD release.

Variety claims this is the first time a major movie studio has gone this route, but there's a method to Sony's (NYS: SNE) madness.

Head out to Amazon.com's (NAS: AMZN) video storefront and the movie is available as a $14.99 digital purchase right now. Web-savvy couch potatoes who prefer the $3.99 rental option will have to wait until Tuesday.

Yes, it's only digital purchases that are jumping the optical disc gun. The plan here is to get folks to embrace ownership over rentals, as it's more lucrative to the studios.

 Bad Teacher is now available through Amazon, Apple's (NAS: AAPL) iTunes, Wal-Mart's (NYS: WMT) Vudu, Microsoft's (NAS: MSFT) Xbox, and Sony's own PlayStation Network.

Studios and distributors are doing a lot of experimenting with release windows these days. Comcast (NAS: CMCSA) is testing a ridiculous $59.99 price point next month for a movie that is still playing at the local multiplex. DIRECTV (NYS: DTV) has been offering a similar service at half of Comcast's price for movies, 60 days after they begin their theatrical screenings.

Since digital consumers are apparently flocking to cheaper rentals, we can almost view Sony's move as another attempt at offering early access at a premium. We'll see how this pans out. The studio will obviously be watching to see if an early digital release has a negative effect on DVD sales next week, but it's a test worth trying given the sluggish optical disc market these days.

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At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Wal-Mart Stores, and Microsoft.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Wal-Mart Stores, Microsoft, Amazon.com, and Apple.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended creating a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart Stores. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

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