Soon, You’ll Have to Wait Even Longer for Movies Via Netflix or Redbox

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Increasingly, consumers just aren’t buying movies: DVD sales were down 18.3% in the first half of 2011, and 2010 marked the third year in a row of declining sales. Sales are down even as the studios have forced Netflix, Redbox, and other movie rental outfits to delay availability of films for 28 days after they can first be purchased—with the idea that if you (or your spouse or child) really want to see the movie, you’ll pony up the cash and buy it. Frustrated with the sales slowdown, and facing a future in which more streaming is likely to be paired with an even sharper decrease in outright purchases, movie studios are eager to find new ways of getting more money out of consumers.

The Los Angeles Times explores how an increasingly “post-DVD” world will play out for movie enthusiasts. The gist is that while inexpensive movie rentals will probably be around down the line, consumers should get used to the idea of waiting longer—months, or even years longer—than they currently do to see them for cheap:

By next year, consumers may have to wait two months or longer after a movie goes on sale before they can get it in a Redbox kiosk or Netflix envelope. Those who want to stream films online for a flat monthly fee from Netflix, Amazon or Blockbuster will in many cases wait years until those titles have completed their runs on cable networks like HBO.

(MORE: Is the New Blockbuster-Dish Network Movie Pass a Better Value Than Netflix?)

Consumers who want to watch a film sooner would have to cough up more cash one way or another, either by catching the movie in the theaters (duh), or buying it when it’s first released—a few weeks before it’s available at Redbox, and before the sales price inevitably drops in half—or perhaps electing to pay $30 or so for a special on-demand viewing in one’s house a couple months after the theater release.

What’s developing is a very clear-cut test in delayed gratification, in which those willing to wait to watch a movie will pay a fraction of the amount paid by those who can’t.

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Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.