Digital Video Express

Definition of Digital Video Express

Digital Video Express (DIVX) was a home video rental system introduced in the late 1990s. It involved the purchase of specially encoded DVDs, which could be played on designated DIVX players for a limited period, typically 48 hours, before requiring additional payment for extended viewing. However, due to limited consumer acceptance and competition from other formats, the DIVX system was discontinued in 1999.


The phonetics of “Digital Video Express” can be represented as:Dih-ji-tuhl Vih-dee-oh Ik-spres

Key Takeaways

  1. Digital Video Express (Divx) was a short-lived video rental format launched in 1998, designed to provide a pay-per-view model as an alternative to traditional video rental services.
  2. Divx utilized a unique disc-based format that required special players for viewing the content, which led to limited consumer adoption and eventual discontinuation in 1999.
  3. Despite its failure, Divx served as a precursor to more successful digital streaming and video-on-demand services that emerged years later.

Importance of Digital Video Express

The technology term Digital Video Express (DIVX) is important because it represents a significant development in the history of home entertainment systems and digital video distribution.

Introduced in the late 1990s, DIVX was a digital video rental format that eliminated the need for physical media return and provided users with the convenience of watching rented movies on their DVD players.

This concept served as an early precursor to modern streaming services and Video-on-Demand platforms.

Though DIVX was short-lived due to its proprietary nature and limited adoption, it paved the way for innovative business models and further advancements in digital video technology that has ultimately transformed the way we consume and access content today.


Digital Video Express, commonly referred to as DIVX, was introduced in the late 1990s as an innovative and novel solution to home video entertainment. The purpose of this short-lived technology was to provide consumers with a viable alternative to renting physical copies of movies from their local video store. DIVX was initiated by Circuit City, a prominent electronics retailer at the time, in collaboration with a film entertainment law firm.

This unique approach aimed to combat the widespread piracy issue prevalent in the movie industry, while also catering to the growing demand for convenient video rentals amidst the emerging digital age. The system had a solid foundation, as it was compatible with existing DVD players; however, the user was required to purchase a specific DIVX-enhanced unit to make use of the DIVX format. The DIVX system functioned by offering users the convenience of purchasing low-cost movie discs that had an initial 48-hour viewing period, after which they could be played again by paying a fee through a special account that communicated with the DIVX player via phone line.

Once the fee was paid, customers had access to an additional 48-hour viewing window, or they could opt for an unlimited viewing option. This technology was aimed at making the video rental process far more convenient, eliminating the need to return physical copies, as well as omitting the hassles of late fees and availability issues. Nevertheless, despite its noble intentions and efforts to revolutionize the home video rental landscape, DIVX ultimately faced numerous obstacles and was discontinued just a few years after its launch, making way for new innovations such as video-on-demand and streaming services.

Examples of Digital Video Express

Digital Video Express (DIVX) was a short-lived home video format and rental system introduced in the late 1990s. It was designed to be an alternative to traditional video rental methods and compete with DVD technology. Here are three real-world examples related to Digital Video Express:

Circuit City and DIVX Launch: In 1998, the American consumer electronics retailer Circuit City, in partnership with a Los Angeles-based law firm, developed the DIVX format. They aimed to tackle the video rental market by offering a more convenient disc-based rental system with enhanced copyright protection compared to DVDs. Though it garnered some initial interest, it couldn’t sustain the momentum and was discontinued in

DIVX Enhanced DVD Players: To play DIVX discs, customers had to purchase a compatible DVD player. These players were capable of playing both standard DVDs and DIVX discs, but required a separate phone line to be connected for the latter. This connection allowed the player to report usage and billing information to a central database for rental management, making DIVX a precursor to some of today’s streaming and digital video rental services.

DIVX disc rental system: The rental system for DIVX discs was unique. Customers would purchase a DIVX disc for a lower initial cost compared to regular DVDs (around $

50). Once opened, the consumer had a 48-hour rental period, after which the disc would be rendered unplayable. If a customer wanted to continue watching the movie or re-watch it, they could “extend” their rental period for an additional fee. To own the movie permanently, customers could also convert their rental to a full purchase without any restriction after the initial rental period.Ultimately, DIVX was not able to compete against the burgeoning DVD format, and its usage declined rapidly as consumers shifted towards the more convenient and flexible DVD technology.

Frequently Asked Questions: Digital Video Express

What is Digital Video Express (DVE)?

Digital Video Express, also known as DVE, is a technology or platform for delivering digital video content, such as movies and TV shows, over the internet with fast streaming and high-quality playback. It enables users to enjoy their favorite content on a variety of devices, including smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs.

What types of content can I watch using DVE?

DVE offers a vast selection of content, including movies, documentaries, TV shows, and web series across various genres like comedy, drama, action, and more. In addition, many platforms with DVE provide access to exclusive content that you won’t find elsewhere.

What are the benefits of using Digital Video Express?

Some benefits of using DVE include quick and easy access to video content, high-quality video streaming, flexible pricing models like subscription or pay-per-view, as well as the ability to stream content across multiple devices with minimal buffering or disruptions.

Is Digital Video Express the same as Video on Demand (VOD)?

While DVE is similar to Video on Demand (VOD), the terms aren’t interchangeable. DVE is an efficient platform for delivering digital video content, offering high-speed streaming, and high-quality playback. VOD, on the other hand, is a general term that refers to any service that allows users to select and watch video content whenever they want, rather than at scheduled broadcast times. DVE is one kind of VOD system.

Do I need any specific devices or software to use DVE?

You can access DVE content through various devices, including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and dedicated streaming devices like Roku, Apple TV, and Chromecast. Most DVE platforms have apps or websites compatible with multiple operating systems, making it easy for users to access content on their devices. Make sure your device meets the minimum system requirements for smooth playback and has an active internet connection.

Related Technology Terms

  • Video Compression
  • Video Streaming
  • Video Codec
  • Video-on-Demand
  • Video Resolution

Sources for More Information


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