Bill Wyman writing in Slate
The trouble facing the movie industry right now is the same one the music industry had to confront 10 years ago.
The easiest and most convenient way to see the movies or TV shows you want is to get them illegally.
If the studios were smart they'd go to the mat and create a massive one-stop shop for TV and movies, find a price point they can live with and then set programmers loose to make the thing as easy to use and ubiquitous as possible. Instead they've been wasting their time strong-arming the cable companies to help them on a new crusade against illegal downloaders—an unwieldy process that doesn't address the root problem and won't work.
Like Wyman (who is probably not the same guy as the Rolling Stones drummer), I pay a lot to see content in different ways. I've got a satellite TV bill. I've got a DVDs-by-mail bill. And I may sign on to a streaming bill. DVDs by mail has the selection but you can wait months to see a title. Satellite TV gives you a lot of options but you can't watch what you want, only what's on. Streaming is great but the content is minuscule. (Though I'm told there are workarounds to get Netflix US in Canada.) Itunes is good but overpriced. (And why can't I watch the movie again?)
I don't watch pirated content 'cause I wouldn't like to be pirated. But boy, the studios need to get a better video distribution system in place stat, 'cause the audience is going up the learning curve on movie piracy.
Labels: distribution technology
Awhile back I wanted to watch an episode of CASTLE that I had missed...
It was already off of Hulu by that point (where I usually watch my TV), so I went to ABC.com and there it was - full episode and everything - ready to go...
I had to sign up for ABC.com...
I had to download a bit of code to watch the show...
I had to close my browser and restart it...
And when it told me yet again, that I needed that same code (though I had already downloaded it and ABC.com said I was ready to go AFTER I reopened my browser)...
I went "elsewhere"... Two mouse clicks later and I was watching the show I wanted.
You don't erect barriers in front of people who want to watch your shows with your ads embedded in them. Since, many networks don't do reruns anymore you would think that they would want an audience who will watch their shows no matter where/ when they are...
"If the studios were smart they'd go to the mat and create a massive one-stop shop for TV and movies, find a price point they can live with and then set programmers loose to make the thing as easy to use and ubiquitous as possible."
I think this is probably accurate in the long run.
However, I think many of us who work in TV and film don't realize how many people simply have no idea how to / and where to pirate these things. Or it doesn't even occur to them. I think your average viewer is much less inclined to "work" for content than your average pirate. And I think your average viewer FAR outnumbers pirates.
I'd wager that in its current state, most studios and networks still make more $$$ doing what they are currently doing and just accepting loss as part of the equation.
Price point for content via the internet is generally ultra low. We're a generation of people used to getting things for free, especially when the internet is involved.
I guarantee there's an army of accountants crunching the numbers that prove settling for a low price point to curb piracy wouldn't make anymore money than they are currently making.
Really, the only reason you're seeing a huge campaign against piracy (other than its stealing) is because it is money out of the producer's pockets.
When I worked at Best Buy they had incentives to keep theft below 10% of their losses. It was accounted for in their yearly inventory. Anything below 10% was bonus money in the manager's pockets -- so they were personally invested in keeping theft low. They didn't care about the theft or the merchandise, just the money they were out, because in an ideal world that 10% loss would be in their pocket(s) at the end of the year.
That abc.com story above is a pretty good example of the overall problem. Its almost like the studios/networks (hereby called "the suits") operate in this belief that everything, *including the player you view their content on* has to be branded in some way. Want to watch ABC shows? Gotta use the ABC branded and coded player!
Branding is great until it gets in the way of actually getting the product to people.
You gotta find an easily accessible platform and back that horse. People like a simple, common way to get at what they want. Or at least, I know I do.
I chuckle when I see the Time Warner commercials saying OUR ON DEMAND MOVIES AREN'T ON NETFLIX YET. Well, yeah, because you strong-armed a deal. But if you clowns think I'm going to stop paying $15 dollars a month and start paying upwards of $60/mo just to get content a month faster, you're crazy. I can wait. There are plenty of movies and TV shows available for my meager 15 bucks to hold me over until the other titles become available.
We like a community watering hole.
* 98% of the product sucks
* the economy definitely sucks
* Warcrack et alia
Back to Complications Ensue main blog page.