Monday, March 12, 2012

Movies - Own, Rent, Subscribe, Watch With Ads - Many Choices

Theatrical films have been enormously impacted by the web.  Not so long ago there were clear and easy windows in which a newly released film would exist.  Start in the theater and then a year later find itself available for purchase on VHS.  Wait another  few months and the movie made itself to a pay service like HBO or Showtime, and then finally it hit commercial TV, with commercials finally inserted into it. Depending on how likely we wanted to watch the movie, we may have watched in the movies and then waited for its TV airing to see it again; or we missed the theatrical run, rented from Blockbuster, and enjoyed it for a week before returning it.  Old favorite films like Godfather or Star Wars would capture our attention each time they returned on the air.

Today the windows are far shorter and harder to distinguish.  Theatrical films can show up as DVDs just a few months later and find themselves available to rent on demand.  Cable networks sometimes bid more for a film so that it bypasses Pay TV and hits the air much sooner.  And the creation of digital copies and cloud ownership means that exclusivity windows become harder to enforce.  "New technologies, like iCloud, are making these conflicts more obvious, pressuring traditional media businesses to rewrite their agreements. Movie studios want consumers to buy more digital-movie downloads as DVD sales shrink and digital rental and subscription services, from which studios earn less, gain traction."  

Even the notion of the cloud has gotten fuzzy.  Apple has its cloud, Amazon a different cloud, and the movie studios are trying to rollout their own through UltraViolet.  At the end of the day, the consumer only cares about where they can find a movie and how effortless it can be to view it.  If they want to buy it, they will; if they want to rent it, they will seek out that option.  If they want to watch it with commercials because it is there at the moment ready to watch, they will do that too.  And while the pay channels may seem to be most affected, they have not been blindsided.  They have been seeing this trend for a while and it has been their motivation ( as well as Netflix), to diversify into original programming, in order to remain competitive and ahead of the problem.

1 comment:

  1. You’re correct in pointing out that the options have grown! I remember when there were clear, and what seemed like excessively long, wait periods until I could watch a desired movie in the comfort of my own home. Back then, there weren’t very many choices but now there are so many that it can be tough to distinguish which are better than others. Thankfully, since I work for DISH, I always find out when movies release on certain networks. I even have their Blockbuster @Home since it provides me with DVD/Blu-ray rentals by mail and I can stream thousands of movies to my TV and PC. It’s insane how times have changed! Looking back at it all only makes me more eager for what’s ahead ;)