Every day more and more people are getting their media from the cloud. Whether it’s music from Spotify, Pandora or iTunes Match or movies and television from Netflix, HBO GO, Amazon Instant, iTunes, whatever, it’s more and more over-the-air-digital and less and less bits and bytes on discs.
Recently about 2,000 titles were removed from Netflix after a contract with Starz ended, and was not renewed (and this isn’t the first time that this has happened). Some of the titles that were removed are available to be watching on Warner Brother’s Instant Archive, a $10 a month service that probably very few know about, and even less subscribe to. There are rumors that other studios are going to create their own streaming services. I see that failing miserably and causing piracy to skyrocket.
HBO GO, and ABC are also doing it completely wrong.
HBO GO is a great service where you can watch any HBO programming on multiple devices (phones, tablets, computers, smart TVs), but only if you subscribe to HBO through your cable provider. There is no way to pay HBO directly for an HBO GO subscription, even though they said it might be a possibility in the future. That possibility was shot down earlier this month. This week ABC said you’ll only be able to stream their shows if you have a cable or satellite TV subscription.
Back in September it was announced that most of the studios were backing a new streaming service called M-GO and it was launching last fall. It’s still in beta, and outside of research for this post I’ve never heard of it. I wasn’t able to find any numbers for subscribers either.
M-GO might be a viable competitor, and Redbox has a streaming option now, too, which is also in beta.
Netflix is a powerhouse. They are the big name in streaming movies and television. Hulu is there, but the service isn’t that great, and the few times that I’ve used the Pro I’ve been more frustrated with it than I found it useful. We had the account for almost a year and ended up canceling it recently because of our frustrations.
It’s good that there are some competitors to Netflix. It’s good for Netflix and it’s good for the studios.
It’s good for Netflix because more competition will force them to innovate more, and go out and fight more for better content from the studios and create more original programming like House of Cards or the acquired Arrested Development.
It’s good for the studios because they aren’t creating a powerhouse like the record companies did with iTunes. iTunes is a behemoth, and it would take something huge to dethrone it. The movie studios don’t want to let that happen with Netflix.
But, it’s only good if these competitors catch on.
Netflix is great because you can log into your account on your computer, iPhones, iPads, most Android devices, Apple TVs, Smart TVs, gaming devices, and some Blu-ray DVD players and watch any of their content wherever you have an Internet connection. M-GO and Redbox Instant streams to *some* of those devices. They aren’t going to be able to compete with Netflix until they have that level of accessibility. The studios (if they are smart enough) should realize this, and step in to help them out by subsidizing the costs of development.
If the studios don’t do this, these new services could possibly fold, giving Netflix more power, and as we’ve seen in the past, the studios tend to hold quality and new content back from Netflix to keep them in check. What does that do? It helps to increase piracy. It hurts Netflix, and hurts the studios’ bottom lines.
Fewer and fewer people are buying movies or television boxed sets on DVD. They want to stream content. The technology is smart and cheap enough, however the studios still have their heads up their asses. They are their own worst enemies. Over on the music side there are quite a few music streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, Rdio and a few others. All of them have paid accounts.
While iTunes is a model that the studios should want to avoid creating, they need to look at what iTunes did for music. It created an easy to use, easy to access store with low prices that let people buy content. If you offer people what they want, and how they want to consume it they will buy your products, and piracy will go down. It won’t eliminate piracy by any means, but it will definitely curtail it.
Physical media is slowing dying out. The fact that Blockbusters are drying up and going out of business shows this. Redbox is succeeding because of their low prices, but they are living on borrowed time, unless they can get their streaming service up and running.
It’s 2013, and the landscape is changing daily for media and consumption. The studios are holding onto to old business ideas, hoping to squeeze out every last dollar before it all dries up. That’s not the way to make money. You make money by taking chances and innovating. People want streaming content. People are cutting their cable cords. People still want to pay for your content. Let them pay you (a reasonable price) for it.
We have all this amazing technology now. Use it. Embrace it.