Posted by Jeff Kelly on January 16, 2009
Excuse me while I vent.
Media companies are all battling uphill (upload?) against piracy. One of the questions I often ask them is: “What pricing and distribution model would you need to put pirates out of business?” One scenario I ask is, “What if we blew up the current stilted distribution model (i.e., theaters – pause – DVD – pause – VOD – pause – HBO, etc.)? What if we just say “This new movie releases Friday – how would you like to see it?”
We have already seen movement toward a more compressed distribution model in 2008 when some studios announced DVD + VOD day-and-date delivery. But, how much longer will we have to wait to get to Theater + VOD day-and-date? When we do, the pirates will lose some of their advantage. Let me vent my personal gripe to illustrate:
I have an old buddy coming to visit for the Inauguration (yes – we are unbalanced enough to join the insanity down in DC). He and I used to love to hang out, crack a few, and watch Clint Eastwood movies (mostly the spaghetti westerns, mostly TGTBTU). So, it would be great if he and I could watch the new Clint movie, Gran Torino, while he is here. But, of course, the only legal way to see it right now is in a theater. There is no way that we can work that into our schedule while he is here. Now, I would gladly pay $25 bucks to be able to rent this VOD in my home. But I can’t. C’mon Warner Brothers – the money is yours – just let me VOD!
Of course, if I was The Bad or The Ugly, I could watch the video right now. All it would take is a short stroll over to Pirate Bay to download a pirated copy (kids – stop that!). It would probably be crappy quality but since I have a PC connected to my HDTV, my buddy and I could enjoy it any time we chose. Now, because I don’t want to do anything to upset Clint (he’s always cranky and often armed), I will not do that. But there may be others with less of The Good that might choose piracy out of last resort. If someone is willing to pay instead of pirate, why not let them? Trust me – it won’t cannibalize your box office receipts. Theater going is an event/experience. I will still go to movies. I may even watch something on VOD and think, “Man – that would be great on the big screen – let’s go next week!”
I’m not the only one frustrated by not being able to VOD when I want and the studios are missing a revenue opportunity. How much longer do we have to wait?
(BTW – when I was growing up, my Dad had a Gran Torino. I don’t think the rifle is standard equipment.)