As push back on the overly broad SOPA rages, outspoken investor and reluctant content pirate Fred Wilson once again emphasizes the challenges facing the content industry… and their potential customers.
Making movies is expensive and risky. I totally get that the studios need to make a lot of money on those movies to make their business model work. But denying customers the films they want, on the devices they want to watch them, when they want to watch them is not a great business model. It leads to piracy, as we have discussed here many times, but more importantly it also leads to the loss of a transaction to a competing form of entertainment.
While Fred primarily focuses his discussion on the studio release window (this time), consumer frustration extends to all sorts of global media. And, unfortunately, I doubt we’ll see an expeditious resolution given a still archaic licensing and distribution quagmire that still emphasizes the sale of physical goods.
I do see signs of forward progress, but it’s clearly gonna be a long slog. Like Fred and many of you, I find myself frequently frustrated. Take for example my recent experience with the BBC’s modern-day Sherlock. After receiving a recommendation, I picked up a Netflix streaming subscription ($7.99) to catch the three episode miniseries. In this scenario Netflix and the BBC, hopefully even the actors, writers, producers, etc all earned a little something. For me as the customer, it was no muss no fuss and I quite enjoyed the show.
So much so that I wanted to catch the second season. But it turns out the only legit option is to fly overseas and watch Sherlock in the UK – via the telly, as they say, or the BBC’s iPlayer catchup service. Of course, this isn’t exactly cost effective and I’d prefer something a bit more practical and modern like an iTunes download. While the BBC is reportedly working on an International iPlayer subscription offering, there’s nothing yet available in the US. And, thus, I find myself subscribed instead to a VPN service with nodes in the UK that enable me to freely stream BBC video as if I were local. So someone’s getting paid. But it’s not the folks responsible for the compelling content. I’d feel better about things if only the gatekeepers would take my money.