Friday, January 4, 2008

The Downloaded Movie Debate

The music industry has seen drastic changes result from the technology that more and more people are adapting to. Downloading music used to be something that everyone did and thought was perfectly fine. Eventually, it caught on, and scared the s#$% out of the RIAA. Then, legal battles cracked down on "illegal" downloaders. It made an impact on many people, but of course people still download their music for free. Businesses caught on to those who became scared off, and companies such as Apple cashed in on their legal $0.99/song iTunes shop. Now, brick-and-mortar CD stores are seeing less and less foot traffic as people continue to digitally download their music.

Now...focus has been shifted more toward the digital movie download. First, to accommodate the all-American increase-the-laziness effort, companies such as Netflix offered movie rentals through the mail (because God forbid you would have to physically move to Blockbuster or Hollywood Video) [note: I'm sarcastically commenting on American laziness...but I'm practically the poster child for it...Netflix is a great idea]. Companies such as Blockbuster perked up once they saw this concept going successfully, so the new twist was added: a service that also allows you to stream the movie from your computer to watch. The obstacle: not everyone wants to watch movies from their computer monitor. This is because God created large televisions and surround sound systems.

Just two days ago, Netflix made a deal with LG to offer a set-top box that will act as the middle-man between your computer and your TV, so you can watch the streaming videos accessed by your computer...on your television. This is not the first of its kind...but I bring it up because it makes you wonder how people will watch their movies 50 years from now. Will movies go digital like music has? Or will the whole Blu-Ray vs. HD DVD battle prove a victor and become the standard?

It's hard to tell...whatever happens, nothing will completely dominate in music or film. People have different's hard to change formats constantly...and if you were to make a decision to change, it's not exactly easy to pick.

I'm pretty comfortable with standard DVD's right now...I'm in no rush to change. I'd be quicker to change to the winner of the Blu-Ray vs. HD DVD battle than to go digital. I think digital movies still have a long way off of becoming dominant...but they'll definitely become popular. Once a change is made, though, you better believe I'll be updating my copy of Braveheart.


Mike said...

The problem I have with the Netflix LG thing is that its a sort of "hardware DRM" - you're locked into their hardware to play the movie. Techdirt said it the best: "I don't want to buy a DVD player that only plays movies from Netflix, so why should my TV only play streaming videos from Netflix? "

That said, at least they're getting it partially right. Big media is FINALLY beginning to embrace the technology that's been there for quite a while. You touch on it with the free vs 99 cent downloads... and even at that, some of the "Big 4" (cough Universal cough) still aren't happy with it. There's a paradigm shift in how money is made in the entertainment business. Distribution isn't the cash cow it once was, and these grouchy old men sitting on the boards of big companies don't want to try and figure out other ways to make money.

Besides the obivous - touring, merchandise sales, more entertainment value at theaters, etc - there are SECONDARY MARKETS that the Internet and technology have opened up. The key for the big labels and production companies is to tap those markets while they're still growing. Innovation, not litigation is where it's at.

I think that you also danced around something that's answering your own question. How will our kids and our kids' kids consume media? However they want to. Distribution is at the heart of this, and we're moving towards a portable society.

KW said...

Hey raise some really good points. Getting a set-top box that ONLY plays Netflix movies is dumb. Hopefully, with the movement toward linking TV and computer, they will develop a universal set-top box that allows you to play movies from multiple sources.

And yea...I guess you're right that down the line, people will be able to enjoy their media however they want to. I guess with technology as expansive as it is, there will never be one particular dominant form.