Friday, April 10, 2009

A modern media consumer's manifesto

We get a constant stream of movies and TV series arriving at the house via QuickFlix. It's a pretty good deal but really... it seems so archaic to be in a queue waiting to get physical access to what is really digital media.

After being forced to watch another heavy handed "copying a movie is the same as steeling a car" message, I thought it was time to speak up.

When a new blockbuster movie is released, it's natural that the producers try to maximise the income derived from it. In the past this has meant a big marketing campaign leading up to a locally synchronised release in as many theatres as possible in each region of the world.

The "only at the movies" release is strengthened by closing off all other options: no TV, no DVD release, no on-line rental or purchase. If you really want to see the latest thing, you pay a premium and there's only one option.

But the world has now changed.

The world has gone global. We are aware of the current episode of our favourite series (flight of the conchords) wherever it plays.

Digital media wants to flow freely, and consumers want to pay for it without artificial limitations like region codes or network barriers.

The multiplex cinema is not necessarily the best way to view a carefully crafted movie - annoying audience members, over priced refreshments, too many ads and previews, and occasionally out of focus projection must compete with a high definition TV in a comfy lounge room and a glass of nice wine.

What I want:

  • Simultaneous, global release

  • Pay per pixel, pay more for more quality

  • Cheap rental option, right away

  • Transportable, non-DRM media

Simultaneous, global release

Don't fight the Internet, leverage the global fan phenomenon for goodness sake.

Make that blockbuster available in all channels: Theatre, DVD, Online, at the same time.

Pay per pixel, pay more for more quality

A simple pricing system based on resolution. IMax at the top, iPod nano at the bottom, everything rationally spaced in between.

Cheap rental option, right away

I'm not interested in storing every movie I've seen, it's a waste. Make rental so cheap I'll rent again and again rather than pay for disks and backups.

Transportable, non-DRM media

Go ahead, embed my name in the media I buy, but let me convert, or more likely down-convert, the program I bought to watch on my iPod on the plane (it's much better than the in flight smeared entertainment).


The studios must take some responsibility for not embracing the technology we all use already. Hugh Jackman may be "disappointed" that his latest movie has escaped before it was cooked, but isn't it better to try to satisfy that demand for digital versions rather than trying to simply blocking it?

Oh, and copying Hugh's bits isn't the same as steeling his car - he still has the bits.

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