Reason Why I Stopped Pirating is Being Destroyed By Those Trying to Stop It

September 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

I know, I know – it’s been more than a year since I last posted. I apologize to my readers for that – all two of you (hi mom and dad!). Now, back to my post: I hate the MPAA, and almost everyone else incapable or unwilling to embrace technology to create a good experience for customers.

And if you have time, read about this cool service: http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/08/zediva-preliminary-injunction/

Netflix is the best thing to happen to the first world since…the GUI. I’d say sliced bread, but that’s cliche and hard to beat. Can you imagine trying to spread peanut butter on a whole loaf of bread? But I digress. My beef with the MPAA arises at their lack of acceptance that more and more people are streaming movies – and easy access beats out free content. I am more than happy paying for movies online for a reasonable price if it means I’m guaranteed a good quality movie and no risk of a virus (or a a 72 minute limit – I’m looking at you MegaVideo). Starz recently ended negotiations on renewing their content distribution with Netflix. Netflix is one of the largest digital distributers of movies and tv shows, why Starz would do this is beyond me. In the press release from Starz, they state,

“this decision is a result of our strategy to protect the premium nature of our brand by preserving the appropriate pricing and packaging of our exclusive and highly valuable content.”

First of all, Netflix is a distribution channel. I wouldn’t have seen half the movies coming from Starz that I have had it not been for Netflix, nor would I have had any interest at going out of my way to find it. “But what about Blockbuster?” Hah, that’s cute. DVDs are going to become the VHS’ of the 21st Century. Think about Netflix’s recent rate increase for those subscribed to the DVD and streaming service – they’re incentivizing people to stream because they recognize that the user demand for streaming is growing – and will continue to grow, whereas the demand for a physical DVD is decreasing, and will continue to do so. Second, even if Starz were to offer movies digitally through their own site and/or app, it doesn’t have the distribution power that Netflix does (Xbox, Roku, etc etc), and I’d venture to say that most users aren’t going to pay for a subscription to a trillion services (xbox, Netflix, Hulu, MLB.tv, NFL Network, etc etc) once all content is available online – and we ditch the tv. So what’s the harm in offering new movies to Netflix earlier? If anything, it’ll keep more people from watching the movie illegally if there’s easy access to it.

The true competitor to Netflix isn’t Hulu, or vice versa. The true competitor is pirated digital copies (both streaming and torrents). The primary need that services such as Netflix and Hulu fill is that they offer what users want easily and safely (as in, the risk of getting a virus is minimal to none). And until there’s a service that’s both free and convenient, people (lots of them) are going to pay for movies and shows. This concept would have been unfathomable just 10 years ago in the age of Napster, but if there’s one thing that these services have proven, it’s that unless the MPAA and studios embrace the times, the internet is going to leave them in the dust.

And before you start telling me that college students aren’t going to pay for a bunch of services and they’ll still continue downloading illegally. You might be right for the next few years – but there are ways to incentivize students to pay for content (student discounts? targeting the parents that pay for students? etc etc). But honestly, who cares if college students don’t pay for content? With the exorbitant cost of education ever-rising, they’re not paying for much other than their tuition and books. Almost everyone I knew in college a few years ago watched movies illegally, but almost all of these people now have a Netflix or Hulu (or both) account. Some of them will also get their shows or movies off of iTunes. They have effectively gone from piraters in college, to young professionals paying for content. And guess what MPAA? Watching movies legally through a service like Netflix or Hulu is far easier than searching for torrents or streams.

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