Since we still live in ancient Greece and execute individuals in front of a private audience, we might as well open this up to the privacy of our own homes. So, if you wanted to, you could ‘buy’ on demand the execution. The proceeds should go to the families of the victims. Morbid? Perhaps. However, technically do-able and my hunch is that it would be widely subscribed to. Each stream would be individually watermarked across the entire screen with a see-through watermark dissuading further distribution, but not preventing it. OK, what do you think?
At first, CinemaNow and MovieLink were the 2 places for online consumption of movies at first, then TV shows were added. Well intentioned but clunky and smothered with restrictions on viewing the content, it was accepted only by the most avid online enthusiast with the fastest connections to the Internet. You could download Indiana Jones ( 30-45 days AFTER its DVD release) and by the time you were done, Indi 2 was in the theaters. It was painful. But your yardstick for measuring success was simple – in the number of downloads.
Then came the notion of streaming video just like youtube was doing (and much illegal content on youtube ) and then came a crop of youtube look-alikes, then joost appeared and a whole slew of joost-alikes came along. Once the social networks hit big, there were social networks built around content, blip TV, veoh’s, revvers, myspaceTV, etc. Somehow, someone felt that if I was online at Facebook or a MySpace member then I must also like to watch a certain genre of films or type of TV show (which is mistake # 1) and that I’d watch it online (mistake # 2). The recommendation engine ‘notion’ applied to me in this way was all wrong!
Soon, established brands launched their own ‘branded’ version/site of online TV and movie consumption; iTunes, amazon video on demand (downloads) , hulu, reeltime, tidaltv, jaman, babelgum, TheWB + and more. Then we have all the set-top ‘boxes’ that arrived, X-Box downloads, Vudu, Roku/Netflix, the late Akimbo, TiVo, Comcast, ATT-U-Verse and the list goes on. Now, after all of this ‘launching’ and all of these press releases and all of these disparate systems, I have 2 observations to make. The FIRST is that unfortunately, EVERYONE SEEMS TO HAVE MUCH OF THE SAME MOVIES AND TV SHOWS. There is no real ‘differentiation’ other than the domain. No one ‘programs’ a service anymore. It seems depending on the service and who they have been able to strike a deal with, they simply put every single piece of content up online in mass, categorize each piece with the usual tags like ‘adventure’, ‘sci-fi’, ‘suspense’ etc. Each is advertising not hundreds, but ‘thousands’ of titles…4,500..10,000, 40,000 +. There is no ‘guide’ other than search fields embedded somewhere on each site for the consumer to ‘search’ for his or her movie or show. The SECOND is that despite all of the many services calling themselves ‘online TV’ or ‘ IPTV’, NONE OF THEM ARE ACTUALLY CARRIED ON TELEVISION. Unless you’ve hooked up your PC/MAC to your LCD, your computer bound. With the exception of a few ‘boxes’, most online TV websites require you to watch and pay to watch this content on your computer. I can see watching some of this content for free on my computer, but I have a hard time seeing myself paying for any of it, especially since most of it I can already get on my cable or satellite TV in one form or the other (and I can find it easier with the TV guide on my cable or Direct TV). So, why should I be excited to see ‘Tropic Thunder’ show up online on my 21” PC screen for $ 5.99 ? It will show-up on my 45” LCD TV set anyway on PPV for the same fee, but I can sit on my couch and watch it.
UGC is easy to understand why its so popular. Most UGC is 2-3 minutes in length, hardly an hour and a half movie.
There are a lot of people online and yes, movies and TV shows are popular. But the reason most of us are online was not to find a movie or TV show. Initially, it was for email and for information and communication. It still is and even more so. It’s simply that our connections are that much bigger today and therefore this allows for the ‘broadcasting’ of video whereas years ago, it just was a ‘pipe’ (sorry, bad joke) dream.
Now, if one day, somehow I can get access to any movie or TV show I can think of sent directly to my TV set, (using the internet as a dumb pipe) regardless of what pay or basic cable service had the film under license… now that’s something I’d pay for or watch with commercials. I’d love to collectively watch some of Hollywood’s grandest and biggest failures that I choose like Michael Cimino’s ‘Heaven’s Gate’, ‘George Lucas’s Howard the Duck’ , Warren Beatty’s ‘Ishtar’, ‘Under the Volcano’ etc. Or, watch all of the ‘Thin Man’ films (William Powell, Mynra Loy and Asta). Ahh…maybe one day.
We moved outside of Los Angeles 2 years ago and I was forced to subscribe to Directway because there was no broadband coaxial cable nor DSL through the phone companies. Cell service was spotty, so I reluctantly bought a package from Directway (DirectTV sister company that supplies Internet access). I purchased a ‘professional’ package (or what they call a ‘business’ package) with a larger dish ( nearly $2,000 all in including installation ) and all. Supposedly I was going to get 500mbps upload and 2.0 mbps download for…$200.00 per month (Yikes!). The speed wasn’t even close. While I was spoiled by my TimeWarner connection when I did have broadband (3 mbps download) , Directway was barely better than dial-up for $ 200.00 a month. What a joke! Even after calling Directway many times for many months to complain, the service never came close to this kind of speed they claimed it could get . I was maybe getting 500mbps download. To top it off, they had a download ‘threshold’ that was suppose to dissuade people from downloading music and movies. They didn’t need that, because who could or who would want to download anything with the way (slow) their service worked. Then WildBlue came along (a bunch of guys from ATT and Direct got together to form this company). So, I switched. I had to purchase their dish (now I have 2 dishes growing in my backyard). But first, I had to get out of my 2 year contract with Directway which was not easy without paying a disconnect fee of about $ 200.00. So I decided to complain directly to the corporate parent. After a few weeks, I got through to someone there and they reluctantly agreed to let me out of my contract. So, I installed the Wildblue dish (only $250.00 cost) and bought their most expensive package $79.95 for the ‘Pro’ pack. Speed of 1.5 mbps download and 350mbps upload. It worked faster than the 2.0 mbps speed I was suppose to get at Directway. I thought I was in heaven. Until I met with WildBlue’s ‘FAP’ or Fair Usuage Policy’ which was no more than 17,000MB down and 5,000MB up. Since I blog and test various new pieces of software I quickly met that threshold’s ‘upload’ limit. Not download mind you, but upload. Must have uploaded too many blog text entries?? This was just plain stupid. So I called them and they told me that this was a 30 day ‘rolling’ policy and I’d have to reduce my uploading to be less than the 5,000MB for more than 30 days. Well, for $ 80.00 a month this was just unreasonable. So, I turned to Sprint who had just released a new EV-DO modem for plugging into a laptop or desktop. I could get my Internet access through a cell phone tower. So, I signed up, installed the modem at home and guess what. I have no threshold limits, and it works better than either satellite services for $60.00 a month. I then promptly called Wildblue back and lowered my monthly bill and speed to $49.00 a month (as low as I could get it). I will be disconnecting this service next week. Thanks Sprint. So, for anyone who is struck with either of these dinosaurs, drop them and disconnect, get as far away from them as you can as fast as you can. Try anything else but these services. I’m sure you’ll be much happier. Its just a matter of time before wi-fi and wi-max cover all of the rural areas that cable can’t and then hopefully these lame services will go out of business. Its just a matter of time. I plan on writing both of these companies again and I will include a link back to this blog. Hopefully others will read this and NOT send any business their way.