Wednesday, April 12, 2017

How Hollywood studios promote movie piracy on the Internet

It's good to see that despite people's demonstrated willingness to pay for Internet movie access, Hollywood continues to promote the cultural socialism of free Internet sharing of traditional movie theater fare.

The winner in online movies:
not just on price, but selection
Now you'd think someone like me with access to four video streaming services would long ago have abandoned downloading with torrents, but I've found it impossible. Two categories seem to be especially hard to find in the official channels: the most popular and the most highly regarded.

Let me give three recent examples.

  • Return of the King. Turns out none of the LOTR movies are available either on Amazon video or Netflix for streaming. On Amazon you can buy them, on Netflix you can get it on DVD or Blu Ray if you pay extra for those options.
  • Casablanca. It's 75 years old, for fuck's sake, but only if you're lucky will you find an official "legal" stream ... for $4. It's not even on Netflix DVD. But with more than 500 seeds, it takes only a few minutes to arrive with bit torrent. And it's one of four classic MGM best picture winners on a $4.99 DVD from Turner Classic Movies. Go figure!
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. No, not the movie of more recent vintage but the 1979 mini-series where Sir Alec Guinness portrays the weariness of a life-long dutiful functionary who has spent his career amidst the rot of a has-been empire. He is charged with rescuing a spy agency reduced to a disdained junior partner by one of its offspring and played like a Stradivarius in the hands of a maestro by its enemy. He portrays the character with such droll dignity that his victory at the end becomes that much more humiliatingly hollow.
If it were a few masterpieces and a few items from the content most in demand, Hollywood might perhaps get away with it. But when it's the bulk of the inventory, and especially the good stuff, and you split it up among a maddening array of services, what you're telling people is to stick to the Pirate Bay.

Take, for example, Best Picture Oscar winners. Right now on Netflix there are three from this century, and five from the last one. And that includes DVD's, not just streaming.

That not only pisses people off, if you check Amazon and YouTube, you'll see there are only a few available for paid streaming even though on Amazon you'll find 4- and 5- picture collections of Oscar Winners for a Hamilton, and a Turner Classic Movie collection that includes Casablanca for $4.99. (There's a bunch more awesome collections of old MGM classics from Turner).

The Cinema Cartel has yet to learn the lesson that the Music Monopoly Mafia wound up having no choice but to learn (from Steve Jobs, BTW). Which is, make it faster and easier to download and more convenient to play, and cheaper won't matter. Yes there were a handful of holdouts, most prominently the Beatles, but now that they and remaining classic rock holdouts have come on board, Taylor Swift's resistance and Adele's more limited 1-album hold back don't matter.

That's why the competition in on line streaming movies & video has moved to original content, because the traditional studios are doling out their material with an eyedropper and that is not enough to attract subscribers. 

The studios have effectively transformed what started as distribution services like Netflix and Amazon into competitors who are increasingly unwilling to pay top dollar for other people's video when they can use that money to create exclusive content for their subscribers. 

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