A case study of digital content, ecosystems, locked up exclusive rights and a married couple with kids trying to rent “This is 40″.
My wife and I had HBO for a few months, but cancelled to cut down on expenses. We didn’t get a chance to watch “This is 40″ due to the chaotic world of maintaining a household, the sleep deprivation of parenthood and the critical self-importance of keeping up with our social media.
So we hop onto our Apple TV and the only option is a purchase of the film.
We missed out on whatever the time window was that Hollywood gave Apple to let us rent it.
The next step was Netflix, which doesn’t have digital rights to the film. I presume we could rent the disc, but that’s a business model Netflix has tried to distance itself from.
Another option was Amazon Prime video, but again, it’s strictly a purchase option.
So it seems once the movie was made available to HBO, that locked up the rights to rent the film from every digital outlet to rent. The reality of subscription model services and the needs for exclusive content to drive subscription value has spread to a large number of media entities. This is a direct response to technology impacting content which can be easily duplicated and shared online.
There’s some irony to the fact that it’s harder to directly rent a movie today than it was in the days of Blockbuster. Selling the digital movie gets a higher margin for the studio than a rental and creates forced loyalty to the digital platform you purchase from. The platforms can’t stay in business by selling the same content and constantly fighting each other for it, so to be unique and to make use of the TV/Internet fusion, Hulu, Amazon, Netflix, etc. have all moved to becoming their own production studios looking to find their own niche of unique premium content. “TV” is bigger than the formerly more prestigious “Film” and “Internet” and “TV” have merged in our living room and on the go. We can’t even fill our gas tank without Gas Station TV today.
It’s quite funny that my wife and I chose This is the End, a terrific horror comedy about members of Hollywood being left behind at the end of the world, yet being redeemed for selflessness.