No…you can’t have my money…yet

14 Dec

Was watching Jonah Hex the other day, got it from Netflix, was fairly entertaining. This isn’t a review of that movie, no, this is about what happened before the feature even started. Before the feature was a string of previews, one of which was for Inception. I absolutely loved Inception and couldn’t wait for it to be released so that I could see it again. However, if I bought every movie that I loved right when it came out I wouldn’t have the money to pay for the electricity required to watch them. Instead, I’ll generally get it from Netflix (or RedBox) watch it, then when it’s been out for a while buy it used from Amazon where one can get it for almost half the price of new. We subsequently hopped on Netflix to add that sucker to our queue, but we couldn’t, and this is why.

Netflix and RedBox release date

And for everyone else, including small video stores and even Blockbuster:

Everyone Else

“What the hell!” I exclaimed. Why does Netflix or RedBox not have it until January but if I want to buy it or rent it from Blockbuster I can get it on December 7. Well it turns out Netflix and Warner Bros. (along with Fox and Universal, to name a few more) came to an agreement. This agreement came about as a result of the studios realizing that they were no longer making as much money in home video sales as they had been. Thus they strong armed Netflix into agreeing to hold off new releases for 28-days in return for a larger chunk of their respective catalogs for the instant streaming service. The thinking behind this being, as market research has discovered, those 28-days were the heaviest time of home video sales after release. The studios used their harsh control of what does and doesn’t go to instant streaming as leverage to persuade Netflix to bend to their demands.

Well if they really want to sell more videos why don’t they restrict it that way for Blockbuster and other smaller rental chains. My guess is that for the most part, these chains do not have the kind of customer base that RedBox and Netflix commands. Additionally, Netflix allows people to very easily gain access to rentals right from their couch. Why would you buy a movie when, at any time, you can get on Netflix’s website and request a copy of a movie that they will then send to you as many times as you wish.

So let’s think about this, the movie studios are applying a supply/demand thinking to this situation. They believe that by restricting your choices for viewing these features that  you’ll simply go out and buy it new. Basically, “Darn, Netflix won’t have this for a whole ‘nother month, guess I’ll just go to Best Buy and a brand new copy of it.” I don’t think that way, and I wish nobody else would. But I know our society, we’re all for instant satisfaction, why else would Netflix’s instant streaming service be so popular. We simply don’t have the patience to wait for a video to be available in our normal channel of choice.

I’ll be speaking with the studios directly from here on out.

This is your own faults. Have you seen the price for some of your new releases on Blu-Ray? Many go for as much as $30! I’m sorry but I don’t pay $30 for videos, no matter how new or how much I liked them. Inception was roughly this price upon its release, it subsequently dropped to about $18 which is way more realistic, but with the your attitudes, I positively refuse to buy it new. No, if you can’t figure out how to play fair you will get none of my money. I will wait until I can get it used, you will have gotten one person’s money but not two.

You also fail to realize that pricing is one of the many causes of the rampant piracy you see these days. I certainly don’t condone piracy, but many people refuse (or are unable) to spend that kind of coin on a video. They can however afford Netflix, but you’ve made sure they’re still unable to enjoy this content. Honest consumers, the ones that legally paid for the content, feel as though they are being treated like criminals. You treat the pricing of your video releases as if you were adding a piracy tax, almost to say, “well, since some of you keep pirating our content we’ll charge you more to make up for the lost revenue.” You force-feed frustrating DRM schemes upon us in an effort to thwart piracy, then, when we try to bypass that DRM for legally protected fair use purposes, you punish us yet again under the DMCA laws (that you helped get passed in Congress). The pirates bypass this crap anyways, many of them see it as a challenge. So why don’t you just leave the DRM out, you aren’t preventing piracy but you are punishing honest paying customers. Have you given any thought as to real reason why your home video sales volumes have decreased? Perhaps you should.

On top of all of this BS you think that you are somehow being generous by offering to trade Netflix’s delayed release dates for a larger catalog of instant streaming titles. First off, I don’t even understand your recent fears of the internet, yeah people use it for piracy, but piracy existed before the internet, and it will continue to exist without it. There’s porn on the internet to, but that doesn’t mean that that’s all its used for. Look at the music industry, they felt the same way about the internet at first, but they’ve begun to look at the internet as nothing more than what it truly is, a way to transmit information quickly and easily. Nowadays there are several legal music outlets with competitive and fairly priced songs/albums. These solutions alone have helped reduce music piracy significantly, give consumers what they want, in a format they prefer, and a price that they think is fair, and they’ll buy it up like crazy. They aren’t perfect, but its a step in the right direction. Perhaps you should stop being such a tight-ass and embrace the internet as a tool to increase revenue. Not that Netflix being able to expand their instant streaming catalog is a bad thing, but for crying out loud, this content should have already been on their this entire time, in fact, Netflix’s entire disc library should be on streaming. Who gives a rat’s ass whether I watch it instantly or wait for the disc to show up in my mailbox, you don’t see any extra money regardless. I also love how you think this is some sort of fair trade, “Oh yes, you hold off on the new releases for an entire month and we’ll give you…a collection of movies that are no less than five years old, how does that sound. Not that we’re actually giving you a choice.” You know full well that if Netflix had refused to hold off on the new releases that you guy’s would have made them pull all of your titles, you held all the cards, and abused your position.

So, this is my formal notification that I will not be buying any new video releases this Christmas season for anyone or myself. Furthermore, anyone that will be possibly purchasing movies as gifts for me, I will be recommending they seek out used copies of the titles. I will also be recommending this money-saving option of used to everyone that I know, with any luck you will not be seeing any of their money either. I’ll still occasionally see films in the theater, because I enjoy the experience, but if I like it enough to own it, I’ll be waiting until a used copy becomes available. In a few months, take a look at those sales volumes again and see if cutting off Netflix’s release dates did a bit of good. When you look at those depressing numbers I want you to think long and hard about how you could have made truck loads of cash if you’d just stopped treating your consumers like criminals and given them the content they wanted in the format they wanted it in at a fair price. Until you decide to change your ways, this will be the extent of our business relationship. If you would like to see this mentality change I suggest you consider the following changes.

  • Make your entire library available to Netflix and other providers of instant streaming. If to do this you think you need to charge a pay-per-view fee to the provider, this may be considered. We understand that the all-you-can-eat buffet that Netflix currently provides can’t possibly be sustained at the current subscription prices.
  • New releases should be available in-store and through all rental chains (including Netflix) at the exact same time. Some people may be waiting to see if they want to buy a movie until they’ve rented it, you could be delaying incoming revenue with these ridiculous delays.
  • Reconsider your pricing scheme for new releases (and even some old releases). I realize Blu-Ray was, at one time, more costly to produce than DVD but that should no longer be the case. Anything more than $20 is overpriced, somewhere around $15 seems fair.
  • Stop pushing DRM onto our devices and media. This includes physical and electronic versions. As I mentioned before this only inconveniences the honest consumer, pirates aren’t intimidated nor stopped by these technologies. Piracy will never go away completely, so you might as well treat the honest ones like honest ones so they don’t feel persuaded to turn to piracy since it’s just easier than dealing with you directly.
  • Allow a viewer to skip all commercials/trailers/and anti-piracy PSAs at the beginning of a home video. DVDs made it pretty easy to get around this, but it seems like you intentionally prevented viewers from doing this on Blu-Ray. Trailers, I’ll watch on occasion, but when I’ve had the movie for six months or more they really aren’t relevant anymore. Commercials, I get enough commercials elsewhere, thanks. Finally, anti-piracy PSAs, do you honestly think the pirates are frightened by this? When they rip these movies they’ll cut that content out, so why bother.
  • Fair-use is protected by copyright laws, but you convinced Congress to pass the DMCA which makes breaking DRM for the purposes of fair-use illegal. Since you convinced them to pass this pathetic destruction of our rights you can convince them to repeal it. Did you even think twice about this before pushing it through?  Once again, it only punishes the honest consumer. A pirate is already breaking the law copying content that doesn’t belong to them or to allow others to copy. Adding another law the list will not deter them.

You take care of those things and then we’ll talk.

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Posted by on December 14, 2010 in General


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