Originally seen in Forbes
With Apple’s announcement of a new paid-for film and TV streaming service, the list of rights-owners and broadcasters launching rival Netflix services keeps on growing. Amazon, Disney-Fox; even the BBC and ITV with their Britbox service are all throwing their hats into the ring.
While the content-creators, actors and composers involved will no doubt enjoy a golden age as broadcasters double down their investments into new content, the fact remains that you cannot monopolise hits, and all-you-can eat monthly video on demand subscriptions are less appealing when you can’t get everything you want.
Time will tell, but logic suggests that most households will likely limit themselves to one or two services depending on their circumstances and viewing habits. It won’t just be based on cost – convenience will play a part too. It will be frustrating keeping up with all the different services, not finding the water-cooler show on the services you do have or not being able to access it because of geo windowing and other licensing restrictions that you as a customer do not particularly understand or care about. And this is before you manage to remember all the different passwords you created for all these different platforms.
In the music space, Spotify has a global appeal because it has almost every song available in one place for one monthly price, but film and TV services are taking a different path: exclusivity. Content available nowhere else is the hook used to create service loyalty, but myriad services with exclusive content will inevitably lead to more and more digital piracy.
Data points to 60% of all digital piracy going to unlicensed streaming services, which are essentially unlicensed video on demand sites. These are not badly designed, shadowy websites; these are sites with user focused interfaces, excellent user experience, fast loading HD quality and, crucially, sites with everything available, for free and all in one place. It’s easy to see the appeal of all that value with no cost attached.
So if the proliferation of piracy is inevitable in the race to win the paid-for-tv and film streaming services, then perhaps it’s time to approach piracy differently . The data from this audience allows us a more comprehensive view of media consumption, as opposed to the licensed data hidden behind the walled gardens of paid-for service providers. The arrival of more and more disparate platforms will simply herald an era of even greater fragmentation, and at the same time alienate a consumer who might otherwise be willing to pay for content simply because they cannot justify paying for yet another service when all they really wanted was one series or film. If consumers arrive at unlicensed platforms for this reason, perhaps the most sensible thing would be to use this data to enable them to watch individual items legally for modest micro payments. Pay-as-you-go, if you will, as opposed to all-you-can-eat.
The issue remains – the more content created, the more consumers prepared to use piracy to enjoy it. Surely the time has come for service providers to recognise this and offer new forms of monetisation that bring back consumers who would otherwise use unlicensed services and still bring in revenue? The problem is not going to go away – surely now it the time to turn it to their advantage.