Streaming Exclusives Will Drive Users Back To Piracy And The Industry Is Largely Oblivious

from the history-repeats-itself dept

As you probably have noticed, there’s a growing tide of streaming video services popping up to feed users who want a cheaper, more flexible alternative to traditional cable. By and large this has been a very good thing. It’s finally driving some competition for bumbling apathetic giants like Comcast, forcing them to at least make a feeble effort to improve customer service. It also reflects a belated admission by the broadcast industry that you need to compete with piracy (instead of say, suing the entire planet and hoping it goes away) by offering users access to cheaper, flexible viewing options.

But the gold rush into streaming has come with a few downsides. Studies have suggested that every broadcaster on the planet will likely have their own streaming service by 2022. In a bid to drive more subscribers to their service, said broadcasters are increasingly developing their own content, or striking their own content exclusivity deals, and then locking that content in an exclusivity silo. For example, if you want to watch Star Trek: Discovery, you need to shell out $6 a month for CBS All Access. Can’t miss House of Cards? You’ll need Netflix. Bosch? Amazon Prime. The Handmaid’s Tale? Hulu.

Again, on its face this impulse makes perfect sense: you want the kind of content that drives users to your platform. And at first it wasn’t all that noticeable, because there were only a handful of services. Even if you subscribed to four of them, you still probably were saving money over your traditional cable bill.

The problem is, as more and more companies jump into the streaming market, users are being forced to subscribe to an ocean of discordant services to get access for the content they’re looking for. As users are forced to pony up more and more cash for more and more services, it’s going to start defeating the purpose of ditching over-priced, traditional cable. But instead of going back to cable, back in March we noted how users are just as likely to consider piracy.

And of course that’s already starting to happen, with BitTorrent usage seeing some modest but notable bumps, especially overseas. It’s minor now, but if you’ve paid attention to several decades of piracy precedent, it’s not hard to predict the outcome of this rush to cordon off everything into far too many exclusivity silos. Disney, for example, is preparing to pull all of its best content off of Netflix (Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel) and make it exclusive to its own streaming platform. In the wake of its acquisition of Time Warner, AT&T is contemplating doing the same thing with old episodes of shows like Friends. You may have noticed a trend:

“Before Netflix got into the Original series game, it made a name for itself by licensing content from other distributors like Warner Bros. TV, Paramount Television, and NBC Universal Television. Licensing deals are great for fans who don?t have cable or are looking to discover new series in full, but now that streaming is king, distributors and production companies have realized that they can make more money by consolidating their content on a single streaming service ? hence why Disney, WarnerMedia, DC, and other media companies are creating their own platforms with original content.”

You’d be pretty hard pressed to find many people in the streaming or broadcast sector who realize the pitfalls of this gold rush toward streaming exclusivity, even after all of the painful piracy and gatekeeper lessons learned thus far. After all, most industry executives are right that having must-watch exclusive content is necessary to drive subscriber adoption, and that developing original content in house is a better financial proposition than skyrocketing broadcast licensing costs. But few have paused, taken a step back, and considered how the rush to exclusivity at scale could come back to bite the sector at large.

That’s thanks, in part, to the weird aversion among most journalists and analysts to even mention piracy in their reports or stories. Most reporters and analysts see even mentioning piracy as some kind of bizarre cardinal sin that implies they somehow advocate for the behavior. This tendency to ignore the elephant in the room is a major reason the industry has such a hard time learning that you have to compete with piracy, not engage in idiotic, counter-productive and often harmful attempts to “cure” it with legislation, lawyers, or an endless parade of terrible ideas.

The old adage that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it will likely hold true here. If the current trend holds, by 2022 consumers will be forced to subscribe to an absolute universe of $10 to $15 per month services just to get all the content they’re looking for, on the presumption the average household has an unlimited amount of disposable income.

If history is any indication, it will take another year or two for the industry to identify and admit this exclusivity parade is driving users back to piracy. At that point, they’ll probably burn through a rotating crop of “solutions” (like waging war on password sharing), before coming to this central conclusion: that licensing your content to a sensible but not overwhelming crop of companies actually good at the technical and customer service aspects of streaming (like, Netflix) — instead of everybody and their mother launching their own streaming product — wasn’t such a terrible idea after all.

Filed Under: , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Streaming Exclusives Will Drive Users Back To Piracy And The Industry Is Largely Oblivious”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Do not forget commercials

I have not watched commercials in over a decade. I mute tv when they come on 90% the time. And tbh this was major reason i went back to using piratebay myself when in demand added commercials all cable tv became too annoying to me. Reality is i have zero patience and all commercials do is make me respect pirated shared episodes seasons etc. More than greedy capitolistic companies. add in i am far too poor to buy all the streaming services. So far only 2 have enough content to be worth the cost Disney+ and dcuniverse (which i let friends use as well cause most my friends are poverty level broke. Its just plain unrealistic for many of us poorer folks to pay so many seperate costs cable was already at limit of what most of us can afford. But if i paid subscription for each streaming service that has 1 or 2 my shows on it id be short by at least $30 each month what I’d owe i simply can not afford it so for poorer folk like me piratebay and others like it is our only option we have.

Anonymous Coward says:

When faced with paying too much for a luxury, financially responsible people will limit their spending. They’ll pick the services they want, subscribe to those, and won’t pay for the rest.

From there, they’ll either just not watch the content (which is what I do) or they’ll pirate it.

So as this shakes out, people, remember that for the grand majority of those who choose to pirate the content they aren’t subscribed to, the piracy isn’t the cause of the lost sale. The sale was lost before they even pirated.

No amount of lawsuits or copyright strikes or the like will get those people who chose to pirate to go and purchase the content instead. They weren’t going to pay for it before they got the bootleg version, they aren’t going to pay for it after they got the bootleg version.

You can argue from moral principles all day long, and yes, morally speaking, the act of unauthorized access and etc. is on seriously shaky ground. But that’s irrelevant to the fact that those who went for the unauthorized version aren’t going to purchase the authorized version regardless of the availability of the unauthorized version.

So speaking strictly from a financial standpoint, spending huge amounts of money to hunt down unauthorized distributors is wasteful. You won’t get sales back. You’ll just pay lawyers.

dude says:

Re: Re:

"They weren’t going to pay for it before they [pirated], they aren’t going to pay for it after …"

I actually disagree with this, as nearly all of the anime I’ve purchased were with shows that I pirated or otherwise watched without paying for. Better to watch shows without paying, and then physically buy the ones I like, than to support a streaming service where mere pennies go to the shows I like while the rest is spread among mountains of trash (not to mention, you don’t even get a copy that you can watch after the show’s license expires or whatever).

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m waiting for executives to figure out that the bottom line may be better served by limited exclusivity or windowed releases rather than the extreme siloing that they are currently chasing. Having their own streaming service that gets the releases first or additional content will bring in a number of fans. Letting the shows also be licenced by Netflix/Hulu/Amazon et al. will add another revenue stream and reduce piracy.

To use Star Trek discovery as an example the first run could be on CBS’s streaming service and the CBS service could also offer some kind of commentary. The episodes, but not the commentary could them be offered to Hulu to show with a one week delay, and offered to Netflix and Amazon to stream once the season is complete. Then if you want the fastest and best experience you go directly to CBS, if you can’t wait very long but want shows from multiple sources you subscribe to Hulu and if you are patient you wait for Netflix/Amazon. Piracy becomes a much less appealing option because you are likely to subscribe to at least one of those options. You lose some control by not being exclusive but you have multiple things to offer to entice people into becoming paying customers.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Reminds me of the CW Arrowverse Shows – I can watch them right now as they air on the CW App, For Free, with ads.

Or I can be paitent and wait until next year and get them on netflix all at once.

Which I choose has often depends on the show (Flash right now, Supergirl I want to see now, Legends is great but can wait til netflix, Arrow can wait til never)

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Is Flash good this season? I really haven’t cared for the last couple. Sucked all the fun out of it. To the point that there was actually an episode whose plot centered around Barry lecturing the only fun character remaining on the show about how he was having too much fun and should stop immediately.

If I want moping, angsty superheroes, I have many, many choices. If I wanted a show that was mired in its own self-seriousness, why would I pick the one about the guy who fights giant gorillas and guys with names like “Weather Wizard” and “Captain Cold”?

So What.... says:


I ditched comcast and switched to a local internet provider only. I subscribe to netflix and amazon. Also watch endless hours on youtube. I have not missed espn at all and I am a huge sports fan….but… I noticed all of a sudden my kodi app was getting high usage again after not needing it. Came to the same realization…everyone is just going back to being a “network” in control of their own content delivery and making users pay fees.

What we are missing though is that if eveyone does it…then eventually economics will take over and subscriptions fees will go to zero and commercials will be the norm…just like broadcast tv.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

I forsee...

…sometime, fairly soon, say in the next 20 years, all the “content providers” will use the Amazon Prime model.

Look up just about any TV show or released to DVD movie on imdB and there’ll be a banner along the lines of “Watch NOW for just $2.99 on Amazon Prime”.

The biggest fight will be with advertisers, who rely on people flipping on the TV and just letting it play all day or evening long. Won’t happen if you’re paying by the movie or episode.

But it appears to be the only model that makes sense. The big ISP’s will handle licensing and offer shows in the same way they do now with “On Demand”. Your monthly bill will be some exorbitant “access fee” and itemized by the shows you actually wanted to watch.

What’s an average cable bill now, about a hundred bucks? If they charged a dollar per one “hour” (42 minute) show, how many people actually WATCH 100 shows in a month?

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: I forsee...

My household. Every month. Both of us average more than 2 show episodes a day. (100 epidodes/2 people = 50 episodes each/30 = 1.67 episodes per day)

She is a security guard relief officer – most of her day is spent twiddling her thumbs. She will easily watch 4-6 hours of streamed TV in a day.

Ive got a Netflix queue so long I don’t think I will ever see the end of it. I try to watch at least 2 hours of content a day while working on other things.

Once you consider that, in the streaming era, multiple people can be watching multiple things it gets really easy.

Once you hit a 3 or four person household, if you have Content watchers it becomes easy.

ShadowNinja (profile) says:

Re: I forsee...

The biggest fight will be with advertisers, who rely on people flipping on the TV and just letting it play all day or evening long. Won’t happen if you’re paying by the movie or episode.

I haven’t looked it up in the last couple of years, but advertisers are already being fucked over hard in the last 15 years even in places where they still show ads.

As of 5 or so years ago, broadcast TV’s numbers have been cut in half. All while advertising prices only dropped by 6 to 7 percent. If that’s not advertisers getting ripped off I don’t know what is.

In more recent years analysis of DVRs/TiVo’s data has found that while less people are skipping through the ads then before, that’s because they’re too busy playing on their phones during the commercial breaks to pay attention to the ads.

Hence advertising is quite frankly just not worth the same bang for the buck that it used to be. They’ve flooded the planet with so many ads that people are used to just ignoring them entirely.

Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me if in another decade or two politicians stop throwing money into TV & radio ads for all of these reasons. Grabbing attention on news stations is cheaper and more effective at persuading voters, especially when running for a more prominent office (see Trump, who got an estimated $2+ billion dollars worth of free TV advertising from the news media).

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: I forsee...

I’m not sure exactly how the current TV spot advertising metric is rationalized.

I’m fairly old – I remember when “watching TV” meant you dug out the TV Guide to see if there was anything on you wanted to watch. If there was, you flipped on the TV five minutes before your show started so the TV would warm up, watched your show, and turned the TV back off.

The current “viewers” turn on the TV the moment they get up in the morning, watch for maybe ten minutes, then it goes to background noise until the show they want to watch comes on.

And when the show goes to commercial break, they get annoyed, so the likelihood of a show’s fan buying anything advertised during it drops.

But while the TV is in “background mode”, the adverts have a greater effect – people might pay attention to one that is funny or relevant to their day.

I was raised to never buy anything that was advertised on TV or by junk mail. Instilled the same in my kids. But there have been ads that have drawn my attention because of the way they’re presented.

If everyone “returned” to just turning the TV on when a specific show was coming on, I suspect TV ad rates would take a tremendous hit.

All that said, “Pay Per View” is pretty much the only business model I can see succeeding in the future. And a lot of advertising on it for special rates for Binge Watchers, Late Night Only, etc.

Having 500 streaming services, and expecting a household that watches ten shows to pay ten monthly fees to ten different streaming services just isn’t going to work.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: I forsee...

So, where do you get the data on this, that the primary tv “viewer” is one that just leaves the TV on all day but pays attention when the show they were waiting for comes on?

As far as I understood it, the current majority traditional TV viewer records the show they want on a DVR, and then watches it at a random time in the future, which is why accounting for DVRs in neilson ratings was such a concern.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I forsee...

Empirical observation over the last 20 years. Walk into someone’s house or apartment and 90% of the time the TV is on – and nobody is paying any attention to it. It just runs all day…

DVR’s when they’re not there when something they actually want to watch will be on, of course. We did that with VCR’s as well.

In the day of OTA only, advertisers had to put their ads into the “popular” shows, as the TV wasn’t on at other times.

Now that there’s a choice of 2500 channels, there’s still nothing to watch most of the day. The DVR grabs those one or two shows the viewer wants. And commercial breaks in those shows are an annoyance.

PaulT (profile) says:

There was a thread recently in a Facebook movie group I’m in, with a poll regarding how many streaming services people are signed up to. The general consensus seemed to be between 3 and 5, with the majority being signed up to Netflix and Amazon for 2 of their “slots” (I have 3 myself – Netflix, Amazon and MUBI). Very few people had significantly more than this, while the movie obsessive and online focussed nature of the group obvious self selected out the people who had less. Some people were happy to make do with physical rentals and/or the library, but for the most part people had at least those couple.

Now, the important part – most people seemed relatively happy with the services they were signed up for. In terms of cost and general selection, there were a few complaints but people seemed generally happy with the selection they had. A few people stated annoyances or pointed out mistakes being made by the industry (for example, I stressed how happy I would be to pay for Shudder and Filmstruck, if only I were allowed to do so). but for the most part they seemed happy with the service they received for their money.

Now, will these people be swayed to sign up for yet another service to receive a single title? Unlikely. There will be some who will make the effort for something they’re a particular fan of, but most will do without. People will behave differently, and I can only offer personal anecdotes, but the reality is probably that most will not be driven to make such a move for single titles. I’m intrigued by The Handmaid’s Tale, but I believe the streaming rights are held by HBO here. Meh, I’ll do without for now. Maybe I’ll sign up later, maybe I won’t, but that doesn’t help their current viewing figures. I was interested by Bosch and American Gods, but before Prime expanded to where I am, I couldn’t be bothered. Way too much coming up on Netflix to watch. I did watch the new Star Trek, but only because it was on Netflix here (as it was everywhere outside of North America), but would I have bothered if I had to sign up for something else? Nope. Some may have pirated, but you “lose” the same whether a person decided to watch for free or watch something else. Many people I know are more likely to go “what’s on what I have paid for” than go “sure, I’m paying for 4 services why not 5?!?”

Piracy is a problem, for sure. But, rounding your customers into silos may actually be worse. Of course, this is all very personal and very subjective observation, but I think couching it in terms of “you pay for every service” vs “just pirate what you want” is a mistake. If you magically eradicated all piracy – which is impossible – you still don’t get the person’s money when they decide that watching a show on the services they already pay for is a more productive use of their money.

cryophallion (profile) says:

Oblivious isn't the right word

The executives here are kind of caught in a world that REQUIRES buying into a false perception of reality.

First of all, they all suffer from what some call the “golden nails” falacy in real estate: that what you own is worth so much more than market rate, that yours is special, and deserves more because of X, with varying degrees of X.

Then, we have the fact that the executives are tasked with making their customers happy. The issue is, the customers aren’t the people buying the service, it is the investors, typically wall street who are fixated on their own priorities (which is having the most “winnings” to make themselves look best, so their priorities are fixated on the best profit margin). So, the exec has to have the highest profit margin, and if the investors see someone else succeeding, their job is to get as much a piece of the pie as they can.

The issue is, buying into their investors priorities is often not in the best interest of the company, and has everyone wasting money chasing shadows, and burning the last vestiges of a good idea that has already been maximized. So they have to have this alternate reality that their company is really amazing and worth so much and trying to keep the companies employees happy, but at the same time focusing on the short terms gains their investors want.

The reality is simple: you cannot serve two masters. If your master is the investor, they only care about margins, and don’t really care if the company lasts 20 years, they will happily sell you when you aren’t in their best interest. They have little loyalty. However, since institutional investors have so much power to buy boards, what choice do you have? Basically, if you run a company in a responsible way these days, you are asking to get fired unless you have a very lucky board.

Frankly, when I hear a company is going public, I tend to worry about their long term stability. Some giants can make it, but too often, the rest just slowly fizzle.

So, they aren’t oblivious. They are doing what their investors demand, and buy into the false reality that their product DESERVES all this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Oblivious isn't the right word

Frankly, when I hear a company is going public, I tend to worry about their long term stability

The other problem is,that start up capital is only available if it looks like there is a way of the company going public, where often the people who built it leave and move on to their next startup. A history of successful start up to public offering is a good resume for getting more start up capital for the next company.

mcinsand (profile) says:

Longterm approach is to turn backs on services

Piracy might give a short-term pleasure, but the better approach for the long term is to find something else to do. Though the streamers lose a monthly fee from pirating, any form of viewers still helps to maintain demand. Do something else for fun. Read a book, go out and have a great evening, take up a hobby. Let these guys overcharge themselves out of business so that better businesspeople can craft better-balanced cost structures.

Anonymous Coward says:

There are non-piracy options (for now).

When Netflix first became available in Canada, I signed up. It was $7.99 a month. The one month free trial was enough to know that it was worth it.

Then they raised the price to $9.99 and if you wanted 4K, it is $13.99.

The $2 a month price hike was enough for me to look at my viewing habits and cancel Netflix for the winter. I pick it up again in the summer for 3 months. Then cancel again in September.

If they splinter I will end up rotating through the various services picking up one or two for a few months.

You can't compete with free! says:

Re: There are non-piracy options (for now).

The $2 a month price hike was enough for me to look at my viewing habits

Really? You’re THAT sensitive to price? Do you think for a month before buying a can of pop, and pizza is once-a-year treat? C’mon, you’re either literally starving or just have the mindset that all content on teh internets should be FREE.

By the way, Netflix isn’t profitable, see my link below.

cancel Netflix for the winter.

??? What the hell do you do in winter in Canada besides look at the cabin walls waiting for the snow to melt in spring? Seems like time you’d want it most!

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: There are non-piracy options (for now).

It’s all about perspective – and this is one of those rare cases where both points of view are correct.

However, I think you have to remember that the increase was not to keep the same service going as it was, it’s to enable production of and to obtain decent new content. The entire strategy has been in order to stop the company being dependant on studios that constantly tried screwing them over, causing their customers to be unhappy every month when licences expired and content disappear, and to build a sustainable model based as much on content they own as that licensed from others. For this, they decided that the extra cost would be worth any fallout from people who decided they wouldn’t swallow the charges.

You can feel free to see it as a massive rate hike if you wish, I’d just disagree that you’re paying for the same service as you were before. Whatever you see it as in terms of a percentage, the service is still cheaper than a single weekly VHS rental was back in the day, I believe.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

C’mon, you’re either literally starving or just have the mindset that all content on teh internets should be FREE.

I love the “either/or” mindset displayed by people like this. It proves only that they are incapable of nuance and self-reflection. That makes it easier to discredit, mock, and ultimately ignore all of their bullshit.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: There are non-piracy options (for now).

I’d certainly question why a $2 hike is enough for you to not wish to subscribe for the majority of the year (that’s certainly less than you’d have paid for a single 24 hour rental at Blockbuster), and why you prefer summer to winter for your viewing choices.

But, the point is – that’s your choice. Netflix would prefer you subscribe all year round, but they don’t try blocking you from doing this, and try to use their content selection to keep you there. Which is what it should be.

Where these companies come unstuck and where piracy becomes an attractive option is when they start playing dirty tricks and underhanded methods to keep you subscribing whether you want to or not.

You can't compete with free! says:

FACT: only pirates sites get content for FREE.

FACT: Techdirt has never and will never provide a "better business model" in which consumers don’t directly pay, because there is no alternative that rewards producers.

FACT: Producers and pirates can’t co-exist. — This is of course the point of contention: pirates will claim that producers are doing fine, but that’s only the legacy of enough honest people paying, in the current copyright milieu (including enforcement), after producers have fought fiercely for 20 years. If piracy were not battled every day, would ANY producer (not garage bands or Youtube clowns, but of $100 million dollar movies as in Masnick’s "can’t compete" piece) be able to stay in business? Of course NOT. You can’t compete with free when it’s your own product that you pay to produce, but others can just take.

FUN FACT: none of this affects me because I don’t consume CRAP! All the fanboys above evidence is their absolute NEED for mindless content, will both pay AND pirate to get their fix!

Don’t you kids have ANY creative urges to use the wonderful new opportunities? — Of course NOT, because know full well that can’t and won’t get rewarded for it! So how do you expect creators to gain income without an "exclusive" — which includes the moral imperative that they own the works because made them and no one else deserves income from it? HMM?

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: $100 million dollar movies

Why does it cost that much? Because they expect to recoup it and make a profit on top of that. Plus Hollywood Accounting to prove they actually lost money on the $400 million dollar box office returns.

We’ve got actors making millions of dollars per 20 minute serial episode. That isn’t anywhere near covered by you standard cable rates. Where’s the money coming from?

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:


Techdirt has never and will never provide a "better business model" in which consumers don’t directly pay

What you meant to say was, “[they] will never provide a one-size-fits-all ‘better business model’ ”. Plenty of different business models have proven that the people behind them can compete with “free”, sometimes even by using “free” themselves.

Producers and pirates can’t co-exist.

If that is the case, why does the world still exist? Because right now, producers and pirates can and do co-exist, so…

producers have fought fiercely for 20 years

By “producers”, do you mean “major media conglomerates”? Because corporations like Disney—corporations you love to decry as “legal fictions” when it suits your needs—are the main drivers of the “fight” for more-favorable-to-them copyright law. Max Blackrabbit ain’t fighting for stiffer copyright law so he can sue anyone who makes Zig Zag art without his permission. (Ha Ha! Furry references.)

If piracy were not battled every day, would ANY producer … be able to stay in business?

Hollywood continues to enjoy record-setting box office takes every year. Black Panther, maybe the most popular/talked-about film of the year, made over $1bn at the box office despite being the single most obvious choice for pirates to distribute around the world. I doubt the major media conglomerates have much to worry about from piracy.

And the same goes for smaller artists, too. To continue with the furry references because why the hell not: SexyFur content is regularly pirated despite the numerous efforts from the site’s owner to curb such piracy (up to and including watermarks both visible and invisible on site images). Despite that piracy, SexyFur remains in business—though I have no idea how profitable it may be—and has been in business since its founding in 2000. An 18-year-run is nothing to discount, especially in light of the fact that the vast majority of SexyFur content is available on “pirate sites”.

You can’t compete with free when it’s your own product that you pay to produce, but others can just take.

And yet, people do it all the time. Like I said: Black Panther made a billion dollars despite having to compete with pirated versions of the film.

none of this affects me because I don’t consume CRAP

Says a lot about you that you will argue in favor of artists whose work you refuse to experience for yourself. Also says a lot about you that you refuse to experience any kind of creative work that might enrich your life. None of what is said reflects well upon you.

Don’t you kids have ANY creative urges to use the wonderful new opportunities?

Yes. We can create our own works while experiencing the works of others between our bouts of creativity and creation. Just because I want to see the new Halloween does not make me any less willing to create a story of my own—it only means that for the movie’s runtime, I will not be actively creating anything. What the hell is so wrong about not working yourself into creative burnout, or exposing yourself to new ideas, or just plain having fun by watching a movie?

because [you] know full well that [you] can’t and won’t get rewarded for it

I got four words for ya: “Furry artists. ’nuff said.”

(And another few words for you to chew on: No one is owed a “reward” for creating something. No one is entitled to be paid for publishing a book or an illustration or a well-crafted indie game.)

how do you expect creators to gain income without an "exclusive" … ?

They can do what lots of video game publishers do: Sell their work to every platform that would have it. A “Netflix original” could easily be “leased” to other streaming services (or even TV networks) without affecting the availability of the show on Netflix. Hell, that is kind of the point of this article: Original shows on multiple platforms are going to fracture the streaming landscape so much that everyone, even the biggest players in the “game”, will end up suffering for a mistake that never needed to be made.

The issue is the booming availability of streaming services based around “exclusives” at a time when people are cutting the cord because of the high costs of cable and satellite TV; every network under the sun opening their own service with their own content instead of offloading it on one or two services is damn near the same thing as cable, and fewer people want to deal with that bullshit again.

Rocky says:

Re: FACT: only pirates sites get content for FREE.

FACT: Techdirt has never and will never provide a “better business model” in which consumers don’t directly pay, because there is no alternative that rewards producers.

Not fact, OPINION – but we all know that you can’t tell the difference.

If you feel differently, please present the facts for your statement. Just saying FACT doesn’t make it a fact.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Don’t you kids have ANY creative urges to use the wonderful new opportunities? — Of course NOT, because know full well that can’t and won’t get rewarded for it!


Even though I don’t think you were talking to me since my AARP card says I am no longer a "kid", I’ll answer anyways.

Yes, I have creative urges and I act on them. When I have the need to create something, I write code and (GASP!) license it under the GPL so the whole world can use and copy it for FREE!

For me, the need to create has absolutely NOTHING to do with "rewards" and I think that you are demeaning actual creators by implying that the only reason anyone creates is for profit.

Just my 2 cents.

You can't compete with free! says:

Netflix is oblivious to NOT making a profit!

THE KEY FACT: "Netflix owes an estimated $28 billion in outstanding content obligations, debt and other commitments"

Wall Street keeps bidding it up so looks successful, but isn’t. Netflix is essentially paying about $1000 for every new subscriber!

In any other era than the current "Quantitive Easing" wildly and recklessly inflating the US "money supply" about ONE TRILLION PER YEAR, Netflix would have long ago folded.

The obvious and only conclusion is that teh internets is bad for creators. Therefore, increasingly "draconian" controls trying to stop FREELOADERS. And again, that fits with gov’t AND corporate (Google, Facebook, Twitter "social media" besides the prior media publishers) aims of entirely controlling society. So expect more, on any and every excuse. So long as are consumers of mindless crap, including what passes for news and politics, you’ll be herded ruthlessly.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Unless I’m mistaken, that’s down to poor viewing figures and bad reviews. In fact, given the general reaction to Iron Fist, I was actually surprised the second season was made. Netflix will retain the rights to the shows they make money on, but there’s no point them making shows nobody likes to watch just because they got a Marvel licence for them.

There’s nothing curious in those terms, unless you’re looking for a conspiracy. If there’s a fan backlash a la Sense 8 to get more episodes made, there might be something more to it, but I haven’t seen much myself.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Netflix is oblivious to NOT making a profit!

The obvious and only conclusion is that teh internets is bad for creators.

Then what are more creators than ever making money by self publishing on the Internet? Could it be that selling their ability to produce more content via the likes of Patreon is a viable model?

Give patreon supporters early access, but publish to YouTube to attract more patreons after a few weeks or months is a viable model those creators who want to make a living from their creativity.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Netflix is oblivious to NOT making a profit!

Yadda yadda, blah blah, sound and fury, nothing useful.

It used to be mildly entertaining to watch your flailing about and the various reactions to it, somewhat along the lines of fail videos.

It’s old now, though. You’ve never managed to actually have a conversation, or give valid arguments, or work through things logically, or show any indication of ever reading anything addressed to you with an eye towards understanding what is said or considering whether it may have some merit.

You seem to have positioned yourself in a philosophy of “opposite Masnick/Techdirt” – anything that Masnick or this site supports, must be bad, regardless of what it is. I’m coming to suspect that if Masnick were to write an article about why genocide is bad, or why the sky is blue, you would be there roaring about how genocide is awesome and the sky is clearly plaid. It’s curious that you would allow yourself to be defined by the very people you hate, since by doing so you give them an inordinate amount of control over you.

Regardless, you’re just … exhausting.

Anonymous Coward says:

Long ago gave up on tv. PPV was going down hill, public tv, not better at all.

No longer have an interest in TV. They can price themselves right out of a market or splinter themselves to a thousand sites. I won’t be joining them.

I have given up on the mindless reality shows, given to you as a vehicle to serve commercials and the endless reruns. The price is not worth the content nor time wasted in viewing.

You see it’s not piracy, it’s lack of interest in the current offerings, those being so subpar in quality. They are simply not worth the money.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:


When all that content is split across 20 different streaming services instead of two—when you must subscribe to several such services just so you can see all the shows and movies that you want to see—how long will you go about recreating cable TV with all of those subscriptions before you finally get sick of all the money and time spent on doing so?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: New exclusives is a good thing

“imagine Every streaming service trying to produce a clone of what what’s popular on their competitors service.”

I did. I imagined most of them failing because most people aren’t going to subscribe to more than 3 or 4 services, and the mainstream mindshare means that Amazon and Netflix already have 2 of those slots for most of them. I’m sure those creators would rather have the opportunity to reach the widest possible audience rather than having the number 1 rated show on the 36th highest rated streaming service because their producer wanted exclusivity.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: New exclusives is a good thing

I’m sure those creators would rather have the opportunity to reach the widest possible audience rather than having the number 1 rated show on the 36th highest rated streaming service because their producer wanted exclusivity.

In which case there is YouTube and patronage, which could possibly produce more income for the actual creators, especially as a lot of middlemen no longer need to make a profit from their content.

Coises (profile) says:

Compulsory license

There is a solution to this which already has precedent in copyright law: compulsory licensing.

Music radio was only possible because a compulsory license meant once a recording of a song had been released to the public, radio stations didn’t have to clear the rights to play it.

The writers of a song decide who gets to make the first recording of it; after that, they get an established royalty for covers, but they can’t stop anyone else from recording it.

So there is at least one consumer-friendly way to do this that’s consistent with established practice in copyright. The owners of a movie or series can decide who gets to broadcast and stream it first, and they can negotiate what they get paid for that right. After some established period of time — perhaps six months, perhaps a year — they can no longer stop any other service from broadcasting or streaming it, and they get paid an established royalty — refusal isn’t possible and negotiation isn’t required.

Ixalmida says:

Streaming Proliferation

Absolutely time that someone said this! The proliferation of streaming services is getting out of hand. Even if you have a service like Amazon Prime, they still want you to pay extra for add-on subscriptions, like “Fear Factory”. Not only that but network channels like CBS are starting to limit shows to streaming over their own services. Where does it all end?

I pay for Xfinity, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime already – which costs me over $300/month – and I still can’t get the content I want? I’m at the point of wanting to cancel everything and find other modes of entertainment.

Thad (profile) says:

Re: BS

No, Disney never put their best content on Netflix, they put lower selling content there.

Black Panther is the third-highest-grossing film of all time. Rogue One is #11, and Beauty and the Beast (2017) is #12.

It’s accurate to say Disney put an incomplete set of its catalogue on Netflix. But "lower selling" is only true if you mean "lower-selling than the highest-grossing film of all time".

John Smith says:

Rap music was born after the 1977 Blackout let artists and DJs in the Bronx steal all the expensive equipment they needed. People who bet sports back then, or smoked weed, were doing what is now legal.

Unless piracy is in this category of civil disobedienc, nothing “drives” users to crime.

YouTube creators don’t have to worry about piracy because they have a lock on distribution and it’s ad-driven. That’s the “model of the future” for weak copyright protection. It’s not even a bad one. They pay 68 percent to creators and piracy is not a real threat, though ideas can be borrowed.

The streaming services are actually free for woubld-be pirates who can get a free month on all of them, then Hoover up the content. The real problem now is way too many shows and films splitting up the same pie. It’s also not very original at this point.

Distribution monopolies are making piracy a non-issue since the risk of your computer catching something usually outweighs the reward of stealing something you can probably get in a free trial anyway. I haven’t paid for Netflix in two years and have not pirated them, just binge-watch it when TV is off-season.

Madd the Sane (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

What about those of us who can’t get cable? I live in the boonies, far enough from the city so I can’t get their internet, and definitely far enough away from a population center to be of no interest to the big DSL/cable companies.

And at least one person I know that streams uses DSL because her cable provider was Brighthouse, and their service was horrible! Even with her business-class DSL, she still encounters the occasional hiccup when someone else uses the net. But at least it’s not a full day or more without internet.

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

In most cases, from my understanding: because the cable companies’ license agreements with the rightsholders for the content say that those rightsholders are not allowed to make that content available for streaming to someone who doesn’t have a cable subscription. (Presumably, the cable companies are paying enough for the license that this at least seems to be advantageous for the rightsholders.)

Assuming the cable companies don’t hold those rights themselves directly, anyway.

IIRC, the same principle applies to e.g. HBO: they won’t let you stream from their Website if you don’t have an HBO subscription via a cable provider. That’s not just “basic cable”, it’s “specific premium cable channel”.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

But but but Netflix is making all of this money & they aren’t giving us a big enough cut!
We’ll build our own heaven with blackjack and hookers!

And we’ll screw it up trying to make more money by adding commercials.
We’ll limit where, when, how you can access it.
We’ll discover that trying to keep up with the Netflix’s is bad idea because they have had years to get it just right.
Our special service will end up folding once we decide bleeding cash is a bad look & then pout because Netflix won’t offer us as good of a deal to carry our content almost no one saw on your craptastic service.

Anonymous Coward says:

Most of the shows I watch are animated. My subs to Netflix, Hulu, Crunchyroll, as well as Amazon Prime cover all of my bases. I might subscribe to DC Universe for their back catalogue of animated series as well as the new Young Justice and Harley Quinn shows. Still, for people who comsume large amounts of live-action content, I can see the issue.

However, I do worry about the way in which a “I don’t want the media I consume to be hyper-fragmented” opinion can morph into a “I want all of my media in one place” opinion. Because there are indeed people who exist that just wish that everything was on Netflix, people who want their “one-stop shop” for everything.

Those people need to understand that robust competition and the money being put into the development of tons of different exclusives is important, while people at the other far end, who think that hyper-fragmentation doesn’t matter, need to understand that a bajillion different services kills the convenience factor of streaming.

I feel like, maybe 4-5 years down the road, the streaming service bubble will grow to its popping size, pop, and then we will be left with around 15 streaming services that cater to different tastes both large and niche and people can pick and choose from them based on said tastes. That’d be the best case scenario.

Coises (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Because there are indeed people who exist that just wish that everything was on Netflix, people who want their "one-stop shop" for everything.

That would include me.

Those people need to understand that robust competition and the money being put into the development of tons of different exclusives is important, while people at the other far end, who think that hyper-fragmentation doesn’t matter, need to understand that a bajillion different services kills the convenience factor of streaming.

I’m not convinced that this sort of “vertical integration” — streaming platforms becoming producers of the content they stream — does much for content production. I can see how it gives a streaming platform a temporary competitive edge.

It seems to me we’d all be better off if content producers concentrate on producing worthwhile content and streaming providers concentrate on providing a cost-effective, high-quality customer experience independent of what is being streamed. If it were up to me, all content ever once made public in video form would be available on all streaming platforms; the platforms would compete over how well they do their job (making it easy for their customers to watch what they want to see, when and where they want to see it, at a price that feels fair) and the producers would compete over how well they do theirs (selecting worthwhile creative projects and matching them to appropriate funding). I don’t see how anyone is helped by competition over how clever one group is at locking up the work of the other.

As I suggested in another comment, a reasonable half-way step that’s consistent with existing copyright practice would be to establish compulsory licensing so that once content is streamed it can only remain exclusive to a specific streaming service for a limited period of time.

Anonymous Coward says:

“You have to compete with piracy, not engage in idiotic, counter-productive and often harmful attempts to “cure” it with legislation, lawyers, or an endless parade of terrible ideas.”

Dunno. I guess they considered their options: either develop a great product, or buy a couple of lawmakers to push through some bad legislation. Looks like they went for the cheapest option.

That One Guy (profile) says:

The test of value

So focused on how much they think they should be getting for their stuff on a steaming service like Netflix, and so sure that they could get more if they pulled it and placed it on a service they control, they miss what makes a service like Netflix so valuable, variety and a robust catalog.

Individual shows are rarely going to be enough to get people to jump through a slew of hoops to watch unless it’s really good, and even then if the hoops are numerous enough, and the price high enough you’ll have people deciding to hit up file-sharing sites if the producers are lucky, and flat out ignoring the show if not.

By siloing off shows and catalogs by company they’ll get to find out how valuable their own content is entirely on it’s own, and I can’t help but suspect that the amount people are willing to pay for such a pared down selection is going to be a lot less than the companies think their stuff is worth.

Anonymous Coward says:

Piracy certainly continues as a constant problem to be solved. Part of the problem is that people are so interconnected that sharing and finding content is incredibly easy to do. That’s why the solution is one that exists “outside the box”.

Many people still believe that using the law is how piracy will be stopped. The consequences of piracy and the fear of those consequences will drive people to legal alternatives. This simply is not true. In 2009, Sweden introduced a new law to better identify those who were pirating. While rates of piracy dropped significantly when the law went into effect, those rates returned to normal after only six months (Adermon & Lian, 2014). People weren’t afraid of the consequences, and piracy was the easier option.

Some say that education is the solution. They argue that users are unaware of how piracy hurts various creative industries. A study done shows that education did indeed reduce intent to pirate (De Corte & Van Kenhove, 2017). However, the question is how long does that change last? How long before the frustration over lack of access, or lack of timely access leads back to piracy?

Publishers of content are simply failing to understand what drives people to piracy. What people want is content that is easy to access, that’s timely, and that’s available. In 2015, Netflix was introduced to Australia. In 2014, 43% of digital watchers admitted to getting content from illegal sources, by 2017 that number fell to 17% (Screen Australia, 2017, p 25). Once users had the ability to access what they wanted, a majority of them stopped pirating because they had no reason to anymore. If, however, all the few shows people want to watch appear on several different services, then that ease of access has disappeared, and people will return to pirating. Another study that was looking at music streaming services shows that in order for those services to reduce piracy, they had to “demonstrate that [they] can be a more appealing alternative to digital piracy” (Hampton-Sosa, 2017, p 451). Part of being an appealing alternative is having content readily & easily available.

Access to content is the solution to piracy. Users get what they want in by being able to consume the material they’re interested in. Companies get what they want by being able to monetize the users’ wants. However, it requires these companies and services to recognize and provide what consumers want. If they don’t, then piracy will continue to be a problem.

-Kelsey A.


Adermon, A., & Lian, C. (2014, September). Piracy and music sales: The effects of an anti-piracy law. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 105, 90-106. Retrieved from

De Corte, C. M., & Van Kenhove, P. (2017, July). One sail fits all? A psychographic segmentation of digital pirates. Journal of Business Ethics, 143(3), 441-465. Retrieved from

Hampton-Sosa, W. (2017, April). The impact of creativity and community facilitation on music streaming adoption and digital piracy. Computers in Human Behavior, 69, 444-453. Retrieved from

Screen Australia. (2017). Online & on demand 2017: Trends in Australian online viewing habits. Retrieved from

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...