Convenience Matters: People Will Still 'Pirate' Content That Is Available For Free In Less Convenient Packages

from the stating-the-obvious dept

About a year ago, some commentators were positively shocked that tons of folks still got the latest Radiohead album via BitTorrent rather than the band's own pay-what-you-want site, which allowed people to get the music for free. However, the real point (which many seemed to miss) is that the reason people will often access the content via unauthorized sources isn't just because it's free, but because it's more convenient and doesn't require leaping over annoying hurdles. Plus, for many, it's a single interface and a single source for all the content they want.

So, it should come as no surprise at all that plenty of folks are still downloading unauthorized versions of TV shows that are available in authorized streams for free. First off, downloading the content lets users watch the content when and where they want -- and allows them to archive it or watch it on other devices. Second, it's just a lot more convenient for many users to get the content that way.

Once again, it looks like the entertainment industry got hung up on that whole "free" bit, when that's hardly all there is to the equation. Just because they put something up for free doesn't mean they've effectively competed with the alternatives. When the alternatives offer more and better "features" and much greater convenience, the "free" part is only one of multiple selling points. Simply putting content up for free without matching those other features means that plenty of folks are still going to get the content elsewhere. Rather than fighting it, it's about time companies learned ways to use this to their own advantage.

Filed Under: authorized, convenience, free, piracy

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  1. icon
    PaulT (profile), 8 Sep 2008 @ 5:28am


    Another big issue is location - something that a lot of these studies seem to miss (and not mentioned in the article). Even with successful series, some countries have to wait 6+ months after the US transmission date to watch the new season of a show, sometimes a year or more for less mainstream shows. Or, they can download it hours after the US premier via BT.

    There's also the issue of re-watching. If you really enjoyed the show or you just plain forgot to set your DVR, you have to wait for a re-run or DVD release to get another chance to watch it. Or, you can download it at any time you choose via BT.

    Guess what? Block your audience from getting it legitimately, and they'll find illegitimate means to get it. This is more true of TV shows than other media since people don't pay directly for any given show, and will usually consider themselves entitled to watch, e.g. a Fox show for free if their monthly sub includes Fox.

    The networks can get around this by making their own DRM, location-independent downloads available shortly after transmission, and people would happily buy them. It's down to them (and the various contracts they've agreed to with foreign distributors) as to whether they'll bother...

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