Hollywood Removing Hit Movies From Apple, Netflix

from the stupidity-knows-no-bounds dept

Some days you just wonder if entertainment execs wake up in the morning planning to shoot themselves in their collective foot. The latest display of entertainment exec short-sightedness is that the Hollywood Studios have apparently forced both the Apple iTunes store and Netflix's download store to remove certain movies just as they're getting close to being available for TV. As you probably already know, Hollywood makes a lot of money through a "windowing" system, where they release movies in different formats at different times: theaters, special locations (airplanes, hotels), DVD, cable and finally network TV. Of course, they're working on adding some more tiers to this as well, but apparently they convinced these online download stores that they need to kill certain movies as the timing reaches where the movies can appear on TV.

The studios' myopic reasoning is that TV broadcasters pay a lot of money for those rights, and they don't want to piss them off: "It wouldn't make any business sense to do it any other way," claiming that allowing the videos to be downloaded via these online stores would kill some of its biggest money makers. Of course, this makes no sense. The movies are already released on DVD and the studios don't prevent Blockbuster or Netflix from offering the physical DVD for rent, so why do that with the download version? If people really want to download these movies, they're more likely to just go get them from an unauthorized site, rather than bother to watch the network broadcast version (which, given recent MPAA statements, they'll probably try to prevent you from recording via your DVR anyway). If TV networks have been willing to pay good money for the broadcasting rights all these years while DVDs and unauthorized downloads have been available, are they really suddenly going to stop paying because legal downloads are available? Unlikely.

So what are we left with instead? A bunch of consumers really pissed off at the movie studios yet again. One of these days movie studio execs will discover that business models are much harder to implement when a large percentage of your customers hate you.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: competition, downloads, movies, release windows
Companies: apple, netflix

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. icon
    PaulT (profile), 11 Dec 2008 @ 6:23am


    I disagree (opinions are great, aren't they?).

    People know that they can download movies for free at any time. What usually stops them (apart from a lack of technical knowledge) is a mixture of social morals and convenience. That is, most people still view downloading without paying as "wrong", and for many people it's still more convenient to watch via TV (and/or tape the movie for later) than download. When they do download, it's usually cheaper and/or easier to do so via Apple or Netflix than pirate, and easier to download than buy the DVD.

    By removing both the facility to time-shift movies and stream from Netflix, the studios are shooting themselves in the foot. The fact that the facility used to be offered free-of-charge makes people consider the content "free" (or already paid for by their cable bill or Netflix sub). Nobody has a moral problem downloading movies that were offered for free, and may in fact consider themselves in the moral right for doing so if, for example, their ability to tape a movie that's on while they're at work is removed arbitrarily or a movie disappears from their queue for no reason.

    Mike's point is this - what's the point? People who want to stream or download movies are increasingly not the same people who want to buy DVDs. It makes no sense to remove a method of accessing content (that pirates are still offering), when people are willing to pay for that service. The secret to beating "piracy" is to make the paid-for service more valuable, not less valuable.

Add Your Comment

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

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.