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Media Movies The Internet Entertainment

Why Movie Streaming Services Are Unsatisfying — and Will Stay That Way 323

Posted by Soulskill
from the shut-up-and-take-my-money dept.
mendax sends this excerpt from a New York Times op-ed: "like Napster in the late 1990s, [torrent-streaming app Popcorn Time] offered a glimpse of what seemed like the future, a model for how painless it should be to stream movies and TV shows online. The app also highlighted something we've all felt when settling in for a night with today’s popular streaming services, whether Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, Hulu, or Google or Microsoft’s media stores: They just aren't good enough. ... In the music business, Napster’s vision eventually became a reality. Today, with services like Spotify and Rdio, you can pay a monthly fee to listen to whatever you want, whenever you want. But in the movie and TV business, such a glorious future isn't in the offing anytime soon.

According to industry experts, some of whom declined to be quoted on the record because of the sensitivities of the nexus of media deals involved, we aren’t anywhere close to getting a service that allows customers to pay a single monthly fee for access to a wide range of top-notch movies and TV shows.Instead of a single comprehensive service, the future of digital TV and movies is destined to be fragmented across several services, at least for the next few years. We’ll all face a complex decision tree when choosing what to watch, and we’ll have to settle for something less than ideal."
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Why Movie Streaming Services Are Unsatisfying — and Will Stay That Way

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  • The oak and the palm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by the_Bionic_lemming (446569) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @10:16PM (#46589691)

    The Oak stays strong and the palm tree bends - but with the Hurricane of fed up cord cutters, only one species will survive the storm.

    I'm patient.

  • by ZorinLynx (31751) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @10:23PM (#46589729) Homepage

    It shouldn't cost more to "rent" a two year old movie to stream online that it does to BUY it in the bargain bin. Not only that, but many older movies aren't available to rent at all, only for "purchase" (which, when bought online is really a long-term rental anyway due to DRM).

    Get the rental prices down. Let me pay $2-$3 to watch a movie rather than $6-$10. And for the love of Princess Celestia, when you PAY for content online, it should look good! No compression artifacts, no buffering. Let me pull down the whole thing, or maybe half of it before watching to ensure a good experience.

    • by pepty (1976012) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @12:36AM (#46590367)

      It shouldn't cost more to "rent" a two year old movie to stream online that it does to BUY it in the bargain bin. Not only that, but many older movies aren't available to rent at all, only for "purchase" (which, when bought online is really a long-term rental anyway due to DRM).

      Get the rental prices down. Let me pay $2-$3 to watch a movie rather than $6-$10. And for the love of Princess Celestia, when you PAY for content online, it should look good! No compression artifacts, no buffering. Let me pull down the whole thing, or maybe half of it before watching to ensure a good experience.

      The point of making movies is to rake in huge profits and transferable tax credits while pretending to have lost money. How does providing you good service at a modest price make the current rights holders richer than they already are?

      • by crakbone (860662)
        I know it's parody, But if you think about it that business model is quite sustainable. Right now there are tons of television shows that people would love to see but just sit in vaults. There are tons of movies if made readily available could be streamed for more profit than sitting in a vault. I pretty sure more people would buy laugh-in/carol burnet than what sells on infomercials. Even a paid service to access a production companies vaults would be better than sitting on a movie 30 years. Really is
    • The bargain bin is you taking advantage of an inventory error made by a business. The business has already tried to sell the item and failed and is looking to unload it for something better than zero, hopefully with a meager profit or at least not a loss, instead of keeping it around as taxable inventory. A business renting access to streamed media delivered over the Internet has very low fixed costs per user so losing a rental sale to you because you don't like the price is only fractions of a penny loss t
    • by Misagon (1135)

      Streaming services are dependent on the distributors supplying them with movies. First thing to know about the movie industry and streaming is that the movie industry is conservative. Second that it is very possessive about its property.
      This means that the movie distributors pretty much set the terms for the streaming companies and not in a way that is in tune with the times.
      They dictate the time windows that movies will be available and often also the price at which it will be available to the consumer. Mo

  • or just say no (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dltaylor (7510) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @10:24PM (#46589735)

    I have not, and will not, use my cable provider's "on demand" service for anything for which I have to pay ($5 - $10 per selection per 24-hour viewing window). If there were some "bundle" price, al la Netflix, I'd give them $10 for access. Of course, I don't pay the obscene fees for "premium" channels, either. I only have one cable box attached to a screen. I cannot watch all three (four?) at the same time, but I would have to pay an additional monthly fee for each one, even if it is discounted slightly for second, third, ... selection.

    I may miss something, but nothing I've heard of justifies the pricing.

  • Although illegal in many countries (but not all), it is satisfying. And free. It doesn't cover everything, but it certainly covers a lot and is expanding from what I can see. I can't help but wonder when TV shows will be added, along with a choice of where to pull the torrents from (it's locked in to YIFY [yts.re] currently though there might be an easy way to change that, I haven't the time).

    Although the team that originally started it dropped the project, it was entirely open source so others could (and did [vr-zone.com]) pick

  • by hymie! (95907) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @10:29PM (#46589771)

    Did I just read two stories today, telling me both the problem with DVDs and the problem with streaming services?

  • by chromaexcursion (2047080) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @10:31PM (#46589779)
    Netflix is already delivering.
    How did this BUL$4!T get posted?
    • by Pinhedd (1661735)

      The definition of "industry expert" has been diluted to mean "anyone who has blogged about a topic more than once". It's entirely meaningless

      • by pepty (1976012)
        It's not meaningless.

        Industry shill: contractor

        Industry expert: consultant or employee.

  • by fadethepolice (689344) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @10:35PM (#46589805) Journal
    they are not selling food. the product is inherently of no value. I say make them sing for their supper. In the end all they are are fools for our entertainment. the idea that they dictate the terms of the price of a non essential good is in the long run just silly
    • the product is inherently of no value.

      Staying current with popular entertainment may help someone advance in office politics at his workplace and qualifying for a promotion, instead of gaining a reputation as That Guy [theonion.com] and qualifying for constructive dismissal [wikipedia.org].

  • by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @10:46PM (#46589855) Homepage Journal

    Why do you think that HBO, Cinemax, Showtime and Starz (a latecomer, relatively speaking) have all been in existence since the popularity of cable television exploded in the 70s? Because that fragmentation (only allowing one of them rights to a given movie) allows the industry to milk as much money out of consumers as possible. How many people could pay $50 a month back in the 80s for a single channel that carries all movies? Not many. So in essence it was split up into multiple channels, so people could at least subscribe to as little or as much as they could afford.

    So of course that backwards, entrenched industry is going to try their hardest to bring that concept to streaming as well.

  • By netflix paying comcast, they will be forced to pay others and it will grow over time.
    They, and others such as Microsoft, should team up with Google's internet service and start installing it everywhere that the monopolies are delivering poor service and playing games with them.
  • According to industry experts ... we aren't anywhere close to getting a service that allows customers to pay a single monthly fee for access to a wide range of top-notch movies and TV shows.

    Just like one service can't provide customers with a wide range of top-notch retail products. Except for Amazon.

    • I think one difference is that physical goods are purchased a la carte, unlike monthly subscription streaming services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix. Another is the existence of much more mature legislation, case law, and business models around physical goods than around video on demand. Unlike video on demand, physical goods have an exhaustion doctrine allowing resale.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        I think one difference is that physical goods are purchased a la carte, unlike monthly subscription streaming services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix.

        You haven't had Amazon Prime, have you? Only a small subset of the catalog is available "free" to Prime customers. Mostly you have to pay Amazon A la Carte, whether by the episode or by the series. On the plus side, you get a "lifetime" right to replay the content, once purchased. I bought one B5 episode that didn't play from my DVDs, it was a major storyline episode and I just wanted to watch it without dicking around, and that was well worth the two bucks or whatever it cost. I think it was two bucks. But

  • Much of the explanation involving exclusive deals, etc, makes sense (as in I grok it, not that I like it) for recent titles, but what's the explanation for missing back catalog titles, stuff more than 10 years old?

    So much of it is DVD only. I can't imagine there's that much of a market for those kinds of titles on DVD to keep them DVD exclusive.

  • Viacom is about to go dark in 800 markets and 5 million homes because they want to nearly double their rate overnight: http://www.latimes.com/enterta... [latimes.com]

    And TV wonders why it's dieing. Just like the music industry, TV and Movie studios are vastly overestimating the value of their product.

    • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

      And TV wonders why it's dieing. Just like the music industry, TV and Movie studios are vastly overestimating the value of their product.

      But..... but.... Then how are we gonna see all thoes awesome commercials about awesome deals on catheters and adult diapers, and suing people and you won't pay a dime unless they get money for YOU!, and medicines for depression that might make you commit suicide?

      Ermagherd! Ner! NER!

  • by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @11:20PM (#46590003) Homepage
    Anything less than 100% back catalog "so fails to satisfy"? I'm not even going to use that three-letter acronym. Childish.
  • Newsgroups anyone? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @11:25PM (#46590037)

    I am sorry, but I have never heard a good argument to use something other than the Newsgroups I've been using since the early 90's.

    Currently I pay $8.00 per month to Astraweb and run NZBGet on a little NAS box with front ends Couchpotato for Movies and Sickbeard for Shows. They are internal web pages running on the NAS and you can set a show and movie you would like to see, set the quality you'd like and forget till you get an email that the job is DONE!

    At that point the file is LOCAL so none of that buffering BS!

    THAT's the glimpse of the future!!!

    I see Netflix stutter at my friends' with relative poor video quality. And who wants a limited/changing/shrinking(?) selection anyways?

    Yes, some might say that NG's are 'illegal' but downloading is NOT in many county's.. So don't use bit torrents since that's uploading too, but use NG's instead. Combined with SSL access to super fast servers and retention of over 1500 days what's not to like??

    Besides, it NG's have music too... I have never doubted where I want to spend my $8/month

    Cheers!

  • I hate to say this, as much as I sympathize more with Netflix than a major studio, but shouldn't the studios eventually stream their movies themselves? Is the tech really that hard, why are they outsourcing it to Amazon and Netflix?

    Like TV channels, we should just surf the studio websites until we find what we want (using Google, perhaps). That seems the inevitable future rather than one or two clearinghouses. That's what tech does: removes the middleman (except when there's a man in the middle ;).

    • by tipo159 (1151047)

      I hate to say this, as much as I sympathize more with Netflix than a major studio, but shouldn't the studios eventually stream their movies themselves? Is the tech really that hard, why are they outsourcing it to Amazon and Netflix?

      Like TV channels, we should just surf the studio websites until we find what we want (using Google, perhaps). That seems the inevitable future rather than one or two clearinghouses. That's what tech does: removes the middleman (except when there's a man in the middle ;).

      Streaming can be hard, particularly if everyone is trying to watch at the same time. Witness what happened to HBOGo the night that they made the season finale of 'True Detective' available.

      From what I can tell, the major studios do not want to be in the content delivery business. I don't see an 'inevitable future' of the major studios streaming their own content. I think branded portals to the studio content, outsourced to a small number of content delivery companies, is more likely.

  • by wizkid (13692)

    onechannel
    I don't use this. I've only heard about it somewhere.

  • The real problem is that there is very little on TV that's worth watching, no matter WHAT the delivery medium is. Dozens of formulaic "crime" dramas. Dozens of unfunny "situation comedies". Every show tries to copy everything else that was ever PREVIOUSLY successful, but the copy is never even half as good as the original.

    NOTHING new on TV is worth watching. And I've already seen all the good reruns.

    • by lgw (121541)

      Sad, isn't it? Especially since there's no lack of good writers, just a system that's not interested in them. Eventually we'll get a new system, one not dependent on a choke point that excludes everything worth watching. There's already fan-produced stuff that's mediocre, but that has to slip through the cracks of existing IP. We'll get Indie TV better than what we have now -- if only because the bar is so very low -- once a reasonable way to make a little money off of it is found and shown to work. It

  • I rarely watch movies these days, so Netflix and other subscription based services wouldn't work for me. I do like Amazon's Video on Demand and iTunes services, but not everything is rental (why buy if I am only watch it once?), available, and in true HD. Also, Amazon doesn't let me download HD videos to play in Amazon Unbox (Windows only and buggy) to play locally (frak streaming with unstable and slow Internet connections).

  • You see some movies you want to watch, a few weeks later when you have time they aren't available anymore. Other movies you want to watch are never available. You could go pull out the dvd but it's easier to just find something else. You could subscribe to 4 or 5 streaming services and not get 10% of the content of an average pirate site. Then more isp's are bringing in bandwidth limits, a normal family can burn though 200-300gb easily under a month with 2 or 3 netflixs running at the same time. Then there
  • Do they not realize that the best way to not only vastly reduce the amount of piracy going on but to increase their profits too is to make their content available for streaming either through pay-by-the-month or pay-per-show?

    I for one have quite a few things I wish I could watch again (not necessarily own but watch once) but cant legally acquire (on DVD or via any internet service). Some of them are things I would probably be willing to pay for but the studios wont give me that option.

    Its not just the big H

  • by TrentTheThief (118302) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @07:51AM (#46591523)

    I say fuck 'em. Until they get their act together and provide what is needed instead of supporting a business mdoel better suited for the 50s, I'll stick with USENET, torrents, and file sharing services to watch the broadcast shows I like.

    When they decide they need the business, they'll come up with reasonable plans and I'll come back. Until then, I'll be happy with my own servers providing the content I want, from any source I want, when I want it.

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