Intellectual property has always been hazy territory in the entertainment industry. Nowadays, studios and labels have an iron grip on the rights to movies, TV shows, and music. When it comes to distribution, only a select few are given the privilege of hosting. Netflix has a revolving door of offerings on a monthly basis, largely predicated on what they can buy the rights to from major studios. Spotify, while expansive, still has its fair share of Taylor Swifts, with some artists/labels opting not to include their vast libraries in the freemium subscription service.
Meanwhile, a gigantic corner of the Internet soldiers on in its war against these rights-holders. Sites like The Pirate Bay and programs like Popcorn Time make it their personal mission to subvert the money and host any and everything free of charge. Naturally, the people in charge of the entertainment industry have invested a whole lot of time, energy, and money into shutting this down as best they can. But we’ve arrived at a juncture now. Studios and labels can do one of two things: They can continue to pour resources and legal fees into prosecuting these people, or they can look to offer a product that would render all that obsolete.
Imagine if Netflix offered every available movie in its streaming library. How much would you pay per month for that? Twenty dollars? Fifty dollars? More? If studios actually teamed up to offer a “premium” option for more money featuring everything they have to offer, there’d be no limit to how successful that partnership could be. Of course, the sheer quantity of red tape out there in the world would never allow this, but the point remains that the entertainment industry is fighting the Torrent battle the wrong way. Rather than continuing to raid Pirate Bay servers, with the right amount of cooperation, Hollywood could find itself ahead of the curve by offering a superior option to its consumers.
Spotify has already shown that people are willing to go in for an “everything” option with its 15 million paid subscribers. The next logical step is for Hollywood to follow suit and realize that online pirating will never go away. People are always going to want to stream The Avengers without forking over a $5 rental fee on their $70 AppleTV. Thinking logically, studios already allow virtually their entire library of films and TV shows to be licensed out through Netflix’s mailing service. Why not eliminate the dated idea of renting a physical DVD and shoot everything straight to streaming? People would likely be more than willing to pay more money for a better product if it means simplifying their viewing experience.
The shutting down of franchises like Blockbuster already show us that people put a premium on convenience over selection. Despite their vast offerings, video stores are a thing of the a past because people don’t want to have to go anywhere to make their movie nights happen. If a movie isn’t available on a paid streaming service like Netflix or Hulu, a customer isn’t going to instinctually spend money buying said movie.
Instead, people will take the more convenient option of Torrenting it or utilizing Popcorn Time to stream it illegally. Studios have a unique opportunity to keep that person from ever leaving Netflix, but instead choose to shoot them out the other end through an endless maze of pirating. So why not iTunes if it’s the convenient (albeit more expensive) option? Because consumers have proven time and again that they’ll sacrifice their own time and energy if it means circumventing the limited streaming options that studios are directly responsible for.
If Netflix were to charge a little bit more for a lot more options (read: everything), odds are the person who would normally load up Popcorn Time would instead watch their movie the legal way. The market is out there to capitalize on this, too. It would take an unprecedented level of cooperation among studios to make anything like this happen, but if it somehow did, the world of streaming would be changed forever. The only thing left is for Hollywood to join us here in reality, where a solution to its biggest problem is ready and waiting.
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