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Big movies for big prices makes little sense

Right now, here in England, some of the top-flight football clubs in the Premiership are struggling to fill their stadiums. The reason for this is pretty simple: they’re charging way too much for tickets. They’re pushing the grassroots fans out of the game and instead pandering to the armchair viewer who’s paying their stupidly high monthly fees to the likes of Sky. And we see exactly the same unsustainable business strategy at work within the entertainment industry.

The studios charge way too much for DVDs and cinema tickets, so people download movies illegally from the Internet instead:

“Kaan Yigit [director of the Digital Life America study] said that this attitude is a likely result of the Robin Hood effect. ‘Most people perceive celebrities and studios to be rich already and as a result don’t think of movie downloading as a big deal,…’”

However, while the attitude is probably broadly right, the reasoning might be slightly different, which Yigit alludes to:

“Consumers who are interested in downloadable movies are turned off by restrictions on what they can do with the content afterwards, as well as lack of cross-platform and cross-device compatibility,…”

Which sounds about right to me.

I’d say people aren’t so much using P2P networks to spite the studios and their stars, but instead using P2P despite the lack of legal alternatives because the studios aren’t willing to make things as easy as P2P networks for them.

It’s a little weird to get all that paranoid and start to think that people are downloading movies and music just to piss the content owners off and give the finger to The Man, but that’s the sort of thinking of some people within the movie and music industry:

“Approximately 80 percent of movie downloaders only do so illegally according to Digital Life America. The profile of an average P2P downloader is a 29-year-old male (63 percent are male, 37 percent female) with 16 movie titles stored on his computer.”

Sad figures though they are, they’re also an opportunity:

“The demand is there for users to watch video content whenever and wherever they want, but companies who offer legal download services still have some catching up to do, it seems.

Popular movie download services, such as the iTunes Store, Xbox Live Video, or Amazon Unbox all have various limitations that inconvenience users in some way or another – namely DRM and pricing, which drives users to P2P services – and those inconveniences will continue to cost the legal downloading services business until they learn to compete with P2P.”

You see, to make the illogical assumption that everyone with an Internet-connected computer is a potential thief is just ludicrous.

If it’s simple to steal music and movies over the Internet, then make it as simple to pay for them using the same technologies…

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

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