Thursday 12 January 2012

ONLINE STREAMING: The Future Of Film Distribution?

1. Streaming movies online, illegally, for free - nearly everyone I know does this.

2. The music industry tried to kill Napster, they thought it was just people stealing -- but something else was happening, a revolution of music distribution. This is why we have iTunes and Spotify.

3. Physical media isn't needed anymore. I keep going to buy DVDs but then realise I don't want them taking up my space. Discs are dead.

4. Everyone loves YouTube.

5. People's computer screens are getting bigger. People don't need the giant TV to watch a movie, they can do it on their computer.

6. We harp on about the cinematic experience, but this is not everyone's cup of tea. The majority of people are happy at home.

7. Yes, free streaming and bit torrents do hurt the film business. But we need to start looking at it in a more open-minded way.

8. People are tired of getting conned. The bankers stole, the car insurance went up, and have you seen how much it is to see a film in 3D!?

9. Louis CK sold his new show online for $5 and the people flocked to it, he's made nearly $2million. This is not an anomaly, people pay for things when they're of value. That's why the DVD rental sites did well, they were a good deal.

10. But DVD rental is a thing of the past. People can go to the cinema, spend a days wages in tickets and popcorn, and still the movies suck. Or they can sit at home and stream them for free. They're doing the latter. Why?

a) The cinema is too expensive.
b) They like being at their computers.
c) So many films are terrible.
d) Cinema is changing. People like to stream and now the quality can be amazing.

The industry can go after people, sue them, and try to force them to watch movies in the cinema, but the people don't want to! If they did, audiences wouldn't be in decline and everyone wouldn't be streaming illegally.

There are legal options (not for new releases), we're slowly getting there. There are sites where you can stream films, and video on demand is growing. But the technology isn't fully being embraced. Sure, I'd love to keep the cinema's packed day and night, but that's not going to happen. And who can afford to go?

I never liked the multiplexes anyway. Too much junk that doesn't even deserve an audience. If the big chains died, maybe we would see the resurgence of the independent cinema? A place for community and good films? And sure, people would still come out for the superhero movies, but it'd be more of an event.


The cinema isn't dying. They still build them and when they advertise the latest big budget let down, the audiences flock.

But something is changing. People are feeling less inclined to leave the home. They like watching films from the comfort of their sofas. The technology is there now. People can stream, illegally, and It's all great quality.

In the modern era, we shouldn't be condemning those who do this, we should be finding a way to give them an incentive to do it legally. And that probably means brand new releases being streamed online legally for a small price.

The studios think people are skipping the cinema and watching films for free on the internet. This is true, but it doesn't mean what they think it means. Most people are happy to pay.

They just want value.

Especially now, people are getting hip to the marketing BS.

And they're tired of the same old movies. You can't remake 'Valentines Day', call it 'New Years Eve' and expect audiences to give a shit.

Care to share?


  1. I personally don't stream but I can certainly understand the appeal. I think there needs to be an amendment to the law on downloading, to reflect the evolution of film appreciation. By the way kid, I've updated my blogroll to include your site. Cheers, R.

    1. Ronan, I think I agree-- and thanks for your support!

    2. I think it's cool that we are able to watch film from home, but I still love the movie experience. My HDTV and small, surround sound system are fun but I stil catch matiness and nothing beats a film in the theater for me.

      I guess I'm old school and there's still something romantic about seeing a movie in a group like that, especially horror and comedy.

      As a DJ, I like digital but find it neccesary to keep some form of physical media as a backup. I still buy books because digital ones aren't appealing to me. I see the advantage of not wasting storage space but I guess I'm an old school collector.

      Or, I'm just old.

  2. I like having the option to watch movies online, but I also still love going to the theater. Maybe if I were able to see new releases at home as soon as they came out in the theater (legally), then I would feel differently, though.

    Ed Burns released his latest film, NEWLYWEDS, on iTunes and OnDemand instead of going with a theatrical release. He's a great example of making a living at small, independent, micro-budget films--and they're actually GOOD movies. Original.

    Re: discs being dead? I disagree. I still buy lots of movies, especially for my child. Disney does a great job of forcing you to buy their films on disc, since they make them available for a limited time and they rarely play on television. We have a lot of Disney films. Also, since I like to watch the same movies over and over again, I'd rather have the disc than have to stream it.

    Oh, and I'm also a huge fan of special features, which you can only watch if you have the physical blu-ray or dvd. I love commentaries, especially, though I feel like those are included less frequently now, to my great displeasure.

    1. Hey Teri, you're right about Disney, but they're forcing your hand! It's the old guard refusing to change, refusing to go with the times! But that will backfire eventually, they're losing out on new revenue streams that would come from flowing with the new technology.

      Discs are dead.

    2. That's true. I'm forced to buy them. I use the heck out of them, though, so I don't mind. Anyway, if I'm in the car on a nine hour drive with my kid, I can't stream a movie and it's nice to have the discs.

      Discs are ALIVE.

  3. And yeah, Ed Burns is great. He has more clout and backing in the industry that it might first appear; but that comes from the work he's put in. And he's a great filmmaker. But doing what he did is being a part of the future --

    I just found an article in the UK's newspaper THE DAILY TELEGRAPH from three days ago, basically saying the same thing, the disc is dead, streaming is king, we just need to wake for everyone to get with the program.

    You say discs are alive, I agree, right NOW. But soon they'll go the way of Vinyl. Fans only. But the business is moving to streaming.

  4. I'm not arguing, I'm sure discs will be gone soon. I'll miss them. After I thought about it, it occurred to me that I can still stream in the car, from a hard drive, so eventually that industry will probably be just like the music industry--files on hard drives. You're right.

    It makes me sad, though.

    1. *sad that the discs will be gone forever, not sad that you're right.

  5. I started to disagree that disks are becoming a dead technology also, but then I thought about it and I couldn't remember the last time I bought a DVD or Bluray. If I find a movie I'd want to buy, I check to see if Netflix has it; if they do, I don't buy it (Why purchase the actual disk when I can stream it from my smartphone, computer, Internet TV, ect). And If it's not available for instant streaming, I figure I've gone this long without seeing it, I can wait another few months until it's available.
    Many film makers are now realizing people just don't want to pay $20+ for two-ish hours of entertainment. Melancholia was released to VOD as well as movie theaters simultaneously. Unfortunately, I don't have the statistics as to what medium it did better in. But, the point is, film makers are realizing how lazy our society is becoming. Or societies need for information as fast as possible. How ever you prefer to look at.
    I LOVE going to an actual movie theater to watch movies. The sound system and huge screen is better than anything I could ever afford. But, in this economy, I can't go as often as I'd like.
    As you've said, don't remake a movie, package it as a brand new story line, and expect audiences to throw their money at it. Audiences are smarter than studios give them credit for... Most of the time :)

    1. Yeah, the discs are dead, we just won't admit to it yet. Same with books!

      You make some great points!

  6. Some very provocative thoughts, I feel bad sometimes because it is a movie business at the end of the day for producers who probably come off as heartless for advertising crap and expecting people to shell out money, but alas...

  7. Thanks for this post. I've been saying all of this for quite some time. I think what most people care about is convenience. I don't go to the theater as often as I should because I don't have time. Now with the theatrical-to-home-release window ever decreasing, I find more and more that I'll decide to wait for the DVD or Netflix stream release of a movie. Sure, I prefer the theatrical experience, but streaming is convenient and I'm lazy.

    And no, I never illegally downloaded a new movie; I don't believe in stealing. I want the creators of the art I enjoy to be compensated.