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Why I hate iTunes for TV/Movies

by Brandon on January 29th, 2006

Chris pretty much hit the nail on the head.

See, there’s a reason bit torrent and other P2P services are so popular.  And it’s not the “free” part that makes it so.

You see, there have always been pirates and illegal bootlegs.  Well, at least as long as there have been VCRs.  And there’s very little you’re going to be able to do to prevent a very small group of crooks from trying to profit from illegal copies of popular works.  At the very least, they’ll use a camcorder and point it at a monitor to make their copies.  Hell, they’ve done that in movie theaters for years.

So why is P2P a big deal?  Accessibility.  It’s easy and it’s convenient.  People feel more like criminals when they watch the 5 minutes of warnings on a DVD than when they click on a link and get what they want.

How should the movie and TV industries compete with the likes of Bit Torrent?  By offering us something better.  What do I mean?


  • I want to pay you money for the movies I want to see.  I want to pay you for an HD copy that I can download from a fast server that will play on my Media Center, my Xbox 360, my phone via ORB, or maybe an iPod Video (if I had one). 
  • Don’t make me wait.  If I can get something I want sooner by another means, I probably will.  We Americans are impatient folks.  If you’ve got the movie ready to watch, I don’t want to play your little games.  I don’t go to movie theaters because I like being surrounded by annoying high school kids, paying out the ass for soda and popcorn, or to experience audio and video that’s inferior to my home theater system.  I do it because that’s where you release them first and it’s really my only option most of the time.

And for TV:

  • Would I pay Time Warner $2 to watch one TV show?  No.  So why would I pay Apple that? 
  • I pay Comcast $50/month or something for digital cable.  Plus $10/month for HD DVR.  Companies like Apple shouldn’t be trying to get me to pay piecemeal for shows I’m already paying a subscription for.  They should be offering me a better subscription.
  • An online TV show service could so easily replace cable TV for me entirely.  And I’d love it.  IPTV is great for live events, sports, etc.  But for most of the TV I watch, who the heck wants to simulate a broadcast scenario when it should be as easy as downloading a goddam file.  Who needs to worry about CableCards, DVRs, and all that junk.
  • How would I do it?  Start by making good shows.  Then make the first 2 episodes of the season completely free to download.  Then charge me for the rest of the season.  Include some targetted advertising if that’s what makes this possible.  I would be more than happy to pay for seasons of SG-1, Atlantis, 24, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Family Guy, American Dad, The 4400, Lost, and so on. 
  • Hell, you could make a Cable box that works like this.  I could sample shows on demand, then when I find something I like – press a button to buy it, kind of like how Microsoft’s Xbox Live Marketplace works.  Those shows could be automatically downloaded (in an HD MPEG4-like format so you can fit lots on the drive), and I could watch them whenever I want.  The cablebox could be a server with something like Orb or Slingbox so that I could get to my favorite content remotely.

Hell, with a bigger hard drive… the Xbox 360 could do this.  What a coup that would be.

From → Other

  1. John Fiala permalink

    I used to be subscribed to a mp3 seller named eMusic – I’d pay a flat fee each month, and I could download as much as I wanted. I didn’t even download that much, really – but I stayed a loyal member until they moved to a different pricing plan, at which time I left. Ah, well.

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