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The elephant in the room

This is just a short follow up from this morning’s post. I didn’t really discuss online rentals or streaming content very much, because the perceived problem that the news articles I linked to focussed on was pirating content and distributing it online.

While my post covered the principles which would help persuade people to legally buy films online, the elephant the title of this post refers to is online streaming. With the most recent Apple TV, storage was removed. This means that the only way to watch films using the device is by streaming from another computer or online. This restriction upset plenty of people, but perhaps it is a move in the right direction. In the US, Netflix is very popular as a way to watch films with a $7.99 subscription. In the UK, Lovefilm has started streaming films but with a cost of either £2.49 or £3.49 to watch a single film I believe it’s not quite the same proposition. If you have a DVD subscription then there are varying levels of online film watching included (using Flash) but a lot of the films I want to see cost extra on top.

In principle I like the idea of online film streaming, it just doesn’t present the same value that buying a DVD has. £2.49 for a one-watch rental, or £5.99 for the DVD you can watch any number of times (OK, they aren’t that cheap when initially released). Admittedly with some films you don’t intend to watch them that many times, so the rental model is quite nice.

So the real issue is: when can we have $7.99 subscriptions for film streaming in the UK? Once again it’s a value thing…