Alex Stockwell

UX, DevOps, Fatherhood, Miscellany. Not in that order.

Digital Content Channel Silos vs. Aliens

I’m three days late for purchasing the greatest screenplay of our time, and I realized on the way home that there is clearly a movie distribution channel problem when I have to think about how to buy a movie for more than five seconds.

While I’m usually fine with renting, when it comes to especially great titles (Star Wars, Michael Mann films, Hangover/Wedding Crashers/et al.) I try to pick up a copy. The first decision I’m recently faced with is (I know it’s shocking): I don’t own a blu-ray player. Sooo I’ve gotten a couple of those two-packs that have the blu-ray and the DVD trying to hedge my bets, which in retrospect is a total sucker move. So tonight I was debating buying this title on the Apple TV, since it seems like Apple has finally nailed the cloud distribution model.

But I’m torn. Apple still locks you into a proprietary format, and they don’t have every title published, so what happens when your digital movie library becomes fragmented across several different studios and their respective content distribution channels? And what about permanence? Granted Apple’s the biggest company in the U.S., and they seem to have this thing nailed down, but still, so many digital platforms are born and die every year, who knows when your virtual purchases might vanish?

Learning from the Past

How many people put off buying movies due to this delimma? Probably not many, but it sure is annoying. Imagine if each studio had a proprietary video tape format back in the day, would videos have been nearly as popular?

If these studios could just GET OVER this silo mentality, realize that they’ll take a hit on the front-end margins but more than make up for it in distribution and penetration volume, and start distributing an open and consistent format of movie, we’d all be a lot better off. And probably all own more movies too.

Same goes for TV. Don’t even get me started on the atrocious Hulu/Apple TV/CBS/ABC/HBO/MLB channel fragmentation.

P.S. Of course the greatest movie of our time is Cowboys vs. Aliens.