Keep up with the times, rights holders!

Tonight, like most nights, we were watching the news on TV while we were having dinner. I, personally, can’t stand the news because there’s rarely anything good or happy reported.

There’s generally two types of stories. The first: fear mongering.

A drive-by shooting on a house. A schoolyard stabbing. Continuing coverage of a large explosion for which the death toll is still expected to rise. Reflections on the 70th anniversary of POWs being led on a trek during which out of around 2000 prisoners at the start of the journey became just 6 survivors by the end. (We’ll save fear mongering for another post.)

This second category of stories can be summed up as companies getting annoyed that consumers want something different to what their outdated mindsets think the consumer wants.

The other stories involved how supermarket petrol stations earned some $550 million in profit in the 2013–14 financial year but petrol prices seem to not be in line with the crude oil price. Taxi drivers being up in arms over Uber undercutting them. The production company behind the Dallas Buyers Club not being able to get the contact details so they can prospectively invoice, for thousands of dollars, people who have allegedly downloaded the film (and the production company is apparently considering an appeal). Supermarkets are now looking like there’s going to be some competition due to new players.

You can’t do that! You have to get [product/service X] through us, on our terms, just like it’s always been done!

Obviously consumers aren’t happy with the deal or service that they’re getting (or not getting, as it were) and so they’re seeking cheaper, or better, alternatives who are providing something more reasonable to them. Like Uber. Or Aldi. Or the provider that actually treats you like a real person.

Dallas Buyers Club

In a world where so can have video calls with someone on the other side of the planet, why wouldn’t they want to release a movie that was nominated for 6 Academy Awards at the same time worldwide?!

American release: 22nd November, 2013. Australian release: 7th February, 2014, 2 and a half weeks before the Oscars. Why wouldn’t they want to get that out to as many people as possible with as much time to see it before the Oscars?

Australia isn’t the only country to get shafted by DBC and its distributors. The U.K. release was barely better, the 7th of February, and poor New Zealand had the film released on the 20th of February. That’s the same day as Slovakia’s release, for those playing along at home.

But it’s foreign companies that are doing this. They can do what they want when they have nothing to do with Australia.

Don’t worry, The LEGO Movie had absolutely nothing to do with Australia Animal Logic only did the visual effects (i.e. most of the visuals in a mostly CG movie) and the Government of New South Wales only provided (financial) assistance... 7th February in the U.S. vs. 3rd April in Australia, and a further 2 weeks later in New Zealand!

Mad Max: Fury Road seemed to get it right with the near simultaneous global cinema release, so obviously it can be done! (Just don’t mention the DVD/Blu-Ray release dates…)

Game of Thrones

Movies aren’t the only examples. Search for “Game of Thrones Australia” and you’ll see that apparently we were being screwed over by the content owners there, too. HBO gave Foxtel an exclusive license to broadcast season four of GoT and only after the entire season had aired were other providers, like iTunes and QuickFlix, allowed to begin offering the season.

The situation was different with season three, with iTunes offering a fast tracked purchase of the show, at the same time as it was airing in the U.S. That is, until Foxtel blocked this from happening due to their agreement with HBO.

This has changed with season five being fast tracked and being shown at the same time as in the U.S. (at stupid o’clock, for us) and then repeated later for everyone else. But it still involved getting a Foxtel subscription for $75/month. Even with their new, lower prices (thanks, Netflix!), for those who want to watch the show and don’t have infinite money to spend on everything, signing up for a show is a lot to ask.

Want to know a fun fact? I’ve not seen Dallas Buyers Club, nor do I watch Game of Thrones. But the way that the consumer is getting screwed over by the corporations involved is absurd. And, based on how the DBC production company has been aggressively pursuing people who are alleged to have download the film, I don’t want to see it. Instead, they could have put the money spent on it towards analysing the consumer demands, and making sure they don’t make the same mistake next time. (“Hey, the people who don’t have it made available to them are trying to get it. Maybe we should make our product available to them” sounds logical to me.)

I’m more than happy to pay for content, in terms of software, movies, music, and TV shows. I pay for all my software, have a large physical DVD collection, purchase console games, have subscriptions to Netflix and Apple Music… Even if the Citi survey, that estimates that there are around 900,000 paying Netflix members in Australia after less than 5 months is off by 30% (a generous margin for error), that’s still around 630,000 paying subscribers.

Let me give you my money, make the content available in a reasonable amount of time, in a reasonable format, and don’t think that just because it’s the way that you used to do things means it’s the right way to do things now! Keep up with the times, rights holders!

Posted Saturday August 15th, 2015