How Many Times Do You Pay For Your Entertainment?

by on April 25, 2012

in Entertainment

Box Office El Capitan, Hollywood Blvd by Andreas Praefcke wikipedia commons image 1

I was thinking the other day, (Which is code for: This is an Opinion piece from Brusimm) that for some folk, I bet you’d be surprised how often you end up paying for access to the same content. I’m not talking having to swap out movie collections from VHS to DVD to Blu-ray and whatever comes next. That’s just a given that we’ll be paying and repaying for the newest media version of our favorite movies. So no, your dollars are already part of the estimated profit margins from studios for that repeated tech hurdle.

What I’m talking about is, in this example, a movie and how many times someone might actually pay, in one round-a-bout way or another, for that same movie.

For some of us, we head out and watch a movie in the movie theaters. Then later, if we saw it alone, we’d probably want the spouse to watch it so we might pay for it again on VoD (Video on Demand).

But then if you pay for a movie channel, part of your fee goes to the cable company to pay for rights to air that movie you’ve already paid for twice. (If you subscribe to the right channel that gets it.)

And then there’s the cable bill you pay to be able to access the network your cable company distributes. Because sooner or later that movie will be on the “free” version of TV.

And after all that, you’re still subjected to ads during the network TV viewing. (We ((Americans)) watch around 250 billion hours of TV a year. If you do the math, where there are 18 minutes of TV ads per hour, or 75 billion hours of ads we’re potentially pummeled with!)

I’m not even going to touch on all the extra “pay” venues we have available to us to pay for to see the same content again… like Hulu Prime, Amazon, Netflix… well, you get the idea.

Obviously there’s no bucking the system. We’re going to watch and rewatch things we love and appreciate and we’ll continue to support the various systems, methods, venues and such that provide the content in so many ways. And in a way, we’re all corralled towards this business model.

Business Model Corralling

If you had not noticed, the consumer (that’s you if you snatch up movies and TV shows on DVD and Blu-ray) is being pushed to Blu-ray right now! I say that because if you haven’t noticed, the extra features in DVD movies are becoming less than stellar while Blu-ray content seems to shine above it all. Or when VCRs have become a rare species. VCRs could not be controlled in what they record… but DVD recorders can, and hence, you can’t record a show on DVD to watch later. You have to become dependent upon the networks (and other venues) to watch content. (At least that’s how I feel about the process, in one regard.)

Networks stream their content… but the duration of how long it’s available is up to them.

Hulu these days, after having the huge cash infusion from NBC (Comcast), Fox, & ABC (Disney), started to offer less free content, or severely limited content and started up their pay service. Many folk were upset and swore off the service while others have jumped on that bandwagon.

Like all service change-ups, its a risk that’s usually worth taking because despite the consumer that is lost in translation, there are plenty others that will make it worth the business owner’s while to make that kind of change.

And in the humorous but in-your-face TV ad campaigns, Hulu doesn’t hide the fact that they want you to mindlessly sink your time into their content.

I’m only using Hulu as an example, as there are many other pay services that re-stream older TV shows and what not. Because we are fans and we want to see them. And therein lies the crux of the matter.

If we could somehow manage to refrain from ponying up for the costs to see our favored content (again), if even for a few months, the consumer would be able to send a message and impact providers. We, with the wallets, do control our own fates. But unfortunately, we the consumer, don’t always act as one. In fact, we never do. We act on impulse.

Netflix PCMe personally, I’m tired of having multiple venues to either choose from or who have exclusive rights for content. I’d love only one or two sources to be able to go to to pick from.

Right now, my biggest miffed curiosity, is what in the bloody heck is up with Person of Interest. If you don’t catch it live and/or watch it within a few weeks of airing on TV, it disappears from the offered streaming service. And it never shows up on any VoD service, ever. It just up and disappears. Normally, there are shows I’ll watch live and others I’ll watch later… Person of Interest was going to be one of the shows I catch after the fact, except, it’s never been on VoD. You’re funneled to the network’s streaming outlet (I presume to expose you to the ads there) and then after a while, poof! All gone. No more episodes.

I fear this is a test that could change the business model of entertainment once again.

If the show is popular enough, and they restrict access to it after it airs… will consumers flock to the DVD/Blu-ray sales of the series to get their fill? If so, this could set a trend that will screw most of the consumer demographic.

One of my favorite “consumer screw overs” that I saw, was back in the 90’s when my cable company put out a huge survey asking us, their customers, what cable channels we liked. Like fools, we answered.

Within six months, we had different tiers of cable entertainment that we now had to pay extra for, with many of our favorite networks now costing us more to have access to. And we more or less told them we would pay extra by declaring what we liked the most. (This is why I’m always leery of online surveys or “fun” bracket contests… we, the consumer, are just telling studios and distributors what we’re willing to pay more for.)

I’m not really going anywhere with this… I’m just spouting off what’s on my mind at the moment. Because believe it or not, I don’t think there will be a breaking point in this business model any time soon. Advertisers drop over $10 billion a season on basic networks alone, because ads work. DVD sales are going to be worth $11 billion in 2012. Though the studios are starting to lose profits and “only” make $11B.

(Think about that: While schools are losing teachers and supplies and people go hungry, I just spotted a spare$20B that goes to…)

I’m sure one day, things will change how we get charged for things. But right now, it’s not happening. Sure, we’re slowly accepting online streaming content and we’re slowing down buying content, but we’re still enjoying having in our possession, those cool packaged discs, of our favorite movies. Plain and simple.

I’ve been streamlining my life and having fewer movies sitting on shelves. So I’m slowly getting there, but still, I have to have the hard version of a few of my all-time favorites like Joss Whedon’s Serenity, Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, Jon Favreau’s Iron Man movies and the like. Maybe someday, I’ll be able able to pay once for permanent access to my favorite movies online somewhere in the cloud and be done with it. Muck like my Kindle books. Then I can “own” the movie and save the space at home.

What do you think? Do you see other examples of where our money is being railroaded out of our pockets? Or suggestions as to how we can streamline our home entertainment lives. We’d love to hear from you!

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