It’s a very interesting time for both content creators and content distributors: YouTube is not only attempting to fund original content, much like Netflix is doing, but, in a page also taken out of Netflix’s and Amazon’s playbook, is also in the classic movie rental/viewing business:
Our household subscribes both to Amazon Prime and to Netflix, but both of them really have a content problem and pricing problem:
* The problem for Netflix is that much of the content they once had, has slipped away. This is of course true in terms of the content it was able to offer via DVD but we have noticed some loss of streamable content as well. Content which was compelling to us and with its loss, makes Netflix less compelling.
* The problem for Amazon, and for iTunes for that matter, is similar in that the content that is available for “free” — once one has paid the Prime subscription fee of $80 per year, which is less than Netflix’s annual subscriptions of $96 per year I should note — isn’t all that compelling. The content that is compelling is priced rather stupidly.
For example, over the holiday break I caught a piece of a movie from the late sixties, early seventies that I really wanted to watch in that moment. In fact, it made me want to watch three films in all that were from the same period and were in the same genre, for the sake of comparison. This is purely for fun, a potential diversion of two to six hours. None of the three were on Netflix. All of the three were on Amazon, but at rental prices of $3 per film with a 48-hour window to start and finish or $10 to “own” the film. Of course the problem for Amazon is that I can’t watch the films on my iPad, and so I would have to pay more money than I want to pay for the privilege of watching, within a limited window of time, under less than ideal circumstances one or more movies in which I have only a passing interest.
I passed. And that is, I think, the problem going forward for the new distributors: they are going to have to find a model for distribution and pricing that works for consumers like me, who are interested in paying for content but want, then, to have that content available to them under terms more amenable than are currently available.
Of course the real problem for the new distributors is negotiating this with the old, and new, content creators. I assume that a lot of the problem is that the old middle men are still around and want to maintain their lucrative place in the middle of the chain.