Warner Bros started off this stupidity by increasing their initial 28 day retail to rental window to 56 days. Now Disney is considering a 28-day rental window of its own. On the same day that the Bridesmaids movie announces record online rentals / on-demand views - approaching 5 million views in four months.
Do these movie studios not realise that the majority of people now watch rentals, and ongoingly, fewer and fewer DVDs and even movie downloads will be sold - as for most people, seeing a movie once is enough. The occasional film comes along where repeated viewing is enjoyable - but this is typically an exception, as once you’ve seen ’The Usual Suspects’ the twist does not have the same impact the second time around.
I’m still very much a mixed-media man - consuming both digital and traditional format media - I still buy vinyl for DJ’ing, but for daily listening - which happens to involve my iMac or iPhone - I’m finding it more instantly gratifying and convenient to buy downloads vs CDs - I really only buy CDs now when what I want is not available as a download, or else there’s additional material contained in CD format - oh, one more thing - some CD’s are still cheaper than their download equivalents, so where it makes best sense really, but increasingly with a preference for digital (no waiting around).
For movies and television though, my 27" PC / iMac is now my regular TV, and I use a mix of terrestrial on-demand services (iPlayer, ITV Player etc.), Netflix and iTunes to satisfy my viewing needs. I also buy a smattering of DVDs- such as recent TV series, as they are far more expensive on iTunes (for a lower quality) and too recent for Netflix. Which brings me onto Netflix - which is undoubtedly a really great system, but somewhat worryingly has introduced hardly any new material since I signed on a month ago. As Betamax vs VHS has shown, as well as the various console wars, it’s the system with the best / most content that wins out, not necessarily the best quality of experience.
A long time ago I coined a phrase for this current generation of youth - ’The Now Generation’ as in they never had to save up or wait for anything, nor do they want to. In marketing you always have a limited window of opportunity - based on a customer’s proclivity and propensity to consume a particular product or service - i.e. they may be in the mood for it for the next 3-4 hours, but once the mood passes, the chances of them consuming said product or service decrease exponentially with time.
Instead of having a 28 day window, surely the movie studios can have variable pricing - so that if you’re desperate to see something you can at a premium price - with time, the price drops down to the regular £3.50 we now typically pay for rentals.
By introducing long delays in movie rentals movie studios are alienating and annoying their customers, and playing into the hands of the pirates, who can take advantage of the supply vacuum in the interim. Today’s audience is so switched on, and so well informed on all things media - that they are always aware of the latest releases, long before they are out. Once the movie is released, the movie studios should be making every effort to satisfy all their customers’ needs in every way possible. They should already know that the times are changing, and that video is more and more moving to digital / streaming / on-demand viewing. Laptops are now the most common PC’s, and these are increasingly sold without optical drives, and tablets are fast becoming the reference portable hardware - the typical user does not wish to part with £10 or $10 for once-only-use recorded media. My favourite cinema in London - The Empire on Leicester Square now offers all its films for £9.95 at any time. Cinema is the best possible movie experience at £9.95, how then could iTunes or anyone else for that matter sell a downgraded version of that experience for more money?
I really don’t understand what planet these movie studios are on? Rarely was an industry so out of tune with reality or its customers’ needs!