Is Netflix The Solution to Video Piracy? [Opinion]
Netflix recently launched in the UK – and I wrote up a full and shining review of the service last time. It offers an affordable way to get high quality on-demand movies and TV straight into your living room (or any portable device). My question today is – is Netflix the ultimate solution to piracy?
Our generation has grown up believing everything should be instant access. Yet for the most part the industry hasn’t provided for us. They just don’t get it – they’re slow to adopt new technologies and just want to keep things the way they are ticking along right now. So naturally people have turned to torrents and piracy. Not because they particularly like the idea of scamming actors and producers out of money for their products, but because DVDs are overpriced and outdated, cinemas are overpriced and sticky, cable TV is overpriced and inconvenient, and it’s all so damned slow.
Do you want to watch a movie? The local PirateBay has a great selection, it’s open all hours, and you can have that downloaded in half an hour, sir!
So why am I convinced Netflix is the ultimate answer to all this video piracy?
This point really shouldn’t be underrated. Physical media and existing streaming solutions are too expensive. A single one-night rental from the Zune marketplace or the UK cable on-demand streaming channels (which you have to purchase an additional TV package to get access to anyway) cost anywhere from £3-5 ($4.60-$7.70). A trip to the cinema is £8 ($12.40), not including the £7 ($10.80) popcorn. You’re not even guaranteed a good experience – the movie might suck, after all. The idea that you might go out and buy a DVD or Blu-Ray for £10-30, of something you’ve never seen before is simply ludicrous! I used to do that!
It just doesn’t represent value for money, and consumers are sick of it. You want to support the movie industry that you enjoy so much, but not at prices that will cripple your household budget. Netflix is the answer. It’s not pay-per-view, it’s just a huge catalogue of content from which you can watch anything, all included in one reasonable monthly subscription. This is how entertainment should be done.
Broadcast TV Sucks, Digital or Not
I don’t know how the situation is in the US, but in the UK most TV’s have gone digital – and analogue signals will start to be shut down from April this year. You’d think that with the 50 channels provided by the technological advances of digital broadcasting that some new and interesting content might appear. You’d be wrong though. 10 of those are adult video chat; 10 are shopping channels; 10 are re-runs; and another 10 are just +1 versions of the same basic channels we had before (for those of you who don’t know, that means they show everything again an hour later).
Sure, the BBC and Channel 4 has some good stuff on occasion, but to get the big name shows from the US, you need to subscribe to pricey Sky or cable TV.
I’ll admit, I was seriously considering getting Sky TV last month – that’s £20 a month ($31) though just for something half decent to watch, and you’re still paying for 500 channels of crap with only 2 channels you actually want (and don’t even mention the Discovery channel – you need the Entertainment Extra for that, another £5 – HD quality? Another £10).
It’s just yet another shining example of an industry not adapting to our generation – we don’t want every channel, we want those 2. We don’t want the whole album, we just want those two tracks. Apple understood that with the iTunes store, and look what a difference that made in rescuing the entire struggling music industry.
Even then, with extra broadcast TV services you’re stuck with either watching it when they want you to, or buying a pricey DVR add-on to record with. ARGGHH.
Enough! It just doesn’t add up. You see why Netflix is going to win here. The core business model may not be the same as Sky, with a lot of customers signing up purely for the live football – but as an alternative to piracy, Netflix wins out over broadcast TV easily.
Subscribing to Netflix took me about two clicks, and I paid with Paypal. It’s available on a lot of devices, as well as any standard Internet browser. It’s instant – even more convenient than torrents. It’s not locked down to any one device like recorded broadcast TV or single pay-per-view rentals; if you want to instantly pick up that movie where you left off – in bed with your iPad – you absolutely can.
A Personalised Experience
If pricing and convenience weren’t enough to pull you away from piracy, Netflix adds value that can’t be found elsewhere. If you go the cinema, they can’t personally recommend a movie for you. If you watch TV, the TV doesn’t automatically suggest you watch the science documentary on BBC based on previous viewing habits.
Netflix on the other hand not only creates a list of top movies it thinks you’ll like, it also takes your preferences from previously rated movies, and creates another set of lists based on that – “Wacky Underdog Comedies”. It’s a fantastic way to present a back catalogue and make it seem like new content – and it works!
The fact is that until today, pirates had it so much better than the rest of us paying schmucks. We got screwed with DRM-ed low quality streams and ludicrous costs, while pirates had it all for free and the best quality out there (and subtitles too). I truly believe Netflix has changed that. It’s not going to get any better than this boys and girls – now is your chance to make it right. Get a Netflix account, and stop pirating right now.
How about you? Has Netflix made you stop pirating movies? Give us your feedback in the comments.
Image Credit : xkcd