I’ve kept an interested eye on the Hollywood battle between studios, filmmakers, and theater owners that has formed around the launch of DirecTV’s “premium” VOD service. Right as it was about to debut, a large group of notable filmmakers fired out with an open-letter encouraging the studios to chill their shit till everyone could weigh in on the debate and figure things out, while theater owners began limiting trailers and posters in their theaters for big studio films.
These things seem to have accomplished fuck-all.
Regardless, Christopher Nolan and Jon Favreau have signed the petition against premium VOD, along with former WB Home Video chair, Jim Cardwell. While those are even more high profile names added to a list that includes James Cameron, Quentin Tarantino, Kathryn Bigelow, GDT, and Peter Jackson, it seems the knee-capping of the VOD service may just end up being… the service itself. THR claims there are heavy rumors that the service has had tepid returns, and even if that’s mostly understatement, it at least implies the service isn’t making enough waves to revolutionize or genuinely threaten the theatrical box office (which just blossomed with the biggest Memorial Day returns ever, ever). My biggest fear has always been the dangerous precedent the service sets, but if it ends up flopping and making other service providers hesitant to start new services like it, then maybe it will even have a positive effect in the longish run. This is something Nick and I discussed in detail in that week’s Friday WrapUp.
So while a lot of noise and hysteria gets kicked up around DirecTV’s piddly little service, the big players like Hulu and Netflix continue to try and find their place. Amidst rumors that studios and data providers are growing increasingly wary of the red envelope (or mores specifically, the streaming service that is obsoleting* the envelopes), Miramax has just signed a big deal with Netflix and Hulu Plus that will put hundreds of titles from the studio’s impressive back-library onto those services. Netflix will see a giant dump of great films into their Instant Watch coffers, while the free Hulu service will incorporate around 15 rotating titles from the library per month. Hulu Plus
suckers† users will have access to the full assortment as well.
Continue rooting for the content providers at this point- shit’s about to get very heavy. Google, Amazon, and Apple are about to kick up mobile content delivery and cloud servicing to a whole new level, while bandwidth-sucking 4G becomes a thing in the next year and a half. Data demands on ISPs and phone companies are only going to grow, all while Netflix continues to command an extraordinary amount of the nation’s bandwidth all by itself. There is about to be a seriously backlash against the byte-hungry consumer as the providers look for their piece of the pie on both the home and mobile fronts. Prepare for data caps to get stricter, unlimited plans to grow scarcer, and either your connectivity or your wallet to start feeling the pinch. And while Miramax may be aggressively diving into their first deals for digital distribution, expect the biggest and more experienced of the studios to start growing more conservative with their licensing. It’s gonna be a clusterfuck.
I’d love to hear your assessment of the state of the cinema digital consumption market. Toss it out in the comments, the boards, or even call me a fool on twitter.
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*Who knew that was a word? It’s gross- sounds wrong.
† Can’t get down with paying to still watch commercials.