Generation Y-pay | September 11, 2009

After trying to convince us that we’re funding terrorism, equating us to petty thieves and calling us cheapskates, the UK film and TV industry have decided to take a more positive response. I’m surprised it’s taken them so long to realise people see the weakness in their arguments and that their actions may actually be having the reverse affect.

While the UK film and TV industry tries to convince us that every download equates to a lost sale, simple logic shows this not to be the case. People who download music and movies still buy CDs, they still rent DVDs and they still go to the cinema. Sometimes even more so. Downloading is just another content channel and one that is used for sampling new artists or consuming media that we probably wouldn’t have paid for anyway.

We know this to be true, which is why this talk of theft and terrorism rings hollow in our ears. Rather than creating support for the anti-piracy movement, it legitimises the act, marginalising and criminalising a whole generation. Turn on, download, drop-out.

The truth is, downloading hasn’t killed the creative industries any more than radio killed music or VHS killed cinema. However it has had a transformative effect, slashing profits and levelling the playing field. No longer in control of the distribution mechanism, big media are unable to palm off substandard work through marketing smoke and mirrors. In a world of almost instantaneous information, mediocrity has no place and the long tail is king. No wonder the TV and movie industry don’t like it. They actually have to put some effort in now.

Rather than hanging onto outdated business models, the film and TV industry are waking up to the new world order, with simultaneous movie releases and online services like the iPlayer and Hulu. However they need to go further. If you don’t want people to download the latest episode of Lost, don’t wait 6 months for it air in the UK, only for it to be consigned to a cable or satellite TV channel. The Internet generation wants to be in control of their viewing environment so they can time shift or place shift at will. Artificial boundaries like countries or TV channels mean nothing on the web. We don’t want to hear about the last episode of BSG on Twitter, only to wait 4 months to see it ourselves. For a generation bought up on instant gratification, we’d happily pay for the DVD or HD stream if only the option was there.

And therein lies the rub. People don’t go out of their way to pirate movies and TV programs; they’re not intrinsically bad people. They do it because often it’s quicker and easier than legitimate means. The quicker the film and TV industries recognise this and make it as easy to buy legal content as it is to download illegitimate content, the more likely they are to stem the flow.

I for one look forward to the day when I’m allowed to buy the content that I want to watch, in the format I want to watch it. Call me old fashioned, but that seems fair to me.

Posted at September 11, 2009 12:47 AM


Daniel said on September 11, 2009 2:10 AM

I think you’re spot on there Andy, on all points you make.

These TV stations or Film compaines could potentially make ooddles more revenue from the internet and web users. I for one would love to have access to episodes of my favourite TV shows for a small cost, either per episode or series, without having to wait until it reaches my shores. I would love to be able to get 10 different shows from 5 different stations without having to buy into a certain package, that I pay monthly. That package is usually chocked 90% full of stuff I don’t want, but am paying for.
I for one don’t have sky (NZ satellite) for that exact reason, it’s far too expensive for the amount I would watch or enjoy it. But I would happily pay for a single football (soccer) match if I had a spare 2 hours on a Sunday.

Guess all in all it is a lot like the @font/type situation we are currently undergoing, if the means are available people will use and embrace it, legally. If these stations can provide data to prove otherwise would love to see it, but they can’t because nobody has tested it.

Jonathan Ingram said on September 11, 2009 11:23 AM

Buying a DVD and being made to watch that annoying advert at the beginning (that informs you that downloading a movie is theft, which for some reason I have no option to skip and seems to go on forever) is just plain irritating. Why are you aggressively telling a legitimate customer about this?

On a side note it’s worth watching the hilarious parody that the Channel Four series ‘The IT Crowd’ created as a response to those annoying DVD adverts. Just search for ‘IT Crowd piracy’ on Youtube, it really is worth watching.

Beth said on September 17, 2009 1:14 PM

First, research shows the people who download the most music also buy the most music. As an avid record collector and downloader, this doesn’t surprise me one bit.

Second, if I pay for cable, premium movie channels, and Netflix and then download something I can get via any of those avenues I am paying for, because the download is faster, I don’t really see the harm. They’re still getting my money.

I agree with you, let me purchase media in the way I want. Kudos to record labels that are giving away download coupons with their vinyl releases, they have the right idea.

Frank said on September 21, 2009 4:14 PM

Imgaine the consequences if everything becomes free though?

Matt Powell said on September 29, 2009 2:03 AM

“big media are unable to palm off substandard work through marketing smoke and mirrors”