The film and TV industries will never defeat piracy but they should think more creatively than Â breaking our computers to address it.
ThisÂ excellent Forbes article suggests the film industry will never defeat piracy – a point it is difficult to disagree with. Â The article also says (a point reiterated in this follow up article) that the only effective way of limiting the effects of piracy is to improve how movies and TV shows are delivered – improving the industry’s service, as the article puts it.
Simply put, make it easier to buy a movie than to steal it and stealing will become less of a problem.
The follow-up article also points out that the industry ‘doth protest too much’ about what piracy costs it. Â I think the point is valid, though the idea that there is no loser when something intangible is stolen seems less than totally convincing to me.
So far so interesting but what I don’t get about the movie/TV business is why improving service won’t do for it, what it has done for other industries – like books and music.
As described in Wikipedia:
The term Long Tail has gained popularity in recent times as describing the retailing strategy of selling a large number of unique items with relatively small quantities sold of each â€“ usually in addition to selling fewer popular items in large quantities.
The distribution and inventory costs of businesses successfully applying this strategy allow them to realize significant profit out of selling small volumes of hard-to-find items to many customers instead of only selling large volumes of a reduced number of popular items. The total sales of this large number of “non-hit items” is called theÂ Long Tail.
Â An example of a power law graph showing popularity ranking. To the right is the long tail; to the left are the few that dominate. Notice that the areas of both regions match.
In a movie context, the long tail would mean a really easy way of paying for and downloading a copy of aÂ movieÂ I can then watch on any device I own forever.
Clearly, the long tail has ravaged the traditional, retail distribution of books and music but because of improved customer service (making books and music so much easier to get hold of – online or off), customers now buy more books and music than ever before.
For example, I now have a Kindle full of unread books instead of bookshelves filled with unread books… Â I now buy lots of individual songs I like when I hear them because I don’t have to buy a whole album just to get the one song that I really like… Â And recently, I started to use Spotify,Â so I could listen to all sorts of fascinating adverts with anÂ occasionalÂ song I also like thrown in for good measure but that model is my choice…
What I just don’t get is that the movieÂ industryÂ is full of really smart and creative people whoÂ know that providing poor customer service isn’t clever. Â They will also have seen how the book and music industries realised this (even if they mainly had it realised for them) and how, by vastlyÂ improvingÂ customer service, they opened up their long tails.
So, what is stopping the movie and TV industries from doing the same thing? Â What am I missing?
The articles seem to suggest there is a bloated cost base to ‘protect’ but I find that hard to believe…