August 24, 2012, 2:28 PM — Watching TV and movies over the web is a real thing now. You could previously state that it was a thing for those who loved spending lots of money in iTunes, or for the kinds of nerds (like me) who didn’t mind finding videos … elsewhere on the web and converting them with Handbrake. But now you can watch lots of movies and TV on huge screens and tiny devices, on video game systems and tiny cable-connected boxes, and if you really want to, you can stream Breaking Bad to your Nintendo Wii. Just today, Amazon Prime announced its pick-up of Parks & Recreation, Friday Night Lights, Battlestar Galactica, and Parenthood, with greater selection than Hulu. Feels like an embarrassment of riches.
But the people who make the TV and movies we want to watch, they’re a bit hesitant to make it entirely easy to find their material, buy it, and watch it just about anywhere, when you would like to. Even if you were the type to spend $20 on yet another version of Back to the Future, there’s nowhere to buy it in digital, streaming form. A terrific article in Scientific American details the myriad ways content creators are entirely stuck in a “Rent DVDs from the nearest Blockbuster” mentality, and the continuing culture of piracy that mentality enables. It makes this argument (slightly condensed here) as to why production companies don’t like, and maybe actually loathe, their newest tech-savvy customers:
… When you rent the digital version, you often have only 24 hours to finish watching it, which makes no sense. Do these companies really expect us to rent the same movie again tomorrow night if we can't finish it tonight? In the DVD days, a Blockbuster rental was three days. … When you rent online, you don't get any of the DVD extras—deleted scenes, alternative endings, subtitles—even though you're paying as much as you would have paid to rent a DVD.
So how hard is it these days to choose the right service to rent or buy video from, and choose the right device to keep around for watching? I thought maybe I should try to draw it with markers. Here's what that looks like: