Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"Buying" internet movies

Maybe I'm missing something but ...

For a price near what you'd pay for a DVD, Amazon will give you the right to watch a given movie over the internet, subject to some fine print. Or you could just get the DVD for a similar price.

If I have a DVD, I can watch it pretty much anywhere -- on any TV with a DVD player attached, with a portable player, in a car with a player, on a laptop, at a hotel ... wherever. If I have the internet equivalent, I'm restricted to internet enabled devices, and within that, to whatever devices Amazon chooses to allow.

Frankly, I wouldn't know what devices those would be without looking. I know it'll work with my Roku box, and I've never really had cause to try anywhere else. I know Netflix will let me watch their movies on a laptop (at least if it's using IE/Windows), but I haven't been traveling much lately, so that's not really on my radar either.

The point being that, if I'm just watching a particular movie through a subscription service, or renting it short-term to watch it once, I don't care that watching the movie is tied to the box I ordered it on. I'm going to sit down, order the movie, pop some popcorn and watch it. On the other hand, if I'm "buying" it, that is, buying the right to watch it whenever I want, I'd also like the right to watch it wherever I want.

Internet video delivery is not there yet. I'm sure it will get there, and I'm sure it's good enough for some people right now. It's not there for me yet, late adopter that I am.

[What's a "DVD"?  Recently a friend wanted to watch a short clip on a DVD, and had a choice of ... a set-top box in the living room that happened to have a DVD attached.  When your main devices are a phone and a tablet, and there's an app on those for the major providers, it's not so hard to watch internet video everywhere, and a pain to watch a DVD anywhere.  Pretty much the opposite of what I describe above, only six or seven years ago.

I personally prefer not to buy internet movies.  The price tends to be three or four times the rental price, and I generally don't watch movies three or four times.  Maybe the movie won't be available three years from now when I feel like re-watching an old favorite, but maybe it'll be available cheaper on the original site or elsewhere.  I find this surprising, honestly, since I often tend toward a "get ALL the bits and keep them" mentality, but evidently not in this case.  --D.H. Jan 2016]

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