How much would you pay?

Monday, June 14th, 2004

I’d say about $4.95 per month. Yep. if HBO would let me download their own originated programs (like Six Feet Under, The Sopranos) at HDTV resolution/aspect (or a reasonable subsampling thereof) on demand, without any whacked out file protection like “the movie will only play for a week” or “let us put all this proprietary stuff on your machine.”
Why less than what they charge for the service on cable? Because I have to do a fair amount of work to get the thing in a viewable form–downloading and cobbling the file together, and then burning it on a DVD for playback or long-term storage.
This will, of course, not likely ever happen…they really don’t want people to have high-quality recordings of their product. But it’s Monday morning–care to guess how much bandwidth on the internet is being consumed by (illegal) downloads of HDTV recordings of last night’s Six Feet Under?
As far as I can tell, mucho.
Ah, and this is fresh as this morning’s NYT headlines (reg required) where they announce that Starz Encore group have teamed up with Real Networks to offer 100 downloadable movies for $12.95 per month. But, quoth the Times, “The Starz service uses technology from Real that allows the movies to be played only by a given subscriber and only within a certain time period. Each film will have an expiration date that coincides with its last showing on the cable station. The movies will be encoded so that they cannot be played after the expiration date.” Now, it’s not Starz and Real who are completely in the driver’s seat here when it comes to establishing these limitation–no, it’s the producting studios who set these “windows of opportunity,” and then are amazed when peopel try to subvert their plans so that they can watch this stuff when and how they want to.
Never a dull moment, watching the nature of broadcasting, film, cable, and entertainment itself change.