Thursday, July 13

Don't throw out the DVD player just yet

This recent review of Telstra's Bigpond Movies download service in The Australian newspaper touches on some of the issues I've said would be important to solve before movie downloads can make an impact in Australia:

  • Content needs to be delivered to the media room, not the study computer;
  • Content selection and delivery needs to be a one-button seamless experience requiring no technical knowledge;
  • Content owners need to be persuaded to risk licensing their entire catalogue for download and cannibalising DVD revenues;
  • Rights control technology needs to be hardware and operating system agnostic, and transparent;
  • Licenses need to allow consumers to copy the content to more than one device in the home; and
  • Breadth and depth of content is much more important than download speeds.
None of that will be solved in the near future. So why does Telstra persist with offering downloads?
  1. The market expectation is that DVD rentals will be supplanted by downloads, and market analysts are prepared to penalise players like Telstra and Quickflix if they don't show evidence that they're moving towards downloads, even though such moves are massively premature. If Telstra doesn't offer movie downloads, it will hurt the already damaged share price;
  2. Somebody's got to do the hard yards of educating the content owners. It's a 10 year job, but the more people working on it and the sooner you start, the sooner you'll get there;
  3. It drives broadband consumption, and Telstra is rewarded on many levels by encouraging its ISP customers not just to switch to broadband, but also to consume bandwidth (it gives the misleading impression that consumers are using broadband for something useful.)

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