Viacom and DirectTV are currently fighting over money while DirectTV customers are left without a bunch of channels. Today, on Hulu while watching Jon Stewart, a commercial came out asking folks to drop DirectTV. They even have a website now. In my opinion, this is rather childish at best. What is even more puzzling is that these companies don’t realize they are shooting themselves in the foot. Television viewers are already migrating from overpriced cable channel bundles to popular online options like Hulu and NetFlix and even piracy. Cable companies are very comfortable charging up the wazoo for a hundred channels where there might only be a few that you enjoy. They have failed to provide a la carte options for people to save money and give customers more power as to what they like to watch. On-Demand attempts have left much to be desired and it is not a solution. If I want to watch HBO, I should not have to get 80 other channels I will watch once a year.
However, the solution to piracy and the fleeing customer base to online only is quite simple. Convenience! They simply made it too hard to watch stuff. Contrary to popular belief, piracy is more of a service issue than a price issue. Take a look at Steam, the online game store, for example. It provides everything a customer can hope for. It is open 24×7, great prices, fast downloads, automatic game patches, cloud saves, huge selection of games, and a community. All a user has to do is to login with his or her Steam Account on any PC or MAC and with a couple of click is able to buy, download, and play games. Simple and Convenient.
As you have probably already noticed if you are a baby boomer that still goes to Blockbuster, it has gone bankrupt. The franchise name was sold to Dish Network. We still don’t know what they are going to do with the brick and mortar stores, maybe sell you satellite dishes. They are, however, keeping the brand for online and mail-in rentals. It is sad though that growing up I used to go there with friends, sometimes just to socialize or talk about movies with people knowledgeable in the subject. You would get great recommendations especially from more mature people that could steer you away from “Glitter” or “Crossroads.” It was a place where you could buy snacks, walk around, and our movie hobby wouldn’t be just being a couch potato.
I miss these days, not to mention that streaming still has not caught up with physical media. No streaming option can match the quality of Blu-rays. Most are on par with DVDs, a more than a decade old standard. The Surround Sound and HD Audio availability is very limited. Streaming services have done a terrible job of providing Closed Captioning and their prices are quickly going up. Coincidentally, right after Blockbuster bit the dust, Netflix increased their prices to up to 60% to keep your previous plan, with little to no improvements to the service.
Video is going through many changes, just as audio did in the last decade. MP3s are not nearly the same quality as formats that did not prosper such as Super CD or DVD-Audio. Even though storage is very cheap nowadays, we have not even moved to slightly larger lossless codecs or uncompressed audio. I understand most people do not have equipment to appreciate the difference since iPods are the most common/convenient audio player out there. This leads me to believe that eventually great video quality is simply going the way of the Dodo (and Blockbuster). One day, I will tell stories to kids of how we had much better video and audio back in the day.