Let me start off by saying that I hate TV. I don’t own one and haven’t owned one for years. The idea of ever buying a cable/dish package is laughable.
That said, I do like to watch shows and movies on occasion. Prior to now I’ve only watched them via free over-the-top content providers and on DVD. Well, recently I decided to spring for a standard online-only Netflix account. Imagine my starry-eyed enthusiasm when I realized they had the shows I like! Then imagine my crushing disappointment when I realized the two shows I like were pretty much the only thing they had. Everything else seemed to be mediocre television and obscure movies no one’s even heard of.
So I took to the internet to figure out why the hell Netflix had such a poor offering for their online-only service (keep in mind this is the same company that tried to slough off their DVD rental aspect in favor of pure online streaming). I was already aware of Hulu’s content limitations and had hoped Netflix would fill in the gaps, especially in the movie department. That was when I learned of the great battle every OTT content provider faces: licensing and legal rights to content.
Now, I think OTT services are great. I love using them; I love being able to watch an episode of what I want when I want. I love that there are options for free viewing and that even the paid viewing options are financially feasible. But I absolutely hate this stupid content war cable companies and media conglomerates are waging. The results are lack of selection, petty intellectual property battles, and a huge dump on innovative thinking. So much for “follow the market” and “supply and demand” that capitalism purports to stand by.
So then this is what ends up happening:
I can’t fucking watch anything!
You’ve got the major content providers with most of their stuff out of reach, and then you’ve got little OTT companies with access to some limited and overlapping content. AND THEN there’s this whole bullshit about needing to prove you’re a cable customer in order to watch shows online.
Let’s start with something content creators can all agree with: THE GOAL OF CONTENT IS TO BE SHARED. We want our content to be seen and used by as many people as possible. Is there an aspect of profit in this? Sure. But it shouldn’t be the first goal. When it is the first goal, you have fuckery like the media industry (which owns but does not create the content) choking off any avenues for content distribution that they do not directly control the profits of. The creator gets screwed because while the industry handles distribution and promotions, the creator loses more control over their creation. The general populace gets screwed because the ways in which we can access content are being limited, thereby keeping content away from the very people it was created for.
I can’t stop the dominating model of intellectual property rights and corporate content ownership. But I’d like to make one small request:
Cable companies, instead of fighting online streaming of your content, why not fucking work with it? Why not jump in and get involved with this new distribution model? If the market wants to cut the cord and move to online viewing, don’t try to bully them into stopping. Follow the fuck along!