I was at a honky-tonk in South Texas this weekend, dancing and socializing, as I do most weekends with my boyfriend Joe, and I had a conversation with a fellow patron that convinced me that consumers have mentally jettisoned appointment TV – like, permanently. And content owners need to know that this sentiment has reached deeply and irrevocably into “Flyover Land” and take steps to not piss off the heartland further.
Joe was talking with a couple of guys at the bar while I chatted with some friends at a table. When I went to find him, I learned that Joe had told one of the guys — a sturdy-looking dude in his 30s wearing a camouflage gimme cap with his jeans, boots and pearl-snap shirt – that I wrote a book about Netflix. The guy immediately launched into a well-considered complaint about Netflix’s library – mainly that once a title disappears from the streaming service it’s a real bitch to try to find it somewhere else.
The names of several online streaming services came up as did Redbox and a couple of pirate sites, but not once did he or I mention network or cable TV or their OnDemand services, or god forbid, DVDs.
It was just too loud in the bar – and I had beers to drink and dances to dance — to explain that distributors like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and even Redbox are just the messengers of an outdated content “windowing” system that determines where and when every movie and TV program can appear for a decade post-release. But I agreed with him that the hop scotching across platforms that the “Twilight” movies or “Scooby Doo” reruns do as a result of these agreements is ridiculous.
So get it together, content owners – the golden age of television and movies, as you knew it, is long over. It’s time to abolish content windows and do the right thing – establish a Library of Congress-style repository for content that gives consumers what we want, when and where we want it – even if we have to pay more or a la carte for the good stuff. Because when it’s time to dance, you gotta dance, not track down that missing season of “Borgia.”