With ever-faster broadband and processor speeds, coupled with better streaming technology, digitaltrends.com expects more movies to be streamed in 2009 rather than downloaded. This would seem to make sense for the film rentals market and – in theory, at least – seems less fraught with the usual DRM issues than downloading entire movie files.
We’ve already seen this crop up in 2008 with Blu-ray players and other set-top boxes that can stream movies from Netflix, and it isn’t likely to end soon (especially with broadband becoming ever more prevalent). LG has already announced a box that will play Blu-ray movies and stream movies from Netflix and CinemaNow, plus YouTube.
iTunes has long had deals in place with major studios for feature film downloads, but opportunities also exist for enterprising independents. IndiePix, for example, has recently signed an exclusive deal with iTunes for online distribution.
The two companies aim to bring independent films to a younger generation of film enthusiasts.
“Time and time again we have seen that the traditional distribution models just do not work for independent films – so over the last few months, we have formed some really strong alliances with leading industry organisations, such as the Cinema Guild, SNAG Films, Cinema Daily Motion, and now iTunes and New Video. All of these partnerships will go a long way in helping us to bring independent films to the mainstream,” said Bob Alexander, president of IndiePix.
As part of the agreement, IndiePix will initially provide five of its most popular films to iTunes, which will then be available for purchase or rent.
Magnolia Pictures’ The Princess Of Nebraska from Wayne Wang drew more than 165,000 hits in its first two days following its launch on YouTube on October 18.
Of course, the problem here is monetising distribution on platforms that audiences perceive as providing free content. YouTube founder and CEO offered some hope at MIPCOM, claiming the difference between old media and new media is “semantics; we are all confronting the same challenges.”
YouTube, explained Hurley, works to help the content owner via such methods as a rights ID system that informs the rights holder once their content has been uploaded to the site.The content owner can, at that point, decide either to leave the content active, take it down or to track the usage as a means to generate revenue through identifying who is watching their product – and eventually monetise that viewership. “Digital Internet distribution ceases to be a threat, it is a fundamental distribution solution,” said Hurley.