Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Movie Studios Know Streaming Service Exclusivity Is Untenable for Audiences

Katharine Trendacosta of the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Instead of building better services — faster internet access, better interfaces, better content — the model is all based on exclusive control. Many Americans don’t have a choice in their broadband provider, a monopoly ISPs jealously guard rather than building a service so good we’d pick it on purpose. Instead of choosing the streaming service with the best price or library or interface, we have to pay all of them. Our old favorites are locked down, so we can’t access everything in one place anymore. New things set in our favorite worlds are likewise locked down to certain services, and sometimes even to certain devices. And creators we like? Also locked into exclusive contracts at certain services.

And the thing is, we know from history that this isn’t what consumers want. We know from the ’30s and ’40s that this kind of vertical integration is not good for creativity or for audiences. We know from the recent past that convenient, reasonably-priced, and legal internet services are what users want and will use. So we very much know that this system is untenable and anticompetitive, that it can encourage copyright infringement and drives the growth of reactionary draconian copyright laws that hurt innovators and independent creators. We also know what works.

The golden age of streaming really is behind us. But if movie studios come to their senses, there could be a renaissance of appreciation for streaming services, replacing the exhaustion of yet another monthly charge on our credit card bill.