I recently rented a film through cable provider UPC. Had never done so before, since navigating through the UPC menu is as intuitive as trying to cross primary forest blindfolded … on crutches. So I never wonder beyond changing channels and volume on my UPC remote. But I happened to be at a friend who uses UPC for watching films all the time. I found out that UPC charges €5 for renting a movie – HD even more. What?! Their streaming offer is more expensive than renting a physical copy at an old fashioned bricks and mortar video store? I am sure there’s enough people – like my friend – happy to pay this price, but it’s definitely not going to stop me from downloading movies.
Just to be clear, I am not against paying for content. The investment to create content needs to get back to the creator, producer, distributor, etc., in one way or another. That I understand. And that`s why I am happy to pay Spotify the same €5 (per month) for giving me access to almost any sort of music I could possibly want to listen to. Unlike UPC’s product, Spotify proved to have the killer app to stop me from downloading music illegally – thus successfully bridging the gap between The Pirate Bay and the traditional music labels looking at the internet as a deer in headlights.
And if you wonder why I never used iTunes for legally buying music, it’s because its software is strangely enough as consumer friendly as UPC’s – if you’ve ever tried to transfer photos from your iPhone to your computer through iTunes, you know what I mean.
What I find typical about the established content publishers is that they have such a hard time adapting to innovations and new market realities. And it’s not just because they don’t like innovation, it’s also because they get used to making money the easy way. Remember when the CD was invented and the music labels told us that the high price was only temporary? They never lowered the price. They only increased it, because they got used to the money pouring in without having to think about their future. And by doing so, many labels didn’t just go bankrupt, they also created a high demand for illegal downloading; it was simply too profitable for the consumer.
Paper publishers also have a hard time adapting. Instead of embracing the digital age they still try to force feed their paper editions through our throats – luring us into trial subscriptions with shitty presents. While at the same time they offer their copy-pasted-news-agency-releases on banner-infested pages for free. They also have iPad editions – fair enough – but these are almost as expensive as the paper edition, which is the UPC way of thinking and thus not attractive for me.
The problem is, when I am online – which is most of the time – I want to be able to search on genre through various titles, not just through whatever one single title offers me. Whether you like it or not, that is the new Google paradigm; having access to it all through search. The only way to persuade me to subscribe to quality content – like films, music or news – is when it’s offered in a ‘spotified’ model. And so, as soon as there’s a place where I can read articles from the New York Times, the Economist, and Wired through one single source, I’ll take a subscription and pay up straight away.