Date: Tue, 19 Apr 2005 22:20:48 -0700
From: "Sally Richards"
Subject: Re: [Dewayne-Net] Hollywood looks to BitTorrent for distribution All headers
Hmmm.... Maybe the end user doesn't really care about how they get their
Hollywood content, but most of Hollywood cares how it's delivered.
It's one thing to hear from a few producers that they're thinking about this
method of distribution, another to hear from studio moguls who are willing to
put their money, and their technology dollars where their mouths are. I can
see where this kind of distribution would be great for kid producers working
on a film project at UCLA that want eyeballs on and can't get a distributor
for. They didn't put $57 million into it, and they don't have to get at least
twice as much out of it to turn a profit. When you get to the next level, even
the films I saw at Sundance this year would have a hard time making back their
money on the Internet.
Distribution in Hollywood is a very old and proud tradition...and one as cut
throat and venomous as a viper. I mean, we're looking at a nearly 100-year-old
industry where fortunes have been made and lost. Dynasties have been
established. Needless to say, with all of the cash floating around waiting to
be captured by the best deal, there are set distribution channels that are
very etched in stone. Symbiotic distribution relationships that have been
mainstreamed for optimum dollar return. Some studios even have their own
conglomerate content delivery methods in place, others (who don't have as much
pull in Hollywood) are at the whim of those distribution channels. Look at
Michael Moore who had to go to Canada for distribution of Fahrenheit 911, for
instance. Sometimes, Hollywood sucks.
When you start looking at new ways of distribution, you start cutting into the
physical distribution channels, the Blockbusters, the Hollywood rental stores,
the Walmarts, the Costcos, the movie theaters, the foreign distribution
channels, etc. You'd be surprised to see how incestuous the movie industry is
with distribution channels. And, it's an industry that does very well, even
when the economy is in the toilet. What's the first thing (okay, second thing
- the first is who's in the movie) that the investors who share the risk with
production companies ask when some hot shot producer comes to them for cash?
What distribution do you have set up? Distribution is important. So, it's
going to take an 800 pound gorilla that can afford the hit of offending
current distribution relationships, or a 800 pound distributor to move the
technology forward without regrets. It could pay off, but it would take a huge
player, not just a few producers. Perhaps a brave startup willing to buck the
ol' boy's system. The big question, as always, is...will people be willing to
pay for it? When Stephen King decided to put up a new book on the Internet to
see if people would pay for it, he found that people were willing to download
it, but not pay for it.
When I went to meetings with the major publishers in NYC a year before Amazon
hit, with a prototype of a website that had three healthy revenue models for
selling books, the publishers basically said, "Who on earth is going to buy
books from the Internet?" Obviously Bezos' pitch was more compelling. He did
have tough times, but he did manage to make the business model succeed. The
physical delivery of books ordered on the Internet has worked out well. The
ebook model, however, has not. Until there's a delivery system (ebook reader)
that passes the hammock test, it won't take off. Netflix seems to work, movies
downloaded from NetFlix might not.
People purchase physical books - weeks before they're going to read them. If
this applies to a bitT download and the delay purchase satisfaction, I imagine
it passes the test. If people are willing to wait. I mean, I buy movies online
months before I actually watch them. I do buy movies from my cable company
immediately if I have the time to watch them; and I have to admit they are
more successful in getting my dollars immediately. When that movie preview
comes up when I boot up my Cox box, I will buy a movie if I see a preview I
like - even if it is only for a lousy 24 hours. Yes, I have a name for that
demographic - the Cox sucker, who, as Pavlov's dog, will salivate upon viewing
something they must have, click and buy. I have to admit, if the micro-payment
system wasn't in place, I wouldn't purchase. If I see a preview on a rental,
chances are that it will take several more times of seeing that trailer before
I go online and actually purchase a physical copy, or put it on my Netflix
account wish list. The need to see a specific movie, the time alloted to watch
it, and/or the desire to be able to put it physically in my permanent library
are all factors in the purchase of movie content. Cost is rarely a factor, but
how I pay for it is.
It cost money to make movies. A lot of money. Is there a compelling reason for
people to use and pay for bitT technology? Is there a compelling reason for
studios to buck their current distribution channel to go to the Internet? In
the end, it's not how many people watch it, it's how many people will pay for
it. And will that bottomline meet the expectations of the current distribution
models? Actually, it would have to be better for them to sink the money into
the marketing and the method. I have a feeling that if you were to open this
up for discussion at NAB today that the possibility wouldn't exactly be met
with open arms. After all, shouldn't the Next Thing, be better and make more
money? Aren't those two things necessary before the Next Thing becomes more
convenient for the user?
I'm eager to see what Vint Cerf has up his sleeve for the future of the
entertainment delivery method. He is brilliant, he's plugged in and he's
moving toward...something. The only thing I can assume from his enthusiasm is
that he knows something that the rest of us don't.
Is there enough motivation to move the method, the technology, the lawyers,
the producers and the bean counters forward? As my friend Joe Gores (Hollywood
script writer and mystery author) says when a piece of the puzzle seems to be
missing, "What's the motive?"
"The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax."
---------- Original Message -----------
From: Dewayne Hendricks
To: "Dewayne-Net Technology List"
Sent: Thu, 14 Apr 2005 19:07:53 -0700
Subject: [Dewayne-Net] Hollywood looks to BitTorrent for distribution
> [Note: Put this one in the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em"
> Hollywood looks to BitTorrent for distribution
> Renai LeMay, ZDNet Australia
> April 14, 2005
> Hollywood is anxious to embrace BitTorrent as a method of movie
> distribution, according to the father of the Internet, Dr Vinton Cerf.
> Cerf, who wrote the original TCP/IP protocol and is currently
> chairman of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
> (ICANN), told a roundtable on Internet governance in Sydney this
> week he had recently discussed peer to peer file-sharing program
> BitTorrent with at least two interested movie producers.
> "I know personally for a fact that various members of the movie
> industry are really getting interested in how to use the Internet--
> even BitTorrent--as a distributed method for distributing content,"
> Cerf said. "I've spoken with several movie producers in the last month."
> However Cerf was adamant the entertainment industry still did not
> understand the online environment. "They are only just now starting
> to come to honest grips with the possibilities of using the
> Internet," he said.
> The ICANN chairman was particularly enthusiastic about pointing
> out what he said was a flawed perception about the Internet's
> ability to deliver movies in real-time.
> "People think of video and they think of real-time, watching it as
> it's coming out [downloading]," he said. "But most video doesn't
> have to be watched in real-time. With Tivo and those other things
> it doesn't have to be watched in real-time."
> "It doesn't matter whether it's delivered by a real-time video
> stream, or a triple-charge thing that drops packets into a file
> like BitTorrent. Who cares? At some point you get the whole file
> and then you watch it. You don't care how long it took to get a
> file before you watch it."
> Cerf concluded that too many people got caught up in the real-time
> functions of the Internet, rather than realising only a very small
> number of Internet applications actually needed real-time capabilities.
> Archives at: <Wireless.Com/Dewayne-Net>
> Weblog at: <weblog.warpspeed.com>
------- End of Original Message -------