While video stores aren’t what they used to be in Brisbane, web designers are stepping in to aid the home movie rental market. I know since upgrading my internet plan a couple of years ago, I haven’t been down to my local video store in years; but in truth there currently aren’t many ways for consumers in Australia to get the latest DVD release online short of downloading the film illegally. In the U.S. there are of course a variety of companies such as Netflix that will stream content, namely TV shows and new release films, straight to your TV via the internet. These kind of subscription services have become immensely popular in the U.S. and have furtherer the demise of the physical DVD rental store, but have also proven that while consumers can download content illegally, they are also more than willing to pay for it offered for a reasonably price and in the same convenient way.
Lionsgate films have announced this week that they are going to release one of their latest films on Facebook and DVD simultaneously. The Facebook release will offer 48 hours of access to the film for $3.99, using technology similar to that used by Netflix and many other streaming companies. It is a sign that production and distribution companies are looking for a way to release their films online, and as a web designer I am surprised it has taken them this long. However the film they have chosen as a test subject for the online release is “Abduction”, a film receiving a staggering 4% rotten tomato rating. I can safely assume that 4% would be much lower without the existence of 13 year old girls given the only attraction to the film is Twilight star Taylor Lautner. It is understandable that Lionsgate would not want to run the risk of ruining the release of a major blockbuster, and it is easy to see why they have offered up Abduction as a sacrifice to test their release system. However given the film’s current unpopularity, it is hard to see how they will get an accurate data on the popularity of online releases because let’s face it, even if they paid you the $3.99 most of us still wouldn’t be download it.
Yet regardless, as a web designer it is interesting to watch as the old-school established media companies such as record labels and film production and distribution companies finally look to online alternatives rather than just complaining about the changing tides. The success of iTunes and Netflix is cold hard proof that consumers are more than willing to pay for content; all they are looking for is easy and convenient access, something that good web design has been providing more and more of in recent months.