Mamo #224: Stuck in the Past

We roundtable on the latest fistfights in movie news, circa six days ago: the Avengers vs. the Dark Knight! UltraViolet vs. iCloud! Real Steel vs. the Remakes No One Wanted! It’s a Mamo pot-pourri episode, displaced in time.

To download this episode, use this URL: http://rowthree.com/audio/mamo/mamo224.mp3

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Matthew Fabb
Guest

To Matthew Price’s concerns of having to buy something additional, that’s one of the reasons hardware companies are now adding onto blu-ray players and new tvs the ability to watch streaming media through various apps. While NetFlix has seen hugh uptakes through using existing game consoles. My own blu-ray player can connect to my computer and stream video files. However, at the same time that’s something I had to look for as not many do that. Also it’s going to take a good 10 years or more before a the majority have tvs or blu-ray players that can connect to Netflix or similar services.

I also do agree that paying for a bandwidth is going be a problem and I think likely a bigger problem than hardware/software issue. Netflix Canada has already complained publicly about the bandwidth issues and had to change the default bandwidth setting to a lower setting with lower quality video. As Netflix and any other service expands, I think people in North America (more so in Canada than US) are going to continue to hit bandwidth issues that will slow down these services from expanding too far.

Also I doubt Apple or Google or anyone else will ever offer cloud service where you get to include all your DVDs. Music is different because the majority people already rip their CD’s to their computers and transfer them to their devices. Meanwhile it’s illegal to rip a DVD and few people have the software to do it. People are more likely to download an illegal DVD or blu-ray than rip their own content. To include material users have already ripped off of CD’s is something Apple could get the music industry on board with, even if it includes some piracy. I can never seen the movie studios actually getting on board with something similar for movies. Also unlike music, with Netflix, Amazon, Google and Apple all fighting in the area of movies and tv shows, no one company is working from a position of power like Apple previously had in the music industry from what they obtained with the iPod & iTunes.

rot
Guest

Netflix is not the future: http://money.cnn.com/2011/10/25/technology/netflix_stock/

I am with Matt Price, especially with the notion that there is something eeriely ephemeral about the act of surfing Netflix, I find for myself that I am more inclined to stop and start a film using Netflix than if I put a dvd in and watch it. This surfing tic is less enjoyable than the normal way. I think for our parents, Netflix is a viable way of watching movies, I don’t see the physical leaving anytime soon, and I mean 15 to 20 years (with the exception of energy and financial crisis stopping all production). It may be niche, like buying vinyl, but I think it will always be there and in which case I will always be buying it.

Jonathan
Guest

Mike, that article you posted about Netflix is from 2011. Netflix ain’t hurting and they aren’t going anywhere for a long time. That article is so old, in fact, Netflix had not been involved in a SINGLE original program at that time.

Netflix stock did fall to about $10 a share around that time you posted the article and people were talking about the end of Netflix, but they’ve worked to reinvent themselves since then–effectively I might add–and have risen slowly and steadily since then, peaking at $123 dollars per share a few months ago and now sitting comfortably at $98 a share.

Netflix is reinventing itself with its originally programming: tons of comedy specials, Orange in the New Black, House of Cards, Bloodline, Sense8, Daredevil, Wet Hot American Summer, Fuller House (which is going to be awful, but HUGELY watched), and the Adam Sandler deal. They’re reviving old shows that were cut by their networks like Arrested Development, The Killing, and Longmire.

And now they’re getting into developing prestige pics with Idris Elba’s Beasts of No Nations.

Netflix can do what networks and Hollywood studios are afraid to do: take risks. Their business model allows it and you just wait, they’re going to continue winning awards, continuing gaining prestige, and others (Amazon, Hulu, etc.) are going to be eager to follow–which you already see them trying.

rot
Guest

@Jonathan, well because I posted that comment in 2011 🙂 But yeah that was before they diversified and started original programming, which like I wrote before, is a large percentage of my own usage of Netflix. Seeing Beasts of No Nation in a week at TIFF, so yeah they’ve come a long way. The market is gonzo though right now, constant quanitative easing has made everything topsy-turvy, last week US gets great payroll news and the market drops because they fear finally the interest rate will hike, something that hasn’t happened for 7 years! Let’s see what happens when the market is finally taken off life support.

Jonathan
Guest

Holy crap, this is an old conversation! I should pay more attention to dates (I was really confused by everybody was discussing a four year old article!). No wonder I was so confused by what I was reading.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

At the Netflix price-point ($8/mo), even with their ever-changing selection, I cannot see how it is a bad thing, particularly those of us without cable. The thing that Netflix has to fix in Canada is the ability to browse/search their database with whatever client in use. There is so much great stuff in there for for general and specific audiences alike. If the beast is killed, then it will be killed by the business dealings with streaming services and studios, not by customer demand.

The bandwidth cap issue in Canada is an interesting one. I have a feeling it is going to ‘raise’ from 60Gb soon. In the mean time, the primary user of Netflix in our household is the two kids who do ‘saturday morning cartoons’ on netflix (for the record: Very Odd Parents, 1970s HannaBarbera Godzilla, and 1980s Inspector Gadget). I leave the image quality set to ‘low’ (0.3gb/hour). If I want to watch Soderbergh’s CHE or Nicols’ Catch-22 or Ashby’s The Last Detail (my last 3 Netflix Watches), I simply take the 2 seconds and click the image quality back up to HD for my own viewing. We flirt with the 60Gb cap imposed by Rogers, but have never gone over. And the work-around is to simply switch to TekSavvy which has a 200Gb cap, but inertia has prevented me from leaving rogers.

I agree that physical media will become niche eventually, and that will be strange not to have smaller titles pressed to disc, and I’m currently sitting on 1000+ physical discs, but haven’t upgraded anything to BLU and haven’t bought DVDs except when I vultured a stack from Blockbuster going out of business. I don’t buy new releases, I buy clearance bin only, and even then very rarely these days. I tend not to order anything from Amazon or YesAsia anymore. This is as much dictated by a lack of extra time beyond family and my own compulsive habit to see a tonne of stuff in the cinema (both the multiplex and the repertory houses – what few remain and of course film festivals…)

I have no point here, just rambin’

p.s. VERY VERY excited to see TINTIN with the boy, as he’s been devouring the books (on physical paper – which, by the way, are not very cheap. )

rot
Guest

but customer demand dropped 35%, so I think it is both.

“The company also warned shareholders that it will be unprofitable in coming quarters but promised customers that “we are done with pricing changes.”‘

A business that remains unprofitable doesn’t last and certainly doesn’t get bigger.

rot
Guest

If they raised the price a couple bucks I would leave… it is something now I barely use, I only justify keeping it because I see two or three things a month.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Two things a month is still cheaper than the old business model of renting 2 films at blockbuster ($5.75/movie).

I agree though, if it goes up to above $10, we would also reconsider. I’m certainly not unhappy with the service, but I still look on in envy with the volume of stuff on the American side available for instantwatch. I wanted to watch DeathDream last night, but despite the film being Canadian, it wasn’t on the Canadian service, but it is available on the US side.

rot
Guest

For me I think I have this ingrained sensibility that watching a film ought to feel like an event, and Netflix does not provide that. What I end up watching on Netflix is mindless stuff, a lot of 80’s comedies or action, rarely anything serious… although I did watch Stevie this month which, man, what a documentary.

I suppose if I had Netflix hooked up in my cave with the big screen and surround sound, maybe that would change it, but there is still this surfing tic that comes from having so much at your fingertips, and the physical media makes it harder to do that… you sit down and commit to something. In a way the ipod did the same to listening to albums, at least for me. There is a culture of acceleration that Netflix taps into that I am not particularly interested in. If you get picture quality and sound as perfect as you can, and I can own the copy of it and watch it any number of times I want, and, like Matt P said, I just have to spend a whole minute putting the actual disc in… I don’t see how anything can improve on that. Business will always try to improve, want to make more money, and maybe the sheeple follow suit but I think there is a cap on actual improvement, and people who genuinely care about watching films more than they want to do a marathon run through as many as possible, will likewise say, enough. My cup runneth over.

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

Mike, I did the “surfing” thing on Netflix when Instant Watch was first introduced (and each time it’s come on a new device – Xbox, iPad, etc.), but I’ve settled down now and once something’s started on Instant it’s no different than if I’d put a disc in. I still like physical media for things I really want to OWN (due to the whimsy of streaming content providers), but if I’m just renting something, I’d as soon do it on Instant. I do get you, though, on tending to choose more mindless stuff – I don’t think it’s because I need an “event”, though. It’s more than after a long day at work and fighting traffic, I’d rather have something mindless, but when I had discs rented I’d make myself watch them. Without the spectre of having discs out for too long and wanting to return them, I tend to go for more “fun” stuff. Which I don’t like about myself, but I don’t think it’s Netflix’s fault.

Kurt’s right, at $8, the price point is less than Blockbuster, and it’s more convenient (and more reliable) than the library. I will say that I’m not as happy since I dropped discs as I was before, but I’m happy enough to save the money for a few months until I can better afford to go back to both.

Andrew James
Admin

So interesting timing. I just sold about 200 DVDs last night. I wanted rid of all these titles I’l probably never watch again – and if I do, they’ll likely be on Netflix at some point. Despite Rot’s odd quirks – really Rot, I respect your opinion, but you have to admit that your reasons for your apprehension of Netflix Instant are pretty individualistic and not really the norm – and the news of the shares dropping, I think that unless they do some really stupid shit or lose some major contracts to the competition, Netflix will eventually rise again. Granted you guys are on the Canadian side of things so it’s different for you, but I look through my Instant Queue (yes, Netflix US has a queue so we can save all for our choice rather than hunting and gathering every time you turn on the service) and just get excited with all the stuff I get to watch. Once I start a movie, I don’t have any weird feelings about it not being an “event” or not feeling the same as a DVD for some reason.

So yeah, I just made my wall space a lot cleaner and got rid of a bunch of stuff that I just don’t need anymore. Like CDs, eventually I just changed my mind and realized I don’t want/need them around anymore. So I decided best to get rid of them now while I can still get a few bucks for them. Rather than wait three years and end up throwing them in the dumpster – which is where a lot of CDs are going these days.

That said, of course I want to own specific titles and I will always own them (mostly on Blu) = just like I still own about 50 “really important” CDs (even though I don’t listen to them anymore).

Andrew James
Admin

It’s like Spotify. I haven’t opened iTunes or used any physical media (I’m including mp3s as physical media now) in 4 months. Once Netflix has pretty much everything available at any time no matter where I am, what the point in buying a $15 disc? Unless you just think it looks cool on your shelf (which is fair enough).

If I can watch any movie I want to on my phone, or plug my phone into a television wherever I am and watch Zoolander on a whim, then blam! – goodbye hard copy.

rot
Guest

I guess what I am saying is both physical and streaming will co-exist, because there will be people for each. I don’t see the teleological end point anymore than I see flying cars.

I don’t fully understand or haven’t paid attention enough to know what icloud is and how this differs from Netflix, so I reserve judgment on that.

rot
Guest

” Once I start a movie, I don’t have any weird feelings about it not being an “event” or not feeling the same as a DVD for some reason.”

even when you watch it on your ipod? 🙂

and to be clear, I am not saying the reason Netflix is tanking right now is because of the financial or energy problems that I am quirky about, those are added layer problems to something already wobbling and won’t get priced in hopefully for a couple years. Energy is going to get more and more expensive, bank on it… because we have squeezed ourselves into a position where the transition is going to be bumpy. The problem with Netflix is its allure is to be cheap, when it has to price in any kind of bump in energy cost it is going to pass it to the customers and then you have the next batch of people like myself jumping ship. It will grow smaller and niche.

Andrew James
Admin

Putting energy crisis aside, I disagree. I think streaming or cloud media (or something else) will probably take over almost completely eventually. Nothing wrong with having that DVD on your shelf and ready to go. But I think eventually that will fade for most consumers. Not the big cine-philes like some of us, but for 99% of the movie going population.

And no, I didn’t mean watching a movie on my phone (I don’t use iPods anymore – again, Spotify and Netflix changed that need) is the same experience as at home on my 52″ television. I meant that whether I’m watching Netflix streaming vs. a DVD on said television doesn’t “feel” any different to me. Blu-ray quality exceeds that of Netflix obviously, but not by much and not for long.

rot
Guest

In Canada we have Rdio, which is the equivalent of Spotify and I love it, I listen to whole albums again, which didn’t happen with iTunes.

Music and movies are not interchangeable, at least to me they are not, music is more disposable, more on the fly, listen while doing something else. Movies demand your attention. I can see the argument against Cds, I don’t think it is the same for dvds, or if that quality is not ideal for you, blu-rays. You usually sit down to watch a movie, so it makes sense to have a physical copy right there where you sit. I don’t usually sit down to listen to music, it happens wherever I am going in earbuds.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

I cleared out most of my CD collection to used shops in 2000. It is scary to think that was almost a dozen years ago, but I had the songs in MP3 format at the time, and didn’t need them anymore.

I do not have the urge (yet) to clear out my Discs yet. Hell I have over 300 VHS tapes still on my wall (last VHS watch was “A BOY AND HIS DOG” and that was over 2 years ago before it –finally– came out on DVD.) The kiddies still watch old Disney flicks on VHS (albeit rarely, they mostly surf netflix now) tapes that we inherited when various friends either upgraded all their Disney to DVD or their kids got too old to keep them. My wife has been bugging me for years to get rid of my VHS tapes, and if we moved, they’d be gone….

I don’t think Spotify is in Canada, but I have little interest in looking for an alternative. I have a few hundred songs on my phone, and that is good enough.

As Mike mentioned above…his cup runneth over. I feel the same way with Movies, Books, Music, etc. Just not enough time to bother with so much stuff, and less time to bother with how to keep re-organizing things in new formats and whatnot.

Andrew James
Admin

Yeah with Spotify at first, it was a bit overwhelming. It was more like a toy and I admit I did a lot of surfing and tasting various genres. But I’ve learned to calm that shit down and listen to music as it is meant to be heard (either by album or by single). Also the amount of new music I’m into now is crazy. I’ve already seen three artists live this year that without Spotify I never even would have heard of. I LOVE the ability to share music with others and make playlists that others can subscribe to. I realized earlier that you could actually DJ someone’s party and not even be there.

If you’re happy with your 30 albums that you love, that’s cool. But for those that want to share and revel in music (new and old, local and international), it beats the shit out of any other music service out there that I know of.

Oh, and they have all the comedy albums you can think of. And Karaoke. And sound effects. A few audio books (hopefully more soon). And famous speeches. God I fucking love Spotify .

Andrew James
Admin

Oh yeah, and the cool thing with Spotify (the paid version) is that you can actually “own” the physical files. So if you go somewhere like Antarctica and can’t get a signal, you still have the files of your choosing on your device. Brilliant.

Andrew James
Admin

And Rot, I totally agree that absorbing Music and absorbing Movies are two completely different experiences. I’m just talking about the need for the physical media. In that regards (for me), there isn’t much of a difference. Eventually, I just won’t need DVDs anymore. Just like I don’t need the CDs anymore. Just pressing play on the remote to get the movie I want rather than something “cluttering” up my wall is a good thing.

That said, I like extras on DVDs. But usually I only care if it’s a movie I truly adore – which again I will own those precious few discs. And I’m guessing it won’t be long until extras are available on Netflix (or whatever service you’re using) anyway.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

“Putting energy crisis aside…”

I dunno, there must be a DAMN awful lot of Data Centres and server farms populating the US right now.

Andrew James
Admin

“I dunno, there must be a DAMN awful lot of Data Centres and server farms populating the US right now.”

Probably. But for this conversation seems like a needless complication. If an energy crisis of that proportion happens, playing Netflix will be at the bottom of my priorities. So it just seems kind of like a separate topic.

Andrew James
Admin

Maybe I should actually listen to this Mamo episode.

rot
Guest

It doesn’t even need to be peak oil size event, I am talking incremental energy costs because funding of alternative energy hasn’t been keeping up with demand and there is a crunch in the near future, and in fact right now. Netflix benefits from the relative affordability of energy right now, but with each increment up, that cuts into their revenue, and each expansion out of more content again multiplies the cost as energy becomes expensive.

I think icloud is some way to circumnavigate this problem, does it require data centres?

I listened to the entire catalogue of Bob Dylan on Rdio… I couldn’t have afforded to do that on CD or iTunes, so yeah, it is awesome.

Matt Gamble
Guest

I read a book recently where a character referred to a hard cover book as a decadent way to store 1 MB of information. If energy is your issue, then pysical media requires vastly more energy than something in the cloud.

antho42
Guest

Kindle>>>>>> physical books

rot
Guest

I never said physical media was an energy saver, only that Netflix’s business model relies on cheap energy to keep competitive and keep their price down, and they will be one of the first to feel the effects of a rise in energy costs. The physical media costs will also rise, but they have a wider margin to play with, the bottom line is not their main draw, unless you are talking bargin bins. As we go along, blu-rays will be more expensive and bought mostly by collectors, but blu-rays are not going to topple first, and assuming nothing cataclysmic happens to energy it will ride it out longer than Netflix. I think Netflix will scale back and focus on television and the mindless shit that appeals to the status quo, the stuff they would cut is the cinephile stuff. There will be higher prices for internet too and this also will force the company to become smaller.

Kurt
Guest
devolutionary
Guest

Indeed, and the music industry thought they could save money, dilute the product further, and kill off vinyl. They were dead wrong on that front too.

Kurt
Guest

Vinyl killing itself just fine? Not sure how accurate this article is, but it seems someone has to step into the void soon.

http://www.factmag.com/2015/05/07/pressed-to-the-edge-vinyl/

devolutionary
Guest

Interesting. I do know that the re-invigoration of vinyl in independent chains has led to all these kitchy, gimmicky designs (splatter, marble, speckled, etc). So much to the point that regular black lacquered vinyl is dubbed (as intended) for Audiophiles. It’s not always the case with pressing factories but many of those different coloured dyes can degrade the quality and accessibility to the grooves thus affecting sound. I think it depends more on who’s pressing them though.

mike rot
Guest

Bought a blu-ray yesterday, but generally the trend for me is more Netflix, a lot of their original programming, less excessive physical media purchases but still buying.

Matthew Price
Guest

I’ve slowed my pace on physical media, but only because I already own everything I want to own, and I only see maybe 3-4 new movies a year that I like enough to add on. I did go on a small buying spree this summer as I geared up for a (now postponed) podcast about 1939, because while streaming remains great for opportunistic viewing it still doesn’t offer anything close to enough selection when you already know what you are trying to see. The US has it better now than when we recorded this – if you’re willing to pay there are newer and more “deep cut” streaming services like Shudder, Doc Club and Fandor to augment Hulu Plus and Netflix, and universal search is coming which should help as well (I know that googleTV/Android TV attempted this but not sure how well it worked).

That said, all streaming/cloud subscription models are looking like the equivalent of convenience shopping, not destination shopping. If the studios and indies could agree on a premium model that basically held all the content in one place and was committed to making the size of the library the biggest feature they would be able to charge much much more for it than what the going rate is now – I would pay $50-75 a month if I was basically guaranteed access to everything. That kind of service would definitely make sense for cinephiles IMO, but my suspicion is that storage and bandwidth costs are still too high to make the economics work.

Interestingly since Mike commented on the energy costs 4 years ago most large server farms can now be essentially “off the grid”, using solar, geothermal and fuel cells running on bio-gas from landfill on property to make themselves energy neutral. http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/07/apple-eyes-solar-power-cloud-and-iphone-6-sapphire-manufacturing

Kurt
Guest

Here is something even more recent. Iceland, being small, is constantly adapting itself.

http://www.therakyatpost.com/business/2015/09/03/iceland-lures-data-centres-with-cheap-renewable-energy/

“Its massive energy generating capacity thanks to hydro and geothermal power cannot be exported due to the island’s remoteness so it produces five times more electricity than its 320,000-strong population needs and all of it is renewable.”

Andrew James
Admin

I’m not sure I’d be willing to pay $50/month for “everything.” Gut reaction, is “yeah that would be awesome!” – which most people would have and probably pay for it. But quite honestly, that would just be too much stuff. I would spend days looking through it all and not enough time actually watching and getting my money’s worth. And in my opinion (compared dollar-for-dollar to Netflix), I’d have to watch about 20 movies per month. Which I guess I do anyway.

So I take it back. That would be awesome.

Matthew Price
Guest

okay i am pretty sure we have a very workable business plan here

Kurt
Guest

People pay $100/mo for cable… $50/mo for ‘everything’ related to movies would most definitely have a sizeable demo willing to pay that. Particularly, if it shortened ‘windows’ to new releases.

Andrew James
Admin

You know what though, if you go with your $60/mo plan, isn’t that kind of the same as renting through Google Play or Amazon? They do have pretty much everything. In fact, a lot of the stuff I couldn’t find on Blu-ray is available in HD there (e.g. Blueberry Nights, Solaris, etc.).

Looks like most movies are $4 for HD and $3 for SD. That’s 15 movies/mo for HD and 20 for SD. So in a way, you already have the service you’re looking for.

Although I understand that with this model you’re sort of committed to sitting through a particular movie once it’s paid for and you can’t really just try out something and see if you like it. Still, if you know exactly what you want to watch, this is a good place to find pretty much everything at the price point you’re talking about.

rot
Guest

My knowledge of Apple is pretty thin but I thought its market shares were taking a dive as a direct result of China bubble bursting, assuming most of its manufacturing is there and probably not all that green. But sure, innovations with solar and geo-thermal are at least offsetting the increase in server farms.

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