At GigaOm, a piece just ran called “It’s not about piracy, it’s about a failure to adapt” and all I can think of is how off the mark it is (and while I don’t agree with the premise, I do think it’s quite worth reading). Here are some examples of how the industry has adapted in the past few years:
- 5 years ago, even with high speed internet, you couldn’t legally obtain *any* hollywood content streaming over the Internet. Today you have Netflix, Redbox, Blockbuster, Amazon, Apple, VUDU, and many others doing just that.
- 5 years ago, your cable company only offered linear broadcasting. Today, they offer huge selections of video on demand content, much of which is free.
- 5 years ago, your cable/satellite set top box was a completely locked down product. Today, most offer programmable APIs, and have smartphone and iPad apps to control and program them directly.
- 5 years ago, your cable/satellite companies only let you watch stuff on TVs, via set top boxes. Today, many offer TV Everywhere options streaming to your computer, phone, and iPad. Further, some of them even offer apps to run on Smart TVs.
- 5 years ago, your Xbox was a game console. Today it is a viable platform for end-to-end content delivery.
- 5 years ago, HBOGO could never, ever have existed. Today it’s on a multitude of devices, and growing.
I’m not saying everything is grand and perfect and we’re all in the ultimate utopia or anything. SOPA was a disaster, and the RIAA and hollywood lobbyists do terrible things. It is true that getting Game of Thrones, right now, anywhere but live on HBO is impossible to do legitimately. But I can make the same argument that getting Hunger Games outside of movie theaters is impossible to do legitimately. Let’s face it, the amount of content you CAN get, legitimately, right now, is quite a bit. And it’s all pretty cheap too.
As a guy who spends virtually every day talking to people out of Hollywood, device manufacturers, and cable/satellite providers, I can say with extreme confidence: these people are moving, and moving fast. They are not sitting on their laurels. But they also aren’t abandoning their businesses and rushing to jump on board the Internet train of “everything, regardless of quality or production cost, is supposed to be free.” There’s a great piece over on Wired today on the topic, I recommend reading it as well.
From my calculations, including the end-to-end costs of producing hardware *and* producing TV content, the TV industry alone represents well over $500 BILLION dollars. This doesn’t include movies, music, video games, or other pieces of the puzzle. It’s an impossibly huge amount of our economy and jobs to make and distribute the entertainment that we all enjoy for effectively meager amounts of money.
Just because we are getting used to everything we want, RIGHT NOW, doesn’t mean we are actually going to get it, RIGHT NOW. Sometimes, as a man once said, you can’t always get what you want (when you want it). Even my 5-year-old has that one figured out (except when it applies to chocolate).