Friday, January 03, 2014

The Streaming Wars

When Netflix briefly toyed with splitting their streaming and dvd-by-mail services entirely, I thought they were completely insane. Yes the ability to stream on demand with a subscription service is nice. Yes it's somewhat superior to having to wait 24 whole hours for your DVD to show up. And if Netflix could win streaming, yay for them! But absent compulsory licensing, no one will ever win the streaming model. At the moment Netflix can buy DVDs and mail them to you. They can also engage in endless rights negotiations/fights in order to stream the same movies to you. For the former they're basically competing with no one. For the latter they're competing with everybody, and the people who make the movies have all of the bargaining power.

I'd love a world where some company offers a reasonably priced subscription streaming model that will stream you everything. I don't think that world will ever happen. What we can have is the world's greatest DVD-by-mail library, and netflix has the infrastructure to do that. Their business model might lose ground over time, but they'll never make it up by winning streaming. No one except the content producers will.