Sony recently announced that they would be carrying the Vudu On-Demand movie service on the PS3, thus joining the week old announcement that HuluPlus would also be joining the PS3’s digital media features which already include Netflix Streaming and the PSN store.
My first reaction of the HuluPlus news, according to the press release, was that of joy. Advertising that “ALL Playstation 3 owners” would have access to the media that is available on HuluPlus for the small monthly fee (which when announced was $9.99/month, but was wisely dropped to $7.99/month mere days ago) was a welcome option to those of us residing outside the U.S. That joy, however, was quickly diminished once visiting the actual website, where it was clearly noted that any ISP from outside the U.S. would be blocked.
The same thing goes for both Netflix and the PSN store itself, even though my PS3 is an American console with a U.S. based PSN account with a U.S. based credit card. True to form, yesterdays announcement regarding Vudu followed suit, and will only be available to those living inside the U.S. of A. In fact, the only option I have to legally obtain content comes from Apple via iTunes.
What is wrong with you, content providers? Why must you block people who want to LEGALLY obtain your content, thus lining your coffers with cold hard cash, from viewing the media so many people have worked so very hard to create? As an artist myself, I would much rather know that people around the world can see my work legally, easily, and pay for it than have them search the internet for a torrent of the film, thus likely never paying for the film once it does reach their market.
I believe that by installing such ridiculous crippling policies you are “hurting” those systems that carry your service (PS3, Xbox 360, TiVo, etc) from selling the machines they are attempting to unload by carrying your service. Any person that resides outside the U.S. will forgo purchasing their unit for any reason beyond the obvious main use the device serves, opting instead for a device that will allow them to view the material you are trying to sell. Don’t believe me? Check any dozen of forums out there pertaining to those devices to see the flaming taking place. (I will avoid using this space to write of the simply foolish act of charging $7.99/month and then putting commercials into the stream (HuluPlus), nor to write of the baffling charge of $5.99 per movie (Vudu) when sites like Amazon and the aforementioned iTunes offer the same content for $1.99!, as that would be a whole blog in itself.)
Even more baffling, I’ll point to the recent wonderful practice of offering films for rent via On Demand, Amazon VOD, and iTunes pre-theatrical release for the price of a movie theater ticket. Recent films “Freakonomics”, “Client-9”, “Monsters”, and “[REC]2”, were all available for me to view via iTunes, yet were unavailable in my region on the other platforms mentioned. What the reasoning could possibly be has left me bewildered, to say the least. I’m confident many more with iTunes accounts around the globe gave money to Magnolia Pictures, as I did, through Apples wonderful program. Sadly, much more could have been made had Amazon and On Demand not been region locked.
I’m simply writing this to tell you that you would easily earn my hard earned money were these silly restrictions lifted. As you can imagine, I’m not the only person who holds these views. There are scores of people who would pay for the instant convenience these platforms provide, as opposed to the hassle and unsafe practice of downloading suspicious torrents.
Take some advice from yourselves, and pay heed to the old proverb, “If you build it, they will come.”