Netflix tells Scoble he’s wrong

Ahh, Netflix is doing online videos. But, this isn’t the Verisign thing I saw last week at CES. It’s streaming only. It’s Windows only. I don’t believe that it’s HD.

Why is HD so important? Because HD customers are willing to spend much more on content than people who have 10-year-old TV sets and because there’s a scarcity of content.

Forget HD for a second: this also bums me out for other reasons. The time I’d use online movies is a few hours before I go on a long trip — I’d like to load up my laptop with four movies to watch, say, on my trip to Switzerland’s LIFT conference next month. But streaming doesn’t let you store movies locally. Sounds like the DRM police are in full force on decisions here (why else choose Microsoft’s streaming solution?) Even worse, if I’m in Switzerland for 10 days, maybe Maryam and I want to watch a movie — usually Swiss movies are in French or German and there isn’t very much choice on hotel TV systems. The problem with streaming is that it usually sucks in hotels. That’s why so many people came to our BlogHaus last week cause we had a 20mbit connection. I used streaming stuff at Microsoft and invariably the stream would stop and start when viewing from hotels. Not going to be a good experience.

Hollywood: you need to find a better solution.

Oh, and Dave Winer, thanks for pointing out that I’m wrong. :-)

More on this on TechMeme.

UPDATE: one note to Dave Winer. Interesting that he used “momentum” as a debating device to prove he’s right. Hey, Dave, I remember in 1977 mainframes had a lot of “momentum” too. I guess what he’s saying is that Microsoft Office isn’t dead either. Heheh.

80 thoughts on “Netflix tells Scoble he’s wrong

  1. Erik,

    I value my freedom too much to concede that any DRM is a good thing. When I was a kid, the RIAA freaked out about kids making copies of cassette tapes, yet there were millions of blank cassettes in the stores. Same for the MPAA. Millions of beta and vhs blanks.

    Artists of today make far less money than the artists I grew up listening to. Today’s artists make about .10 a CD. Yesterdays artists made almost .50 There was very little complaining then other than the obligatory crap from the RIAA and MPAA bemoaning folks’ ability to copy their precious recordings.

    Bah. The only reason they make a big deal of it now is for a couple of reasons. 1) Digital copies retain their quality from download to download. Cassettes didn’t. 2. Technology today allows big brother to get sway with far more than it once did. DRM was not even a figment in the mids of anyone in the late 70s and early 80s when I was in junior high/high school.

    People are apathetic about their freedoms. That makes me upset. I use Linux for precisely this reason. No DRM onboard. I use Ogg Vorbis, not MP3. I use Ogg Theora, not MPEG4. I use plain text, not proprietary encoding. I want my data to be free forever, not tied to a EULA.

    Artists sign contracts which are very restrictive. Most people are not aware of this. They get precious little for what they contribute in terms of time, energy, talent. 10 cents per CD is robbery. They should be getting about 10 dollars with the rest going to the various other players. How rich does the record company need to be? They make more than the artists they endorse.

  2. Erik,

    I value my freedom too much to concede that any DRM is a good thing. When I was a kid, the RIAA freaked out about kids making copies of cassette tapes, yet there were millions of blank cassettes in the stores. Same for the MPAA. Millions of beta and vhs blanks.

    Artists of today make far less money than the artists I grew up listening to. Today’s artists make about .10 a CD. Yesterdays artists made almost .50 There was very little complaining then other than the obligatory crap from the RIAA and MPAA bemoaning folks’ ability to copy their precious recordings.

    Bah. The only reason they make a big deal of it now is for a couple of reasons. 1) Digital copies retain their quality from download to download. Cassettes didn’t. 2. Technology today allows big brother to get sway with far more than it once did. DRM was not even a figment in the mids of anyone in the late 70s and early 80s when I was in junior high/high school.

    People are apathetic about their freedoms. That makes me upset. I use Linux for precisely this reason. No DRM onboard. I use Ogg Vorbis, not MP3. I use Ogg Theora, not MPEG4. I use plain text, not proprietary encoding. I want my data to be free forever, not tied to a EULA.

    Artists sign contracts which are very restrictive. Most people are not aware of this. They get precious little for what they contribute in terms of time, energy, talent. 10 cents per CD is robbery. They should be getting about 10 dollars with the rest going to the various other players. How rich does the record company need to be? They make more than the artists they endorse.

  3. Peter,

    Imagine the enormous cost savings to businesses and consumers if they just would trust folks to do the right thing! They could just put out a little sign in front of concert halls, movie theaters, record stores, and movie rental shops that said “Please deposit $5 for this show here” or “Please send us $10 for this CD to this address …” … “Pay later! Come on in!” … “Take these DVDs, remit payment online!” … All they need is a little deposit box … or a simple credit card swiper. Who needs ticket takers or security systems? Honest folks would pay every time, right? Why is it that folks don’t take these obvious steps to reduce the cost and complexity of selling goods and services?

    … you see DRM is just an extension of our existing practice of trying to bring scarce goods to market … but if an open and pervasive DRM solution existed then artists could engage on a whole new set of ways to package and monetize their works … I would go even further to posit that the lack of a good and open DRM system is why labels and studios are able to keep content locked up into silos of scarcity.

    A good DRM system would lower the cost of music and movies for consumers who want to pay for great content. Open DRM systems would allow artists to cut out middle-men for distribution and the “platform sharks” that subsidize content distribution as long as it sells more of their unrelated goods. Why do you think Walmart loses $2 per DVD for new releases? They want to sell you a whole bunch of other stuff that you probably don’t need. What is Apple and Microsoft selling? Content? No way.

  4. Peter,

    Imagine the enormous cost savings to businesses and consumers if they just would trust folks to do the right thing! They could just put out a little sign in front of concert halls, movie theaters, record stores, and movie rental shops that said “Please deposit $5 for this show here” or “Please send us $10 for this CD to this address …” … “Pay later! Come on in!” … “Take these DVDs, remit payment online!” … All they need is a little deposit box … or a simple credit card swiper. Who needs ticket takers or security systems? Honest folks would pay every time, right? Why is it that folks don’t take these obvious steps to reduce the cost and complexity of selling goods and services?

    … you see DRM is just an extension of our existing practice of trying to bring scarce goods to market … but if an open and pervasive DRM solution existed then artists could engage on a whole new set of ways to package and monetize their works … I would go even further to posit that the lack of a good and open DRM system is why labels and studios are able to keep content locked up into silos of scarcity.

    A good DRM system would lower the cost of music and movies for consumers who want to pay for great content. Open DRM systems would allow artists to cut out middle-men for distribution and the “platform sharks” that subsidize content distribution as long as it sells more of their unrelated goods. Why do you think Walmart loses $2 per DVD for new releases? They want to sell you a whole bunch of other stuff that you probably don’t need. What is Apple and Microsoft selling? Content? No way.

  5. @34 Erik:

    Fact is, I’m against ALL forms of DRM. DRM DOES NOT WORK. Full stop. There will always be people who will get around no matter what DRM is invented. The RIAA, the MPAA, the government all fail at stopping it.

    Personally, I don’t download music or movies. I buy CDs and rip them to Ogg Vorbis. Better quality than MP3. You can buy FM transmitters that can read any music format from a USB thumbdrive and listen to it in your car rather than carrying a boat load of CDs or risking an ipod or other stupidly expensive device getting stolen. Let’s see… $30 for a USB thumbdrive that holds a couple of GBs and a $39 FM transmitter that reads the music. So, for a total of around $70, I get a great system for my car. Switch the music around every few days and you have a cheap player. There are also devices that can stream from USB thumbdrives to earbuds. El cheapo, no DRM.

    DRM is evil, plain and simple. It doesn’t work. The people that ARE honest will always purchase legitimately and those that are not wouldn’t anyway. DRM serves to treat everyone like a potential thief even though the vast majority of us are not.

  6. @34 Erik:

    Fact is, I’m against ALL forms of DRM. DRM DOES NOT WORK. Full stop. There will always be people who will get around no matter what DRM is invented. The RIAA, the MPAA, the government all fail at stopping it.

    Personally, I don’t download music or movies. I buy CDs and rip them to Ogg Vorbis. Better quality than MP3. You can buy FM transmitters that can read any music format from a USB thumbdrive and listen to it in your car rather than carrying a boat load of CDs or risking an ipod or other stupidly expensive device getting stolen. Let’s see… $30 for a USB thumbdrive that holds a couple of GBs and a $39 FM transmitter that reads the music. So, for a total of around $70, I get a great system for my car. Switch the music around every few days and you have a cheap player. There are also devices that can stream from USB thumbdrives to earbuds. El cheapo, no DRM.

    DRM is evil, plain and simple. It doesn’t work. The people that ARE honest will always purchase legitimately and those that are not wouldn’t anyway. DRM serves to treat everyone like a potential thief even though the vast majority of us are not.

  7. DRM is not the problem. The problem is vendor-specific lock-in with formats and codecs. Most vendors have used their proprietary formats and codecs as a way to implement DRM protection. This does not have to be the case. For example the open source OpenIPMP project implements open DRM standards from ISMA and OMA. The use of such standards will allow content owners to distribute media to a variety of platforms with business models that are not tied to software monopolies or hardware walled gardens. My hunch is that folks are not against compensating artists for their works but rather are angry about the technology silos that most vendors offer as a way to protect valuable content. More on “silos” here: http://podslug.com/blog/?cat=14

  8. DRM is not the problem. The problem is vendor-specific lock-in with formats and codecs. Most vendors have used their proprietary formats and codecs as a way to implement DRM protection. This does not have to be the case. For example the open source OpenIPMP project implements open DRM standards from ISMA and OMA. The use of such standards will allow content owners to distribute media to a variety of platforms with business models that are not tied to software monopolies or hardware walled gardens. My hunch is that folks are not against compensating artists for their works but rather are angry about the technology silos that most vendors offer as a way to protect valuable content. More on “silos” here: http://podslug.com/blog/?cat=14

  9. @31 I’m not quite following the paranoid leap from DRM to losing freedoms. Can you elaborate? How does THE CONCEPT of an artist or owner of content wanting to ensure they get compensated for it and that it is not freely distributed without their permission putting YOUR individual freedom at risk? Perhaps the implementation is lacking, but I don’t see how one can disagree with ensuring owners of content are compensated for their work.

  10. @31 I’m not quite following the paranoid leap from DRM to losing freedoms. Can you elaborate? How does THE CONCEPT of an artist or owner of content wanting to ensure they get compensated for it and that it is not freely distributed without their permission putting YOUR individual freedom at risk? Perhaps the implementation is lacking, but I don’t see how one can disagree with ensuring owners of content are compensated for their work.

  11. I agree that quality is going to be important. I was surprised to read nothing about the quality in the New York Time’s piece on the technology. If this is just more weaksauce stuff like CinemaNow and MovieLink what good is that?

    Still, it is free. It’s an add on to the Netflix service for people who already pay for it. So they don’t really have to sell it indendent of the service like CinemaNow does for example.

    Also the quality of the movies will matter. Will you get the hits or are the 1,000 movies offered going to be your choice between 16 Candles or Muppets Take Manhattan?

    Still, this could be a powerful tool for Microsoft. Especially if they get it working with Media Center via the XBox 360. Theoretically if a MCE version of this worked you could stream your Netflix movies to your living room PC through your XBox. This could be one more good reason for a Netflix user to upgrade to Vista. But then again, what you say about quality is everything. Low res quality will kill this thing and high def content is expensive to stream still.

  12. I agree that quality is going to be important. I was surprised to read nothing about the quality in the New York Time’s piece on the technology. If this is just more weaksauce stuff like CinemaNow and MovieLink what good is that?

    Still, it is free. It’s an add on to the Netflix service for people who already pay for it. So they don’t really have to sell it indendent of the service like CinemaNow does for example.

    Also the quality of the movies will matter. Will you get the hits or are the 1,000 movies offered going to be your choice between 16 Candles or Muppets Take Manhattan?

    Still, this could be a powerful tool for Microsoft. Especially if they get it working with Media Center via the XBox 360. Theoretically if a MCE version of this worked you could stream your Netflix movies to your living room PC through your XBox. This could be one more good reason for a Netflix user to upgrade to Vista. But then again, what you say about quality is everything. Low res quality will kill this thing and high def content is expensive to stream still.

  13. I’m somewhat alarmed at the vast number of products being forced to use DRM. Diane Feinstein is already talking about passing a law that forces all podcasts and satellite radio to use DRM. This sucks. I hate DRM.
    We are slowly, or not so slowly, moving to an Orwellian society. England is almost already there what with camera on every corner, in every hotel, etc. It’s just a matter of time before we can do nothing without someone we’d rather not have watching, watching.
    I use Linux so I can maintain my freedom. Poopoo this idea all you want, but there is alot to be said about not having DRM onboard my computer. I owe no one anything and no one has a right to monitor what I do after I install software — hence my refusal to use anything but GNU/Linux or one of the BSD’s, preferrably OpenBSD.
    Look long and hard, folks before you allow your freedoms to be taken away.

  14. I’m somewhat alarmed at the vast number of products being forced to use DRM. Diane Feinstein is already talking about passing a law that forces all podcasts and satellite radio to use DRM. This sucks. I hate DRM.
    We are slowly, or not so slowly, moving to an Orwellian society. England is almost already there what with camera on every corner, in every hotel, etc. It’s just a matter of time before we can do nothing without someone we’d rather not have watching, watching.
    I use Linux so I can maintain my freedom. Poopoo this idea all you want, but there is alot to be said about not having DRM onboard my computer. I owe no one anything and no one has a right to monitor what I do after I install software — hence my refusal to use anything but GNU/Linux or one of the BSD’s, preferrably OpenBSD.
    Look long and hard, folks before you allow your freedoms to be taken away.

  15. >Even my new 17-inch Mac isn’t capable of displaying HD at full 1080
    >resolution. So, for traveling use, I’d be plenty happy with lower-resolution
    >versions.

    Your 17″ MacBook Pro is about 15% less than “full” 1080p resolution. That isn’t going to change the download time much.

    For the majority of video, 720p is more than adequate. And 720p is still considered HD according to the specification. At the same frame rate, a 720 line video is going to save you over 55% of the time on download compared with 1080p.

  16. >Even my new 17-inch Mac isn’t capable of displaying HD at full 1080
    >resolution. So, for traveling use, I’d be plenty happy with lower-resolution
    >versions.

    Your 17″ MacBook Pro is about 15% less than “full” 1080p resolution. That isn’t going to change the download time much.

    For the majority of video, 720p is more than adequate. And 720p is still considered HD according to the specification. At the same frame rate, a 720 line video is going to save you over 55% of the time on download compared with 1080p.

  17. Until we come up with something better that HFC cable networks (with narge nodes) as the primary source for broadband connectivity, you’re not going to have streaming on demand HD go mainstream.

  18. Until we come up with something better that HFC cable networks (with narge nodes) as the primary source for broadband connectivity, you’re not going to have streaming on demand HD go mainstream.

  19. @9 Fair enough. I’ll buy that. Who cares of Winer agrees with you or not on this topic? What the hell does he know about this space? (He doesn’t know anymore than some bag of doughnuts calling into a sports radio talk show to say that Shottenhiemer should be fired.) Get Mark Cuban to agree with you on these types of topics then you’ll have something to crow about ;-)

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