Daily Variety (among others) is reporting that five of the major studios and three of the largest  exhibitors have reached an agreement to deliver movies and alternative content via satellite -albeit at the theatrical level. The Digital Cinema Distribution Coalition (DCDC), comprised of Lionsgate, Disney, Paramount, Warner Brothers and Universal along with Regal, AMC and Cinemark, have been working together on a platform that would eliminate the need for physical copies of digital cinema content at the theatrical level by “broadcasting” said content via satellite. It is being reported that Sony and Fox are currently in talks to join the DCDC as well. This would mark the first time in over five years that all the major studios and exhibitors have worked together to bring about sweeping change to the theatrical eco system since agreeing to the digital change over  (the DCIP) in 2007. Supposedly the platform is mere months from being fully operational and is being supported by Deluxe/EchoStar LLC, with an official rollout occurring by the end of 2013.

While I’ve been talking a lot about streaming lately, many have questioned its viability via our existing Internet super highway. I suppose, maybe, streaming needs to now be redefined or a new term adopted for if this move is any indication, day & date releases may not come via your Internet provider but rather from your broadcast one. Either way, this marks yet another strike against physical media and should serve as further proof that while many may still want little plastic discs, Hollywood does not. One way or another, we’re all going streaming.

I thank you so much for reading and for all the support. Until next time, take care and stay tuned…

Andrew

  • svj2

    While the article doesn’t say for sure, I highly doubt that the studios will be streaming movies to play live, but rather be using satellites to deliver content in place of the shipment of physical drives, as is commonly done now with DCP’s. It’s a fine distinction, but digital delivery is the medium, streaming is one method, and storage is another. I can’t imagine any theater, or studio, for that matter, streaming a movie live while it is playing in front of millions of people across the country/world. The chances for failure are just too great, and given that movies are shown multiple times a day for several weeks, as opposed to a live opera performance for example, digital delivery and playback from storage is the only practical way I see this being done.

    As far as it relates to home video, I believe that satellite providers and maybe even some cable providers are already doing what is being described here. A movie is broadcast via satellite across a channel that is accessible only by the DVR for purposes of storing that movie for instant accessibility by the consumer. Much like if I were to choose to record a movie off one of the DirecTV’s PPV channels that is being shown now to watch later tonight.

    Day and date releases are just a matter of a decision on the part of the studios, and then a matter of finding an acceptable price that the studio, content provider, and consumer can agree on.

    To me, streaming implies having access to a vast library of movies and having that movie transferred to my device while I’m watching it. Like I said, probably a fine distinction that others may find irrelevant, but there’s nothing fantastic about digital delivery, whether streamed or stored and played later. Digital delivery is for consumption, often offering convenience at the cost of quality. Physical discs are for collectors and enthusiasts; the people who really enjoy the product and want the best from the experience. Throwaway movies should be delivered digitally, because the number of people that would want to “collect” it must be very small, no one will remember them in a month anyway.

    I agree that studios would like to move to a scenario where we consume their product, and pay each time we want to do so. Anything that offers recurring revenue and allows them to maintain control over their product is something they’re going to want. However, no one should be under the impression that such a scenario is delivering the best experience for enthusiasts/collectors.

  • http://twitter.com/ARobinsonOnline Andrew Robinson

    I do love reading your comments svj2 and appreciate you weighing in and sharing your thoughts so much. I believe you are correct in that the program laid out above is for downloading and storing rather than streaming in the traditional sense, though I choose to look at VOD, streaming etc. through similar lenses.

    I chose to discuss the story because it strikes at the heart of a lot of detractors’ feelings that because something isn’t on a disc it must make it lower quality, which isn’t an accurate view. DirectTV tried to do a day & date thing with Tower Heist last year but it was poo-pooed after exhibitors threw such a stink. I don’t think it’s Hollywood that is unwilling to turn the page but rather exhibitors. I want to say that DirectTV was going to charge $50 for the film, though that didn’t equal a purchase but rather a 24-48 hour rental window.

    I am going to respectfully disagree with you re: your notion that discs are for collectors and enthusiasts and that streaming is for throwaway movies. I love movies and consider myself an avid enthusiast, fan and even collector and yet I hate discs. They’re a pain, especially when you have as many as I do. I’m not bragging, but they do take up a fair amount of physical space when we’re discussing hundreds if not thousands of discs. I rely on digital storage a lot for entertainment and UHAUL boxes for physical storage. I love poster art and such too (hell I used to make the damn things) but those too can be enjoyed via a computer or TV screen. Few people hold a Blu-ray box in their hand and admire the “art”. And I can’t think of the last film I bought (outside of maybe a special, limited edition) that came with any sort of “book” etc. inside for me to browse through. Most are just tip-ins for the digital copy.

    For me the beauty of digital copies is my library now follows me everywhere. My parents are nearly as tech savvy as I am (not that I am) and yet because they have a Vudu compatible TV I can share a film that I may have liked but they may have over looked. And so and so forth. I saw Life of Pi via streaming on Vudu (in HDX) on a 70-inch Vizio with a Panorama 2 soundbar, and while I know it wasn’t as good as say watching it via my 120-inch Elite Screen or SIM2 projector, I didn’t feel cheated either. Engagement is engagement and I don’t believe that the number of pixels directly translates to the percentage of engagement, nor do I feel streaming robs the viewer of any either.

    Thanks for reading!

  • http://www.facebook.com/JamesMVHolmes Jim Holmes

    @ Andrew, I agree with you for the most part but we still seem to experience the ongoing problem of achieving broadcast excellence. I am constantly experiencing streaming errors which of course are caused by a number of contributing factors, weather and sunspots topping the list with deteriorating infrastructure following closely behind. Blu-ray is by no means perfect but for the most part is very reliable and provided the discs are kept clean and the equipment is up to date and in good working order, it is possible to achieve a near perfect performance. Unlike yourself, and this is definitely not a criticism, most people will not amass enough physical media to become overwhelmed with finding a place to store it.

    Most people by default, love to collect things, especially music and films. Downloading albums and films onto some sort of media server has become a system of convenience but lacks the permanence and security that owning a copy of the physical media offers. Neither the AES or SMPTE have established any kind of permanent, reliable digital archiving medium at this time. Therefore, CD’s, DVD’s and Blu-ray’s etc, remain the only dependable method for consumers to ensure they own a copy of the intellectual property they paid for. Content developers insist that they will back up any purchases should the recipient lose their copy due to a digital failure of some description. These guarantees are not worth any more than the dwindling fortunes of the corporate entities that support them. They might not be in business the day your media server decides to display the blue screen of death! Maybe the portable hard drive you chose to back up your media collection files has ceased up from lack of use or poor storage conditions, then what? Go to you shelf and grab the DVD, oh wait, you did not get one because the real reason we are moving towards streaming and downloading is so the media purveyors can exit the manufacturing business and eliminate the cost of producing the disc. The eliminated cost, that component of the transaction that we as consumers never seem to benefit from. Not to mention the use of lossy compressed formats, especially where music files are concerned.

    I realize this article pertains to streaming for theatrical purposes but the reason these big corporations are so quick to join forces to facilitate this effort is they can see the value this will bring to their bottom lines by applying this same approach to all forms of media delivery. The consumer pays for a product and the purveyor does not have to provide anything but a digital file and the entire time, we the consumer, are subjected to possible streaming errors which impair our ability to enjoy an uninterrupted performance of the art we have spent our hard earned money on. The world of digital entertainment content providers is replete with greedy corporations who are desperately trying to find a way to cut corners and deliver another slice of mediocrity while being paid for excellence. The entire mediocre package is cleverly wrapped up with a bow in a level of convenience that makes it all so easy to for consumers to buy and access that they don’t even realize that they got burned until it is too late, there is no copy on the shelf! Dig out the spring-work Victrola and a few acetates, I bet they will still play. There is a good reason vinyl and used CD sales are on the increase. Consumers still want physical media, the industry are the ones conspiring to change this idea and who will ultimately benefit?

    Now if they could just figure out how to deliver a hit of digital nicotine without providing you with a pack of cigarettes!

  • http://twitter.com/ARobinsonOnline Andrew Robinson

    Jim,

    I sincerely appreciate your thoughtful response. I have nothing to add for you are probably arguing from the side of a lot of folks that have the same concerns you do regarding a virtual or all-digital media space. It’s important to me that we get different opinions on this site as it makes for a more well rounded discussion. I thank you for taking the time to put your thoughts to “paper” and for sharing them here.

    If I may, did you happen to catch my recent article about the other sides of streaming? How not all streaming is created equal and how some services like Vimeo are trying to address a few of your concerns regarding Hollywood bottom lines? If not you can follow this link here (http://www.andrew-robinson-online.com/streaming-for-my-supper-why-theres-more-at-stake-than-just-av-quality/ ) and read it. I’d be curious to hear what you think. Thanks again for reading!

    -Andrew