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So what we're seeing is a repeat of the film industry from 1930's-1950's. You want to see a Paramount movie, you must go to a Paramount theater. Today you want to watch an Apple show you must go to Apple's VOD.

We could really use laws that force, once again, some sort of separation between production and distribution. Better stuff gets made in this kind of ecosystem.




> We could really use laws that force, once again, some sort of separation between production and distribution.

Piracy is competition to bad content behavior. It's a meaningful consumer response to monopoly, balkanization and other anti-consumer practices.


> Piracy is competition to bad content behavior.

No it isn't. It's a workaround. This is an 8 billion dollar deal, there would have to be an impossible amount of piracy for it to count as "competition." This is precisely the reason why government regulation here is correct, as consumers, we don't have a lever long enough to have any real impact on the core problem.

And we're just one side of the deal. These types of distribution setups are not just bad for consumers, but for actors, directors, producers and anyone who makes a living on any part of these productions.

The knee jerk responses to avoid meaningful government regulation are always baffling to me.


> No it isn't. It's a workaround.

Sure, but it's a trivially easy workaround.

Our focus of attention on matters of regulation ought to be in those areas where working around the problem is not nearly as dead simple as a torrent client, a NAS, and a Plex server.


It's really not.

I'm a computer geek, and I'm LONG past the point where setting up safe VMs and signing up to half a dozen services like newsgroup server and directories and search engines and what nots, download software with impossible names like sabnzbd (I'm waiting up for somebody to scream how nobody uses sabnzbd anymore, it's been replaced by jidwiaj and iqerqip, which are super easy, and that just proves my point:P), setup my own webservers that talk to themselves internally so my downloader would work with my cataloguer that would work with the sorter that talks to the video player, figuring out a VPN to keep me somewhat safe while introducing a whole 'nother threat vector... gawd I get a headache just thinking about it. And I end up paying the same as I would for 2-4 monthly legit services. And then my wife wants to watch this movie that's just come out and I download eight versions of it but four are fake and two have hieroglyphic subtitles in three languages baked into video stream and take up half the screen. And then it stops half way through. And then I'm on a business trip (remember those? hah!) and my family wants to watch something and now I have to spend 47 minutes on the phone trying to guide her on how to do that before we all quit in frustration.

My few friends who still do that try to get me back on board, and their "quick & easy explanation on how to do it because it's so easy now" is still three pages long, while skipping 70% of crucial steps & detail.

Just, NO. Whoever thinks piracy is "trivially easy" has a very specific mindset (Hey, it's OK, I used to as well...!), and lacks empathy for those with different mindset/circumstances/skills/priorities... who happen to make up the clear majority of public.


1. Go to {insert-seedbox-website-because-there-are-so-many-like-seriously}.com (I'd share my favorite, but you know, don't want to break any rules, suffice to say there's a great search engine named "Google" that will point you in the right direction)

2. Pay $5-$10/month for a seedbox that pre-hosts rTorrent. Zero configuration. It will give you a web address, you visit it, and boom, torrent client.

Wait, should I pay for it in Bitcoin? I mean, you can. But you don't have to. It literally doesn't matter. No one gets caught doing it this way, unless you're a real Whale.

3. Go to {any-number-of-piracy-websites-even-that-one-everyone-knows-about-yeah-it-still-exists-and-its-fine}.com

4. Download torrent -> Upload into your rTorrent

You can, alternatively, skip all of that, pay for NordVPN or whatever, and just use your favorite local torrent client. Same thing.

A whole 3 pages, to be sure. I've got friends who wouldn't know a Mac from a PC, and they still pirate all the latest movies. Its startlingly easy. Experientially, there's near-zero risk of getting caught. It hasn't changed even a millimeter in a decade. Its the same process we all used back in middle school (or, you know, wherever you were ten years ago). Its just gotten cheaper, and also less interesting because of the Golden Days of streaming, but I think it'll come back if streaming continues splintering as it has.


Or...

1. Download Popcorn Time.

2. Watch pirated content.


On a Mac TPB + a decent VPN + BiglyBT = trivially easy torrenting. I have certainly never encountered any of the hardships you describe.

I have been using that same setup for… 10+ years? With BiglyBT replacing Vuze after Vuze was purchased and turned in to garbage.


You are blind to the amount of time you spend finding torrents, manage disk space, cleanups, feeding your TV-box, replacing broken/fake media, versus just opening an app and clicking play.

I say this as someone who's setup sonarr, radarr, bazaar, nzbget, usenet priorities, indexers, ombi, etc, which eliminates most maintenance and labor. Stuff can still break, quotas run out, and I want market options.

If I could pay to watch British panel shows, and everything else I want to watch from where I reside, I would do so.


I truly cannot relate. All one needs is a VPN, a torrent client, a browser and an internet connection. Most tv's nowadays are smart enough to either connect to a simple Windows share or at least be able to play movie files. My SO and I watch a new movie almost every single night with a very simple setup and rarely encounter problems. It reads to me like you've over engineered movie night and are now complaining about the complexity.


Three comments so far that highlight the exact point the parent was making, a true lack of empathy. VPN alone is enough complexity for most... it's hard to find one that doesn't have comments calling it potentially insecure, questioning the owner, nevermind keeping tabs on if it sells to another owner.


Maybe. It is still more complex than just using Netflix. OTOH, there’s enough stable software for this out there that’s it can be a “set it up and forget about it” experience if you want it to be. The right client will search N sources for you with the click of a button, instead of you having to search Netflix, then Hulu, then HBO, then Disney+, then Funimation, Crunchyroll, and so on until you find (or don’t find) the thing you’re looking for.

At what point does the daily time savings from having a unified view into all the world’s media outweigh the initial time cost of setting it up? It surely varies by person. Personally, spending one day setting up a media server is a far better experience than spending 5 minutes every #%$!ng night searching for some show on all these platforms and still not finding it.


I don't think VPNs are that complex. At least if the ads on just about every YouTube video I watch are to be believed. I think VPNs are actually pretty mainstream now.


You can use a seedbox and then download via sftp. The seedbox is exposed and the service takes the piracy notices.

This eliminates exposing your IP from torrents and the file being downloaded.

For a site like HN, I'm really surprised at this discussion.


> VPN alone is enough complexity for most...

Where is it complex? Most VPN providers these days provide a one-click solution to connect your devices to a VPN.


> All one needs is a VPN

You don't need that. At least, I don't.

> a torrent client

All good operating systems (i.e. Linux) come with one. Though obviously most non-technical people don't use Linux.

> a browser

Pretty much standard on everything.

> an internet connection

Which they would be using anyway for streaming services.

> Most tv's nowadays are smart enough

Aaagh! Don't use "smart" TVs!


You do need a VPN to mask your IP. Especially if you're going to be using public trackers. Otherwise you'll get copyright notices and you're ISP could terminate your service.


Depends on where you live. At least in the UK, ISPs can kick and scream but generally won't terminate you.


Get a seedbox and download the files over sftp from it. All your ISP will see is a large transfer, no file names or knowledge of content.


> Aaagh! Don't use "smart" TVs!

This response is the perfect example exactly what the OP was talking about.

Smart TVs are great. Click a button, see the show you want.


> I'm a computer geek, and I'm LONG past the point where setting up safe VMs and signing up to half a dozen services like newsgroup server and directories and search engines and what nots, download software with impossible names like sabnzbd

Then as a computer geek you don't seem to be aware about the modern tools to do that.


I mean, that reinforces every single one of my points, doesn't it? :) its unhelpful, dismissive, and shows a complete lack of empathy.

My whole point is that Netflix is fire and forget. Piracy is not only a complex install and a security threat, you also have the cognitive and time load of keeping up, learning about and reinstalling / reconfiguring new stuff all the time... I deal with sysadmin all day at work, at home, sometimes I just want to watch stuff - and certainly my family does.

Some people get pleasure out of mowing the lawn, some people get pleasure of endlessly reconfiguring their home lab - I was one of those for 25 years, but! It's crucial to recognize that's a minority.


Whoa; lots of great responses :)

I've read all the comments, and they're helpful, illuminating, insightful, and I've learned a lot (genuinely).

But overall they did not change and rather enforced my perspective:

1. the "Easy, out of the box, set-it-and-forget-it, everybody knows this" method to safely and easily to this seems to still change every 6-12 months, and still doesn't compare to convenience of just pushing a button on Netflix.

2. Paying for VPNs or Seedboxes etc easily equals the cost of a "just works" streaming service, while incurring new and exciting security & privacy threat vectors.

3. Most importantly, they don't take into account on what I will put forward is the actual mainstream public scenario: family that just wants to watch stuff . Between spouse who cannot be bothered with three remotes and two computer keyboards and six devices and 7 steps to watch something they could otherwise just stream on their phone, parent-in-law who wants to watch NBA/NHS/Soccer/Whatever reliably and in real time with no interruptions, kids who want to watch Paw Patrol safely now now now, all of this at the same time and all of them expecting six nines reliability and utter convenience across all their devices all the time always.

I'm off that particular wagon train, and if that makes me less of a computer geek, then so be it :-)


Yeah, you could do that... or get an invite to a private torrent site and go wild with a cheap seedbox

Like, what even is all that other stuff?


He's talking about all the stuff to set up to actually watch the stuff you pirate. Like, on a TV, from your couch, using a remote, without fussing with an HDMI cable to your laptop every time. Or setting up your kids / SO to watch on a tablet, phone, etc. Just getting the files without getting caught is only like a quarter of the battle.


Even then... I run Kodi on a Shield, which pulls data from a NAS. Copy the files to the right folder and let Kodi rescan. Still simple... the hardest part is setting up the network drive


"Honey, it's easy, just go [there] and download a torrent, then wait for it to finish, then copy it to the right folder, oh, you don't see it? you have to mount the NAS on your computer, you can't on your phone, then reopen Kodi so it scans, no I mean you have to force close it: home, home, down, enter, then open it again, wait for it to scan, it takes a couple of minutes, then the kids can watch Paw Patrol after dinner. Also, don't forget dinner."


Even that seems like it's much simpler now. The desktop player I use has Chromecast support. Haven't connected a PC to the TV in ages. I don't have an Apple TV, but I would imagine Airplay support isn't difficult to find either.

And it doesn't even require a desktop / laptop. It's possible to use your seedbox to torrent, then download it to your phone, and then cast it from your phone.

The one thing I do have to futz with are subtitles. It's usually easy, but fails every now and then.


My father-in-law has no idea about technology, yet tells me I'm dumb for paying for things like netflix when he just downloads them


I spend 11 pounds a month on a seedbox where you can just download everything via http or even stream it probably afterwards. It's really not that complicated.


Take a look at seedboxes.


Well there is put.io (no affiliation). If it became popular enough though I’m sure it’d get shut down some how.


This comment reminds me of the classic "For a Linux user, you can already build such a system yourself quite trivially by getting an FTP account, mounting it locally with curlftpfs, and then using SVN or CVS on the mounted filesystem. From Windows or Mac, this FTP account could be accessed through built-in software."


For those who haven’t seen it: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9224


It's extremely important to recognize that piracy is only a workaround for the consumer side. The consolidation of media production undoubtedly also changes what media gets produced. The types & style of content produced in each era of 'Hollywood' is incredibly influenced by who held power in the content creation process.

At several points the studios had the upper hand which meant that actors would only appear in a single studio's films. When more regulation freed actors from those types of contracts then celebrity actors were the major selling point. And for a while individual directors had a lot of power including final cut privileges which is why older in the 80s often had a theatrical release and a directors cut.

It seems that overall we are moving back towards studio control as single companies once again control production and distribution. For the most part this has worked out OK since most of these companies (Netflix, Hulu, etc.) were actually competing with the 'legacy' studios. However, now that major consolidation has taken place including the growth of Disney, etc; we are likely to see the industry and content itself shift to meet their interests. You can already see that, outside of small players and foreign sources, most studios focus on single annual big budget films marketed to an international audience (read: US & China). Just look at the top 20 films from 2015 vs 1995 vs 1985.

[2015] https://www.imdb.com/list/ls073655785/ [1995] https://www.imdb.com/list/ls057887703/ [1985] https://www.imdb.com/list/ls057991323/


Trivially easy for a trivially small number of people. Does everyone else have to put up with whatever experience Amazon thinks they should get?


Well-crafted regulation is constructive, in that it expresses the social problem and provides guidance on the expected behavior. That can shape investment and allow companies to make long-term decisions.

Piracy can have many reasons behind it, including just not wanting to pay for things in general. And it’s easy for companies to dismiss as just an expense to manage, like shoplifting (“loss”) in the retail channel.


The two solutions don't play in the same ballpark of EV either. With Torrent and NAS and Plex you're talking niche phenomena forever.


It's a lot easier than that now. There are apps now that package the bittorent client and website with magnet links into a single unified app ecosystem that looks somewhat like the spotify app, but with practically every movie and TV show ever produced. You don't have to wait for downloads, the client will stream the torrent for you after maybe 30 seconds of buffer. It's often much faster for me to use this app to get to a show, than to navigate the website and do the same for a service I might pay for.


The solution is to break up big tech.

Amazon shouldn't be ten companies in one.

Google shouldn't be able to set web and mobile standards, then reap ad monies by forcing everyone to accept their anticompetitive changes.

Apple shouldn't be the sole guardian of iPlatform. You can't have a protection racket on 50% of all commerce (phones >> gaming consoles) and enforce what gets put on the device.

These companies don't have moats the size of an ocean. They have moats the size of a Schwarzschild radius, and they're sucking up everything in their path. Google, in particular, is being lazy as fuck because they don't have to actually do anything anymore.

Microsoft is literally the only tech giant behaving correctly, and it's probably because they got slapped with antitrust in the 2000s.

Competition is supposed to be good for the economy. These companies should have to try harder. The minute they no longer face existential risks, they become destructive.


> Microsoft is literally the only tech giant behaving correctly, and it's probably because they got slapped with antitrust in the 2000s.

Ask Slack if they agree. Microsoft used the dominance of Office to take over that market by bundling Teams.


What's more amazing to me is Google had Chat and Docs/Sheets all ready to go and integrate and take on Office and instead they closed down chat and brought out Hangouts which I've still never understood.


I’m also astounded at how badly Google has squandered the opportunity in business productivity.

Even companies that were all-in on Google for email, calendar, and documents went with (for example) Slack for chat and Zoom for meetings. Google has had multiple products in both categories for years! And yet somehow could not put together a compelling package the way Microsoft did with O365 + Teams seemingly overnight.


It does seem like a big missed opportunity. My only thought is the failure of Wave loomed large and people didn’t want to repeat it. Consumer messengers with huge user bases all had simplified UIs and that seemed like a better market to try (repeatedly) to break into.


Supporting something for business for years is just not something Google has in its DNA.

Microsoft still hasn’t shut down Lynx yet.


Was Skype bundled as a part of Office? I'm not sure if it was included or if it was a license add on.

The companies I worked at that had slack licenses still had teams using what they considered to be the best product. Slack, Hipchat (remember them?), and Zoom.

There's also more to it than 'bundling.' Trusting your chat communications to the same company doing your email is a more compelling story than sending it to Slack, Discord, or Zoom. There are a lot of companies that still don't trust 'the cloud' and then you've got governments all over the world and all of their regulations that may block the use of something else.


Skype for Business is licensed separately, from what I recall. Back when I was L1 I'd have to install Skype for Business from portal.office.com, because it wasn't installed as part of the standard Office2016/O365 package.


"Bundling" isn't any indication of any wrong doing. The OS "bundles" a word processor, a music player, a photo editor, etc, etc. I don't think I'd choose to install an OS without an internet browser. But a decade or two ago, people thought differently that an OS shouldn't ship with a bundled browser.


I don’t think that really counts for much — they literally just expanded their product suite, and integrated as such. If you’re not supposed to do that, then I’m not sure what a company is supposed to do other than have a single standalone product per domain.

Their monopoly lawsuit behavior was different — the bundling of windows with forced IE was problematic (largely because windows was everything, and also IE being largely unrelated to the rest of the OS) but much more problematic was their OEM strategies, to enforce and maintain windows as the dominant OS.


I would have agreed had Microsoft not owned several chat platforms over the years (MSN Messenger, Skype, Lync and Skype for Business).


I’m not sure I can agree about Microsoft. I’ve come to not hate them in the last decade but they definitely have been buying up the developer scene too. They aren’t as brazen as Google I’ll agree (likely because of the antitrust issues) but they are still setting themselves up as a monopoly over the long term.


The other day I was helping my brother setup Python on his Windows 10 computer. So I went to python.org and installed it as usual, then why I typed "python" in the console, it launched the Microsoft Store app and took me to the download page for their distribution of Python.

Apparently, it's some kind of alias "feature" they added to Windows at some point. What legitimate reason is there for that if not to try and trick people into thinking they need to download the Microsoft Store version of Python (which probably includes analytics/telemetry not in a standard Python distribution)?

Google, Apple, etc are all shameless, anti-competitive monopolists. Anyone can see that because they make no attempts to hide what they're doing. Microsoft's intentions are exactly the same, but they're a lot sneakier about it because they've already been burned in the past for their bad behavior.

People who think the new Microsoft is different! because they released a free text editor and other open source projects are naive. Microsoft wants to lock you into their platforms and technologies like Apple, and wants to collect and monetize your personal data like Google.


The Microsoft Store version is managed by the PSF and is a legitimate method of getting it. It went to that because you didn't choose the option to add python to the PATH, so the console didn't have a python executable to run.


I did choose to add it to the PATH, and even double checked the variable manually.

The only way to get it to use my installed version was to disable that alias feature in the Windows 10 settings app.


That alias really is supposed to go away when you install Python from any install path (Store or classic EXE installer), but it does have more bugs with the EXE installer. (The alias feature is used more generally in Store installs, so it's more of a direct alias swap when installed that way.)


> Apparently, it's some kind of alias "feature" they added to Windows at some point. What legitimate reason is there for that

It's a loophole so they don't have to ship Windows with a version of Python and then have to support it for how long that version of Windows will be supported. So instead the user gets it from the store (and it's upgraded via the store).

Same thing they did for years "Add or Remove features" where, to enable certain things they wouldn't bloat the base OS and made them optional download.


Why Python though? If a user knows what Python is, they probably know enough about technology to install it themselves.

Are there any Windows 10 features that require Python?


> Why Python though? If a user knows what Python is, they probably know enough about technology to install it themselves.

Yes and no, it's frequently used as an intro language. I could see advanced users being annoyed by this but I'm not certain they are the target demographic.


Yeah and it was a collaboration between Microsoft and the PSF. A lot of tutorials written for macOS and Linux literally do start with "type in python and see what happens next" and both Microsoft and the PSF were seeing complaints that on Windows nothing happened but an error message. Microsoft didn't want the maintenance burden (that macOS and Linux has) of supporting and shipping an officially bundled version (and accidentally stuck on older releases as things start to depend on it or what have you), and meanwhile the PSF realized they were excited to get Python officially into the Store (and take on the maintenance of that) as possibly the easiest way to bring in new users on Windows. (As someone who has used Python on Windows for a very long time, I welcome the Store version as really the easiest install path to date.)

(ETA: The other reason Microsoft is less than willing to include scripting languages out of the box is past bad experiences with WScript. Doing it a shortcut to the Store install actually is a decent compromise from the malware we'd possibly see if Python scripts worked out of the box in fresh Windows installs.)


A big part of this is because people see Nadella as some kind of angel after the reign of terror by Ballmer but that's only on a relative scale. Same shit, different day. The second component is Bill Gates' philantropism, which is used to whitewash a whole pile of despicable behavior (as the CEO of Microsoft, never mind the rest).


Holy shit, you typed "python" in a console window so the OS looked for an existing install, didn't find one, so it tried to help you! How evil and awful! Burn M$$$$ down! unknown command 'python' is the only proper way to respond!


And for every new generation of know-nothings that grows up to replace the veterans of wars long past, all the old battles will need to be re-fought... Sigh. I'm too old for this shit; geroffmylawn.


That’s not what happened. Python was installed and on the PATH, it just refused to use it as long as that alias check box was turned on in system settings.

Try it yourself.


I love how the term "break up big tech" includes "break" in it. Kind of makes you realize what's really at stake here. Sure, you don't want monopolies, but is breaking US companies going to actually prevent monopolies, or are you just shifting the balance of power from US companies to Chinese companies? Because you sure as hell are not going to break those up - and Tik Tok has demonstrated what should be obvious: we are already neck-deep in the water trying to fend off Chinese companies from taking over the US market, and our competitive margin is only getting slimmer every day. A family member works a lot with Chinese companies and predicted this 13 years ago, and I remember laughing him out of the room. I am no longer laughing today, and I think most of us won't be with each passing day.


This is such a cowardly view.

> or are you just shifting the balance of power from US companies to Chinese companies?

That's not going to happen. The biggest Chinese companies only exist because of stolen technology. This is a well documented fact. Tencent for example has this business model:

1) Identify trending games from competitors outside of China

2) Clone those games and release them internationally

3) Petition the Chinese government to block the game they cloned in China

Maybe in the short term they'll see some growth, but in the long-term innovation will always prevail.

If anything, breaking up these monopolies will lead to more innovation as the smart people working at Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc. will no longer be tied by the "golden handcuffs" and will be driven to build and experiment with new ideas and technologies, instead of spending their days working on ads or other money printing businesses that provide little value to society.


> The biggest Chinese companies only exist because of stolen technology.

We can debate the origination of their know how just like we can debate the origination of Covid. But at the end of the day what matters are the results, and China demonstrated with Covid how much more successfully they were in execution than we were. That same scenario is being replayed in board rooms across the globe - the Chinese people are hungrier, work harder, and get results more quickly. Granted, there are still gaps in some areas, but the margins are shrinking every day.

> Maybe in the short term they'll see some growth, but in the long-term innovation will always prevail.

You are somehow implying that the Chinese people are fundamentally bad at innovation. That's neighboring on being a racist statement that you should take a moment to reflect on. Just like innovation is not limited to the Bay Area, it's not limited to the US either. The Bay Area did in fact produce a disproportional amount of breakthrough ideas in the past 50 years, but not because their residents are somehow genetically more superior to other parts of the country (and ironically, you might be surprised to find out just how many Chinese workers stand behind so many of those Bay Area companies). It happened because the infrastructure for ideas was there (lack of enforcement of non competes, high risk tolerance of financial backers, previous waves of successful founders sharing their know-how with young founders and pouring money into new startups, etc). The pandemic has removed the need for in-person meetings for fundraising, and suddenly we're seeing an even more pronounced decentralization of the Bay Area, which should prove that innovation is not tied by city, county, or country borders - it's tied by regulatory, educational, and financial constraints, all of which are rapidly improving in China.

Once this current wave of Chinese mega-successful companies cashes out, the next wave will be even stronger. It's only a matter of time until a suitable ecosystem forms in China that will give their people the right ingredients to kick our ass in innovation, on top of all the other things they are already kicking our ass in.


> their residents are somehow genetically more superior to other parts of the country

Those are your words, not mine.

I never said that Chinese people can’t innovate. My point was that Chinese companies don’t innovate, and if you wanted to have an adult discussion about it, I would’ve been happy to clarify for you why I believe that.

But I’m not going to entertain a discussion with someone that tries to support their argument by putting words in my mouth and suggesting I’m racist. A discussion with someone like that will go nowhere productive.


Let me start with an apology: using loaded terms is not a good way to have a good faith conversation, and that wasn't appropriate.

But you have to admit there's something about our folks being a bit too comfortable with the notion that the Chinese people won't catch up with us because we innovate and they don't. I see people justifying their beliefs in one of these two ways:

1. Focusing on barriers that supposedly exist in China today and will continue to exist forever. Something like: "their government will always force them to do things in a certain way", or "the lack of regulatory framework invites bad behavior and doesn't instill the discipline required to be creative," etc.

2. Focusing on the idea of American Exceptionalism - essentially, it doesn't matter what China does now or in the future, we're always going to be a few steps ahead because of the most unusual events that have led to the formation of our country, our political system, our culture and values, and our inherent will to be the global leaders and ambassadors.

I would be curious to hear what your thoughts are. In my mind, as I laid out above, innovation is not a privilege bestowed upon any one location or nationality, but instead a byproduct of regulatory, educational, and financial ingredients all coming together and unblocking barriers to creativity. All of those elements are changing in China very rapidly, and all of them are moving in the "right" direction.

So for your statement "Maybe in the short term they'll see some growth, but in the long-term innovation will always prevail" to ring true to me, I would have to be convinced that we somehow have a defensible advantage in one of those three elements, and that this barrier will stand the test of time. Because I think we're both agreeing on the notion that there's nothing fundamentally special about us and our raw capabilities compared to theirs.


This is such a cowardly view.

> If anything, breaking up these monopolies will lead to more innovation

Yes, let’s violate a company’s right to exist and conduct business just because we don’t like ads, or have preferences for how the run things. If you’re so concerned that they are not doing the right thing, then you go out and do it.


I am not sure the right for a company to exist, is a real thing. These are artificial entities created by the government that give groups of people liability protection and the ability to act as one entity legally.

It is not really a right, so much as a practical privilege we have set up. As such they should be open to whatever democratic will of the people. If the people arbitrarily decide they can only have so much power or size, then so be it.


> created by the government

The entity sure, but beyond the entity you have a group of people who have created something and want to sell it to you. If the Democratic will of the people said that we should jail them for creating shows we don’t like, I’m sure you’d object. Just because the people will it doesn’t mean it is correct.

People have a right to get together and create things and sell them to you under a contract. You have the right to accept or refuse. That simple.

Our society is regulation drunk.


It is more than that, they have gotten together, that may be a natural right, but they also have gotten limited liability.

An almost definitional characteristic of company v. group as you describe.


Right but that’s tangential to the main point which is that if people come together to create something and you don’t like it, don’t buy it. Don’t attempt to strongarm them into making something you like, or punish them legally because you think they have had too much success.


I am all up for first principles thinking, which is what you demonstrated above. The problem with this approach, however, is that you have to think deeply enough to get to the very bottom of each topic. Your analysis didn't touch on the fundamental need of any democratic society to sustain strong economic growth. It's a well-known fact that destabilization of that growth nips away at democratic principles and ultimately leads to totalitarian governance. Just look a the role of economic instability in the Nazi rise to power [1].

So, yes, people may decide that we no longer want a certain type of companies. Heck, let's take it a step further - people may also decide that we want everyone to get a million dollars, no questions asked. But people are smarter than that, which is why we still have democracies.

[1] https://www.theholocaustexplained.org/the-nazi-rise-to-power...


> Your analysis didn't touch on the fundamental need of any democratic society to sustain strong economic growth

The need of the society is to defend property rights and sustain the rule of law. Economic growth is good, but you can’t make it the top of your list. Besides, we are already awash in too much regulation as it is, we should be heading the other direction towards more liberty. I’m not saying there’s never a time for regulation, just that we are waaaay past the point of reason in many areas.


It feels like we're agreeing on some subjects (eg: too much regulation can kill economic growth), but disagreeing on the importance of economic growth for the defense of property rights and rule of law. My point is that those two items can only be guaranteed in a democratic society (you won't find them in places like Russia, Middle East, most of Africa, etc). In an earlier comment, I referenced a piece that discusses the impact of economic stability on Nazi's rise to power. You will find many other examples of democratic societies turning into totalitarian regimes at the time when people lost faith in elections (which is something they do when they can no longer pay for their food and rent).


Yes I think we do agree on many things. I think in general we both value property rights and that’s a good place to be.

We may disagree on which is the cart and which is the horse. I think that in general you need a moral people who will enforce the rule of law to get economic growth, so the rule of law is the horse. And the horse’s horse is the morality of the people, something Weimar Germany was certainly lacking. Get those in order first and I think prosperity will follow. Try to put prosperity first, then it won’t matter what rule of law you have b/c the most important thing is to make money.


I thought most of that was implied by the word “practical.”

As a practical matter it may be bad policy. But, right it is not.


Companies don't have right, they are legal fiction created to aid economic growth. If they are causing damage, they Must cease to exist


That's a very scary thought. What you're saying is, these big companies already are, or about to become, effectively untouchable, because they're now important strategic assets for United States in its struggle to maintain global economic dominance.


I agree it's a scary thought. Really, it's not much different than what happened with the military industrial complex. We'd be better off without it assuming every other country got rid of theirs, but since that's not happening, it has become effectively untouchable. I am not happy about it, but you won't see me advocating for destroying all of our weapons without other countries following suit. The same applies to my thinking around the tech companies, which are increasingly becoming important drivers of our economic growth.


If you truly believe multinational conglomerates are the pinnacle of innovation then you may be right.

But from my perspective they acquire because they can't innovate internally.


I don't think I implied that multinational conglomerates are the pinnacle of innovation. I implied that they are important to our economy, and by extension (see my other comment), they are important to our way of life, our way of thinking, and our ability to live in a free and democratic society. That doesn't mean that companies get to operate without any regulatory oversight, but I would be careful to constrain domestic companies in ways that we cannot constrain their international competitors.

Somehow this concept might be easier to explain by looking at the analogies from the military world. Of course the world would be a better place if we all destroyed all of our nuclear weapons. Does that mean that the US should lead by example and destroy all of our weapons first with no assurances that others will do the same? Of course not. We do this step by step, and only as much as we can trust and enforce through bilateral agreements. Well, military power is intrinsically linked to economic power, so it should be clear that we wouldn't want to cap our economic power by implementing rules that others don't have to follow. Of course, two notable exceptions are environmental concerns, and in the future likely also mental health concerns. But you can't just go crazy with imposing unreasonable limitations in those two areas (eg: requesting that every factory is only powered by renewable energy, while allowing Chinese companies to use whatever energy they want). The same thinking should apply to any limitations we want to invoke on protecting our mental health - we have to approach this step by step, rather than killing our domestic companies and handing over the market share to the foreign ones.


I look at it differently (and I admit I could be wrong). I don't view these conglomerates as weapons but rather as baggage holding us back. I think by freeing ourselves from them we'll have a better chance at dominating competing nations. While they do have a lot of resources, it's not often good comes from it. They stifle innovation and lack imagination.


Microsoft is hardly behaving correctly rather behavior is just considered normal at this point.

Compared to Amazon, Google, & Apple, Microsoft's is incredibly litigious when it comes to licensing their products. It can seem baffling that most other tech company grants access to what you are licensed to use but Microsoft, perhaps deliberately, makes their licensing confusing and imprecise. Since not everything that requires a license is enforced via software, you can pretty easily be breaking their licensing rules.

Additionally, Microsoft products are deeply entrenched business best practices and auditor requirements:

Use Windows? Pay for it. Need centralized antivirus for your organization? Pay for it. Need to enforce MFA for Windows accounts? Pay extra for it. Use Linux? Aren't you glad that Windows Defender supports it? And yea pay more for it.

Meanwhile Office 365 is a mess compared to AWS. Maybe Azure is better but it's still obvious that Microsoft uses its dominance in the OS space to pander more products to service its own OS which means they have no incentive to actually make Windows easy to manage.

Microsoft buying up the good will of developers is just an extra twist of the knife.


Conglomerates have never been a good idea (imho), because they have this ugly tendency of cornering one market at a time using profits from all other divisions.


US can do so. Other countries, eg. China, Korea etc. will not. Their big players will trample on small companies of US.

Anti-trust is good, and keeps them in check.


I prefer Apple controlling their platform thank you very much. I remember Verizon controlling what I could use to connect to an old flip phone, not allowing me to use bluetooth but some service they charged for.

I remember Verizon controlling what OS version was installed and what firmware and what updates were even supported by them.

Remember when Cell Service providers charged us PER SMS text?

I do.


You're presenting a ridiculous dilemma between phones that are controlled by the network, and phones that are controlled by the manufacturer. Turns out, there's a third option that you are handily ignoring, where phones are controlled by the owner.


Government regulation would be one solution. Another would be less government regulation, specifically making piracy legal.


Less government regulation doesn’t mean violating contract law.


What contract did piratebay creators violate? They never signed any contract, and neither did anyone downloading.


Presumably the ripper has some form of contract with whichever entity they sourced the content from, and piracy undoubtedly violates that contract / ToS.


None of that could result in piratebay staff going to jail, or individual people downloading recieving legal threats


Could or should? If you want to download a bunch of mp3s without paying the author, knowing that the author has not intended for you to do so, do you think that is right?


Yes it is, because copyright law (like all laws) is government regulation.


> Piracy is competition to bad content behavior

I really wish we had the bandwidth we have now, back in the Napster-era.

Napster, and others forced, persuaded and cajoled the music industry to consolidate, whether they liked it or not, on Spotify, and iTunes.

If we'd had easy free sharing of movies, it's not hard to envisage something similar to what we see now in the music industry forced on the movie companies. Now it's honey pot torrents all over the place.

No customer wants to spend X on Shudder, Y on Netflix, and Z on Prime, plus Hulu, HBO, and your cable/satellite fee either. Paying 200 GBP/USD a month is utterly absurd.

Frankly, I'm glad I have a waning interest in modern movies as I get older, and I'm actually more interested in watching old black and white movies that are "free to air" in my country.


We have not yet approached the pre-streaming willingness to pay (WTP). People used to pay $150 to $200 plus onDemand for the whole package with their cable provider. Today you can have YouTubeTV, HBO, Netflix, Prime, AppleTV+, Disney+, and Spotify for less than that. So perhaps the average will hover around $100 with many paying closer to $200 a month. We are creeping back up to those numbers because people will pay.


That's a good point, though I think the time/generational factor may cause it to trend downward. My parents unhappily paid cable prices their whole life. I've never once paid for cable TV and never will be willing to pay that much for subscription entertainment, but I'm willing to pay for one streaming service and have considered a second at times. Anecdotally reading places like here, I don't think I'm an uncommon case. Again to your point, even though there's fuss every time a streaming provider raises the cost (especially Netflix being one of the larger players and who has been around long enough to have increased prices more than once), it seems each service is viewed as cheap and well under what people are willing to pay.


Isn't it an issue if "willingness to pay" drops too much? In the end, content costs money to make. If money coming in goes down, then there might not be enough money to make all that content.


> If money coming in goes down, then there might not be enough money to make all that content.

Content will be made, it just won't be the same content.

Production budgets expand to consume available resources, but there is a very non-obvious relationship with quality.


Big budget content is usually the worst. There were many pieces of indie media that had heart and shoestring budgets, that have been pushed out the market.


Distribution costs have decreased greatly, while markets have grown remarkably. Looking at inflation adjusted cost of blockbuster movies today, film company revenue or indie scenes across the globe, I find it hard to argue that the last 20 years have been bad for the industry. Disruptive, for sure, but this creates winners and losers.


You still get advertisers willing to pay to put their stuff in your content


I have a hard time believing that that was the average monthly cost of a cable subscription. Mine was never more than $30-40 when I needed cable for the internet.


When I had cable the $30 plan was the "just the stuff you can get OTA plus some shopping channels" plan. If you wanted actual cable channels you had the choice of:

1. "Basic" bundle, $60 + $20 in fees + $8-15 per set to rent the box. Got you ESPN, Food Network, SciFi, Cartoon Network, USA

2. "Complete" bundle, $100 + $20 in fees + $8-15 per set to rent the box. Got you BBC, a bunch of foreign language channels, Starz, and a few more.

You could also add HBO to either plan for $15 a month. I think they may have had a few other premium channel options as well, but I never paid that close of attention.

We cut the cable because the price had crept up from about $50/month total to almost $100/month over the course of a few years. It was just unsustainable. Now we pay about $40/month for streaming services, and the streaming services don't have ads.


> and the streaming services don't have ads.

Yet. IIRC, when cable started, it didn't have ads either. It was its selling point.

Advertising is a cancer on society that infects and poisons every communication medium available. It has already metastasized to streaming platforms, though it's not conspicuous yet. You don't have to watch interstitial ads between episodes of your favorite show on Netflix, but if that show is a modern production, it's likely overflowing with product placement ads. When that and other means of making easy money get used up, you can be sure that overt ads will follow.

"All this has happened before, and all this will happen again." And that's a salient argument in favor of torching the whole advertising industry to the ground.


When cable started, it had ads. Cable was just a bunch of broadcast stations pushed over a coax wire to your house so you could get stations that were pretty much impossible with an antenna from your location in pretty much perfect signal quality for the time. There weren't even "only cable" kind of channels when people started paying for their television to come over wires to their homes.


> You could also add HBO to either plan for $15 a month

Please note that that was only a channel (or two). You still had to tune to watch the movie/show you wanted! For the same price today (not even adjusted for inflation), you can watch any of this content on demand, on any device, but it has waaay more content available.


My current monthly cable subscription is $135 (plus "fees"). And when people say, "cable", they generally mean TV service. For many, that may mean a pricey satellite TV service (very expensive back in the day). Basic cable is likely what you are getting, but many people want to watch sports or movies, which requires premium subscriptions and it adds up quickly.


That's an insane price, and hopefully you can shop around or change packages.


Half the country can't really shop around they need to buy internet alone from the same cable company and then replace TV with netflix hulu etc but long term there isn't much stopping the cable provider from jacking up the price of just internet to what you are paying for TV and internet and claiming to offer you a deal for just a little bit more if you pay THEM for tv.

Hi we've noticed you used to pay us $200 for internet and tv but now pay $100 to use and $50 for streaming services. How would you instead like to pay us 200 for internet and 220 if you want TV too. our $20 tv addon is cheaper than netflix because its subsidized by the monopoly rent we are charging you on internet access! Also we have noticed that despite bandwidth being cheaper than ever we can also discourage your netflix use by also charging extra for using "too much" data.


There’s one wire going into the house usually that carries media, a coaxial cable. Hence, your options were always Dish or DirecTV satellite or the cable company.

Being able to buy and cancel on demand streaming for $15 or less per month is a massive improvement over the previous situation.

It has never been easier, cheaper, and more convenient to consume basically all content and yet people still find ways to complain.


> hopefully you can shop around

i.e., if you're lucky enough to have more than one alternative (if any).


There may be places that have only one provider with only one option in that provider, but are those places really $135/month with all the TV channels? The issue might be paying for things that are already free over the Internet.


> There may be places that have only one provider with only one option in that provider, but are those places really $135/month with all the TV channels?

Yes, I've lived in places where there is one cable company and they abuse their monopoly position with predatory pricing like this. When you're a new customer, they offer you a deal at maybe ~$60/mo and then over the course of a couple years raise the price to over $120/mo, with price increases every year or two after that, as well.


In the U.S. the vast majority of places have only only provider, there is no shopping around. $135/month sounds about right for the complete package. If you're lucky that includes a "special" on including HBO.

Virtually all places have "specials" on the first year of service, wherein the price will increase 50% or even 100% after the first year, which will almost always put you well into the $100+ range.


I understand. For myself, I chose to solve that by not purchasing any TV, cable phone, or any other package and only getting Internet. Internet is the only useful thing for me from all of that, anyway.

If the prices get too high I call them up and cancel. At that time, they try to keep me as a subscriber by giving me lower rates. If they don't have any available I ask when their new packages are coming out and call back a day after that time.


I can assure you there are.

Comcast hides their real rates as well as they can but in some places they are required to publish them. In my rural area (where they are the only real option):

$139.99 gets you "Select+ Includes Limited Basic, Expanded Basic, Digital Preferred Tier and HD programming for primary outlet, 20 Hour DVR Service, and Blast! Internet"

You can't buy ALL the channels as s bundle but the top tier bundle is $189.99/mo (plus fees)

The prices don't sum reasonably at all and it's not really feasible to calculate a price for TV without internet (and its very difficult to order such a thing)

Source: https://comcaststore.s3.amazonaws.com/prod/wk/urc/585bc33c5b...


There may be places? Try half of America.


I heard Comcast (Xfinity) business model is forget about the threat of Cordcutters, and just keep raising prices, hoping the consumer doesn't notice the costs.

I head this from a Xfinity employee.

My mom showed me her bill and it was $240 month, for basics channels, internet, hbo, and one other lousy feature she doesn't use.

I trying to get it down, but their contracts have early termination fees in the contract.

They offer reasonable packed rates only to new customers. They know most people won't take back their equipment, and go a few days without service, in order to save $100 plus a month. I don't know how they legally get away with their business practices.

She has bern a faithful customer since 1972.

She is in Marin County, USA.

If anyone knows of a different company please give me some advice.

(I looked into AT&T, but they have almost the same business model as Comcast.)


The price for essentially just 120Mbps (sold as 200) down and 6 up is over 100 for internet + 15 for the box if you don't get your own. With TV and a few premium channels it would easily be $200. They are also have only one competitor of note in the downtown of a city of 50K people, a DSL provider offering a service slow enough that its not technically considered broadband anymore by present standards.


I saved about $120/month starting late last year when I dropped cable TV and landline from my cable package. (This is in NE US.)


Sure maybe some are willing to pay, but finding what you want to watch across 10x different services is obnoxious. Signing up for a particular monthly service just to watch a single show is also not ideal.


>We have not yet approached the pre-streaming willingness to pay

Even if that is true, I am pretty sure it is specific to US only. I dont believe any other place in the world are paying that much for monthly TV content, where Free ( paid by Tax or not ) OTA TV are the norm, and paid are mostly for Live Sports Content.

In US it seems you need "Cable" for everything.


Russia and China are paying almost as much(adjusted to income)


Fragmentation across streaming services may do more to increase piracy than overly-expensive cable packages. Even if the total monthly cost is lower with six streaming services, there is a higher likelihood to look at each of the $10/mo services and say “not worth it” than a single $100/mo cable subscription. The music streaming industry was smart enough to avoid primarily competing on catalogue exclusives. When all services have near-identical catalogs, they are forced to compete on price & UX.

Amazon did not take over online shopping because it had the lowest prices at any cost. It grew dominant because it was the everything store and any higher prices they charged were not higher enough to make it worth the time to comparison-shop or look for specialty retailers.


I've never paid more than around $150/month for internet+tv.

I switched back to cable TV a few years ago. It's just cheaper for me now. The price of streaming has risen, and the price of cable has fallen.


Instead of having cable, I used to rent or buy movies. It’s no fun to rent now and the terms and duration suck and it’s hard to get a physical copy now so you’re tied to some service for life if you “buy”


Netflix still offers their original service that got them started and helped them wipe out Blockbuster and other competition: DVD's in the mail. https://dvd.netflix.com/


Did we just have a poor DVD player or are scratched disks a problem for everyone using this service?


Interesting; I didn’t know that


You can still buy physical copies. BR are actually super cheap now that nobody buys them. I'd rather pay to truly own my movies.


I know a few people that pay $200+ for cable, PLUS all of the streaming services...


> Frankly, I'm glad I have a waning interest in modern movies as I get older, and I'm actually more interested in watching old black and white movies that are "free to air" in my country.

My mother recently gave me a sub-account to Netflix and while I was thrilled to rewatch some shows I liked (like the OA or good old star trek) I was quickly submerged by the sheer amount of YA novels adapted in TV shows or movies that are really mediocre. Now I see there's a lot of content on Netflix but I feel like I am swimming in an ocean of never ending content produced with the same recipe.


Netflix is terrible if you have good taste in movies.

I'm with you on the old black/white movies.

I actually think Amazon got a great deal buying MGM.

If TCM was available, Nefflix should look into buying it. They have a great library of old movies.


TCM was available (alongside all of Warner Bros. Media, Turner Media and DC Comics)... It's getting absorbed by Discovery [1], I imagine that a competitive bidding process must have taken place, presumably Netflix didn't see the benefits.

[1] https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/24/john-malone-sees-warnermedia...


TCM content is mostly available on HBO Max.


> I feel like I am swimming in an ocean of never ending content produced with the same recipe.

This is what machine learning, pattern recognition will get us.

I watched one show in Amazon prime. One shocking thing I noted besides repetitive plots every few episodes, is that one character say something and after few minutes or next episode another character spoke exactly same sentence in different situation. And it happened so many times I thought I knew what is about to be said.


I think the machine learning part in that is massively exaggerated, perhaps to avoid personal responsibility. Detecting the patterns in commercially successful movies hardly requires complex pattern recognition algorithms. I would claim that most movies made in the past decades were copying ideas that had turned out to be successful earlier. Maybe machine learning can add some tiny extra on top of the recipe, but I think it's still the producers who are to blame for the lack of creativity.


> I think the machine learning part in that is massively exaggerated,

You are right of course. I said that in half-jest. It is like at work where every product/project is working on something next generation. Irritates the hell out of me. So in morning meetings I so often ask "Are we fixing it now or it will be part of our next gen product?"


Not just the producers but the overall strategy. Right now, these media companies are competing on quantity because it's a numbers game and a marketing gimmick to showcase your "vast" collection, however mediocre.


The Criterion collection is a good choice for those with a more discerning taste in film. Well curated too. But expensive.


Criterion Channel is a great, lower-budget streaming option ($11/month)


Well Netflix formula is throw a bunch of stones in the ocean and see what sticks and then make more of it. Its a bad strategy because users waste time watching content they would rather not watch. HBO imo is the only platform that focus on quality rather than the number of shows.


Yep, HBO is the only streaming platform with consistent quality. It’s also the only one I pay for. There are approximately 0 Netflix originals that are on par with the ‘good’ HBO series, same for amzn and Hulu.


> Well Netflix formula is throw a bunch of stones in the ocean and see what sticks and then make more of it.

I read it was more than that. Shows have to bring in more customers, keeping them hooked to a show (or the platform) is not enough now. They will more and more invest only in content that bring in more customers, not just keeping the ones they already have. I read that's why the OA got cancelled: it wouldn't bring in more views and the show would have been more expensive.


I would argue Apple is trying to follow the HBO formula. They are not quite there yet, but the Apple shows I have watched have all been good, with Ted Lasso being great.


The ML lays out the broad strokes of what it thinks will perform thematically which coincidentally is what uncreative producers have been doing for years.

(see Avatar is Dances with Wolves with Blue Aliens)


> No customer wants to spend X on Shudder, Y on Netflix, and Z on Prime, plus Hulu, HBO, and your cable/satellite fee either. Paying 200 GBP/USD a month is utterly absurd.

When we’re done talking about the quantity of movies, let’s talk about quality.

If an awesome movie goes to the cinema, like Twilight, you’ll be able to watch Werewolf on Netflix. With abysmal plot and acting. If you type Mission Impossible, you’ll certainly get Suits.

The search is so abysmal, always suggesting the same 40 series on and on, that people exchange numeric codes which allow them to discover new categories (but half the titles will be already seen). A/B testing probably shows that after seeing a title for 6 weeks and dodging it, you end up watching it, because, there’s only that.

It’s not that I don’t want to pay $40 a month for 4 services, it’s that even at that price, I still can’t watch the quality movies.

And let’s not even start with ideology-pushing in movies.


Imagine, people making art because they have something to say. The horror. The horror.


... this comment reminds me of something about the smell of napalm, and victory ...


My rule of thumb regarding watching content is: if its only 1 movie or tv show I want to watch just pirate it, if its more than one on a streaming platform subscribe to it. I subscribe to netflix just once a year to watch everything I want to watch and then don't bother subscribing again for a year. I guess eventually I will do the same to other platforms if they have enough content in them.

I can't fathom how someone can pay to streaming sites month after month unless they have quite a lot of stuff they want to watch.


>I can't fathom

A lot of people just can't be bothered tracking their usage over time of a bunch of services and keeping track of what lives where. I don't have a lot of services so it's not worth optimizing to save $10/month or something like that.


> I'm actually more interested in watching old black and white movies that are "free to air" in my country

My experience has been that old (black and white or otherwise) movies are hard to find now. Especially if you just want to watch it once and don't want to buy an old DVD or VHS.


In the UK, a lot of channels still play these old films. In fact over the pandemic, there's actually a channel that was set up to specifically play these films:

https://www.filmstories.co.uk/features/talking-pictures-tv-t...


Why do you need cable/satellite if you're playing the a la carte game of streaming? I feel like the world where you have cable and streaming services is ending and you either live in a world with cable and maybe or two streaming services; similar to paying extra for HBO and Cinemax with your cable service in the past, or you cut the cord and manage bundling the "networks" yourself. Netflix+Hulu+HBOMax+Sports/Local News subscriptions all tally to less than cable used to, you get more content, and all that content is on demand and free of commercials. This notion that service has backpedaled is nonsense. It baffles me why people still cling to their cable service and then expect "premium" channels be free and also share their content with one another. Which cable networks did that? When new episodes of Seinfeld were airing which networks could you watch them on? Just one? So unfair! I prefer the commercials on ABC! Perhaps you felt differently because you had no alternative to buying all the "streaming services of the day" under a single bundle. Now you do. You don't like TNT? Don't pay for it. ESPN never get turned on? Now you can drop it from your bill.


For many people in the states it is difficult or impossible to get internet without cable bundled in.

And your argument assumes that the shows you want are clustered into one of the providers. But what if you like one show from Netflix, one from Hulu, one from HBOMax, etc. You still have to pay for all the shows you don't care about from each of those providers. The different streaming services is roughly equivalent to the different channel bundles that cable companies offered before.

Sure, the streaming situation isn't any worse than cable was, but it could still be a lot better. Imagine if streaming services had to compete on the quality of the service itself instead of the content available on the network. If you are ok with ads if you get a lower price, use one service. If you are willing to pay more for 4K content for everything, use a different service, etc.


Maybe there could be a standard industry fee paid based on number of users and resolution instead of exclusives. This is kind of how radio works.


In the UK at least, it's Sky (satellite) or Virgin (cable), and they both bundle internet access with the service. Often it's more expensive to get the internet service on its own (Virgin) than getting the 'bundle' (tv+internet).

Also, the free-to-air reception in some parts of the UK is still so poor, you need cable or satellite to watch any TV at all.


On the FTA point, Freesat is the satellite equivalent of Freeview and needs no subscription. Many TVs have Freesat tuners built in so you just need the dish.


But that's the thing. You don't have to pay for cable anymore. And if you want to watch a show, you can subscribe for a month, get your fill, and then unsubscribe. You couldn't do that before.


You can't do the pop in/pop out thing anymore, because they've (Amazon) started posting only one episode per week instead of a full season at once.


THIS.

Forcing consumers to sign up to 10 platforms to watch 10 movies will no doubt lead to a shift back to torrents.

YouTube is pretty good in this regard, as it allows paying for renting a single movie for a weekend for a reasonable price.


Although very limited in its content, at least in Canada. My understanding is that it's because of old exclusivity contracts with cable providers.

And indeed, our process is: "Can we rent it? No, fine let's fine a pirated copy". Not going to get cable for one night to watch this one movie. Everybody's losing by hanging on those old outdated systems.


Amazon and Apple also have stream rentals. That said, I have Netflix (free with my T-mobile phone service) and HBO (free with my AT&T fiber internet) and Apple+ (free with the recently purchased iPads for the kids) and Hoopla (free from the library) and Kanopy (free from the library) and Disney+ (we actually pay for this one) and I never feel the need to say, I must watch this movie which isn't available on one of the services right now. If anything, I have too many options of what to watch.


The tyranny of choice.

Have you ever heard of the indie mubi?

https://mubi.com/


Mubi really is excellent if you like the kind of art-house content they license. I think if I only kept one streaming service it'd be them.


Nooooooo! No more choices!

Seriously.

I've stumbled across various streaming services that look like they have stuff I might like, but I really have more than I need already. And I always forget that because my wife pays for Prime, we have Amazon Prime streaming too.


Blockbusters used to be really good for this. You could even get a movie for a whole week for less than YouTube will rent it to you for 24 hours.

Maybe they'll make a comeback?


This. I don't understand why streaming a movie is so much more expensive than renting a physical DVD or VHS from a brick-and-morter store. If I want to watch a new movie, it is generally much cheaper to rent a DVD from redbox than watching it from any of the streaming services that allow you to rent it online.


It's because of the first sale doctrine. Redbox and family video can buy DVDs and Blu-Rays (at a maximum) at the same price as consumer DVD/Blu-Ray--and rent them out without permission from the copyright holder. That means video rental stores can undercut the VOD prices.

Consumers are willing to pay more for VOD because its easier. Having to return the disc is a pain in the ass.


... There used to be this little startup company and service, where you could queue movie/TV shows, then you would receive the discs in the mail, with a paid envelope to return them as well...

AFAIK - only in the US though, there was much talk at launch of how they got special deals with the US postal service.

Whatever happened to those guys...? (https://dvd.netflix.com/)

Apparently they still do it - I thought it was phased-out for streaming years ago.


It seems like there should be a similar mechanism for VOD. Although, VidAngel tried to do that and was sued almost to death by big media.


It's not possible to lend digital media out without making a copy(remotely streaming it still copying), which isn't protected by the first sale doctrine. Redbox isn't making a copy. That's the big difference.


Is it possible to play a DVD without making a copy in the DVD player's RAM?

What if I extend an HDMI cable from my DVD player to your TV?

My library manages to lend ebooks; they even have wait lists for them.


> My library manages to lend ebooks; they even have wait lists for them.

Those are made available in that format by the publisher. No equivalent for movies is available (as far as I am aware).

Also my understanding is that it was never entirely clear if lending ebooks like that in the US was legal or not. The publishers and lenders both carefully avoided the issue going to court IIUC. (Prior to the Internet Archive's actions, that is.)


Assuming that is true that seems like yet another place where the law isn't well adapted to a digital world.


You can also still subscribe to the Netflix DVD service, although it's degraded compared to what it used to be. They're obviously not replacing a lot of disks when they wear out.


Depends on your cost priorities.

If you're basically just walking by the box anyway while doing something you'd be doing otherwise, sure it's cheaper to drop $2 for a disc.

If you have to make a deliberate trip, you've transportation & opportunity costs. 2 round trips to the box, just to get/return the disc, is 6 miles total (1.5 miles one-way by road & parking lot) for me; at >$3/gal gas (wear/maintenance not included) that's >$1.50 plus the $2 rental. Then there's the time spent getting the disc, as several people wait around for someone to fetch it; if we're already at cumulative $4 cost, I'll pay the extra $1 (<$0.25 each) just so the group can watch what we want right now with a mere wiggling my thumb and not wait around half an hour.


...which is why Redbox puts its boxes in places where people already have to go anyway. It's funny that you think this all needed to be explained in such excruciating detail. It's not rocket science.


Read the post I replied to. I was answering thayne's "I don't understand..." by drawing out hidden costs.

I'm an engineer. I explain things in excruciating detail. That's what I do.


Redbox automated movie rental machines, perhaps?


what will users insert physical media into, these days?


One use QR codes?


USB ports?


Well blockbuster itself no longer exists, so don't count on that one.


Of course I meant their business model, but...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockbuster_(Bend,_Oregon)


I wish we had the data on this but I suspect a customer only selects a one or two video platforms and _MAYBE_ juggles a third when a hot show like GoT shows up, which is rare. There is a limited number of attention hours, it doesn't make sense to be on 10 platforms.

Regardless, the end game of these streaming services is probably going to be consolidation or partners, if it makes since because the market is too diluted. We're coming off, wha, $60-100 a month cable bills? The streaming providers are still siphoning this value before we start seeing consolidation of the losers with the winners.


It's probably more than one or two. Amazon Prime Video and Netflix are two right there. But, you're right, The reality is that most people don't feel like they have to see a particular show. In any case, for the time being, it's pretty easy to dip in and out. I guess I have four at the moment (though two of them are free for various reasons).

Depending upon how you allocate the cost of Amazon Prime though, I'm saving a lot compared to when I had cable--albeit at the cost of losing live TV.


I have Netflix, Prime Video is basically free (I have Prime for other reasons), HBO comes with my ATT internet, AppleTV is included with a new device, but will then come with Apple One (which is a good deal if you have a family of users), and Hulu.

I pay for Hulu because I'll pay just about anything to never see a commercial. When I do have time to watch something, I don't want to see commercials. If that means paying a bit extra to have another service, so be it.


Yep, Netflix and Amazon Prime are a given for us (Netflix a bit less so lately, actually considering taking a break from it for the first time in years), and then we'll add Disney+/Hulu or HBO Now for a month or two a couple times a year.

By the way, has anyone checked out the free movies on Youtube? There's some good 80s and 90s classics on there lately. Supposedly it's with ads, but I don't see too many when I watch, certainly less than Hulu.


I think you're very much on point on the number services a customer signs up for.

In that light it makes perfect sense for Amazon to enhance their offering, as they are third or fourth in streaming.

There never seems to be something to watch consistently on Prime at least here in Europe.


Prime is already enhanced by its delivery services, something the others can't offer. Like I had Prime already just for that and didn't really start watching shows on it much until recently.

But that being said they've definitely stepped up their Originals game lately. Last few shows we've watched on there are all excellent (Invincible, The Boys, Upload).


In the USA, they came down hard of torrents.

My neighbor got busted a few years back by Xfinity, and it was a big deal.


>... and it was a big deal.

It's my understanding that Xfinity sends a few warning notices, just a little slap on the wrist, before they end up terminating your account or something (though a quick cursory Google brings up a Reddit thread where someone claiming to have worked for Cumcrust said they never saw any accounts terminated for that). I know I received one letter like 7 years ago for downloading 'Christmas Vacation' and nothing else ever happened. Speaking from experience, if you use a VPN to torrent then they'll leave you alone.

I'd be curious how much - and what - your neighbor was doing to have made it a big deal, and what Xfinity's response/reaction was.


maybe times have changed, but before I got a VPN, I used to get copyright notices all the time. I didn't notice for a few years because they went to an @comcast.com email address that I never checked. when I finally looked, I saw pages and pages of sternly written emails. if freely torrenting movies for years isn't enough to get disconnected, I dunno what is.


That's odd. For a long time the standard response in the US was to severely throttle connection speed for some duration if there were too many notices within a given time period.


Really? Got busted a number of time in France and in the US and nothing ever happened and I just kept torrenting.


Best solution IMO is to rent a $10 a month seedbox and use it for torrenting.

And/or only use private trackers. Stay away from the public ones.


This is the obvious outcome from customers wanting to drop the all you can eat cable model and pick and choose.

If any one "stream everything" service popped up with every providers content, it would cost $200+ a month, and essentially a cable tv subscription all over again just without the cable box, and everyone would complain it's too expensive and go back to piracy.


Amazon does this as well, I can rent pretty much any movie or tv show through it.


Amazon allows this too.


Or we could fall back to watching movies made from the ‘30s to the ‘50s, that’s what I have been doing for more than half a year now and it has been wonderful for my mental well-being (they really knew how to make comedies back then, even after the Hayes code).


I've just made this comment myself. It's amazing how much casual violence there is in modern films that you just don't notice because it's everywhere.

I've watched more black and white classics in the last 15 months than I have in the last 20 years. Particularly the old sci-fi, horror, and slapstick films. Harold Lloyd, The Three Stooges, and Chaplin. Plus all the old St Trinians, and Sherlock Holmes. Abbot and Costello and so on. So pleasant to watch.


oh yah, my family totally dropped out of modern media, and man whenever we go to visit extended family and other stuff and they happen to be watching something on TV or a movie or whatever holy smokes it's pretty incredible how resensitized we have become to that violence. I can't stomach it. Probably took several years to happen quietly in the background, not even doing anything particular other than not consuming such media.


Now that I think about it, I've come to realize that a large fraction of entertainment operates at the extrema of human experience, otherwise it would be too mundane and unentertaining. But if most of those so called entertaining things took place in front of you they'd be crazy intense, too intense for daily living. Even something ordinary like a makeup commercial, if you had women staring at you like they do in those shoots that be pretty out of the ordinary. In that regard everything is sort of exaggerated.


Almost every episode of every show now has somebody vomit. Watch for it, it cannot be unseen, you wouldn’t notice it until you can’t stop noticing it


Certainly no violence in the 3 Stooges. Lol, every episode would be considered a documentary of domestic abuse today.


Reminds me of "breaking bread with the dead" by turning away from the constant deluge of content and looking at works of the past.

https://harpers.org/archive/2020/10/no-time-but-the-present-...


Our whole family has been doing that this year. Watching older movies and TV shows is much more pleasant all around.

This was tougher growing up when kids all watched the same shows and talked about them, but with content so all over the place now that common thread seems to be mostly gone at school (outside of internet video stuff).


> Watching older movies and TV shows is much more pleasant all around.

My girlfriend somehow grew up completely unaware of Star Trek, so I introduced her to The Next Generation last year and we've been watching it (rewatching in my case, but for the first time in over two decades) one episode a day.

It's so relaxing, in a way that almost no modern TV is. No end-of-episode cliffhangers or other mechanisms trying to make you binge-watch. We can just watch one episode to unwind, discuss it a bit if it's one of the better thought-provoking ones, and then go to bed.


I feel the same way! My partner also hadn't watched much Star Trek before. During the pandemic, we watched all of Enterprise, Voyager, and now into DS9 (I had watched TNG so much when I was younger I wanted to start with my less-watched series). The episodes are calm, and the competence of the characters is refreshing as well.


Try the Stargate franchise, same era. Also Farscape (very good).


> My girlfriend somehow grew up completely unaware of Star Trek, so I introduced her to The Next Generation

> It's so relaxing, in a way that almost no modern TV is. No end-of-episode cliffhangers

That is not how I would describe Star Trek: the Next Generation. Every season ends with a cliffhanger.


Are you somehow forgetting that this is merely one out of the 26 episodes that make up a season, or are you cherry-picking?


I'm saying that cliffhangers are a major element of TNG and constitute a very deliberate part of its "house style". They are a small percentage of episodes, but if you made a list of what made TNG distinctive, "seasonal cliffhangers" would be on that list. As such, it's strange to remark on how the show lacks cliffhangers. It's notable for having them!


Words derive meaning from their context, and you're pulling mine out of theirs. The full sentence is:

> No end-of-episode cliffhangers or other mechanisms trying to make you binge-watch.

I'm talking about mechanisms that modern TV uses to trick people into watching a series many episodes at a time until they're too tired to go on. An end-of-season cliffhanger that was designed to ensure people would come back when the series returned next season after a long break from their weekly Star Trek watching habit is not at all the same thing. Nothing about TNG is attempting to make me, the viewer, binge-watch it.

In the case of me and my GF, since we know exactly when we are about to watch an end-of-season episode we just plan an extra hour for it that evening. That's it.


> No end-of-episode cliffhangers

Well, except for the season finale/openers from Season 3 on; but, yes, TV in general (even before streaming, DS9-VOY-ENT all show this trend within thr Trek franchise) has become less episodic since the TNG era.


I believe you mean more serialized. Episodic, defined as "containing or consisting of a series of loosely connected parts or events", is the opposite of what you mean.


> I believe you mean more serialized.

Yeah (I think the actual intent was “less episodic”, and I’ve corrected it to that, but same thing.)


>No end-of-episode cliffhangers

There are a handful of those in TNG. But only a handful.


Same here, but we haven't gone as far back as the 50s. Mostly we've been enjoying family movies from the 70s, 80s, and early 90s, back when sets were elaborate and most effects were practical. Many of these older movies have really stood the test of time. Hook, The Goonies, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Muppets movies, Ernest Scared Stoopid, Willy Wonka, etc are all family favorites.


Yep. Agreed completely. Even early 2000’s shows like Smallville and The Flash have been pretty safe and fun.


I’m being pedantic, but the 2 Flash series ran during the 90s and mid-2010 :)


It's a comic book adaptation. Nerds being pedantic about it is part of the deal ;)


I love old movies, especially around the 50's-70's, but I'll admit that you're not gonna see a whole lot of diversity in that era. I'm not meaning to moralize. It's just hard to find movies that say, have an Asian character that isn't a horrible racist caricature.


Awe yes diversity. Can't go a day with out reading this ever lasting buzzword.

Is that really your determining factor while deciding to watch a movie? It isn't mine. I watch a movie because its a good movie, I don't go searching for diversity, I like watching a movie because of its entertainment value. You should try it.


Forced diversity is one of the big issues with modern media. Instead of making an actually diverse character, yano, with human thoughts and feelings, they just tick some skin and gender boxes and leave it at that. It's just another form of stereotyping.


If you're a minority, it's nice having a relatable positive role model in the media you consume.


Or, at a minimum, to not have a negative role model.


Yeah I'd just settle for not-racist-caricature, looking at you Mickey Rooney


Or Bugs Bunny for that matter.


There are lots of awesome asian movies in that period.


Not enough is said about this. The amount of TV available for free (with an internet connection) these days is mind-boggling, and the vast majority of people ignore these options altogether.


People are social.

I don't only watch a movie or a TV show for the intrinsic entertainment quality, I also do it so that I can talk about what I watch with others.

That artsy Swiss movie from 1929 is not as popular a theme as the latest episode of Ozark.


I get your point but I don't think not having friends to talk to about a piece of media with is necessarily a good reason not to engage with it.


Time is limited.


We've had a regular "bad movie night" throughout the pandemic, and there are a lot of these that are available to pirate up to about the 90s on Youtube (or occasionally dailymotion) simply because their distributors no longer care about them.


I do the "bad movie night" with family too. I suggest Titanic 2 on Tubi. It's amazing in sheer awfulness.


Why do you spend time watching bad movies?


I find humour in very bad movies. Not like run of the mill garbage, like "so bad it's good" stuff.


Have you ever watched MST3K? I think I have several dozen MST3K movies in my collection.


Yes. Used to watch with my father when it ran on scifi channel.


Movies from the 30s to the 50s are still mostly captured under copyright now. It's directly movies from the 30s to 50s that are possibly one of the biggest reasons to oppose Amazon buying MGM, because it is one of the larger 30s to 50s back catalogs in general, but especially it was one of the larger 30s to 50s back catalogs not directly associated with a specific VOD streaming service and so open to and optioned by many of them. Amazon consolidating that to Amazon Prime will potentially be a huge blow to the general availability of older films.


I've seen a few myself. They probably don't hit as hard as when they were new, but certainly a few still hold up acceptably. Especially compared to some mass produced content today which is cringey and predictable.


Or just watch whatever one service provides. My queue on any service is always way longer than what I can get thru.

YouTube & others provide a large library for free (with ads). I assume most here are Amazon Prime members anyway, so that vast library is practically free. Apple TV always has some good $5 movies.

As I get older, the less I care about seeing the latest stuff - as there's always more I want to watch than I can get to.

(And if there really isn't enough for you to watch, you really need be doing something else.)


Any recommendations?


The Naked City by Jules Dassin is a really good police procedural. If you like stuff like Law & Order, this is the progenitor.

The Third Man is classic, classic noir. Between the on location shooting in Vienna, fantastic performances by Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles, and really distinctive cinematography, it's just stunning.

A Man Escaped. To quote Godard, "He is the French cinema, as Dostoevsky is the Russian novel and Mozart is German music". If you like simple, but beautiful films, watch Bresson. A Man Escaped makes all other prison break films, with their endless plot twists and convolutions, seem utterly pointless. Instead Bresson focuses on the character, the drama and the methodical process of breaking out.


The intruder with William Shatner https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ci4dQ2QzBhE

The story depicts the machinations of a racist named Adam Cramer (Shatner), who arrives in the fictitious small Southern town of Caxton in order to incite white townspeople to racial violence against black townspeople and court-ordered school integration.


Shatner doesn't get his due. That guy's got chops.


Gregory Peck made a lot of great movies. Charade and North by Northwest are both very good.


I'm surprised how well NbNW holds up.


Some Like it Hot is hilarious.


Arsenic and Old Lace


A thousand times this. Best screwball comedy ever.

Also You Can't Take It With You. Now you've seen one Cary Grant and one Jimmy Stewart. To finish up you can get both of them with Catherine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story.


Dr Strangelove, All About Eve, Singing in the Rain


'desk set' holds up remarkably well. some great performances and dialogue.


HIS GIRL FRIDAY, THE AWFUL TRUTH, the SHERLOCK HOLMES series with Basil Rathbone


Anything Marx Brothers is hilarious


Word of warning that Day at the Races has a "minstrel show" scene that's pretty offensive even by 30s standards. Other than that, the Marx Brothers are easily the greatest comedy troupe in American history, and their films are still some of the funniest ever made


The best comedy I know!


Casablanca

Dead of Night

Modern times

The third man


Buster Keaton is a favorite of mine


So wait, your solution is to encourage all consumers to break the law and put themselves at legal risk, rather than have reasonable legislation focused on consumer welfare and encouraging competition?


Yes, because as of today, right now, every human on earth could decide to not visit the cinema again and instead download the content off of the internet.

The laws take time, need to be tested in courts and are generally not as effective.

If you're constantly under threat of losing your entire income stream and there's nothing you can do to prevent that (because the only way to prevent piracy of digital content is to ban the internet) it's a pretty decent motivator to do the right thing.


Sure, but the idea of mass collective action is always a bit of a nuclear option, because it takes a huge bit of motivation to actually make _everyone_ do anything. So, could they? Sure. Will they en masse? No.

Everyone could have stolen cable back in the day and caused a decrease in cable prices and increase in customer experience. They didn't.


Is not a solution but an observation. Your proposal could be a better solution but until then piracy is the next-best thing for many consumers.


I think we're at or approaching a tipping point. For a long while I've not been able to justify the effort it takes to maintain automatic content downloads and a streaming server. But that maintenance cost isn't higher when I want content from an additional platform. If I'm gonna pirate an Amazon/MGM exclusive then I'm gonna cancel Netflix, Hulu, Paramount+ and Apple TV+ too.


Piracy was the Easiest/Only way to get content until ~2008ish. Since then; Netflix and (...x streaming platform) made it easier/better to Pay for the content than pirate it.

It does feel like we're approaching a tipping point now in the other direction with all of these streaming fiefdoms.

My household has Netflix, Hulu, D+, and Prime streaming now - that's already too many and needs pairing IMO.


I'd argue that we've reached the tipping point already. It will accelerate now. netflix just increased their prices again to compensate for slowing growth.

All these stream platforms produce their own exclusive shows and chances are that you're only interested in one or two flag ship series and the occasional movie or so. I believe this will hurt hulu the most then hbo before the rest, because compared to netflix and disney they have less exclusive content. This leads to a downward spiral, where you need more exclusive content to attract users which leads to more fragmentation and eventually drives costs, which is bad for platforms with less (exclusive) content, because user may ditch first because of unattractive content/cost ratio...

Pirating is great if you're just interested in a particular new show but nothing else, for me that's HBO. What you're missing out on with pirating is discovering new shows/movies that you actually like just by browser the platform.


Cable providers were charging you $80/mo for commercial laden network aggregation. You cut that cord and complain when paying less for more content, without commercials, and is on demand, because it is unbundled and you need to manage each $5-15 "network" fee individually, instead of a single itemized bill.

This is like complaining you have to pay for NBC to watch Friends when you'd much prefer to watch it on ABC so you can avoid paying for both.


Absolutely. I see a lot of rationalization for piracy here, even though media consumption has never been cheaper or more convenient.

I can't speak for the Android ecosystem, but the iOS ecosystem's Apple TV app (Netflix notwithstanding) aggregates channels into one nice experience, and the App Store makes these channels trivial to subscribe to and cancel, making it easy to decide month-to-month what I want to pay for.


> You cut that cord and complain when paying less for more content.

For a few years there; it felt like I could watch ~anything i wanted on Netflix or Crunchyroll. Now it feels like I need 10 services. Maybe my viewing habits have changed; but I haven't started a torrent in a decade and I've been tempted recently.


We never paid for networks, we paid for a handful of shows that were worth watching, which happened to be on different channels because physics.

Now they are on different platforms, because no good reason at all.

A copyright holder of a creative work should be able to set the price, but should not be able to use their monopolistic powers to control who pays the price. Let each channel decide if they want to buy a given show at a given price.


> which happened to be on different channels because physics.

So why do we see wars for who gets to stream Friends/Seinfeld/The Office/etc now? The networks don't own that content, it was just physics?

> Let each channel decide if they want to buy a given show at a given price.

That's not how this works now, nor has it ever worked this way. If Network A is paying for the exclusive broadcast rights, then Network B doesn't also have an equal Right to also purchase the exclusive broadcast rights. This has always worked this way. If Disney produces Disney Mouse Club Cartoon it has no obligation to allow any network purchase the exclusive rights to broadcast that show because it already purchased them in the form of owning the original production, and therefore copyright, from its inception.


You are quite right in that it doesn't work this way, I am advocating a change in the law. Remember copyright is a temporary monopoly granted to promote science and the useful arts.


So let's imagine the streaming services operate like channels--which is to say they have some content they get created and other content that they license. Now imagine there's a common platform or at least common portal that aggregates them all and bills you for access to everything. You've now effectively recreated the cable bundle and your monthly bill is probably going to be $100-$200/month. (Maybe more if it includes something like YouTube TV.) Is that actually what you want?


I wouldn't pay that much, which suggests that I wouldn't have access to everything, but I would probably get best or alternatively everything in a certain niche (ie. a sci-fy channel that has nothing but sci-fy). Why pay for romantic comedy and horror when I don't want to watch it?


Why is a channel needed? You can go straight from copyright holder to viewer.


So you want to go to every individual studio to watch movies and TV and pay separately?


Makes no difference to me, I just spend a few seconds searching the title and pay and watch what I want when I want. But I also do not watch much.

If enough people want bundled content and are willing to pay enough to make it happen, then content owners will sell it. If not, then the buyers and sellers do not agree on price.


>> Piracy was the Easiest/Only way to get content until ~2008ish. Since then; Netflix and (...x streaming platform) made it easier/better to Pay for the content than pirate it.

Fragmentation still hurts this to an extreme, and - worse - God-awful region locks. As a fan of obscure, cult and independent cinema in particular it’s a wasteland of titles strewn across 5 different services, and being Canadian, piracy is just a fact of life for us.

Nothing beats the convenience of typing in what you’re looking for and actually finding it right away. That pretty much defines convenience. It’s what I expect.

I don’t want to Google what platform my current obscure interest is on, only to maybe find out because I didn’t bother with Paramount+ I’m going to have to torrent it anyway. :P

It’s literally just one extra search to find what streaming platform it’s on - which is an inconvenience* - when I can just do a quick Torrent search, and have a nice high quality copy of pretty much whatever usually within (on my connection) about 5 minutes.

By the time I make my popcorn, the torrent is done, I stream it through my Plex on my Roku, and Plex even gets the metadata for me. It’s kinda scary how good it is.

And talk about how inconvenient region locking is to the point where VPNs actually advertise* the ability to get around this inconvenience as a point of sale.

Piracy’s convenience and case for existence has only gotten seriously stronger as more and more competing streaming services open.

If there was a way to combine search results for services into one like overall UI that would then just direct you to the content even that would be better, but anecdotally most people I know are tired of the fragmentation issue.


I think that 'most items' mentioned in the sibling comment is the problem. Who decides what's included in that subset?

Practical example: "Mockingbird Lane" was released by NBC in 2012, they decided it was 'not worthy' and removed it from their streaming library.

Can you guess what's the only way to watch it now?

I do understand the concept of 'What NBC giveth, NBC taketh', but that doesn't mean I have to be happy with it.


There is a way to combine search results. Use the search from the Roku/Google TV/Apple TV/FireTV OS. Unfortunately results are varied. I found search results missing from a lot of platforms when I used Roku. The Chromecast with Google TV has been better. I don't how the search is integrated, e.g. on the backend or in the OS via the app. I'd guess it depends on platform.


> Nothing beats the convenience of typing in what you’re looking for and actually finding it right away. That pretty much defines convenience. It’s what I expect.

You can do this for most items. For example, go to apple’s TV app or play store and purchase or rent the item.


>> You can do this for most items. For example, go to apple’s TV app or play store and purchase or rent the item.

Okay, so you're telling me if I boot up my Apple TV and type in 'The Simpsons', I'm going to immediately get a list of options to watch the Simpsons?

...

No, that won't work - in fact - this was actually my first overall point - the fragmentation issue.

If I search 'The Simpsons' on TPB, I'll get multiple options of quality vs. size, every episode ever, the movie; fullscreen vs. widescreen; etc.

If I search 'The Simpsons' on Apple TV+, I get...nothing.

If I search 'The Simpsons' on Netflix, I get...nothing.

If I search 'The Simpsons' on Amazon Prime, I get...nothing.

If I search 'The Simpsons' on Paramount+, I get...nothing.

So...unless you're subscribed to this one particular streaming service (Disney+), you can't watch one of the most popular shows on television, which often airs on many a channel up here in Canada.

If we're even lucky enough to get the content at all in Canada due to region restrictions.

That's...not convenient. I'm not sure what you meant by your comment, but the fact that you can't do what your comment says was kinda my overall point.


If I search for "Simpsons" in the TV app on my Apple TV 4K, the first option is "The Simpsons" TV show. I press that, I can then scroll through 32 seasons of the Simpsons and choose which episode I want to watch for $3.

If I search for "Sesame Street" in the TV app, the first option is "Sesame Street" TV show, which then leads to the HBO Max app from where I can watch all of the episodes.

If I search for the "The Office", the first option is the US series, which I can purchase for $3 each episode, and the second option is the UK series, which then leads me to HBO Max.

If I search for "Jaws", the first option is the first Jaws movie from 1975, which then opens up in HBO Max. Note that Apple does not ask me to purchase the Jaws movie, and instead offers to play it in HBO Max, since apparently HBO Max is currently streaming it.

According to IMDB, the top Bollywood Hindi movie of 2019 are these: https://www.imdb.com/list/ls025693373/

If I search for the top 3, I come up with nothing. The 4th, "Gully Boy" returns with an option to play on Amazon Prime.

Overall, I think as someone who was looking to watch something in the Hollywood/American universe, life is easier than it has ever been. There is probably room for improvement, especially in international titles, but I'm sure that is in the works.


The set of people who know how to set up Plex/Roku is very, very small. My parents can barely figure out how to use Netflix. This is why monthly streaming services exist and will continue to exist


> Since then; Netflix and (...x streaming platform) made it easier/better to Pay for the content than pirate it.

I'd argue that Sonarr, Radarr, etc, have made this process far easier and better than paying for it.


If you're more into movies and don't care about the run-off-the-mill series then Netflix hasn't been a solution for a long time now.


I can probably cancel Netflix now; it's been my generic 'stream something' service for a decade now; out of habit as much as anything else.


> Piracy is competition to bad content behavior. It's a meaningful consumer response to monopoly, balkanization and other anti-consumer practices.

That's similar to saying that stealing candy bars is a meaninful consumer response to high prices at convenience stores.


Asking for a friend of course, but what would be the best setup for a Netflix/Prime/...-like experience for own media for a family of not-too-digitally-savvy users?

That friend uses Kodi (and a NAS) now, but it's still a bit arduous to use for his family. She wants profiles, availability on any device over wifi and 4G and movies and series only.


I couldn't speak directly to this of course but some kind of Plex/Sonarr/Radarr/NzbDrone/NzbHydra/Deluge/Jackett running in docker containers with a GPU or Intel QuickSync for transcoding is something... Maybe throw in Tautilli for monitoring and something like Ombi (There is probably something better now) to make requesting easier and you are off the races. I mean, in theory of course.


This. And do yourself a favour and rent a seedbox where you can run all the above and stream from anywhere. Costs less monthly than the electricity costs for running them in your home.


While this can be true the local option can be quite attractive for the 90%+ use-case of watching at home. Not to mention the costs of storage in the cloud. Best deal I found was a Hertzner server for $30/mo with 6TB (2x3TB). I used that for a while but in the long run, local is king. I have gigabit fiber symmetrical so that does have to be factored in (if you have crappy upload and want to provide for remote access then a seed box might be ideal).


I have a basic nas at home which I periodically download content to from the seedbox so I'm getting away with just 1tb capacity online at around 11euro per month. Have plex running on a raspberrypi which just indexes from both seedbox and nas and serves to TVs around the house without transcoding.


So on the Pi are you mounting the cloud server (or part of it) and then Plex just "proxies" the file to the local TV?


Exactly.

Don't get me wrong I have Netflix and prime but Disney plus, hulu and hbo max are not available to me so I need to work around the stupid global restrictions.


I pay for multiple online services but I hate switching UI/UX/etc and remembering which platform has which show this week and where in the show I am. If I could cache files locally (on a server or phone/tablet) and suck all the content into Plex (or some other third-party client) then I'd pay quite a bit for that service.

As it stands today you can build your own version of this but if you want to stay 100% above board you get a crappier experience (don't get me started on the cluster-f around rights). It reminds me of the jokes back when DVDs were still a "thing" and you had to sit through ads and piracy warnings if you bought it legitimately but if you "stole" it you were able to jump right into the movie.


this probably adds complexity for non-savvy users. for instance, my TV can handle a ~20mbps unencrypted stream. turn on encryption in plex, and that drops down to ~8mbps. I'm fine with routing an unencrypted stream through my LAN, but I'd rather not do that with pirated media through my ISP.


I see your point and it makes sense but it always depends on where you live.


I ditch the management completely and do a Plex Share.


I recommend jellyfin (https://jellyfin.org/). It will require some tech skills to setup, but after that accessing it is as simple as going to the website address it is hosted at.

The best thing about Jellyfin is that it is free software: open source, permissive license, and no paid features (which alternatives like Plex have).

You can host Jellyfin on your own VPS, I host mine on a Hetzner VPS for just over 10 eur / month but that is very overkill, you can host one for far less. The only thing to keep in mind is that transcoding (streaming in a different resolution to the stored media) is quite computationally expensive so if lot's of people are transcoding at once you will need a good CPU.

Then any family member can just visit the IP address of the server in their web browser (or you can buy it a domain name). Jellyfin has a native iOS app they can use from their phones. For viewing it on TVs, there is an app for AppleTV which has Jellyfin support (cant remember the name right now but I can find it if you need it).


Your friend may want to look into Plex. It has a good web client, as well as mobile and desktop so family can use it without a lot of work. It supports profiles and the server manager can assign collections to profiles to enable hiding some content from some users.



Plex gets you part of the way, but for not-tech-savvy people, what you probably really want is a Plex Share, as that will keep you from needing to manage any of the media. You'll have to figure out how to adjust some settings on any TV streaming in 4k for most Shares, but it's not terrible to set up. There's a subreddit for it: https://www.reddit.com/r/plexshares/


Plex and Sonarr is a great place to start.


Lookup plex or jellyfin with sonarr or radarr to handle content. All projects are on github


Most people will suggest Plex, but I prefer Emby 1000x more than Plex


Another meaningful consumer response is just to not watch the movies. No one actually needs them. Take your dog for a walk or read a book or play a video game or whatever. I've never understood why some people feel like they're entitled to watch particular movies.


My biggest gripe is that the prices are totally artificial. I rented The Fugitive (1993 irrc) for $5 for 2 days and it costs $20 to buy it—as much as a brand new blockbuster in HD on physical media. This doesn’t seem like a particularly free market.


It actually looks like the Blu-Ray DVD of The Fugitive is $10. Though in general, older content (whether e-book, streaming movies, or purchased music) never seems to be as much cheaper as you'd think it "should" be. I imagine most of the rights holders don't want to get into a race to the bottom for non-blockbuster content so they tend to stay around industry price norms for newer material.


> It actually looks like the Blu-Ray DVD of The Fugitive is $10. Though in general, older content (whether e-book, streaming movies, or purchased music) never seems to be as much cheaper as you'd think it "should" be. I imagine most of the rights holders don't want to get into a race to the bottom for non-blockbuster content so they tend to stay around industry price norms for newer material.

Right, the copyright holders effectively get to dictate the price and prevent redistribution (how does someone resell their digital [non-physical] copy to me without running afoul of DMCA and the like?). It's not a normal market, and the MPAA and similar organizations have lobbied to dictate the market rules to funnel as much money as possible to them.

For example, copyright terms these days are absurdly long--70 years beyond the lifetime of the original author.


I don't think you can prove that piracy is an effective means to incentivize good behavior on the part of the media industries. Also, it seems irresponsible to openly promote theft as a 'good idea'. I understand there are arguments against calling or treating piracy as theft but at the end of the day you are taking something that isn't yours without paying for it. Encouraging people to take part in illegal activity on the internet has real consequences. I'm guilty of wanting to fight fire with fire as well — and in the past I've pirated plenty. Looking back, it wasn't a good idea then and it still isn't today.


meh, it's a problem of their own making. I used to torrent tons of music. now that I can just buy unencumbered flac files (bandcamp) and stream the rest in good quality for a reasonable price, I don't torrent music. I have room in my budget for a $50/month or even $100/month service where I can stream any movie/show I want. I don't have room in my budget for 5-10 $10/month services where I have to keep track of who has what content and use a bunch of different UIs. it's not even about the money. it's that the paid service manages to be less convenient than VPN+NAS+plex.


It's not though. If you have a system with no piracy, it's an indication that the industry could be more greedy. This is what we saw with Netflix's disruption and the drop of piracy, followed by all the other streaming services and the return of piracy. So there's an acceptable amount of piracy that they're shooting for, and that amount is the line where it's cheapest to lobby the govt to prosecute pirates than it is to give customers a better experience. That's not consumer friendly IMO.


If it isn't legal, and normal democratic processes won't make it legal in the short term, then it isn't viable competition.

DMCA/etc vastly favors content owners who also lobby hard to maintain their ownership by extending copyright and similar protections.

Anti-competitive behavior must be countered but unless it's well funded and focused will end up like the IRS and DMCA today, going after small fish due to lack of resources to challenge those that can afford to fight like players as big as Amazon and MGM.


We for the most part have exponentially more and better content in tv and film, and for MUCH cheaper and with more convenience than 10-15 years ago.

But still people insist that they must pirate because the "studios" for some amorphous reason related to preexisting hatred of corporations or whatever.

Some people would just prefer to not pay for shit I guess. I just wish they'd be more honest about it than the mental gymnastics used to defend piracy.


> But still people insist that they must pirate because the "studios" for some amorphous reason related to preexisting hatred of corporations or whatever.

This is not a good faith reading or interpretation. The frustration is in the fragmentation; having to subscribe to multiple services to get the content you want because it's otherwise siloed.

Hitting that point - having to subscribe to 3 or more services to get a small subset of that service's offerings is driving people back to piracy.


You don't have to subscribe to 3 or more services to get a "small subset" of the service's offerings.

You get ALL of their offerings.

The idea that you should pay less than $8 for Disney Plus because you only want to watch Mandalorian when you actually get access to literally dozens of extremely high quality titles is just fucking dumb.

The previous option was pay $14 per person to go to a theater and that's the only thing you get to watch. Or pay $120 a month for cable.

It's all just ludicrously deranged mental gymnastics to justify the fact you don't want to pay for anything.

Which you can do, that's fine, just be honest about it!


> It's all just ludicrously deranged mental gymnastics to justify the fact you don't want to pay for anything.

This is incredibly backwards. I want to pay for what I want. That's how it works with literally every other product on earth, including the movie theater you brought up. I don't have to spend $80 for 4 movies when I only want to watch one. I don't have to spend $20 on bananas, apples, grapes when I only want a mango.


Piracy doesn't solve the more dangerous underlying problem of influencing opinions.

For example all Apple TV shows are full of Apple product placement every minute or so.

It's not something new, Disney creates most of their characters with merchandising in mind. Look at baby Yoda.

But it also goes deeper, when it aims to spread ideologies and behaviors.

Now that a James Bond villain write the show, I wonder who the bad guy will be.


>>Disney creates most of their characters with merchandising in mind. Look at baby Yoda.

They may try for that, but recent star wars is a merchandising disaster. Baby Yoda is the only real success with Cara Dune coming in second before they nuked that.


Such laws already exist, to some extent. The issue is in the number of back doors providing large corporations to behave ruthlessly.


Been in usenet for a while now. 4k remux all the way!


Quite. I DCCed Trek and SG1 episodes in the late 90s and early 00s because they weren't available in the UK.

I don't do that with Discovery, Picard, Wandavision, etc, because they are available.

Then they completely cocked up Lower Decks and wouldn't take my money. Bittorrent to the rescue.

There is always competition.


Another scifi fan. Good choices.


Came here to say this, I avoid giving money to Amazon like the plague. I will go out of my way and invest my personal time as long as Amazon gets nothing. Don't give them your money.


How about something legal instead?


piracy and the subsequent success of platforms like steam and spotify prove time and again that it boils down to a delivery issue, not a human desire for illegal sourcing.

Same issue with sports streaming. Why pay six different services to watch a 720p legal stream when i can watch a stream from Russia in 1080p with questionable ads?


Yes. A single service, with a single bill, that makes available every movie, TV show, or album ever produced. That's it. If you can provide this you can have my money.

This is not a technical problem anymore. It's a business problem. The company who can make these nebulous "licensing problems" and "distribution rights issues" go away can make a fortune. I don't care that Company A can't distribute the digital version of Company B's product because Company C has the exclusive rights to it and Company D only has a license with Company A to distribute optical discs. That shouldn't be something the end user has to worry about or be limited by. These media execs are so smart, why can't they untangle this problem?

I'm not going to subscribe to a dozen different services each with their own bill, their own account, their own password, their own rules and terms. Easier to hoist the Jolly Roger and move on with my life.


> Yes. A single service, with a single bill, that makes available every movie, TV show, or album ever produced. That's it. If you can provide this you can have my money.

For this, don’t expect to get this kind of service for 10 or 20 bucks a month; be prepared to shell out at least $100 or even more. Would you be willing to do that? How many people would be willing to do that?


Exactly. I don't watch a lot of video and there's very little that I need to watch right now. I'm very happy that my video bill is mostly just Netflix plus the odd purchase vs. the $100 or so I was paying for cable TV.

I suspect that most people aren't actually complaining about fragmentation. They want one $15-20/month site that has everything.


Yeah, apparently everyone wants cable TV back + more, just for 1/10 the price of course. And around and around we go...


Yep. I keep Prime for the shipping but I took a break from Netflix and just pirated Army of the Dead.

If they want to be consumer hostile, we should be hostile as well.


I've paid for content and watched it on pirate sites anyway because they're better organized - and they don't bury some titles to promote others.


How about we make the platform exclusives illegal instead?

What is and isn't legal is not an unchangeable property of the universe. These things can change. Piracy for personal use was (and still is) legal in many places before the RIAA/MPAA started exerting political pressure. Heck, piracy was the primary selling point of VHS recorders and tape decks. Only recently have we shifted to read-only media that's hard to copy.


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