Viewer controls the entertainment: TiVo remote

Entertainment 3.0 puts the consumer fully in control of their viewing choices, legal or otherwise.

Entertainment channels are developing rapidly, and those who provide the entertainment are under immense pressure to keep pace.

Just this month a string of high profile access failures, from the Oscars to the Veronica Mars release, have called into question how well new delivery methods are being managed.

The sub-plot to this story, though many may not make the connection, is that an important play against piracy is underway.

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A Bit of Background

First we had push formats, based on rigid television and radio broadcast schedules.  Then came recording technologies that started the shift to viewing on demand; slowly at first, until TiVo, DVRs and cable watch later options gave broadcasters fair warning that the viewer would soon be in control.

Now, with the digital era in full swing, viewers hold almost all the cards. Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Spotify give subscribers access to vast archives of movies and music, when and where they want them. Cord-cutting is becoming a concept everyone can grasp, as affordable devices like Chromecast, Roku and Apple TV hook up our online entertainment channels to home media systems.

Even traditional broadcasters are now moving quickly, offering watch anywhere apps for their content and bending to the viewing demands of subscribers. The next generation of entertainment consumption is more or less here, and it has the potential to deal a body blow to piracy if handled well.

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Beating Pirates at their Own Game

The primary driver of piracy is of course cost, but this is an area where the creative industries can’t tread gently. If someone doesn’t want to pay for content and is willing to knowingly steal it instead, they need to be pursued through legal channels.

When it comes to more intangible motivators to piracy, however, a more subtle approach is probably the better strategy. Most consumers don’t want to break the law and would happily pay for an easy to use, reliable system of delivery for their entertainment.

For these people, the fight against piracy becomes about education and overcoming minor stumbling blocks to paid content.These include:

  • Ignorance of legal vs. illegal entertainment channels,
  • Lack of direct access to legal entertainment channels,
  • Lack of choice in legal options,
  • Easy access to illegal options and/or blocked access to legal ones,
  • Search engine validation of illegal content sources.

While there is no excusing content theft, the fight against piracy needs to be fought on many fronts, in many ways. Shutting down massive sources of illegal content like Megaupload and Hotfile is one front. Providing better legal alternatives and education on choosing those options  is another, and helps to support the former when viewers move on from an illegal site that has been shut down.

If there’s a legal, easily accessible and reliable subscription option that some of these users can run into the open arms of, the tide begins to turn against copyright infringement. Early teething problems and outages aside, the move to reliable access-anywhere entertainment is a pivotal decision in the complex fight against piracy.

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