We’re Being Saved From A Lot Of Commercials.

Over the last decade my viewing habits have changed. First it was my general avoidance of commercial television in favor of pay television due to the lack of original scripted television an overload of reality nonsense and multitude of commercials.

Of course times change, and while I still have my pay TV subscription for things like sport, films and premium drama, I find that streaming services like Netflix and Stan are getting more and more of my viewing time. Based on subscription numbers, a lot of other people are too.

An interesting article has been presented over at cord cutters which has done some basic math and worked out that Netflix viewers are missing out on 160 hours of commercials per year. That’s a lot of worthless viewing we can put towards watching something more worthwhile. No wonder commercial television is struggling.




Australia’s Pathetic Excuse For Pirating.

Australia may only have a population of around twenty-three million people, but there is one figure where we as a nation bat above our weight and that is sadly when it comes to pirating. Before I continue with my article, I will disclose that in the past I have torrented certain shows, in my case it was Formula 1 races because when channel 10 had the rights to the Formula 1, the coverage was thoroughly lacking. I also downloaded many Top Gear episodes as the time between British broadcast and Australian broadcast was sometimes months apart. On the whole though, I always purchase all my blurays and DVD’s and subscribe to Foxtel, Stan and Netflix because I am a huge film enthusiast and believe that if something is worth watching, it’s worth paying for.

Recently it was announced that Australia was once again at the top of the pirating list for the number of illegal downloads for the latest season of Game Of Thrones. It seems though, that HBO is starting to get proactive about fighting this by recently sending out copyright infringement notices via anti piracy company IP Echelon as mentioned on torrent freak recently. This will probably have minimal impact here in Australia based on previous events in the Dallas Buyers Club case though.

While this is nothing new in the scheme of things, it does raise an interesting point about content distribution here in Australia. Unlike in the United States, rights to various studios content is very fragmented among many copyright holders in comparison to the U.S. which makes it a minefield when it comes to availability of certain programs in Australia.. That said it is not impossible to watch multiple programs, it just means we may have to subscribe to several different platforms in order to watch them. This for many people is part of the problem. But the problem appears not so much in the subscription.

Australians by their nature are a very entitled nation, we complain heavily if things previously available free of charge all of a sudden become something we have to pay larger amounts of money for. For example, when government recently tried to pass through legislation which would have made us pay a small token fee to see the doctor, complaints came from everywhere and it was scrapped. Apparently it’s not okay to pay to make sure our own health is good, but paying $5 for a coffee or $30 for a packet of smokes is fine.

Recently there was an article published on Lifehacker entitled “Why I Refuse To Feel Guilty For Torrenting Game Of Thrones”, click here for the story. The simple crux of the article is this. “I tried using foxtel play, it had buffering issues, playback issues and it sucked in it’s delivery and it was only 480p in quality”. Well then, that sounds fair enough, I’m a “quality presentation” guy myself, but to use quality as an excuse to pirate a programme is being nothing more than a pathetic tight arse. Yes, foxtel should have a streaming service that can stream at 1080p, streaming services like Netflix or Stan provide this, but neither run third party, first run programs, only their first party programs and catalog third party programs.

An SD only stream is to me, still no reason to pirate something just because someone does not want to pay extra for the proper service. The writer opines that Australia has a distribution problem because certain programs are exclusive to pay tv over here, and in part I believe this is true, but things are similar in the U.S. when it comes to cable programs as well. If you want to watch a certain program, you still have to subscribe to a service to watch it be that streaming or with cable. In our case, foxtel were just smart enough to sign exclusive deals on popular content, because they realized that free to air television is only interested in reality tv, not quality tv.

If the original writer – who I believe isn’t actually Australian – was serious about his love of the show, he would have had proper foxtel installed to get the optimal quality.  Yes, proper foxtel costs more to run, and yes they should have a 1080p streaming service, but they don’t, this in my view does not condone pirating and as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for… Except in Australia apparently.

Australians have proven that they don’t mind paying a token sum for Stan Or Netflix as their take up is quite high with a small $10 admission fee but anything in the premium foxtel level is a no go though. It must be that tall poppy syndrome a lot of us have to cut down the big guys.

I am not a fan of Game Of Thrones and I have not watched past the first season, but I understand many, many people are and they enjoy the show immensely which is fair enough, but don’t you think that the people, or companies who work hard on what the people love so much should be rewarded for it?

After all, we all expect to be paid for the work we do, don’t we?

Revisiting “A Good Year”

Recently, I was given a generous google play gift card for a gift, so I thought I would buy a few films from their store. Normally, I don’t buy films via digital distribution as I prefer to buy higher quality editions on bluray as I am a stickler for presentation over convenience. Of course, the scale of economics being what they are in this modern world, more and more films are -sadly – being released on digital format with nary a physical release in sight.

This is of course, the future and I’m aware that one day this will be the only way I shall be able to consume films, until then, physical media, at least for me will rule supreme. With those thoughts in mind I decided that I would limit any movies that I purchase via digital distribution to films that weren’t available on bluray disc. Surprisingly, there were a lot of titles I would love to add to my collection that aren’t available on physical media.

Among the titles I decided to spend the very much appreciated gift card on was Ridley Scott’s  charming, yet critically and financially derided 2006 film “A Good Year”. I remember seeing this at the cinema upon release and enjoying it immensely. Now ten years have passed since my last experience with this film and I can categorically say that the film, for me at least, has aged very well.

While there is no doubt that that the film is twee and it borrows heavily from other films of the genre, it never fails to outstay its welcome and there is certainly nothing wrong with an overly sentimental film whose message is one of happiness. In the intervening ten years since “A Good Year” was released, the financial world has changed immensely, so in this jaded post GFC world we live in this is a wonderful departure. All in all I’m happy with this digital release, it looks quite good, but I most certainly upgrade to a bluray release if one is forthcoming from 20th Century Fox.