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With both DVD sales and rentals in decline these days, Hollywood’s been looking for some good news in the struggling home video market. Last week’s FCC decision to allow studios to deliver first-run movies directly to consumers’ TVs may be seen as a ray of hope for frustrated studio execs.

Under the FCC’s waiver decision, MPAA members will be able to make movies available for home viewing much earlier than before–even on the same date as titles’ theatrical releases. By deploying “selectable output control” antipiracy technology with the films, consumers will be (presumably) incapable of copying the movies delivered to their TVs.

Bob Pisano, prexy and interim CEO of the MPAA, called the FCC’s action “a major step forward in the development of new business models by the motion picture industry to respond to growing consumer demand.” Said Pisano:

“We deeply appreciate the recognition by the FCC that recently released movies need special protection against content theft when they are distributed to home televisions,”

It’s likely that most films that are available day-and-date equipped with the new antipiracy technology will not be major blockbusters, but rather lower-profile films that the studios feel require an extra boost. Pisano recognizes the continued power of box office receipts and does not foresee this new action changing that:

“The first and best way to view movies will always be in movie theaters — and nothing can replace the pleasure this brings to millions and millions of people all across our country and the globe . . . But for those people unable to make it to the theater and interested in viewing a recently released movie, thanks to the FCC, they will now have a new option. For other consumers who prefer standard, linear, on-demand or DVD or Blu-ray options, these services will be unchanged.”

Would the ability to view a movie on your television the same day that it’s released in theaters keep you at home, Insiders? How effective against piracy do you think “selectable output control” will prove to be?

(via Variety)

17 Responses to “FCC Waiver Decision Could be Helpful to Hollywood”

  1. Visitor [Join Now]
    Wesley [visitor]

    There is no “growing customer demand” for DRM.

    This will do one thing and one thing only: It will cause headaches for paying customers. Their TVs won’t display the video, or play the audio, or it’ll be choppy. At best, it’ll work but they’ll be confused when their lease runs out because they thought they bought the show.

    Meanwhile, pirates will break this in about 12 hours and happily continue watching high quality versions without nag screens, obtrusive menus, or commercials for other movies that they’re not interested in.

    This is not opinion. It’s not a judgment I’m making for piracy or against the movie industry. It’s a fact.

  2. Visitor [Join Now]
    Techno Dude [visitor]

    Quote: “By deploying “selectable output control” antipiracy technology with the films, consumers will be (presumably) incapable of copying the movies delivered to their TVs.”
    Aaaah, I needed a good laugh this morning. Pirates won’t even need 12 hours to take care of this – have you seen the current quality of 0-day movies on the Torrent sites? It’s pretty bad and still people download like crazy. Showing a movie in HD on your home TV is so much better as you can play it in a dark room and have your HD camcorder on a tripod, perfectly aligned, etc. And then you can get a perfectly good analog sound directly into the recording. This will give you an excellent copy.
    “Incapable of copying”? Give me a break! It is so much easier to break an encryption than to create it. Anything that can remotely work on consumers’ technology can be easily defeated. The Studios should spend some money gaining better understanding of the market so they can get their heads out of their behinds.

  3. Visitor [Join Now]
    rb [visitor]

    Techno makes an excellent point that the industry just made it even easier for piracy on day one of a movie theatrical release. Again, looks like the industry didn’t think it through and just made a move that can easily come back to bite them. Even the most tech-illiterate could set up their HD camcorder and copy the the very movie that’s playing on their big screen tv as is being shown on opening day at a theater. Not only that, but what would stop say a roomful of 30-40 college kids, etc. gathering around a big screen tv to watch the movie as it plays that only one kid paid for to play on their tv….That’s around a $400 loss for the studios just for those 40 kids if ticket price were $10 at a theater. Multiply that by thousands, thousands, of kids/people…. Big loss to the studios….And when the movie does play directly to your livingroom tv, is there going to be a warning that only one person paid for and , therefore, is allowed to watch that movie at a time…. So if this takes effect, and when theater/movie ticket sales decline rapidly because of it, then who will the studios blame????

  4. Visitor [Join Now]
    Dogpissjones [visitor]

    Thank u hollywood for making it easier to bootleg movies on day one . HOLLYWOOD WAKE UP! cam versions of movies run wild all over torrents sites and now u made it easier for them to get cleaner copies in the safety of their own homes. can we say dumb a** and they probably paid millions to lobbists to pay off the FCC to make this happen

  5. Visitor [Join Now]
    Eric [visitor]

    Thoroughly agree with the comments posted so far – love the one about the HD camcorder and also the college kid example, Those college kids are the ones most likely (after teens) to go to these non-blockbuster movies anyway, so you’re just going to bleed revenue with same-day releases.

    As far as whether I personally would be less likely to go to the theater when this is available – absolutely not, because I don’t go now. I watch my 65″ HD widescreen with a high-end THX/DTS/Dolby 5.1 surround sound system (Rotel, B&W) instead, because in 2000 I got so annoyed with the theater ‘experience’ that I plunked down the cash to avoid it. With ticket prices and concession prices where they are, I don’t regret it one bit. With the rate I used to go to theaters (once a week), I’ve probably saved between $6,000 to $8,000, as well as avoided the time and gas wasted on the roundtrips. Since 2000, I believe I’ve seen no more than 10 movies in theaters – with Netflix, Directv, Redbox and now a Netflix-enabled Blu-Ray player, who needs a theater?

    For your amusement, here’s a letter I sent to my local AMC theater back in 2000 …

    July 24, 2000

    I watched the 2 pm showing of ‘The Perfect Storm’ at your theater this past Saturday and enjoyed it as well as the seats, sound and picture – that is, while the MOVIE was actually on the screen. What I and my companions did not like was the non-stop barrage of annoying advertisements being shown on the screen which are darn near impossible to avoid unless you look away or just close your eyes. We arrived at 1:45pm to be able to get decent seats and sat through 20 minutes of local advertisements with jazz playing in the background until 2:05pm, at which point approximately 15 MORE minutes flew by with advertisements, admonishments to be quiet, etc, and about 5 trailers for movies. At last, a movie that was advertised to START at 2 pm finally got running at 2:20 pm!

    Do you have any idea how annoying this is, to be forced to endure EXACTLY one of the things we’re trying to avoid by going to the theater – the ADS on television? I understand that you make money by showing these ads, but do you really think they’re effective on an aggravated audience – or more to the point, do you even care? I don’t begrudge paying inflated prices for refreshments because I am free not to buy them, but I DO resent being treated as a captive consumer eager to be milked out of the last dollar through advertisements that I have no choice in viewing.

    So, please, register this letter as making a vain plea to eliminate your advertisements – vain, because you won’t do it due to the money. Screens have already been downsized to maximize profits so at least that won’t be happening again. But in reaction to this situation I will be modifying my behavior and encouraging everyone to do the same: wait until a movie is almost finishing its run (so that good seats will be easy to find), then pay the LEAST possible for a matinee and arrive late, say 15 minutes after the scheduled start time to avoid all of your commercials. Movies are expensive enough without having to pay of my own free time to be forced to watch/listen to commercials while waiting for a product I’ve ALREADY paid for to arrive (unlike ‘free’ television, which runs ads to subsidize their product). I will also stop buying drinks and snacks and save the money for something of better value than a bag of popcorn that costs $3.50 but couldn’t have cost more than 15 cents to make – and which isn’t even good!

    p.s. In partial reaction to the habit of movie theaters doing this, I’ve bought a wide-screen high-definition TV and DVD player and 5.1 Digital Dolby surround system, and I have to tell you – it’s almost like being at the movies, except I don’t have to watch the commercials :-)

    • Visitor [Join Now]
      BDA123 [visitor]

      And you aren’t the only one that has done it. By the time you drive to the theater, sit in line to get a ticket, sit in line to get into a new release, watch the commercials, answer all of the stupit trivia ;), pay $15 for $1 worth of concessions garbage, wiggle around because you now have to go to the bathroom and can’t hit pause, listen to the group of women behind you say “oh ya” when the werewolf actor takes of his shirt (ok that is kinda funny), and have to drive a couple miles home it really isn’t worth the larger screen to watch a movie. Especially when my buddy has a 1080p projector that looks incredible on his wall with Dolby True HD running through his speakers. That is why I rarely go to the theater. My 46″ TV and 5 channel setup is still a much better esperience. Although my wife doesn’t say “oh ya” anymore when I take my shirt off.

    • Visitor [Join Now]
      Greagirl [visitor]

      (laugh). I don’t mind the movie trailers as they help me to decided on what I would like to watch in the furture. In fact, I kind of like them. I *do* however find the commmercials annoying – especially those retarded Coke/Sprite commercials and the “Fantanas” (sad, pale replacement of the old Fanta girls that cracked me the hell up).

      Nice letter though. No response I’m sure.

      Best point? The poporn. The popcorn does really suck at AMC now. It used to be really, really good – no extra salt/butter required then they “improved it” a few years back by switching to “Orville R.” and now it is fairly gross, only tolerable with gallons of butter (and if I get a free one with my moviewatcher points).

  6. Visitor [Join Now]
    mrparasyte [visitor]

    I’m sure the movie theaters will love this. I know I will when my movie ticket gets another spike in the price and I’ve got to sell my first born into slavery for some popcorn. What a stupid idea. Someone hand these hollywood execs another shovel, before long they’ll reach the center of the earth.

  7. Visitor [Join Now]
    MovieBuff [visitor]

    I rarely go to the theater to avoid the “theater experience”. Hard to find a seat when it first comes out. People talking, using cell phones with glow in the dark displays. Finding the perfect seat only to have someone taller and wider sit in front of me and my kids. The outrageous prices that never stop increasing. Adding a few extra bucks after calling it 3D. I don’t have those problems at home in my hi-fi watching room. And I can always pause to go to the bathroom.

    • Visitor [Join Now]
      BDA123 [visitor]

      Are you kidding me. You are trying to stop a river with your hand. Theaters need to into innovate or die. If I can get a much better experience from my family room why would I go to the theater. Theaters will change just like anything else. Most consumers do not want to do something illigal even if they are college students. When you try to stop the tide of consumer demand with stupid market moves you only end up with piracy. The price of movie tickets can only go so high before they consolidate to fewer theaters and fewer movies. This is a gain for consumers because when fewer movies become blockbusters more movies become average movies. Honest consumer rating will drive future movie sales more than marketing. You can now make a very high quality 1080p movie with a Canon 5d $1200 camera and making movies is starting to explode. I sat on a plane with a movie executive a couple of weeks ago and that is exactly what he told me. Why not see the same with the consumer side of the industry? Honestly theater ticket prices are so high now that taking my family to a movie costs close to $100. That is a joke. No movie is worth it. If movie studios want the volume they need to succeed they have to find outlets that reach many more consumers. There are also a lot of consumers outside of the US that have greater access to internet then they have to a decent theater. Why not tap into a much larger audience?

    • Visitor [Join Now]
      Greagirl [visitor]

      Most theatres don’t actually require you to return your 3d glasses. If you haven’t kept yours, you can also buy the 3D glasses on ebay. What you chose to do with that information is your business.

  8. Visitor [Join Now]
    BDA123 [visitor]

    I think this is great. I think the comment the studios made about DRM is to try to pacify the theaters not the people that copy movies. In fact, I think they have realized that there is no way to stop a HD camcorder copy of the original being released over torrent on day 0. That is the point. Why not make it just as easy to pay some money for the rental rather than track it down illegally. A large percentage of the people will just pay $15 dollars to rent it online. I personally have a full home theater setup and would rarely go to the theater. In fact, 3D like Avatar is about the only reason I would go. I would much rather invite three or four friends over to watch the movie and provide pizza and drinks. Then I get the movie and party experience. I would probably pay up to any where from $12 of a average movie to $25 for a blockbuster movie. It is really the Theaters that should worry.

    • Visitor [Join Now]
      BDA123 [visitor]

      Think about it. Even college students do an informal costs/benefits analysis when they track down an illegal copy of a movie. The benefit of being cool because you have an “illegal” copy of a movie is not worth that much. So they really do it for some other reason. The real benefit is that you can invite some ladies over to your dorm room and have a movie/party. The costs are far outweighed by the benefits. That is something you just don’t get from a theater. It has been 20 years since I was in that situation but I can fully understand the appeal. One the other side if you can pool money for drinks or food you can also pool money for the movie. There is an enormous upside potential to making it legal to do things as long as the price is reasonable. As longs as the benefit to society is higher than the costs I say make it legal. Everyone wins. Heck I would vote for legalizing drugs if the costs to society weren’t far higher than the benefits.

  9. Visitor [Join Now]
    Deborah [visitor]

    Rb, I really don’t care what the theaters make. I just wish someone would figure how to make movies and go directly to DVD, for.get the theaters. For several reaons…
    One, me and all my friends are deaf… we require subtitles or closed captions (cc). In other words, why do we care about theaters when we are forced to wait for DVDs for such features?
    Two, most of us are older and have no patience for a theater of uncontrolled kids…. yeah most are a horrible distraction regardless of being unable to hear their shrieking!
    Three, we really love that pause button. It allows us to grab hot fresh CHEAP snacks, relieve our bladders, or simply discuss the movie briefly before we hit the end.

  10. Visitor [Join Now]
    Greagirl [visitor]

    I actually LIKE going out to the movies and I personally think people are becoming far too dependent upon/isolated from each other via technology. Then again, crazy me, I like actually living real life, going to actual live events, theatre (live stage performances not movies), brick and mortar stores, talking to actual people face to face, having friends whose last names I know and other crazy stuff like that rather than sitting at home.

    Don’t get me wrong. I too have a home theatre at home. I actually have a Toshiba DLP PROJECTOR (the size of which’s picture is only limited by the distance of my projector from the wall) and we get a kick out of being able to watch streaming content/DVDs/Blu-rays on it. However, it still is not as much fun as actually going out to eat and going out to the theatre to watch a movie on the gynormous screen with the louder than life sound and the new 3d technology.

    Yes, others can be annoying but that’s why GOD made ushers and other people you can sneak off and complain to, thereby making THEM confront/remove the offenders. Some chains even have “secret screeners” who are given a little remote device that descretely pages an usher should someone be loud, texting, etc. You don’t like the getto fabulous/trailer trashulous folks who come to your theatre? Go to a different one, preferably on a nicer side of town.

    Like another of the posters, I also tend to see my movies for free/discount. I typically get the opportunity to go to 1-3 screenings a week and if we should so happen to accidentially wander in another movie other than the one advertised, can that really be helped? Having the movie available to stream rather than going to the movies will not in any way change my habits. It makes sense for large groups or large families or the economically disadvantaged but I’m a spoiled brat and I want everything larger than life.

    As many have said, there is actually nothing anyone can ever do to stop truly savy pirates in any forum. If there is enough of a demand, people will supply it. Period. However, to make it EASIER for even more people to pirate with decreased risk in hopes that people will “take a penny and leave a penny” is extremely naive, hell downright stupid on the part of the studios.