December 29, 2017
I have a new morning ritual. While sipping my first (of two) cup of coffee and catching up on my email and the latest news, all on my iPhone, I now also invariably finish the movie I fell asleep watching the night before.
Yes, I am at that age where I begin to nod off well before the closing credits. And until just recently I would finish watching a movie the next night, before starting a new one. But thanks to my new ritual, I now start a movie every night, which by my estimation has increased the number of movies I watch by at least 30%.
What changed? The mid-October launch of Movies Anywhere, a remarkably simple and easy to use digital storage locker that lets me watch any film in my library with a couple of clicks on my iPhone button. All the major studios, except for Paramount, are participating, and the beauty of Movies Anywhere is that even for people like me who still buy Blu-ray Discs, entering the redemption code so I gain access to a digital copy takes just seconds – and then the movie is available on my iPhone, my TV, and anywhere else I have the app. (In fact, while writing this paragraph I just entered the code for Annabelle: Creation and watched it instantly appear on my iPhone. I will start watching it tonight – probably on disc, just out of habit – and then whatever I missed will be viewed in the early morning, with a Keurig cup of bold Sumatra, after the obligatory cleansing of emails and quick look at the news headlines.)
I have a confession to make. While I consider myself an early adopter, both because of my role in the industry and my natural curiosity and yen to be on the cutting edge of new and cool stuff, my digital movie experience has been limited to Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. I have never bought a movie online; I set up an UltraViolet account years ago but never used it, not even once. I keep writing that consumers value convenience, simplicity and ease of use, above all else, and I might as well have been writing about myself. I rarely make myself a salad, preferring the salad-in-a-bag approach. I vastly prefer Uber to taxis, and order most of my stuff online – even my Keurig coffee cups – because I hate waiting in line.
The problem was, prior to Movies Anywhere, watching digital copies of movies I acquired was too much of a hassle. There were too many sites to visit, too many passwords to enter, too many steps to take.
Movies Anywhere is as easy as watching Netflix. And that’s why I believe our studio friends have gotten it right this time. Sure, there are still hurdles to overcome – chiefly the other main driver of consumer behavior, the desire to get things for free or, at the very least, for as little as possible. It’s still going to be a challenge to convince consumers who are used to spending around $10 a month for unlimited Netflix content to fork over more than that for a single movie, regardless of how new that movie is, or how much hype it has generated.
Still, everything else is in place. The stage has been set for digital ownership to really take off, once consumers realize the value proposition of instant access – and immediate (or, in my case, morning-after) satisfaction.