Wednesday, March 2, 2011

[various] VOD is such a failure here

This is driving me crazy. For years since I enjoyed NetFlix in the US I have been looking forward for a mail-based or download based video rental service in France.

Mail-based DVD rental never really worked here for several practical reasons, but also because well, this is the Internet era and download seems just easier. Unfortunately, VOD services in France are crippled either by a very limited and rather boring choice of movies, or by extremely fragile implementations (not even mentioning prices). Four (!) of my latest attempts at renting movies with different services failed -- either the movie downloaded but could not be watched, or the payment could not be made, or the service was temporarily unavailable. I have to admit, it worked once, giving a fantastic success rate of 20%.

Needless to say that US services cannot be used from France -- the 'global economy' does not seem to cross borders for customers. This left me wondering: If a customer willing to pay for watching movies and shows can't do it , isn't that actively encouraging piracy?


  1. Yes, I also noticed thing problem during my Asian trips. Not being able to watch Netflix streaming sucks big time.

    On the other hand, I smelled startup opportunities. This movie streaming/mail-rental thing is obviously big enough deal from the amount of online complaints I have seen. ;-)

  2. I definitely think there is a huge opportunity. However I suspect the laws are not very welcoming for this type of businesses (for instance here the delay between a movie release in theaters and on DVD is quite long. It is even longer for VOD.)

  3. Same here in Germany. Even though Amazon bought Lovefilm, the service still sucks.

    For instance, you can only stream sub-DVD quality but not Full HD, and the prices are not yet really interesting (the current bit-rate is something like 1 MBit while everyone here has 16 MBit or so download, and I would be also willing to have to select the movie 2-3 hours in advance if I can get proper quality at the end.) At least they have a PS3 client now, which the UK had for a long time already.

  4. You have a good point, since I moved to France I'm amazed by this fact so from time to time I check if there's something new.... Netflix is supposed to come soon (probably after I leave France).

    In the other hand there is always iTunes. I really hate iTunes for innumerable reasons but I actually keep it because of the movie rental and the webcast's subscriptions. Off course it is PPV (hence expensive) and the selection is not the best but hey... it is the best thing compared to all the other inexisting options.