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I’ve interviewed my fair share of entertainment company executives over the years at Mobile Industry Review, mostly in connection with some kind of handset or platform co-branding deal. You know the sort: “Buy this handset and get this movie free on the device.”

From these discussions I’ve had, I’m quite confident in asserting that the entertainment world appears happy to operate under the belief that ‘Content is king’. It is not.

For me, platform is king. I’d relegate the content to some kind of second-tier royalty position.

Witness, for example, the briefing I did with a well-known entertainment company who produces a television series I enjoy. I couldn’t find it anywhere on iTunes so I asked the executive when I’d be able to get it.

“Oh, we don’t get on with Apple,” said the executive.

“What?” I prompted.

“Well, heh… you see we can’t quite agree on the terms and, you know, Apple are quite difficult to deal with.”

“So I won’t be able to get the series on my iPhone?”

The chap looked at me for a moment before replying, “No, but you can buy it on DVD and put it on your iPhone if you like! Plus it’s coming on Blu-Ray too.” As if I care about Blu-Ray. Or DVD. I haven’t bought a physical entertainment product for about 5 years. I don’t do physical. I gave away all my physical DVDs and CDs to the charity shop years ago.

Everything I consume is digital. In fact, let me modify that statement: Everything I consume is from iTunes. (I also buy ebooks from Amazon to consume on my mobile devices too.)

So if you’re not in the iTunes store, it’s your problem.

It’s your problem because:

a) You’re really, really annoying me by not making it easy to pay you

b) You’re losing money. Doh!

c) Your content, by default, is therefore not king – because I won’t buy it any other way.

Let’s just look at what I tend to spend on iTunes content right now.

In the last week I think I’ve spent about £50 (€58). Across an average month I reckon that I blow perhaps £100-200 on iTunes content. This is not apps. I’m talking about movies and television series, with the odd audiobook or album thrown in.

I grimace quite a lot before I spent £9.99 on one of the iTunes latest movies. I know that the distribution cost is practically zero. But then again, I understand that I’m not having to fork out £24.99 or something ridiculous for the Blu-Ray nonsense. I usually buy standard definition content just because I’m consuming it on my iPhone. I don’t mind blowing £6.99 on a movie. I certainly relish the opportunity to spend £3.99 or similar to buy movies from the iTunes back catalogue.

Similarly with TV series, I think nothing of spending £14.99 or £19.99. I like getting the episodes ‘sent down the wire’ to me as they become available. I am increasingly annoyed by the rather unnatural licensing limit that prevents me getting the content immediately – and instead having to wait until it’s ‘aired’ before I can see it. Ridiculous.

There’s a lot of people out there like me nowadays who are happy to buy your entertainment content, provided you can get it to me in a point-n-click easy manner.

So the next time you go into a licensing negotiation meeting with Apple, please think of me. Right? Please think of me with my wallet open, waiting to give you money.

And frankly speaking, whatever deal Apple offer, provided you can make money out of it, just do it.

Do it, because it’s your own fault. You’ve had ample, ample opportunity to get this right. Back when the music companies were busy killing Napster and KaZaa and various other content distribution services, that’s when you should have been sorting out your digital locker strategies. You should have banded together to deliver your own version of iTunes. Or you should have done a deal with another large player our there to have made the whole thing work properly.

You didn’t. Or, you did, but it was utterly poorly executed.

So now you face a choice between taking my cash or not taking it.

And let’s please be clear: Your competitors are doing it. I’m one of the legion of millions spending lots of money with them via Apple.

Finally, let me point out that I’m no Apple iBoy style fan. I do like my Apple equipment. I do enjoy iTunes, but if you can present an alternative method of obtaining your content easily and with one-click, I’m all ears. I could live with downloading content from Amazon and manually transferring it over into my iTunes Library to consume. I could live with that.

Please, please get on with it!

Ewan Macleod is editor of Mobile Industry Review. He is helping out with the organisation of MIPTV’s new tech event, Connected Creativity. Be sure to say hello in Cannes!


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About Author

James Martin

As Head of Social Media for Reed MIDEM, James Martin oversees social strategy and deployment for B2B events MIPTV and MIPCOM, Midem (music industry) and MIPIM & MAPIC (real estate & retail). He is based in Reed MIDEM's Paris office.

5 Comments

  1. Pingback: If you’re not on iTunes, you’re dead to me | Mobile Industry Review

  2. “You’ve had ample, ample opportunity to get this right. Back when the music companies were busy killing Napster and KaZaa and various other content distribution services, that’s when you should have been sorting out your digital locker strategies. You should have banded together to deliver your own version of iTunes. Or you should have done a deal with another large player our there to have made the whole thing work properly.”

    I worked in the music industry about 10 years ago, and this part really rang true for me. They knew it was coming, some of the majors even invested in companies that could do legal digital downloads and still they resisted. Now someone else controls it. You have to make it easy to buy. Apple get it with iTunes, Amazon get it with Kindle, and that’s why they’ve got huge numbers of paying customers.

    • Alison, thank you for taking the time to comment — I think you make a good point mentioning Amazon. They’re one of the only companies I can see that could truly rival the iTunes ecosystem — not just with books but with music, television, movies and so on.

      Plus… we could yet see an Amazon tablet too… Or a series of tablets from other manufacturers heavily integrated with Amazon.

      Amazon’s Android App Store points the way…

  3. Pingback: Just how important is iTunes to me? Lots! « Mobile Developer TV

  4. Just stumbling upon this post now and am very thankful. You hit the problem right on the mouth. Studios believe Blu-Ray digital locker solutions are the key to the future because they can make 80% on a film instead of 10% through VOD and other platforms. But, what they fail to recognize time and time again is where the consumers are. They are definitely not searching out Blu-Ray digital download solutions. They are consuming content through Apple and Netflix.

    I don’t think any filmmaker made their film to be stored some place where no one is looking for it. They all want their film to be viewed where their audience is and I know filmmakers can ultimately do a better job selling their films given the right solutions.

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