If you read between the lines of this story on the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show you’ll see that, where shows in past years have focused on gadgetry, this year’s CES is going to be all about distribution. Yes, the cool high-tech toys will still be there but it’s how content, whether it’s music, TV, text or movies, that’s changing so fast. As the article states, shortly after announcing that people could buy its shows on iTunes, ABC then made recent episodes of popular shows available streaming online for free. While it’s not quite an apples/oranges comparison it does show how dramatically consumer consumption patterns have changed in recent years.
We live in an on-demand world. TV shows can be viewed when we want – whether it be on DVD, online, through iTunes or via time-shifting on our DVRs. Books can ordered on Amazon and arrive two days later. Music can be bought as whole CDs or downloaded track-by-track. And movies can….well, I mean…you could….
Oh, that’s right. Movies can’t be viewed in such a flexible manner. Every other medium can be bought in a variety of ways all on the same release date. There’s no window between a CD hitting store shelves and when it finally becomes available on iTunes. There’s no window between a book being printed and it being orderable online. But if you want to watch a new movie you need to go to the theater and wait a few months for either the DVD or to watch it via on-demand. Why is that again? Because the theater chains don’t like broken release windows? Not to sound harsh – I love going to the movies – but why do I care about that? No, I’m seriously asking. Why? That’s not convenient for me and every other entertainment medium has realized that making it inconvenient for consumers is bad for business. When they’re inconvenienced by one media they don’t hang their heads and pout – they move onto one of the 163 other options available to them.