According to the early published results of a new survey conducted by news.com.au and market research firm CoreData, most individuals downloading illicit media from the Internet would do so legally if only the entertainment industries would provide them a cheap and convenient platform from which to do so.
The survey of 7,000 people who admitted to downloading or streaming media from unauthorized sources in the last 12 months also discovered that easy access to media using file-sharing systems such as BitTorrent was of greater attraction than a low or free price tag.
When asked if they would pay for a service which provided an advertising and DRM-free TV show, movies and music experience, an impressive 66.4% of respondents said they would be prepared to pay for that.
The prices they would generally be prepared to offer are $1 per TV episode, $2 for a movie and 50c per music track. ($1 AUD = $0.91 USD)
So, presuming that these 7,000 respondents paid nothing for the media they acquired in the last 12 months over the Internet, getting any money out of them at all would be a decent bonus for the entertainment industries. But to do that there would first have to be the services available with which to tempt those latent online consumers away from file-sharing networks.
However, as confirmed by Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft boss Neil Gane, people have to stop sharing files first before the industry is prepared to “compete”. He says that the industry and the government need to address rampant infringement online in the first instance, in order to create the right environment for competition.
“Movie industries obviously want to make their content available online, but they can’t compete currently with a free alternative that’s perpetrated through theft. Once there is a level playing field, I think you’ll begin to see a lot more flexible, innovative business models,” he told news.com.au.
So here we go again. Let’s not kid anyone. There are plenty of people – around 35% according to this survey – that won’t pay anything for their media and that is unlikely to change in the near future. But there are definitely people who will put their hands in their pockets for a good product with good service at the right price. But they have to be available first.
It is pointless talking about introducing such a service when there is a “level playing field” because that situation will never come. What Gane really means is that the industry will only be prepared to offer their products online when they can do so at a much higher price than the market will currently pay.
So what exactly will people pay? The survey discovered that of those prepared to hand over money for media, nearly 50% said they would pay $2 for a movie, with 28% offering $5 and under 5% offering $10.
Gane said the industry is not interested in $2 per movie, calling it an “unrealistic ask”. One would imagine they might be interested in the $10 tag to tempt pirates, but that could only be achieved by eliminating most other unauthorized sources of media. Rest assured though, if all online piracy was stamped out, the industries would either a) jump online at prices few would be prepared to pay offering products infested with draconian DRM, or b) go back to selling plastic discs.
Gane says that there is an element of the online community who believe that if products are online they should be free. Well here’s some breaking news – they are, whether Hollywood likes it or not.
It’s time to at least try to compete, because next year’s survey won’t be any more encouraging than this. The clock is ticking and more opportunities are being lost.