The Content Distribution Revolution Continues

HBO and Netflix have both made major moves this month in the distribution of their content.
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While the hype at Apple’s Spring Forward event this week may have been about the new Macbook and the Apple Watch, there was also an announcement regarding a partnership with HBO Now. HBO will release their entire catalog of movies and original shows for $14.99 a month — but they will only be available on Apple products.

Also this month, Netflix announced that the popular streaming service paid nearly $12 million for the worldwide distribution rights for the movie Beast of No Nation according to Deadline. The African war drama is already receiving Oscar buzz. It is important to understand that to qualify for the prestigious award, the movie must be shown in theaters before or on the same day it plays on TV, online or other platforms.

So Netflix will release the film in theaters and online at the same time.

Checkmate? Not exactly. Variety reports that theaters such as AMC, Regal, Cinemark, and Carmike have refused to screen the independent film. Traditionally there is a 90-day delay between a movie’s theatrical presentation and its availability in the home via disc or streaming, and the Cineplex-style theaters would like the ritual to continue.

Then there was Sony's The Interview debacle over the holiday season. After a planned massive wide release, the canceling of the debut, then the release of this major studio film on-demand and select theaters, Sony reported it was their most downloaded/streamed movie ever. Despite the $15-million made online and $2.8-million in theaters, they are still a far cry from breaking even on the film’s cost $44-million production cost. Unintentionally, it was a great experiment in direct-to-home, and one that, for years will be looked at, picked apart, and studied.

With more channels available on AppleTV, have we finally found a cord cutting solution? We now have Netflix for past seasons of TV series along with movie rights to new independent films, not to mention Netflix originals such as House of Cards, and Orange is the New Black. iTunes fills in gaps with current seasons and shows along with new releases, and the addition of HBO Now fills the content void enough more. Are we finally there?

Nope. We are still missing sports.

Enter Sling TV, announced at this year’s CES show. Sling TV by Dish is the closest to solving the live sports issue with the release of Sling for $20 per month. For the fee you’ll have access to twelve major channels including:

ESPN
ESPN2
TNT
TBS
Food Network
HGTV
Travel Channel
Cartoon Network
Adult Swim (Really? I do not get this one)
Disney Channel
ABC Family
CNN

The catch is that there is no Apple in this equation. Sling is available on your computer or Amazon and Roku streaming devices. Sure, there are ways to hack the system, but for the masses, we have not yet crossed the finish line to the cord-cutting utopia. But we are one step closer.

One thing is for sure: the content distribution revolution is afoot, and your clients will want to know more about it. They will come to you for advice and feedback. Therefore, it is important to watch the game being played. What a great reason to push surround sound. Who wants to watch a Marvel film in stereo? How fast is the client's wireless for streaming this blessed content? Now is a great time to introduce enterprise-grade networking solutions such as routers, wireless access points, and switches.

Use what is happening out there in the great big world for the betterment of AV in the home and watch the pieces fall into place.

Heather L. Sidorowicz is the president of Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.

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