I have been thinking about streaming video, specifically studio owned content, for a while now. Most everyone agrees the challenge is not technological, but in the inertia/wariness of the studios. Considering what the iTunes is perceived to have done to the music industry (remember these are the folks who calculate losses due to piracy by multiplying number of pirated downloads by the retail price of an album), their fear is not unfounded. In my opinion, the thing they fear most is loss of control over content- so the studios invest in multi-million dollar movies, release them on streaming video, which can’t pay them too much and ends up hurting theater sales eventually causing huge losses.
They can elect to defend their last bastion against changing consumer preferences or attempt to change with them. Instant consumption is here to say and while every other product is changing to accommodate it, movies will find it hard to hold on to the 2000s. If the studios decide to embrace the change and, if they are suspicious of an external party gaining control, do it themselves, we might reach a win-win situation for all.
Consider a consortium of studios (kind of like how Visa was formed), that holds the rights of digital distribution and then uses existing channels (e.g., Netflix) to distribute them, paying them for those distribution services. Instantly, the power in the equation shifts back to the content owner. Now, with Louis C. K. demonstrating the possibilities with independent production, that enables some competition and disruption right in the content creation space, which is where it should be for those yearning for high quality content.
Recently Comcast jumped into the fray with Streampix and this is significant because it has roots within the industry (NBC) and could possibly use this model to pose a strong challenge to distribution only entities. Additionally, this enhances the vertical integration of an ISP with content, giving Comcast a boost. Most importantly, now a Comcast consumer is closer to consuming content in a form that truly on demand and relevant in the moment.