DC and the Internet
As you may have heard The Dark Knight has arrived on Facebook and you can now stream it to your PC for three dollars. I can see the reasoning behind this choice with the growth in streaming and pirate downloads means that film companies need to adapt, to change to stay ahead of the crowd and still maintain their profits. Facebook has also always wanted to be a jack of all trades and expand and so by having movies on their website this allows them to expand and enlarge challenging websites like Netflix and LOVEFiLM both, for a small fee, allow you to stream films. iTunes also allows you to stream and buy Batman: The Brave and the Bold as they air.
This has been aided by the increase in internet speeds across the world and in the developments in technology such as the iPad and other tablet PCs. As well as e-readers and smart phones. This has expanded not just beyond films but also to comics. With the launch of DC Digital which allows people to download old comics and often the latest ones (if they are released on time) as well, such as Batman Beyond.
However there is a small issue. Well, actually its a huge one. That is this streaming from Facebook and digital downloads and buying the programs from iTunes are only available in America.
This annoys me. I love America, it’s a great country, but I don’t ever understand why these things can’t be available in Europe. It is not because of a rights’ issue, as there are companies in Europe that do video streaming. And it isn’t due to the region issue that effects DVD’s as there are no regions on the internet. There seems to be no logical reason for why none of these services are available in Europe.
What it rather appears to be is market size. In that the UK and Europe are considered to be a smaller market to target and that the cost of manufacturing and setting up these services would not be negated by the amount of people who would use the service and the companies would run at a loss. This one of the reasons that DC animated films get such a short release life in the UK as its assumed a smaller market. This is one of the reasons that Batman: The Animated Series Vol 3 and 4 never got a UK release.
The fact is, that pertaining to this, it wouldn’t be so. You can easily run the system of the same servers, despite the refusal not to by many companies (Sony being one example with DCUO where America and Europe can’t meet, talk or play each other despite playing exactly the game). As the only thing that is different is the electrical charge used to power objects. For example if I were to buy a iPad in America I can come back to Britain and the Wi-Fi will work as will the 3G signal.
Of course the biggest factor is the exchange rate which currently is 2:1 in Britain’s favor. So in effect a magazine costing two dollars only costs a pound if we buy it using an American website. Not that you can do that, because of course you need an American credit card. But it does make things to sell in Britain more expensive for the companies and also means we scratch our heads when things are more expensive over here (shipping and tax is added on, as is a sneaky bit more which is then blamed on the tax) when its a lot cheaper across the pond.
Apple have, when asked why some items appear on iTunes USA and not UK, blamed rights and cost issues. Which as I have shown above is rubbish. Still Apple always make me shake my head in wonder.
So as I sit here looking at the DC Comics available online and think, “Wow, I wish I could buy these”. I send a heart felt plea to DC to go on and push the boat out and give us the same thing that the US enjoys. It won’t cost you more, there are no rights issues, hell it won’t even take that much hard work. You can be a pioneer at this, because otherwise people will switch off and download it for free and that will cost more than it would have done to make it available in the first place.