Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Hollywood’s Napster Moment Arrives, Courtesy of MegaVideo

dark-knight-burningYesterday I expressed a bit of befuddlement about MegaVideo.com, a Chinese site that cracked comScore’s list of Top 10 video sites in January.

Thanks to all the readers who set me straight. It turns out there’s an easy answer for MegaVideo’s popularity: It’s a really good way to watch pirated movies and TV shows online.

The trick, it turns out, is not to go to MegaVideo itself to look for “The Dark Knight” or HBO’s new “Eastbound & Down” show. Instead you head to sites like movietvonline.com or sidereel.com, and they’ll direct you to one of MegaVideo’s streams. The stuff generally appears to be pretty good quality, and it’s much easier to access than a BitTorrent download–if you can use Hulu, you can use this stuff.

Apologies to anyone who finds this old hat. It’s obviously becoming more and more common for many of you. Again, take a look at this comScore (SCOR) growth chart. This is how you move from obscurity to the 10th-most popular video site in a year’s time (click graphic to enlarge):
megavideo-data

Can’t Hollywood try to crack down on sites like MegaVideo and the sites that showcase their streams? After all, Google’s (GOOG) YouTube was once a piracy haven, and is much less so now. Same thing with DailyMotion, etc.

Sure. But the Chinese government has, um, a mixed record when it comes to IP protection. And in any event, we’re certainly going to see more of these coming down the pike, and it’s only going to be more commonplace.

All of which means that Hollywood, network TV and the cable companies have no choice if they want to keep viewers from turning to the pirates: Give them easy access to whatever they want, whenever they want it.

It’s the same scenario the music guys faced at the end of the 1990s, and they screwed it up. Look at them now.

Right now some of the players are talking a good game–“We think everything on television should become available to you on broadband for free,” Time Warner (TWX) CEO Jeff Bewkes said yesterday at an investor conference. He doesn’t really mean free, by the way–he means free to cable and satellite TV subscribers.

The industry can hash out payment plans later. But first, those who make money creating and distributing video need to move very fast to get their stuff in front of viewers, wherever they want to see it. Because MegaVideo is already doing it.


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