Voices

If I Could Have Just One Functionality From My Streaming Video Services, This Would Be It …

Published on July 16, 2013
by Jason Hirschhorn

viewableideal380I watch a lot of television. I see a lot of movies. I listen to a lot of music.

Access to that content in a place-shifted and time-shifted world has only increased the amount of time I spend with media.

I subscribe to Netflix, Hulu and Spotify. I rent stuff off iTunes and use Amazon Instant Video’s Prime Access. I use tons of “TV Everywhere” apps from HBOGo to Showtime Anytime. I rarely buy (though it looks like I’ll be buying Thom Yorke stuff for awhile), but then again, I believe we will live in a future of access, not ownership.

Most of these products deliver their content via streaming.

As my friend Bob Lefsetz recently said: “Streaming won.”

Of course, streaming requires that you have a really fast mobile connection or Wi-Fi. And whether you believe it or not, we don’t yet live in a completely Wi-Fi world. Data connections, while getting better, can be shoddy, depending on where you are. Try making a phone call or getting a data connection reliably where I spend my weekends — it will make you grind your molars. Oh, poor me, I know. #firstworldproblems.

That said, I love my TV, movies and music, and I want them when I want them.

My music service, Spotify, has a content-sync functionality that deals with this issue. I choose the songs, playlists or albums I want synced offline, and when I’m taking my morning walk (where I think a lot and make mental lists of those who have wronged me), the tracks don’t cut out because of AT&T, “The nation’s fastest 4G LTE network. All backed by our 100 percent dedication to quality and service.”

Simple. Easy. Totally useful.

Spotify's offline playlist feature

Spotify’s offline playlist feature

I travel a lot. I am on a plane constantly. Gogo Inflight Internet is great for email, not awesome for Web and nonexistent for streaming media. It is getting better, but I have to download before I board to watch up in the air. Just one use case.

I want the ability to sync the movies or TV I want to watch within Netflix or Hulu — or any service — for mobile usage when I don’t have good coverage, or any coverage at all. I would even pay extra if I had to. And don’t give me content-protection excuses. It’s relatively simple.

When speaking to my friends at these services, the answers are:

  • Not worth it, mobile connections and Wi-Fi will get better before we can get rights.
  • Users haven’t asked for it.
  • Just another set of rights we need to get, and it can be cost prohibitive.

And content guys?

  • They can’t stand rental.
  • Want us to buy more.
  • Haven’t totally accepted the access economy as they speak of revenues past.

Downloading is dying, “streaming won,” and yet we are in a no-man’s-land of not always being connected (at least for bandwidth-hogging media).

“In a world” (say it in a movie-trailer voice) where I have to watch live TV, use a DVR, multiple VOD services and my Slingbox to get all the video I want — if I could have just one functionality, it would be offline syncing of selected video content.

So, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Amazon, Showtime and others, whaddya say?

Jason Hirschhorn is the CEO and chief curator of REDEF. He was formerly CEO of his first venture, Mischief New Media, chief digital officer of MTV Networks, president of Sling Media, and most recently co-president of Myspace.

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