View Finder: Apple moves for motivated movie rentals and Netflix binges on announcements

Nick Broughall 9 December 2016 NEWS

Apple movies

Apple looks to stand tall in the digital movie rental business by climbing all over the movie cinema experience.

The whole debate about cinema releases getting a 90-day window of exclusivity before you get to watch them at home isn't new, but it has got some fresh legs thanks to a little known company called Apple. The Cupertino firm is reportedly pushing studios to let it rent out movies that are still screening at the cinema for a premium price through iTunes, so that you'd be able to watch them on your Apple TV and iPhone 7.

Among the studios in talk to Tim Cook's band of merry men are 21st Century Fox, Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures. If the rumours are true, iOS users will be able to access films two weeks after their theatrical debut for home viewing. There'll be a premium rental price attached to these movies, with reports suggesting US$25-$50.

According to the Bloomberg report, it's expected that this kind of early-rental scenario will be available within 18 months, although whether this is a US-only initiative or global remains to be seen.

The big concern from film studios apparently isn't that they'll be locking customers into the Apple ecosystem and limiting their potential audience, but that if they do this, users may video tape the rental on their screen at home, bypassing Apple's DRM and then uploading the file to the internet for scurvy-ridden pirates to share while feeding their parrots.

I'm kind of torn by this news. Thanks to the joys of parenthood, I don't get to the cinema anywhere near as often as I like. The fact I haven't been able to go and see Dr. Strange is a particular sore point.

But if I could watch at home within a fortnight? Colour me very intrigued. Date nights with the wife are suddenly not just bingeing Supergirl while we eat dinner. We could fire up some popcorn, switch on the Apple TV and catch the latest movies on the 65-inch 4K TV while the kids slept.

That price tag worries me though. Sure, you spend that much for two people going to the cinemas before they rip you off at the candy bar, but at least you get an experience. Full surround sound, massive screen, ad after ad after ad after ad...

So yeah, I don't know. There's always going to be some movies you'll want to go to the theatres for, but for others? The comfort of your home is probably going to do the trick.

Netflix goes bingeing

Netflix has been filling up my inbox this week, which is great except when the email notification interrupts me watching Sense8 on the train (I'm loving the offline viewing, by the way). First, there was the news that Netflix will be bringing 20 unscripted shows to the platform next year (God help us all if the Netflix recommendation engine actually suggests we watch some of them).

Fortunately that information was offset by the news that Luke Cage got a second season. Sweet Christmas. And speaking of Christmas, there's a Sense8 Christmas special launching on 23 December and a second season of the Wachowski's sci-fi show in 2017.

Netflix also updated its TV experience to offer video previews of the program, with the goal of making it easier to pick your next binge. They're not just trailers or teasers; instead Netflix has created a specially designed synopsis of each show that will help viewers decide if they want to watch the show within 90 seconds.

Then Netflix was at it again with some research that shows that viewers tend to break up TV binge watching with a movie or two. What's more, there's an impressive correlation around the world with viewers moving in similar patterns.

netflix binge

I think most impressive about these trends are the scale. If you watch Netflix, basically you should know the company is analysing your viewing habits:

Netflix analysed the viewing data of over 86 million members across more than 190 countries between January 2016 and October 2016. The research examined variation in member’s viewing patterns in relation to TV series and movies. In this research, Netflix found when members switched from one series (completing all seasons available) to another, 59% of the time they took at least a one-day breather with a median gap of 2.5 days. During this breather, 61% of those members watched a standalone title (documentary, movie or stand-up special) before beginning the next series. In total, 36% of all Netflix members demonstrate this behaviour. Members did not have to complete a series in a certain amount of time in order to be included in the research. To determine example series and movie pairs, Netflix analysed more than 100 TV series to identify which movies were paired most frequently per market. The movie pairings do not equate to viewership numbers.

Impressive, wouldn't you say? Also, totally accurate from my experience.

Get streaming this week

If you're looking for something to kickstart a coma-inducing binge watch, season 3 of Mozart in the Jungle is due to drop on Stan in its entirety next week. If you can't wait that long, Fuller House Season 2 is available now on Netflix. Elijah Wood's Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency also drops over the weekend, and that looks like a bit of fun:

Each week, View Finder rounds up the latest news in streaming TV and movies for Australians.

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