‘Popcorn Time’ App–The Future of How Movies and TV Shows Can Be Seen? Maybe, but Not Soon


It’s an illegal app but so was Napster and it spawned a revolution in music streaming and the way songs were sold and listened to.  Not itching to run home and watch “This is 40” on HBO or “Olympus Has Fallen” on Netflix?  Want one-stop shopping for all your favorite TV shows and movies and not wait 5 years to see them? Popcorn Time took a chance at creative disruption and took Netflix one step further–it showed movies people actually wanted to see.

When you loaded Popcorn Time, you got a menu of recent Hollywood releases: “American Hustle,” “Gravity,” “The Wolf of Wall Street,”, “12 Years a Slave” and hundreds of other popular and well-reviewed films, available for instant streaming with just a click.

But Hollywood and other services fought back so that the legal barrage was so intense, Popcorn Time’s developers took it down. The app was kind of like Spotify for movies, but it’s not likely to alter the way or timeframe of the way movies are released or available anytime soon, say media experts.

Why? It’s called ‘windowing’ and it allows successful movies to cycle through theater releases, airline screens, hotel pay-per-views and then Blu-ray, DVD rentals, and digital services. After all that, HBO, Starz, and Epix get them. That can take years. And HBO and others pay billions of dollars for that right up to 2020 when its current contract expires. So, in the case of Popcorn Time, competition is fragmenting the marketplace as movie theater owners, and TV premium networks such as Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime, basic cable, Hulu or Showtime will keep buying up rights for movies and the viewer will not be able to go to one outlet or app to get all of them.

Bottom line: The bottom line for digital TV and movies is money and right now the framework for how movies are made, distributed, and viewed is tightly wrapped up in long-term, very high-value contracts spread among a number of TV and movie services.

Here’s two stories about Popcorn Time–with two different takes–that it won’t change anything anytime soon and the other that change is on the way: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/27/technology/personaltech/why-movie-streaming-services-are-unsatisfying-and-will-stay-so.html?_r=0 http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2014/03/26/popcorn-time-panic-time-for-hollywood/xUF1RgHj1Zfc70TKvPcGaP/story.html

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