Geoblocking

Amongst the many things that the internet has changed, the users’ increasing demand for more content, particularly with streaming services, is undoubtedly the biggest. As information is increasingly quicker to access, audiences therefore demand immediate access to more content. In the world of the internet, patience no longer exists.

Amongst the many things that the internet has changed, the users’ increasing demand for more content, particularly with streaming services, is undoubtedly the biggest. As information is increasingly quicker to access, audiences therefore demand immediate access to more content. In the world of the internet, patience no longer exists.

Geo-blocking, is a system which is implemented to restrict an individual’s access to content which is not available in their country. Streaming services, such as Netflix, are consistently fighting to restrict their users from accessing non-localised content. The problem with such as system is that it  is that it denies the public to the right of online liberty. It is a morally grey area, that is yet to be fully addressed and dealt with.g1494804874294051652.jpg

Geo-blocking, is a system which is implemented to restrict an individual’s access to content which is not available in their country. Streaming services, such as Netflix, are consistently fighting to restrict their users from accessing non-localised content. The problem with such as system is that it  is that it denies the public to the right of online liberty. It is a morally grey area, that is yet to be fully addressed and dealt with.

Australia vs. Piracy: What’s the point?

Remember that ad that you would see every time you watched a DVD?  With the quotes like “ You wouldn’t steal a car”  and “You wouldn’t steal a handbag”. You know the one right? That ad is more than 10 years old now. Crazy right! So what exactly has changed in Australia’s war against piracy since then? To be honest, not much has changed. Apart from the implementation of the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill in 2015 and the introduction of Netflix in March 2015, nothing has changed in regards to piracy and illegal streaming in Australia.

The war against piracy, is for me, one that the Australian government cannot win. The internet is so  vast and information is so easily obtainable that it makes it  almost impossible for piracy laws to be enforced. If one illegal streaming site gets shutdown, they’ll just be another one created. So, although they may restrict piracy and illegal streaming, Australia will never succeed in its battle against piracy. So the question is: What’s the point?

Obi-Wan Kenobi - You Were The Chosen One! meme

Medium is the Message: The Netflix case

It took me a while to fully grasp Marshall McLuhan’s concept that “The Medium is the Message”. However in light of Netflix CEO Reed Hastings’ recent comments regarding movie theatres’ lack of innovation, I realized that Netflix’s overwhelming success comes down to, not only the quality content, but to the nature of the medium itself and was therefore a perfect example of McLuhan’s concept.

In the case of Netflix, it’s main appeal for a majority of people is the ability to consume content pretty much anywhere. As good as the content is (and it is great!), the streaming aspect is what really entices people. Furthermore, if a medium is truly an extension of us, as McLuhan states, then Netflix too, is an augmentation of ourselves. Take the recommendations feature, for instance. After we consume a film or t.v. show, an algorithm suggests similar content for us to consume. This is all part of the appeal and the nature of the medium.

Triggered Mediums

So, if you, like I did, struggle with the concept of “The Medium is Message”, just consider Netflix’s success. Then, you will understand

DIGC202-Attention as a currency

In the last lecture, we discussed the fascinating idea that an individual’s attention has now become the principal form of currency, in the ever expanding digital landscape. Which makes sense really, considering how the consumer’s attention span has changed over the years, due to the overflow of information and content available to us.

With the emergence of digital media, traditional media platforms are having to adjust to the fact that money is no longer the endgame: the goal now is to grab the attention of the consumers. If something doesn’t interest the consumer, they can simply change the channel or station until they find something they like. If not, they can simply go online and search specifically for what they want. Sometimes, though, even the consumers don’t know exactly what they want. These are some of the reasons why attention is arguably the most valuable currency in the changing media landscape.

 Fry meme

Part 1: Television in the Past and Television in the Future

For those of you who may not know of the show , “Doctor Who” is a series which follows the adventures of a time-travelling extraterrestrial, commonly referred to as ‘the doctor’ and his companion. The show originally ran from 1963 to 1989, but was later relaunched in 2005 and continues to air to this day. The episode which I want to discuss in this blog post, titled “The Idiot’s Lantern” is the 7th episode from the second season of the recently revamped ‘Doctor Who’ series, and is set in the 1950’s around the time of the Queen’s coronation. The most striking aspect in the episode which I want to explore is the aspect of communal television, which is prevalent throughout the episode.

The story of this episode revolves around a sinister alien force which uses the television signal to feed on humans, who are eagerly anticipating the live coverage of the Queen’s coronation. The historical context of the television is much more fascinating  than the story its self. The 1950’s was a time when television was a new form of technology, and was much more of a communal event, where families would watch programmes together, as opposed to watching whatever we want, by ourselves online. This episode brilliantly illustrates, through the costume and set design, the role of the  television, as something that brings friends and families together.

Since the 50’s, different forms of technology have become available and even today, scientists continue to look towards the future and by living in an era of tablets, smart-phones it begs two questions :

1 -Is the television relevant anymore?

2 – How can broadcast  television maintain an audience?

In order to fully determine whether traditional television consumption  is still relevant, it is important to observe the trends that are occurring within the television landscape. The 2015 1st quarter report on Australian multi-screen trends, published by Oztam (a research firm dedicated to collect television ratings data). Surprisingly, the report states  that “across the population and screen types, 88.4 per cent of all viewing takes place on the TV set” (Oztam, 2015, pg. 2). As surprising as this statistic is, it is important to note that the data was collected just as Netflix had been introduced in Australia, and therefore had a quite limited amount of content.  However, the report also found that the consumption of shows online had increased ever so slightly and that “11 percent of all video viewing – both broadcast and non-broadcast content – happens on screens other than the TV” (Oztam, 2015, pg.2). So, from the evidence above, it is clear that online television is becoming a serious force that will not only make broadcast television obsolete but  also isolate us completely from our families and friends. The question remains: How can broadcast television maintain an audience?

In an increasingly crowded market, broadcast and traditional television has struggled to compete with online streaming services to maintain an audience.I, myself, hardly ever watch television anymore (with the exception of sport). Since its introduction in Australia, Netflix has personally changed the way I consume television. So, how does broadcast television fight to maintain an audience? Well, one way in which free-to-air television has fought to keep up with VOD services such as Netflix is by ‘fighting fire with fire’. Every free-to-air channel, with the exception of channel 9, each have their own on-demand service which allows audiences to view previously aired content. Yet, despite this attempt to keep up, broadcast television is still struggling. If you ask me personally, traditional television was inevitably going to become obsolete as technology continues to evolve. One day, it may be possible that online streaming faces a similar battle. But right now, the future is bright for online steaming…

A group of young British children watching television in October 1988. (Photo by Express/Getty Images)
A group of young British children watching television in October 1988. (Photo by Express/Getty Images)

References:

AUSTRALIAN MULTI-SCREEN REPORT.” Oztam, 2015. Web. 24 Oct. 2015. 

Watching in the dark: The experience of film with strangers

As I wait for the lights to dim, a question pops into my head: Why do we enjoy watching a film with strangers in total darkness? Is it to experience shared emotions of what is happening on the screen? Is it that we like the idea that, by watching a film at the cinema with others, we identify a need, shared with those particular strangers, to escape from reality for 2 hours. Just as I started writing these questions to remember for my blog, the lights turned to utter darkness and the film began, as the theatre suddenly turned quiet…

Image From: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/sites/default/files/2015/07/gift_ver3.jpg
Image From: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/sites/default/files/2015/07/gift_ver3.jpg

The film I saw on that day was “The Gift”, which is a suspenseful stalker thriller starring and directed by Australia’s very own Joel Edgerton. In my opinion, thrillers and horror films are the best to see in theatres with a group of people, either friends or strangers. In this case, I decided to attend on my own. Before deciding to go, I considered the three constraints identified by Swedish geographer Torsten Hagerstrand, which could affect my decision:

Capability: The physical limits to get there

Authority: Are you permitted to be there

Coupling: Can you make it there in time

Hagerstrand’s research, which resulted in the identification of the three constraints, was to explore the physical and psychological limitations that prevent people from acting without restraint. For me, my closest theatre is a 5 minute train ride away, so capability was no issue. As for authority, my father gave me money the night before (broke life 😦 ) so that’s was no problem. Could I make it in time? Absolutely I could. So Hagerstrand’s three constraints did not affect m decision in any way and therefore was able to take part in quite an interesting communal cinematic experience.

The minute the lights went down, everyone in the theatre had an unspoken agreement that talking is now forbidden. Everyone was keen to find out how the film was going to turn out. In the end, the film proved to be fantastic, and was particularly interesting to see with complete strangers. There were a few moments in the film, where everything goes quiet and everyone (including me) is on the edge of their seat. Then, suddenly, something or someone appears, along with a sharp and loud noise. This scare tactic is commonly referred to as a ‘jump scare’ and once everyone umps from their seat in fright, the whole theatre began to laugh over the fact that they had just felt terrified. It was a terrific experience, as well as a terrific film. However, movie theatres are facing a major threat in the form of a little business called Netflix…

The main reason behind Netflix’s success is simply convenience. There is a large amount of choice and it is available at any time at the comfort of your home. However, the main reason why movie theatres are struggling to compete with services such as Netflix is not down to convenience. It is simply down to the continual rise in cost of movie tickets. For example, the local Event Cinemas theatre in the Shire (where I live) charges me almost $20 each time I see a film. Personally, I prefer going to the cinema because it gives me the sense of community and comfort. Yet, it is hard for someone like me, who is a university student, to continue to fork out $20 each time I want to see a film. So it is little surprise that services such as Netflix, which currently has more than 1 million users in Australia, are succeeding and that movie theatre attendance is starting to decrease.

References:

Bulbeck, P 2015, ‘Netflix reaches 1m users in Australia’, The Hollywood Reporter website, viewed 28th August 2015, http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/netflix-reaches-1m-users-australia-804697

Maddox, G 2014, ‘Cinema ticket prices have just topped $20 in Sydney, with Melbourne soon to follow. Could this be a psychological tipping point?’, Sydney Morning Herald website, viewed 28th August 2015, http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/movie-tickets-hit-epic-levels-as-they-cross-20-barrier-20140404-363bw.html

Screen Australia, Audiovisual Markets Audiences, accessed 28th August 2015, http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/research/statistics/audiencescinemaattend.aspx

The Interview/Final Post

As I have previously established in my posts, my interest, which will be further examined in Assessment 2 revolves around the arrival of Netflix in Australia. The relevance and the timing of the topic were major factors in my choosing of the topic, and the group in which I was assigned chose the same topic for similar reasons. So, in this final blog post, I intend on posting a short interview which I conducted during the week with my mate Blair on Netflix and movie piracy.

 Prior to the arrival of Netflix in Australia, how did you obtain videos online?

So, before Netflix I actually did rent for quite a while, I can say that I’ve never downloaded a movie in my life, but I have been at a friend’s house where we’ve streamed movies.

Would you consider piracy as a form of theft?

It’s always in the back of my head that it’s illegal to download, but I think (that) because it’s available and everyone does it, it feels like why can’t I if everyone else is?

Do you think that the cost of seeing a movie affects the rate of people pirating?

Yeah definitely, you can stream a movie for free and yes its illegal but Australian is not as harsh on pirating as overseas for example, and a movie costs like $15, even Netflix at I think it’s around $8 a month, is so much cheaper and convenient. The mark up on movies is ridiculous and that’s why piracy is so big.

The purpose of this interview was to test possible questions for both the survey and focus group interview which will be conducted as part of a group research task. Although the questions were rather open-ended, they provided significant insight as to the mindset behind pirating. In terms of adaptation, we will have to alter the question slightly, in order for it to focus on free-to-air television and Foxtel. I also think that, for our questionnaire, our questions will have to be a lot more direct and specific.

 

Netflix in Australia

In light of the recent addition of Netflix in Australia, I have decided, for this week’s blog post, to analyse an article from the Sydney Morning Herald which attempts to predict the effects of Netflix’s arrival towards Australian television. In the last few years, Netflix has dominated the internet streaming market in the U.S. and has provided both cable and free-to-air television networks serious competition.  Now, 8 years after its inception, Netflix has arrived to change the television market in Australia.

The Sydney Morning Herald article, written by Elizabeth Knight and Jared Lynch, takes a business-orientated perspective on Netflix and comments mostly on the possible economic effects that Netflix will have on cable and free-to-air networks. The authors, Elizabeth Knight and Jared Lynch are both specialists in the business domain, which indicates that they are qualified to comment and write on this subject. However, in an age where news is dominated by moguls, it is understandable to question the motive behind any article.  However, in reading the article, it seems that the Knight and Lynch have written from a neutral perspective, which is a great thing. In regards to the audience, I believe that the article is targeted towards people with an interest in business or media & technology.  In reading the article, I noticed that there seemed to be no evident viewpoint other than that 2015 will be “the tipping point in the fortunes of traditional free and pay television”.   Furthermore, the authors’ don’t seem to critique possible flaws in the viewpoints or statements expressed by others.

Now, to address the major issue of the article: the research.  The major issue in the article is the failure to address the source of the research and the methodology. Now, this may be because it’s only a newspaper article and not a scholarly, journal article, however, when placing statistics in any form of article, you should refer to both the source of the research and (if applicable) the methodology.  However, one of the best things about the article is the simplistic language used which allows, even non-technologically savvy individuals to understand. Because the article was written for a newspaper, there is no specific order and the article is not divided into sections.

Overall, the article is an informative but heavily flawed prediction of the way Netflix could effect both free-to-air and cable television.

References:

Knight,E & Lynch, J 2015, ‘Arrival of Netflix and SVOD set to change Australian TV’, Sydney Morning Herald, 28th March, viewed 29th March 2015, < http://www.smh.com.au/business/media-and-marketing/arrival-of-netflix-and-svod-set-to-change-australian-tv-20150327-1m8zlo.html>

What Exactly is Media Research?

Remember the days when you thought Wikipedia had all the answers you ever needed? And  were you ever told by a librarian or a teacher that Wikipedia was an unreliable source of information? I certainly was and I can say that I was disappointed that I could no longer find information the ‘easy’ way. Since then, I think it’s fair to assume that research is perceived by many as a long and frustrating process to obtain information. However, many of us unknowingly engage in research every day, whether it be online shopping or job hunting. These are examples of a casual form of research, which in simple terms, means ‘to search for, to find’ (Berger, 2014, pg.14). So, how is media research different to everyday research?

Media research, similar to scholarly research requires a much more systematic and objective approach and features a selective process based on truth and accuracy as opposed to everyday research which is less cautious in its selective process (Berger, 2014, pg. 14). The media research process features 7 steps:

Observation -> Initial data gathering ->Theory construction ->Hypothesis construction ->further data gathering -> Analysis of data and conclusion.

In regards to data, there are two forms that can be used, Qualitative and Quantitative.  Qualitative is principally focused on the analysis, assessment and judgement of a text and applying appropriate theoretical concepts , whereas Quantitative is focused on statistics, measurements and surveys and designing research and gathering data first-hand.

In regards to the content of media research, there is a broad range of topics which can be covered including comics, literature, art film, gangsta rap and reality TV, just to name a few. As a self-claimed cinema buff, I am very interested to utilise the fore-mentioned scholarly research methods to investigate the current state of art-house cinema and whether the increase in VOD (Video-on –Demand) services is contributing to the exposure of independent films. My initial observation of independent cinema and its relationship with VOD has shown that independent films are benefitting from VOD services such as Amazon Instant Video and Netflix, amongst others. In an article published on USA Today, Paula Bernstein claims that “VOD provides a potential audience of 100 million in North America alone” (Bernstein, 2013). Although this isn’t a thorough piece of evidence and is rather vague in its estimation method, it is a good start and I look forward to exploring further into the subject, by delving deeper into the scholarly research process.

References:

Berger, Arthur A. 2014, ‘What is research?’, in Media and communication research methods : an introduction to qualitative and quantitative approaches, 3rd ed., SAGE, Los Angeles, pp. 13-32

Bernstein, P 2013, ‘Independent films are finding their audiences on VOD’, USA Today ,  October 28th 2013, viewed 17th March 2015, http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2013/10/26/independent-films-finding-vod-audience-indiewire/3151265/

http://www.mindthewords.gr/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/media-studies-banner.jpg 

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