About Digital Movies

Let’s start off with an illustration.

So, I bought this DVD at Best Buy; it only plays on a Best Buy DVD player, which I don’t have yet. My friends and I were planning a movie night, and I was going to bring this new DVD, but they don’t have a Best Buy DVD player.

Sounds stupid, right? DVDs play on any DVD player.

So, I bought this movie on iTunes, but it only plays on an Apple TV, which I don’t have yet. My friends and I were planning a movie night, and I was going to bring this new movie, but they don’t have an Apple TV.

Sounds stupid, right?

Digital movies have benefits: wondrously, you skip all the garbage trailers that become out of date shortly after the DVD release. iTunes will allow you to re-download a movie once purchased. In a pinch, you could watch one on your phone.

Across the board, though, it’s not yet as easy to “take” a digital movie to a friend’s house as it has been with DVD. On top of that, movies purchased on iTunes have a serious drawback that Amazon Instant Videos do not. You can’t play them on network-connected devices like Roku and Samsung Smart TV. This makes it more likely you can’t play them outside your own home.

Unfortunately, I didn’t examine movie ecosystems closely before purchasing a movie from iTunes. (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is great; go get it!) iTunes movies can only be watched on or through Apple devices. Amazon movies can be watched in more places; but Amazon treats publishers in an unacceptable way. What’s a guy to do?