When Is A Download Not A Download?
A company called Lionsgate Films has been advertising recently on the tube as well as in newspapers such as today's Metro (Note: I saw the ad over somebody's shoulder - I still don't read Metro).
Here's a copy of the ad:
Lionsgate seems to specialise in offering recent US TV fare on DVD. Now none of the three series in the ad especially appeals to me: I saw The Lost Room and thought it was fairly average; The Dresden Files doesn't appeal, and I wasn't really taken with Weeds.
Nonetheless, the ad offers a free episode download, and I was curious. So I committed the URL to memory (lionsgatefilms.co.uk/viptv - not the easiest URL to remember when you're on the tube and out of internet access range) and gave it a go. As much as anything I was keen to see what format they were offering the downloads in. Windows Media perhaps, or Quicktime? Would I be able to play the episode on a PSP or iPod?
None of those.
A closer examination of the advert shows this:
"Download will be via streaming and will be the first episode of each series."
Let me explain for the hard of thinking - download is not the same as streaming. Now I'm not about to go to the ASA to complain, but companies really need to be careful about how they advertise these things.
If something is a download, then I believe I should be able to save it somewhere and play it back later at my convenience without the need to go online. So don't advertise a "Free Episode Download" when it's not. How about "Watch an exclusive episode online" or "See the first episode free"?
In fact, I'm not sure why they don't simply make the episode available as a DRM-free download. If you like what you see, you may well go and buy the DVDs.