Written by Internet, Media

The Price of Rental

I missed Guardians of the Galaxy in cinemas earlier this year. But it was well reviewed, and I did plan to catch it.

The good news is that it came out on “home video” recently. So I could either buy it on DVD or BluRay, or watch it in download/streaming.

If I choose to rent it, I have a few options.

I have a largish TV, so HD is my preferred option, and the industry continues to put some kind of quality premium on film rentals. But since I have a smart TV and a number of devices attached to my television, I have a few options as to where I get the film from.

Assuming they’re all much of a muchness with regards to quality, here are my options:

ProviderSDHD
iTunes*£3.49£4.49
Google Play£3.49£4.49
Amazon Instant Video£3.49£4.49
Wuaki.tv**£3.49£4.49
Sky Store£4.49£5.49

Huh? Why is Sky £1 more than all my other options?

It’s probably easiest since I tend to default to my Sky box when the TV is on, and Sky ensures that it downloads a healthy buffer so that once I start watching it, I won’t be interrupted by buffering. But I’m not so lazy as to not want to change inputs to either the Amazon or Wuaki apps on my TV, or Google Play via Chromecast on another HDMI port.

Maybe I’ve answered my own question. Of those who own smart TVs, x% (where x is a significant number) don’t use the apps on their smart TVs. And to use Google Play, I do need a Chromecast, albeit a relatively inexpensive device.

I tend to watch streaming services like Netflix or Amazon on my TV. Sure, I have the apps on my phone and tablet. But that big screen dominating one end of my living room, with the surround speakers is best for expensively made Hollywood films. For the most part, I don’t stream to mobile devices (downloads are different, and I might for travel).

And a recent report says that 78% of Netflix subscribers watch (at least some) programming on their TV.

But what I think this all boils down is that it’s laziness that allows Sky to charge another £1 more for their customers than anyone else!

Afterword: I watched the film via Google Play and my Chromecast. It’s not perfect as it’s streaming constantly so there was a buffering moment (and I have fibre). And there were occasional quality drops. So perhaps Sky does have a bit of a good hand to play. On the other hand, I’ve not noticed any discernible issues streaming either on Amazon or Netflix beyond an initial quality check.

* Actually, since I don’t have Apple TV, this would be the most awkward for me, requiring a laptop running iTunes connected to my TV via an HDMI cable. Still I include it for completeness.

** At the time I wrote this, there was something wrong with the Wuaki.tv website and Guardians of the Galaxy had a 404 error. However, were it to be available, it would almost certainly follow the same pricing as listed here because that’s the level at which they price the rest of their films.