I just rented Unknown from Netflix, on Blu-ray.
The first thing you see when you pop in the disk is a big, long, loud ad—for Blu-ray.
Hello. I own a Blu-ray player. I’m watching a Blu-ray. Why are you trying to sell me Blu-ray?
Oops. Can’t skip. “This feature is not available here.”
So let’s see. I’m a Blu-ray owner, and you’re trying to sell me on Blu-ray by demonstrating Blu-ray’s ability to force me to watch an ad.
Fast forward maybe? Success!
But wait, now I’m curious. Let’s watch this Blu-ray ad.
It talks about image and sound quality. Yep, those are important to me.
Now it’s going into a big section about special features. “Go deeper into the movie.” Yes, this is the main reason I love Blu-ray so much. Picture-in-picture commentaries. Behind-the-scenes stuff. Awesome.
OK, ad over. Now some trailers.
Wow, lots and lots of trailers. For movies, and TV shows, and games, and…
Skip. Oops, nope. Fast forward.
Fast forward fast forward fast forward.
Aha. The menu.
And here are the two options:
- Play Movie
Let me get this straight. After forcing me to watch an ad touting the amazing special features of Blu-ray, a thing of which I am already clearly a fan having spent hundreds of dollars on a player, you present me with a movie featuring exactly one “special feature”:
One of the most prominently featured movies in that unskippable ad was Sherlock Holmes. I rented that too. It also featured a stripped-down menu with only two options and none of the special features advertised. Except, of course, for the unskippable ads.
I get it. These minimized disks are pressed specifically for the rental market. I’m supposed to buy the “real” Blu-ray to see the good stuff. I actually do buy tons of Blu-rays—usually after renting them and experiencing how great all the special features are (Universal, ironically a late adopter of Blu-ray having supported HDDVD, doesn’t do the bare-bones thing). Looking back at my Amazon buying habits, turns out I buy a lot fewer movies these days—with “these days” coresponding precicely to the advent of these stripped-down “rental only” disks.
I’m a filmmaker and movie fan with a 1080p projector, 100-inch screen, and surround sound. Everyone I know streams nearly all their movies, but I specifically seek out the quality and extra features of Blu-ray without a second thought to the expense. But my love affair with the format is being killed by these bare-bones disks.
Here’s a crazy idea. How about instead of forcing people to watch an ad that talks about how Blu-ray provides a great movie watching experience—and then providing a shitty movie watching experience—how about just providing a great movie watching experience?
Let the experience be the ad.
Or, like Seth Godin says, “the product is the marketing.”
After all, look at the enormous popularity of the easiest way to have a high-quality movie watching experience at home, without any ads, trailers, FBI warnings, or firmware updates.
Talk about a successful product.