Mini-rant: Life was better when we had video stores

We still don't live in an on-demand world

Anyone who thinks our world of entertainment is better with 20 different Internet streaming options as opposed to a video store is deluding themselves. Retailers like Blockbuster Video and Hollywood Video (the one I used to visit regularly has turned into a Verizon Wireless store) have all vanished because people started to watch Internet streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, etc.

You would think that the vast storage capacity of the cloud would allow these services to offer up any movie or TV show on demand, as has been promised for the last 20+ years. Unfortunately, the licensing and rules/regulations by the Hollywood studios and streaming companies have put brakes on these dreams. You practically have to subscribe to every service and/or pay channel to get even minimally close to an on-demand world, and even then you could be out of luck.

Case in point: Last night, I was watching a very good series on the National Geographic Channel (recorded on our FiOS DVR) called "Inside the American Mob". After watching the first episode, which discussed Operation Donnie Brasco, I remembered that there was a film that Johnny Depp did, and asked my wife if she had seen it, and if we should watch it.

Surely, a movie that came out in 1997 would be available for rental or streaming somewhere in the vastness of the cloud, correct?

Wrong.

A search of the cool site "Can I stream It"? reveals the sad truth - no luck for me for rental or streaming, unless I have XFinity Stream Pix (a service of Comcast, not available in my town). Sure, I could buy a digital copy for $10 via Amazon, Apple, Vudu, Xbox 360 or Sony PS3, or I could buy a physical DVD/Blu-Ray for $13 (Amazon), or if I still had my Netflix DVD subscription package (I only subscribe to Netflix streaming), I could get it that way.

Call me crazy or old-fashioned, but I'm not going to pay $10 for a digital copy of a movie that I haven't seen yet. That's what rentals were all about. But I don't have an option to rent it, even digitally, because someone at some studio somewhere doesn't feel like there's enough demand, or it's tied up in royalty payments or some other annoying reason. They could have gotten $3 to $4 from me last night if there was a rental option, but now I'm stuck either trying to pirate the movie (unlikely) or seeing if any friends/relatives have the movie (or hitting the yard sale circuit).

So yeah, I kind of miss my video store when things like this happen.

Keith Shaw rounds up the best in geek video in his ITworld.tv blog. Follow Keith on Twitter at @shawkeith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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