It’s the future. I sit down in the living room and turn on a fast-starting computer hooked up to a big screen and speaker system. I go to a library of the shows I usually watch. A few shows are locked behind a password-protected menu so kids can’t get to them.
I select a show, old or new. The computer remembers which episode I watched last, and even if I had to stop watching mid-episode. By default, I get the standard audio, but if I want a more cinematic experience, I can select a more dynamic audio track, or if I’m watching late at night and the rest of the house is asleep, I can select a less dynamic track. I can just as well select a commentary, official or fan-made, or a different language dub, or opt to have speech, music or sound effects muted or solo.
I’m on my work computer, writing emails or something. I have a show playing in another window. I have subtitles on so I can multitask and at a glance get what any given line of dialogue is about. I need to listen to a some audio a friend and/or coworker sent me, for a music project. I pause the video, listen to the audio.
The film/TV library lists my top films and shows. I can order these on physical media if I want to. They contain more special features, like behind-the-scenes material, a copy of the script, the soundtrack… Upon ordering this, those special features also become available in the library.
I’m abroad. The connection isn’t great. I select lower quality video and audio. I’m watching it with my new friends, and as they might not speak English well, we have subtitles in their language as well as in English.
A new movie is coming out. I have a premium account, so I get to watch the movie without ads, on the day of the release, wherever I am. I have a professional reviewer account. I get to watch movies before their release. Anyone can write a review, and it can be formal or just a thank you or “f u” to the director. There’s some moderation of the reviews, so ugly language isn’t visible to minors, and amazon-bombing events can be filtered out.
The school I teach at has an education account. My students get to remix any film or show online through the library – and to associate their trailer with their own user accounts. Regular users can do the same, except they to buy the show or film. They can, for a slight further cost, make a fandub. Each time someone watches a fan-made trailer, or listens to a fandub, reviewer commentary, or anything else that’s user-generated, the users involved in making this additional material are also paid. Several songs from my album have music videos based on shows and movies. The music comes from Spotify or a similar service partnering with the video service. When one of those vids are watched, I get paid slightly, the music video editor get paid slightly, and the ppl who made the original video get paid slightly. I don’t know the exact amount of money, I just know I get money when ppl watch it.
I watch the news. I don’t know what’s going on so I’m not looking for a specific story. I don’t care about celebrity deaths and scandals, so I skip to the next news story. I watch a tech news show made/sponsored by Toyota. Naturally, it has a lot of Toyota products. I can skip to any individual story in the episode. The show still gives me a positive idea about Toyota, so they don’t mind me skipping through.
If I didn’t have a premium account, I could still watch stuff… ad-supported. These aren’t intrusive pop-up ads, they’re more subtly colored and fit right into the design of the library application, each library skin has it’s own ad color coding. Imagine the choice between white on black, or black on white. That can do a lot to make an ad less intrusive. Likewise, some weeks, select shows are sponsored (ie otherwise ad-free) by select companies. This week, General Motors wants me to watch the timeless classic Transformers. Then I log in and the ads disappear.
I look at my account balance. I’ve seen all of Stargate SG-1 before with this service, so all those episodes are free to me. I’ve bought all of Babylon 5, so those episodes are free to me. This month, I’ve been watching old Mythbusters, and am billed for them, a small fee for each episode I’ve watched. Once I’ve watched 75% of episodes in a season, the rest becomes free. My subscription to the service is split between the service and the shows I already own. Just because I’ve seen Firefly a few times doesn’t mean there isn’t a slight amount of money going to its owners at the end of each month when views and payment are calculated.
Holidays are approaching. I can gift movies or seasons of shows to friends and family. I have some gift credits available. This is how the services lures more users to it – credits for each purchase, that I can only use on other ppl. There are always collections available for purchase, whether r not you want the physical media for it. During the dark months of fall, they were cheap for me. Now they’re cheaper still, as gifts.
My wife and kids are associated with my account, and I can watch any of their purchases/gifts from my account, and they can watch mine. There’s a limit to how many accounts can be associated to one another, tho a friend of mine has loads of kids, most of them in their teens, so they had to request a few more association slots for their accounts. The service likes these association things, it tells them what families watch. A single episode can be watched a dozen times in a week, simply because multiple users watch the same show.
Just like a family can be associated with one another, so can roommates. With a fixed number of slots, and some tracking to make sure ppl who live together are more closely associated than random friends, you don’t get to game the system and create a link of ppl who all watch each other’s purchases for free. However, the system is by design slow to react. I spend a few weeks in the US, my family remains in FInland, but we all have access to my shows and films.
Some time in the future, when I die, my purchases are transferred to my kids’ accounts. probably not everything, but perhaps the most viewed half. If they didn’t have those items listed, they do now. If they do, lower-rung items are added. This may work with a tracker for the kinds of shows and films they like, so that my fantasy geek daughter gets more fantasy films, and my documentary geek son gets more documentaries.
It’s the present. Illegal streaming and downloading is illegal, and commercial services aren’t convenient. Audio is overcompressed, or has too much dynamics to sound good on low listening levels. Movies are available on disc half a year after they come out in local cinemas, which is a few months after their US release. Sales are arbitrary and I am not informed about them. My DVD collection is sizable, but DVD is getting old. I haven’t found Pitch Black anywhere. Where’s Steam for video?