File Sharing Movies: Half of All Americans Aware

By Richard Menta 2/25/05

I guess the title of this article is the type that sends chill down the spine of any movie executive, not that it should. If anything, the fact that the box office yet again set a sales record and that DVD sales are skyrocketing should alleviate fears that file sharing movies is as much a threat to the film industry's bottom line as they feel it is.

Maybe this line from the Ipsos-Insight press release will make them feel a little better: "An Estimated 100 million Americans Aware, But Few Downloading "

Richard Menta

According to Ipsos' research, despite this awareness factor only about 4% of total Americans have actually downloaded a movie. Even the coveted 18-24 age group only saw 12% of its population actually admitting they have downloaded a movie.

Now this brings up a good point, are these individuals who are polled giving an honest response? I suspect they are because of the nature of downloading movies - it usually takes so long you can drive to the video store, rent the same flick for $2.50, view it and return it before the download is complete. The film industry has a tiered pricing model that ranges from $9.00 a person per view to rentals to eventually free TV. There are a lot more pricing options than offered by the record industry.

But with the Movie industry jumping on the "Sue Your Customer" campaign, started by the same record industry to minimal effect, it might just be safer for the average consumer to fib a little when that marketing person accosts you in the mall with their clipboard.

Another finding from the study shows that with regards to movie downloading it is primarly practiced by males under 35. Compare this with the record industry where file traders make up all ages and sexes. Of course, file sharing of tunes was once the bastion of younger males. Matt Kleinschmit, Vice President with Ipsos-Insight’s Technology & Communications opined on this.

“With the music industry struggling in the past few years to define and integrate the role of digital acquisition methods into the existing marketplace, it appears that the motion picture industry is presented with a unique opportunity to learn from the evolution of that category. Specifically, the profile of ‘first’ movie downloaders reflect, in many ways, what we saw in the early days of music downloading—that is, they are younger, male, and those seeking technological methods of primarily free acquisition. It will be interesting to monitor how this develops over time, to see if online acquisition of movies mimics what we have seen in the digital music category, where fee-based downloaders have skewed to an older and more gender balanced profile.”

The question I have is will the film industry take excerpts of this research to use as a club against file sharing, or will they seek business opportunity from it?

If they learned anything from the record industry it should be the later. Unfortunately, their acceptance of the record industry's Sue 'em All campaign suggests that the post Jack Valenti MPAA has no such vision.


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