A few years ago, I was under the impression that everyone was on the same page when it came to digital distribution. I’m starting to feel like I misjudged the industry. Sure, it’s cool that HBO is on the PlayStation Network, but paying $36 for a standard definition season of ‘True Blood’ is just plain unacceptable.
All right, so here’s how it’s supposed to break down: Companies like HBO have a great advantage distributing their shows digitally because it saves them money. They don’t have to ship the product, they don’t have to pay designers to make the boxes, and they don’t have to pay to have discs made.
The benefit to the customer should be obvious. First, we get our content when we want it. And second, since the companies giving us the content have lower overhead costs, we should get the content cheaper. Right?
HBO made the move over to the PlayStation Network yesterday with much celebration from Sony. You can jump on your PS3 now and download episodes. But there’s really no reason to. Take the hit show ‘True Blood,’ with its decidedly non-sparkly vampires. If you buy it on PSN, you’ll be shelling out $2.99 per episode. For all of season two, that’s $35.88.
That’s $35.88 for standard definition video. For $32.99 you can get the DVD set on Amazon, pop a disc into your PS3, and enjoy SD video upscaled to 1080p. Sure, an upscaled DVD isn’t Blu-ray quality, but it looks a lot better than the downloaded 480p videos.
Of course, if you’re willing to shell out another $4.11, you can pick up the Blu-ray from Amazon with free shipping. Your choice becomes $39.99 for ‘True Blood’ on Blu-ray, or $35.88 to download and watch a standard definition version of ‘True Blood.’ Doesn’t sound like a choice at all.