Exclusivity Is Stupid

According to The Verge, Amazon Prime will be losing a bunch of BBC shows including one my favourites, Doctor Who. The reason? Well, it’s not because the contract expired, though the contract is expiring. It’s not because the BBC is giving Amazon the finger and taking their business elsewhere.

No, it’s because the BBC wants to have their content on other streaming services while Amazon wants an exclusive deal. Since they can’t have an exclusive deal, then they’re going to dump the Beeb all together.

…the Beeb and I go way back.

I wouldn’t really consider myself an Anglophile, more like a UKphile. I love British music and telly, sure. I started watching British TV early in life and, over the years, picked up a lot of quirks from it. That thing over there that’s hooked up to my Xbox One? That’s the telly. I get to my office via the lift and have a friend who lives in a flat. I run, and sometimes write, programmes and occasionally I need a diagramme to figure out what I want to do. I’ll use the web to check on my paycheque and so on and so on. So yeah, the Beeb and I go way back.

Let's be honest... I'll follow these guys wherever they go.

Let’s be honest… I’ll follow these guys wherever they go.

But I also love Irish music and telly, and Welsh, and Scottish, and whatever else pops up on the UK cultural radar. So when it comes to television programming and music, I like stuff out of the UK and not just the English content.

I don’t watch a lot of TV. Indeed most of my TV watching shifted to services like Netflix and Amazon Prime ages ago. I watch far more YouTube than I do TV because there are channels on YouTube made by people like me, for people like me. Still, if I want mainstream viewing I hit up Prime or Netflix or something on Roku or whatever. No commercials too, that’s a huge selling point for me.

The thing is, while Amazon may want to be exclusive, I don’t think many of its customers care. Netflix is inexpensive, especially if you’re not paying for cable TV. Prime is also inexpensive, even with the price hike. Sometimes the show I want to watch is on Prime. Sometimes it’s on Netflix. Sometimes it’s on some other service. I have a feeling there are a lot of people out there who, like me, subscribe to both Netflix and Prime and don’t care what’s on which, so long as they can watch it.

Exclusivity deals don’t even hurt customers anymore, because the customer can pretty easily walk away to another service. I was thrilled when I found out that the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are build on very similar architectures. (Let’s be honest, they’re PCs. One is running a customized version of Linux and the other is running a customized version of Windows 8.) That also meant that there wasn’t a good reason for a game to be exclusive to one box over the other. It’s easier than it’s ever been to develop for both of the hardcore gaming platforms. Most of the exclusivity deals I’ve seen recently are exclusive because they’re developed by Microsoft or Sony themselves.

Do you stare at your Xbox One while you’re playing a game? If so, then you’re playing the game wrong.

While the PS4 and Xbox One aren’t as inexpensive as Netflix or Prime, they’re relatively the same price. If I can save up money for one, I can probably do the same for the other. Why not have both? And if I can have both, why bother with exclusive deals? Sure, “they win” because I bought both, just like Netflix and Amazon “won” because I subscribe to both. However that’s not how my mind works. Most of the time I don’t give a damn which platform I’m using. I want to watch, listen to, or play a thing: which box do I need to use? After I ascertain which box, I immediately stop caring about the box and focus on the content. Do you stare at your Xbox One while you’re playing a game? If so, then you’re playing the game wrong.

Xbox One wins nothing because I’m playing a game on the One. If anyone wins it’s the game developer because they put their game on a platform I can use.

onlyhereforcontentSo if Amazon wants to drop content because they can’t have it exclusively, that’s fine. The thing is, their biggest competitor is Netflix. If Prime drops the content and Netflix picks it up, then Netflix has the exclusive deal. Isn’t that like throwing the baby out with the bath-water?

No matter, I’ll watch Doctor Who or whatever else on Netflix and, in the end, I won’t care. The pendulum swings both ways. I want to watch something, which box do I need to turn on to make that happen and then how quickly can I forget about the box so I can watch my show?

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