Join 3,430 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Voddler riding the hype as the Spotify for Video-On-Demand
November 12, 2009 10:34 AM   Subscribe

Last year, Spotify made news as a revelation in music availability, by providing ad-supported free access or paid subscriptions to more than 6 million streaming songs. This year, Sweden is the home to another streaming media landmark, with Voddler. Currently limited to Sweden but with goals of reaching the world, the streaming video-on-demand provider was well-received, but initial movie selection did not impress all. That should change, as Voddler recently expanded the potential list of movies when they signed The Walt Disney Company Ltd and Paramount Pictures, netting access to the Disney assets and the Paramount library. A deal with Sony may be forthcoming.

Videos are accessed with stand-alone software, which is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. The company released a new interface screenshot recently, and older screenshots and details have been compiled for people without access to the system.
posted by filthy light thief (22 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hate to piss on a Swedish parade, but:

1. The client is buggy as hell. Consensus over here is that Voddler opened for business way too early.
2. The selection is awful. And small.
3. There is absolutely no signs that Voddler will get access to the "Disney assets" and the "Paramount library". No details of the deals have been revealed. For all it's worth Voddler may have secured the rights to distribute the very end of the studios' long tails, the bargain bin.
posted by mr.marx at 10:47 AM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


This, of course, is how music will be done in the future. Full on-demand, a la carte access. Whatever you want when you want for a fee. Solves the whole problem of content providers giving a hard copy to you which can be duplicated.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:51 AM on November 12, 2009


initial movie selection did not impress all.

For your consideration; here is a screenshot taken a few minutes ago. It's of the "Newly added" view in Voddler.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 10:53 AM on November 12, 2009


This, of course, is how music will be done in the future. Full on-demand, a la carte access. Whatever you want when you want for a fee. Solves the whole problem of content providers giving a hard copy to you which can be duplicated.

This is what music is like for people living in countries where Spotify is available. It's maybe not all the way there yet, but it's getting close. It has revolutionised the way people listen to music in the UK. People I know genuinely seem to be downloading significantly less than they were before. If only more labels and bands were available.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 10:56 AM on November 12, 2009


mr.marx - thanks for the additional details. I saw this on slashdot, but got interested in the details before I actually read the comments inside. One poster noted that the earlier betas were crap, but the latest update has ironed things out.

soundofsuburbia - thanks for the new pic. Now I want to watch Jin-RĂ´ again.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:58 AM on November 12, 2009


This, of course, is how music will be done in the future. Full on-demand, a la carte access. Whatever you want when you want for a fee. Solves the whole problem of content providers giving a hard copy to you which can be duplicated.

I, personally, am completely against this. The whole business model of "hook them up and get them paying monthly for the rest of their lives" is something which I think is awful. I want to pay once and have it to use as I wish, not have to have a monetary transfusion line set into my wallet in order for me to use it. I don't have satellite radio for exactly the same reason -- I refuse to pay monthly fees unnecessarily.
posted by hippybear at 11:28 AM on November 12, 2009 [5 favorites]


And for those who want free streaming music RIGHT NOW, there's Grooveshark, which only works in a browser with Flash (both a pro and a con, as that's most browsers on a computer). It has a pretty good selection, and they let you upload your own MP3s if you have something they don't have. They then work out licensing deals and host your copies if they get the okay.

I did like Spotify for the two weeks before it locked me out for not actually being British like I claimed in the signup. It was faster and more responsive than Grooveshark, but that's probably just the nature of desktop applications vs. browser-based apps.
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:31 AM on November 12, 2009


Argh, edit button please. "And for those AMERICANS who want free streaming music..."

Pardon my ethnocentrism.
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:32 AM on November 12, 2009


The whole business model of "hook them up and get them paying monthly for the rest of their lives"

Yeah um its called a subscription. You can cancel it. You may even find it useful.
posted by criticalbill at 11:35 AM on November 12, 2009


Agreed, Hippybear. I like how Spotify and Grooveshark let you listen to anything in full for free online, but I still would like to pay for the permanent copies of music that I keep for listening to offline. Plus, I feel like the "all you can eat" model just gives the labels too much power. It's no longer about how good a band is, but instead about if a label thinks their catalog will be enough to justify people keeping their account.

Also, the threat of pulled content, like what happened with 1984 and the Kindle, is kind of worrying. DRM free downloads at least mean the content is yours to own, but the subscription-download model is very difficult to do DRM-free. After all, with no DRM, you could in theory download tracks 24/7 with a script, and then cancel at the end of the month.
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:40 AM on November 12, 2009


Ironmouth: "Whatever you want when you want for a fee."

Thing is, lots of what I want they refuse to give me.

So I'd rather just steal it. Thanks anyway.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:50 AM on November 12, 2009


This, of course, is how music will be done in the future. Full on-demand, a la carte access. Whatever you want when you want for a fee. Solves the whole problem of content providers giving a hard copy to you which can be duplicated.

If by "future" you mean "the legal version of Napster, which started about six years ago and is almost out of business," I agree.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:55 AM on November 12, 2009


One thing I find rather amusing is how cheaply much physical copies of mainstream media can be purchased. With a glut of resellers on eBay, Amazon and whatever else, the race to be the cheapest provides some amazing music, movies and books for pennies, compared to ~$15 for a new CD, ~$25 for a new DVD and ~$35 for new BluRay.

Of course, that means you need to store your treasure trove somewhere physical, whereas a 1 tb harddrive takes as much space as an old 30 gb harddrive, and it also means that you need to wait for the item to get shipped to you, whereas the "always on, instantly yours" Spotify, Voddler, YouTube and the bevvy of digital media shops make ownership (or viewership) more convenient.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:00 PM on November 12, 2009


It's no longer about how good a band is, but instead about if a label thinks their catalog will be enough to justify people keeping their account.

Actually, there is already a model for this kind of service, called HBO or Showtime. Both of these channels are happy to invest in first-run movies and series which are only available via their service, none of which have to draw a very large audience, but any of which is good enough for a select subgroup to make them want to cough up the monthly fee for their service. For every Sopranos, there is a Californication. You get enough of those niche audiences who want to pay for that ONE slice of your content, then they have to pay your subscription fees to get it, and you've built yourself a sustainable service.

(This entirely discounts the effects of piracy and bittorrent -- I would be interested to see how, for example, Californication's viewer numbers first-run on Showtime, which hovers in the 600,000 range, compares with downloads of those episodes on The Pirate Bay within the first week of its first showing. THAT would be very interesting indeed.)
posted by hippybear at 2:51 PM on November 12, 2009


I would be interested to see how, for example, Californication's viewer numbers first-run on Showtime, which hovers in the 600,000 range, compares with downloads of those episodes on The Pirate Bay within the first week of its first showing.

... accounting for locations where Californication is not simultaneously broadcast. The numbers for piracy are skewed if they do not account for the population that cannot access the content, short of bypassing the existing distribution structures (places that HBO and Showtime are not available, regions where certain DVDs are not yet available, etc).
posted by filthy light thief at 3:29 PM on November 12, 2009


The numbers for piracy are skewed if they do not account for ... regions where certain DVDs are not yet available, etc

Actually, the numbers I'm interested in are for first-week viewership only, and have nothing to do with DVD sales.

But yes, I agree, there are many factors involved with those kind of numbers which would require some massaging to get a clear picture of what is going on.

Nonetheless, the value-added subscription model DOES exist. And I suppose satellite radio is similar, with Howard Stern having moved off of over-the-air broadcasting to be a lure for people to subscribe.
posted by hippybear at 3:33 PM on November 12, 2009


Yeah um its called a subscription. You can cancel it. You may even find it useful.

But if I cancel my Reader's Digest subscription, the Reader's Digest people don't come to my house and take all of the magazines I've accumulated over the course of my subscription.

I subscribe to emusic, but it comes with the assurance that I can keep all those mp3's I've downloaded regardless of my subscription status, and can even log in any time and re-download any mp3s that have been killed by the Data Corruption Gnomes. As such, if something better than emusic comes along, I'm relatively free to go and try it out. If I've built up some enormous spotify collection and want to try out emusic for a while, then I'll lose access to all that stuff I previously had access to.

For consumers, spotify's is a pretty shitty business model: it locks me into paying monthly for what could end up being an inferior distribution system in the long run. If, say, Spotify stops acquiring decent new music, deciding to focus only on Britney Spears remixes and tripling the price of enrollment at the same time, then I have to decide whether I want to jump ship or keep paying for access to all that other music that I've already paid for.
posted by kaibutsu at 3:48 PM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


It all comes down to how you use and value music and videos. And endless plethora of streaming content is great, if the price you pay is less than what you'd pay to consume that media traditionally (buying CDs, DVDs, paying for cable or satellite TV, downloadable content), and if you consume a growing or changing set of things. But if you only watch Monty Python, paying to watch them on your computer might cost more than owning the DVDs new. But if you are content with movies after watching them once a year, why pay $20 for a movie?

Also, these services don't mean you're prohibited from hardcopy media. You can get satellite radio and still buy vinyl. I doubt any one service will wipe out competing distribution systems. Sure, small local businesses will not make it, and some labels might decide to bolster their digital store at the cost of making fewer physical discs, but enough people still like, play and collect hard copies that CDs and vinyl won't go away. I've even seen (and bought) new cassettes (usually sold in limited quantities, for the rabid collectors).

If anything, online streaming content will kill local rental companies. Sucks for the little shops, where the owners and employees work for the love of movies, and can recommend you something wonderful every time you ask, but many of them are already gone.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:08 PM on November 12, 2009


Hah, it's great, for years all I've heard is "change your business models if you want to survive", and now, when people come up with a new business model, all I hear is "I don't want to pay subscriptions".

If you want to enjoy quality entertainment you are going to have to pay for it one way or another, we all know this. Surely the best result is going to be a number of different options - if you want a lot of stuff get a subscription, if you don't, buy a one off. Why do these choices seem so abhorrent?
posted by ciderwoman at 5:08 PM on November 12, 2009


Abhorrent is not a word I used. All I said was, for me personally, I will not buy subscriptions for music services. I see subscriptions as chains which bind, and don't use my music in a way which makes sense to have a subscription. I don't think I said I don't pay for things. I don't think I said that I should not have to pay. I want to own my music. Besides, a good portion of what I own and listen to is not now and is not likely to ever be on any music service -- vinyls from the 70s and 80s which have never been released in digital format, very minor artists who are not on a label, very early albums by artists which were never part of a label catalog, rare white-label dance mixes.

We do subscribe to every premium movie channel carried by our satellite service. I don't have much desire to own movies. I don't watch them over and over, and the ones I feel I need to own, I buy a copy of. This is our primary way of spending our movie dollar -- we've been to a theater exactly twice so far this year, and will likely only go to one more movie in the theater. Everything else we wait to arrive on the premium channels. (We also don't have a Netflix subscription, because that is not how we want to spend our movie dollar.)
posted by hippybear at 6:59 PM on November 12, 2009


(We also don't have a Netflix subscription, because that is not how we want to spend our movie dollar.)

How come? Not trying to criticize your choice here; I'm curious. I have netflix because it seems like an attractive alternative to premium movie channels.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 8:17 AM on November 13, 2009


How come? Not trying to criticize your choice here; I'm curious.

Because we want more than just movies. The original programming and specials which are run on the premium channels are their main attraction for us, and the movies are a happy side effect of that cost outlay. Plus, we currently have, um... jeez. Over 20 channels of commercial-free movie channels? Something like that, more if we count IFC and TCM. Combine that with our DVR, and we have more movies than we can stand to watch at any given time.

It's a choice we've made, which makes sense for us and our own methods of consuming video media. It's undoubtedly not for everyone.
posted by hippybear at 9:44 AM on November 13, 2009


« Older Star Trek Tricorders...  |  A few years ago, Gruff Rhys, l... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments