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Sunday 7th February, 2010 22:47 Comments: 0
I finally got around to watching Avatar over the weekend at my local cinema. Before the film began, there were two anti-piracy warnings, one of which was telling us how poor quality the movies were compared to watching it at the cinema. According to certain naughty websites, there are several DVD Screeners of Avatar making the rounds that are meant to be pretty good quality. Sure, I won't get the interesting 3D effect (unlike other 3D movies, Avatar is definitely worth it) that I experienced over the weekend, but I could save myself a tenner and not have to leave the house.

However, I'm considering illegally downloading an episode of 8 Out of 10 Cats. I missed it on Channel 4 (and haven't sorted out a cable for the new TV card yet), so I decided to try the 4oD website. However, they've badly encoded the episode so it starts flickering after a few seconds of the intro sequence. Jumping further ahead doesn't solve it either. I decided to try it again tonight - on another PC - to see if it's been fixed, but it's still broken. The episode is free to download, so I could argue that obtaining it from another (less legal) site won't result in a loss of money. The latest episodes do contain adverts (some of the previous ones don't, by the look of things), that people would otherwise miss; but seeing as I've sat through the adverts about 4 times now without actually getting to see this episode, I don't feel like anyone's losing out except perhaps myself. Plus, if I download the torrent from The Pirate Bay then Channel 4 won't have to pay bandwidth costs for the episode as other internet users will be footing the bill.

Not for the first time, the pirates are able to provide a better service than the legal services. What could save (or postpone the inevitable death of) the movie industry is the use of 3D as you can't get it at home - although it won't be long until it does. You also get larger screens than you tend to have at home. But for TV shows, your computer screen might not be much smaller than your TV, and that's assuming you don't hook your PC up to the TV (most laptops have VGA or HDMI outputs, or you can build your own HTPC). The quality of 4oD and iPlayer tends to be lower than that of the illegal downloads (Scene rules are of a pretty high standard), although the BBC's HD streams offer a pretty good alternative. Torrents don't tend to last long, but nor do episodes on iPlayer or 4oD. If you want people to use legal services, you have to offer something that's significantly better and/or easier to access. Until our TVs support 3D, or we have 1080p screens that are 100" and affordable, the cinema can (just about) justify the price tag. The only real advantage of iPlayer and 4oD (when they work properly) is that you can stream the episode; torrents tends to require the entire episode to be downloaded before you can start watching it.

So I really am struggling to think of a reason not to download this episode at TPB when this one at 4oD doesn't work. Damn you Channel 4. Sort out your episodes.
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