back to article Lovefilm calls in the DRM brigade for media player push

Lovefilm is the UK's answer to Netflix. And like Netflix it has a pressing problem. No, not Blockbuster. It has reams of customers, 1.4 million all told, for its DVD-by-mail rental service. But for how long? Downloads and streaming is the way forward, baby - onto TV, phone and computer - the three screens strategy, as Virgin has …

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FAIL

Where is Lovefirm on PS3?

Ideal platform, nowhere to be seen....

I get my movie goodness from the Playstation Store, but clearly Sony are open to other providers (as there is Netflix and Hulu on PS3 in the US).

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Film selection on Sony Blu-ray growing nicely

The initial film list was quite weak but it's getting pretty good now. The same is available on Sony TVs.

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SSR

They Have a Chance

Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon (maybe), and other similar players exist in the USA. Yet Netflix has the dominance there because they've provided a straightforward service the others haven't. If Lovefilm can get an app on the 360 and PS3 they could be in with a chance.

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FAIL

Poor web site indicates they won't be able to execute

I've been a long-time subscriber to LoveFilm and the web-site has become steadily worse over the years. It started focused and quick but has now become slow, bloated and difficult to use. This does not bode well for any enhanced / expanded online streaming; if they lack the management / technical skills to get a simple web site right then they have no chance with a more complex business model.

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Stop

Very true

The way you know that you've typed your username/password correctly is because it takes a lot, lot longer to render the next page. Their site also needs a rethink. It wasn't too bad until a year ago but now navigation is a pain.

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Pirate

Sir

Worries about pirating?

Umm, let me see,,,dvd through the door -> computer -> AnyDVD -> NAS array -> Media player.

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Silver badge

Worries?

I think as long as you have paid they don't care much about you keeping an image on your own NAS, after all there is little chance of you renting a film twice. Hell, even for the dozens of DVDs I have bought only a few end up being watched more than once and they are just sitting there!

Yes, the movie companies will bemoan your civilisation destroying act and demand you are locked up without trial (or preferable a nice Stalin-style show trial), but in the real world of IP for sale getting bums on seats, or paid rental with/without a copy being made for private use is far, far, FAR better than nothing at all.

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Bronze badge

quality

They need to step the quality up. If I want to watch films with far too much compression I can do it for free on ITV.

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Anonymous Coward

User

I use LoveFilm, and they've been pretty good over the past few years, but I don't see their service improving in any way. In fact, they're removed features that made them better and failed to replace them. Sometimes, they treat the customer as some kind of resource-sucking hog that needs to be removed. It's an interesting relationship, and one I've left and re-joined at one point. It's certainly fluid, and bears some examination.

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Coat

Someone's having a giraffe

Oh dear. They really haven't thought this through, have they?

What's the point of putting DRM on their online streams, when the alternative is you can have a DVD or Blu-ray disc posted to you, and then -- in the comfort and privacy of your own home -- run mencoder on it, and dump the MPEG stream straight to HDD?

It will do about as much good as putting a very expensive padlock through the zip sliders of a tent.

Mine's the one with the DeCSS source code on the back.

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FAIL

Oh they're barely even an also-ran at this stage, let's be honest

So they *had* a bad, DRM-laden piece of rubbish passing itself off as a download store. The pricing on it was uncompetitive compared to *buying the DVD from amazon or play*. They then retired the download store, and tried to pretend that their physical media offering was in some way equivalently useful.

And now, instead of, eg, making a deal with Nintendo and Sony and Microsoft to get their client onto those platforms, they're pushing for another media player with more DRM? Great. So much for any hope of working with my Busybox-based media centre. Which, in turn, means so much for any hope of them getting any of my money.

ARGH. I *want* to like them. I just want them to also have a service that's not retarded first.

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Question to LoveFilm users

I was a happy subscriber to the Amazon DVD-by-mail service when they sold it to LoveFilm (2 years ago?). LoveFilm was, frankly, crap. They NEVER had enough copies of the newest films. You couldn't group films into a series if you wanted them in a specific order (I added Shreks 1, 2 & 3 and received 2, 3 and 1). I wrote to them a few times and they basically admitted they had been overwhelmed by the addition of Amazon customers, their software couldn't do series (but they were working on it) and apologised but couldn't do much about it.

So I cancelled and have been happily using Blockbuster who have a great website, I usually get new releases within a week or two (Avatar being the one exception so far) and films in a series are automatically sent out in the correct order. They are also really good on lost/delayed discs. Which is fine, except Blockbuster look to be in serious financial shit and I'm worried I may be forced back to LoveFilm. Is anyone using them and have they got their act together yet?

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Fine here

I've hardly ever had problems waiting for films. Then again I'm not an impatient git :)

I've just had /Sherlock Holmes/ delivered through my door and it wasn't even a priority item. Tbh I have no complaints about their service really. The web site is a bit slow and clunky but it does the job.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Question to LoveFilm users

I had the same problem with series being sent out of order, but they seem to have fixed that now

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Bronze badge

Thats Bockbuster USA

Its the US arm of Blockbuster which is in the crap.

In the UK, Blockbuster are doing quite well and even if the parent company goes bust I can't see the blockbuster brand dissappearing from our glorious nation!

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FAIL

It's all about the quality, baby

http://www.lovefilm.com/help/dyn_faqs.html?faq_cat=watch_online&editorial_id=19713

"We currently send our video at around 800kbit/sec"

http://www.thinkbroadband.com/speedtest/results/id/127991664053828418877.html

..and I use an ISP that doesn't impose limits.

I will switch to using their download service just as soon as it's capable of delivering broadcast quality HD. 800kb/s is worse than DVD - probably not much better than VHS. Just want I want on my 37" HD TV.

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...and Buffering

Couldn't agree more. However, 800kbit/sec may sound low, but it's not unbearable. Of course, it's still well below what you get from those quaint plastic circles that arrive in paper envelopes (800kb/sec h.264 vs 9.8Mb/sec mpeg2 DVD vs 40Mb/sec h.264 Blu-ray). Yes, that's a whopping 50 times less than the maximum possible with Blu-ray! As such, I refuse to stream any films from their site.

However, the biggest annoyance I have with their streaming service is that the streams cannot be buffered. If you pause the film, the streaming stops. Consequently, you'd better pray to $YOUR_GOD that no-one else in your local loop decides to use up a lot of the available bandwidth. If they do, you get a better experience watching analogue Channel 5 with a narrow-band aerial.

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Anonymous Coward

Still a place for DVDs

I think until we all have rock-solid ultrafast network connections there's still going to be a place for DVD rentals, particularly for BluRay titles. There's also a fair bit of equipment upgrading which would need to happen at the consumer end too. Sure, many of us will have devices currently capable of streaming to the TV, but that's still not mainstream.

The streaming market generally is interesting - I certainly still have a sentimental attachment to having a physical object which I know that I own, rather than a virtual one which is available at the whim of a supplier and which I have to subscribe/pay to maintain my link to it.

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They could do it, but probably won't

I think LOVEFiLM could still lead the market in the UK if they pull their finger out. Unfortunately they seem totally disorganised (I signed up a couple of months ago and haven't received a single DVD yet so I'm about to cancel my subscription) and somewhat technically incompetent, so I expect they'll miss the opportunity.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

WTF

drm to make sure it wont get Pirated !!

How the hell are they ever going to be able to achive that ..

simple video out into Digicam will get around any copy prevention they can think of !!

so whats the fucking point Just fuck things up for us Less intergration so we cannot use it as much !!

and i was just thinking about using their service !!

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Anonymous Coward

Lovefilm competition

How can Amazon be a competitor if they own Lovefilm????

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Anonymous Coward

One Limit To Rule Them All...

The bandwidth cap.

Until someone solves this little baby, the bandwidth necessary to download films on demand is still expensive ... and those who are on unlimited overnight deals will likely also end up having to program their system to download overnight for viewing tomorrow.

Oh, unless they're using a US system which typically doesn't have such a timing feature ... 'cause the US are still on all you can eat, which is probably why Netflix on demand has taken off there.

But if the US go for bandwidth caps then they're going to face the same situation we are now. Still a few issues to iron out before I bother with on demand streaming.

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Grenade

Multicast

The post is required, and must contain letters.

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Anonymous Coward

So your sayin'

... that if you're receiving a multicast stream, it doesn't come off your usage allowance? I'll have to ask that question of my ISP.

I can't see how they're going to multicast streams of the available films; I'm not sure how many slots there are in routers for multicast channels but I'm prety sure that those routers closest to the source would suffer table choke.

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I don't think multicast would work

Multicasting only helps with broadcast media - that is sending a single stream to multiple people /at the same time. Lovefilm customers watch films at any old time so the chances of being able to share a stream between multiple users is minimal.

I suppose you could cache the film at each exchange or POP but I don't think the gains would make it worthwhile.

Another option would be to allow us to download and watch at our leisure but I guess that would scare them even more.

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Silver badge

They need three things...

I tried out LoveFilm to see what the quality was like. It was watchable on my laptop, but noticeably poor. I haven't used them since though I could conceivably if they had a movie that I particularly wanted to watch then and there.

However, it's unlikely until they do three things:

1. Improve their quality. It looks like watching a slightly poor VHS. If they want to provide lower quality to those with low-bandwidth that's fine. But for me what they offer is a turn-off.

2. Support some degree of buffering. Maybe they don't want to but it's necessary.

3. Knock a quid off the cost of most of their movies.

Of course I don't get to see their accounts and I don't get to see how much of that cost is yanked off them by the studios. But I can tell you that if they knocked the prices down a little further, it would be be more appealing to grab more movies. If they can't do that, then they should offer some sort of bulk buy credit system. (Not force it mind you as that would piss people off). But if you could slap down twenty quid in one go, they'd lose less money to credit card fees and the customer would have a nice pile of DVD credits they could enjoy using up.

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Anonymous Coward

Lovefilm need...

...to bury the hatchet with Universal so I can order Inglourious Basterds.

Blockbustern looks very tempting right now for this reason alone.

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