Is preloaded content on phones the new way to enjoy movies?

27 Feb 2017

Image: Anna Grigorjeva/Shutterstock

Fox, Telstra and Ericsson are trialling a new mode of movie consumption, with films preloaded onto smartphones.

The latest attempt to deliver film content to users is an interesting take on digital downloads, with a small trial in the US preloading movies onto smartphones before users even consider watching them.

The idea is that the films are all there, ready to go, to be watched whenever desired. You can simply pay a rental charge or purchase price, with no delay for buffering or need for internet connection throughout.

No impact

Fox, Telstra and Ericsson claim that there will be “no impact to device performance or data plans” should the pilot prove successful, though it’s unclear how this will work.

Initially, those taking part in the trial will be provided with smartphones that will contain up to 11 films, according to The Verge, including The Martian, The Revenant and Life of Pi. All are stored at 1080p.

The films are housed within an app, though it seems hard to imagine that no impact will be made on data plans in a full roll-out, as the content will need to be downloaded at some stage.

Ease of use is key, as the entertainment industry continues the struggle against piracy online.

In the UK, policymakers have come to an agreement with Google and Bing to demote piracy sites through search. Specifically, it will affect sites that have been repeatedly hit with copyright infringement notices.

The voluntary code, brokered by the UK’s Alliance for Intellectual Property, comes after years of lobbying, though Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the British Phonographic Industry, says it’s “no silver bullet”.

Plenty to learn

This one-month trial was launched at Mobile World Congress today (27 February), with the three companies partnering for the project labelling it as revolutionary, “offering an end-to-end, one-stop solution for media ingest, processing, distribution, monetisation and consumption”.

The benefits of trials such as this are obvious. It’s simple, users enjoy an appealing level of control and, quite importantly, studios retain full control of quality standards.

Interestingly, studios and providers will enjoy power over what quality the movies are viewable at, and over which devices, all the while gaining valuable insights into consumer behaviour.

Just think of the market knowledge that Netflix enjoys right now, thanks to millions of customers directly providing preference data with everything they watch.

“Our customers love entertainment content and are increasingly watching it on their mobiles,” said Andrew Penn, Telstra CEO, claiming this pilot will be a valuable learning experience for his company.

“It has the potential to offer our customers a truly distinctive video customer experience, delivering studio-sanctioned picture and audio quality.

“The solution will use Telstra’s Media Optimised Network, including LTE-B capability to pre-position content, and therefore have limited impact on overall network traffic, with little to no additional infrastructure cost.”

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic