From the iCloud to UltraViolet, more and more movies, music and TV shows are floating up into the cloud.
Consumers, it seems, are slowly warming to the idea of storing content digitally, as long as they don’t have to pay for access to digital lockers, according to a new report called Storing Entertainment Content in the Cloud from PricewaterhouseCoopers.
“What we’re finding is being said loud and clear is that the most important benefit of these cloud services is that they are free,” Matthew Lieberman, director of PwC’s entertainment & media practice, told TheWrap. “And that all these really cool features pale in comparison to price.”
Roughly 70 percent of the 502 people surveyed said that they would be less likely to use cloud technology if a $25 to $99 annual fee were applied to a service. That could be problematic for cloud services that are hoping to find extra revenue through subscriptions or annual fees.
The good news is that respondents to the survey were largely enthusiastic about the possibilities of cloud technology. Nearly 90 percent of survey respondents said they were “somewhat” to “very interested” in the concept of digital lockers.
Moreover, thanks to the pile-up of new cloud based services from major corporations, many of the people surveyed expressed awareness of what digital lockers could offer them. Nearly two-thirds of the consumers surveyed said they feel confident about their awareness and understanding of both digital and cloud storage.
Lieberman said that some of that confidence in their cloud-knowledge might be misplaced.
“I think there’s a distinction between what consumers believe their knowledge is and what they actually know,” he said. “Over 61 percent believe they have an understanding of what storing content in the cloud means, but they have quite a varied understanding of what that entails.”
The reason for these dramatically different interpretations have to do with the still relatively low adoption rates of digital lockers and the flood of services on the market. The past year has seen the introduction of UltraViolet, the cloud-based platform backed by most major studios, as well as digital rights lockers from Amazon and Apple.
Many of these services are offered on different terms and geared toward different forms of content. For instance, Apple’s service is primarily concerned with music, whereas UltraViolet is most concerned with storing films.
How popular these services are is still up for some debate. Roughly 750,000 UltraViolet accounts have been set up following a modest promotional push, the platform's backers announced last month. That is dwarfed by the 85 million users who have signed up for Apple's iCloud service, but again how active these accounts are is unclear.
The knowledge of digital lockers might be spotty, but older consumers were more attracted to the concept of clouds than younger consumers. Twenty seven percent of 50 to 59 year olds surveyed said they were very willing to use a digital library compared to 11 percent of 25 to 34 year olds and 15 percent of 18 to 24 year olds. Given that younger people tend to live more of their lives online, that is somewhat counterintuitive.
“Anecdotally, I would say that many older people have family members living out of their home, at college or elsewhere, so sharing content in a relatively inexpensive way becomes more important,” Lieberman said. “The second reason is that the quality of the content stored in the cloud is very high and older users are less willing to sacrifice quality for price.”
One finding that should give Hollywood some cheer is that respondents seem more willing to pay for digital content if they can access it more effectively and efficiently. The major studios have been hit hard by the decline of the DVD market and the rise of streaming services such as Netflix. The hope is that by expanding digital rights, consumers will begin buying digital copies of favorite movies with the same zeal they once brought to filling out their DVD libraries.
But they’re not willing to pull out their credit cards if they can find the film or television show on a streaming platform like Hulu. Twenty-eight percent of respondents indicated that they would purchase more content, as opposed to rent it, if those movies and shows were only was accessible with a digital locker.
“There’s incredible consumer confusion about associated rights with cloud content,” Lieberman said. “Until content owners can educate consumers on the topic of content rights, there’s going to continue to be a problem with the adoption of these services.”