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Wednesday, 6 June 2012
A Universal Celebration: Lovefilm Just Got Lovelier
Good readers you may have read my rant a while back about the Lovefilm rental service VS Universal Studios dispute that has been ongoing since 2009. If you haven't, go read it here!
Back in March I was basically having a right good bloody moan about it and was sick and tired of the poor communication that was happening between Lovefilm and their customers... myself included. So I wrote:
'Since 2009 there has been a dispute between Lovefilm and Universal Pictures. Lovefilm can't rent out any post-2009 Universal Pictures films. This means just this month I cannot put Safe House, Wanderlust, Contraband or The Greatest Movie Ever Sold on my rental list. I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!'
I really was mad. Like shaven headed crystal meth dealing teacher Walt White mad! Mad enough to phone Lovefilm. Mad enough to repeatedly email Universal. Mad enough to bombard Lovefilm's Facebook with whingy comments. Mad enough to give Netflix a go. I had my 1 month free trial and got through the first three series of Breaking Bad and then quit. The selection is not great and I couldn't figure out how to make myself a list. I've currently got around 120 titles waiting to be sent to me or watched via streaming so it's important for me to be able to add films to lists. Netflix didn't cut it!
Anyway nothing I did worked. I got no response from the companies involved but a lot of comments on the blog post. Lots of people telling me to try Blockbuster, Amazon, Netflix etc. But I LOVE Lovefilm and I wanted to stick with them and so I did. Here's some of the interesting comments I received:
Anonymous said: 'I've just defected to Blockbuster because of the 'Universal Issue' - found a voucher for a month's trial for a quid. Their service is still not as good as Lovefilm's I'm afraid - the one time I used their 'top ticket' service (a service which guarantees you a title from your list no matter what) they throttled back despatch of my regular titles, so in effect, I'm getting nothing extra, just the guarantee of the title I want. It should be noted that new titles such as 'The Thing' and 'Contagion' aren't initially available as top titles..! In short, I've taken a holiday from Lovefilm but will return after 3 months'
RTB said: 'If Lovefilm don't, can't or won't carry new films from Universal, then they shouldnt be advertising with the strapline "We have everthing"... The only way these people will be made to understand how angry their customers are is if their customers vote with their wallets and take their business elsewhere. Blockbusters here I come!'
Sephen raised the issue of piracy and said: 'Given that LoveFilm and the other studios can play nicely, the fuss over movie piracy is a little undermined by a major studio being unable to settle on a deal with the UK's main (I'm assuming) movie rental service.
I don't pirate movies, but I don't think I'd have a hard time making peace with a decision to pirate Universal movies.'
Janetyjanet added: 'I used to be vocally and vehemently against online pirating of films and still am - but, if it's a Universal film I'm unable to get via LoveFilm, then I've started making an exception.
I don't feel great about doing it - but both parties have spectacularly failed to resolve the issue in over FOUR years so sod 'em...'
It was great to see these people stumble across my post and give this kind of feedback. I hope that some of them bothered the hell out of Universal and Lovefilm about the dispute and that in some small way, we played a part in what brings me to put fingers to keyboard today.
The other day I noticed, Lovefilm had added the title Repo Men to the Lovefilm Instant streaming service. I'm not desperate to see the film but I thought I'll add that to my list. So I did and then the studio that released it caught my eye. Universal! I facebooked Lovefilm immediately to see if they would comment on this development but as usual... no reply!
So I did some digging and what did I find?
The Telegraph reports: 'Lovefilm has signed an exclusive streaming deal with Universal Pictures allowing its members early access to movies before they come out on general release.... Jim Buckle, managing director... said: "Lovefilm is proud to offer its members access to the highest quality content across multiple platforms from another of the world's most respected studios...." Additional Universal Pictures titles which are available to watch instantly in the UK include: It's Complicated, Nanny McPhee Returns, Leap Year, Green Zone, The Wolfman, Robin Hood, Scott Pilgrim vs The World, The American, Paul, Fast And Furious 5, Bridesmaids, Johnny English Reborn', Snow White and the Huntsman, Bourne Legacy, Dr Seuss The Lorax and Safe House'
The Financial Times reports: 'Lovefilm... has struck a multi-year deal allowing it to show Universal Pictures’ content, marking the end of a two-and-a-half-year dispute between the two companies.
It gives Lovefilm exclusive rights to films such as Kick-Ass, Battleship and Bridesmaids for online streaming, granting subscribers’ access to Universal’s films. It also allows Lovefilm to rent out Universal movies on DVD – over a which disagreement first erupted in 2009.'
So Lovefilm users, this appears to be the beginning of the end! It's been a long hard fight and it's hard to say if we were being listened to at all but least, finally we can see the signs of progress. Now all that's left to do is to decide what to watch next?
Green Zone, Robin Hood and The Adjustment Bureau are all headed onto my list right now! Hope they were worth the wait!
Any Lovefilm customers want to share their Universal film wishlist they've been waiting for? How do the rest of you feel? Will this have knock-on effects? Are other rental services going to suffer now that Lovefilm have this 'exclusive streaming deal'? You tell me!
Hooray for Lovefilm, hooray for Universal but most of all, hooray for all us film lovers! Victory is ours!