Why is Some Stuff Available Online and Other Stuff Not?

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So here’s a predicament that a LOT of us have found ourselves in. We want to watch our favorite movie or TV series, like RIGHT NOW. Not tomorrow morning. Not a week from now. Not an hour from now - right now. This is especially true when you’ve got kids.

You’ve popped your popcorn, turned down the lights and gotten your couch cushions just right, only to find that whatever it that you’re aching for isn’t on Netflix.

Ok, breathe, no problem. Let’s try Hulu.

Still not there. Amazon? No luck. You’re reaching - Yahoo TV? Nothing nothing nothing. You’re working on your patience here, but your flick just is nowhere to be found. You might - gasp! - have to watch something else.

Yes, this is a #firstworldproblem. But it’s still something that stumps many of us - why is some content, LOTS of content, seemingly endlessly available online but other content is well, not.

The issue at hand is licensing rights. Companies that own the rights to movies and television shows choose to license those rights out to streaming services, or not to. Those contracts expire, which is why things tend to come and go so quickly on streaming services like Netflix. We see these movies or television shows in our feeds and get that warm fuzzy feeling like we own them, like they’re a DVD on the shelf. But they really aren’t!

The other thing that you might notice is that some things just aren’t available at all. Amazon is a pretty good place to go for just about everything, even though you might have to pay for it just like you would at a movie rental store. However online services don’t have the same potential to get content that your local movie rental shop might, and that’s because some companies refuse to stream their content. Lucasfilm is a good example, and is the reason that up until this past spring you couldn’t find Star Wars films anywhere online (they started licensing online in April, though you’re still limited as to where you can stream them.) Studio Ghibli is another example - you can’t legally stream the masterful animation of Miyasaki anywhere online, you’ll have to break down and buy the DVD or head to the video store. Even if you’re willing to pay, there’s a good deal of content that you just won’t be able to get in digital form.

Keep an eye out for places online to find streaming content, new and wonderful places that might actually offer you some recourse for you if your streaming providers aren’t giving you what you’re looking for currently - just because Netflix is the big man on campus doesn’t mean that you won’t find great content on Amazon or some other service.

Also, a word of the wise to BEWARE. You might be tempted to watch some pirated version of the thing that you’re looking for, but resist the temptation. If you watch pirated content, then you’re setting yourself up for potential legal issues (yes, some content owners have actually come after end users!) not to mention that you’re much more likely to get a computer virus, or at the very least to watch a low quality version of the content that you’re looking for. It’s really just better to keep your content to yourself and to stick to the legal roads! Even if it is your favorite thing ever.

The best advice of all is to plan your watching. Don’t bank on something being on a streaming service unless you’ve checked it THAT DAY to make sure that it’s available. It’s like going grocery shopping while you’re hungry - you’re really just likely to find yourself stuffed and disappointed.