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2011 NZ Cinema Survey
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Downloading Movies Survey Results

There are a bunch of ways to watch movies online. Broadly, you can break it down to two categories: FREE (*cough* illegal, *cough* copyright infringing) and PAID (or in legal-speak: "legal").

Online movies will never replace going to the cinema - watching movies at home vs going to the cinema is like a prayer before bed vs a one-on-one with the pope - but it's the future of home entertainment and New Zealand is already into it...

51% of all respondents regularly download movies.
('Regularly' being at least once every two months. 49% download 5 or less per year.)

To put that in context, when not going to the cinema it is the SECOND MOST POPULAR way of watching movies (18%) - more popular than watching movies on TV (15%) or on Blu-Ray (10%). Only DVD is more popular (57%).

Of those regularly downloading movies only 13% use a pay service, meaning 87% usually get their movies from sharing networks or other FREE online sources.

Views on this prickly issue are pretty relaxed.
Only 40% are opposed to illegal downloads.

Another 40% answered “feel a bit bad, but everyone is doing it”, while 20% have no problems with it. The 45+ age group were the only to have more than 50% opposed.

So a lot of people are downloading movies and doing it for free. Are we a nation of criminals? Has a desperation for movies driven us to madness? Why do we do this?

Firstly, a frustration for movie-goers is the delayed movie release dates for New Zealand screens. Movies will often open in cinemas after they do in the US, and for non-major releases the wait can be months.

This appears to be a major drive behind downloading movies. Typical comments were:

When a film I'm looking forward to has already been released overseas, I'll often download it before it opens at cinemas here.

We live in an online global world. People get frustrated… their online pals talk for months about the latest movie and [are] still waiting to see it. A legit (affordable) and not too rigidly controlled download service would help reduce infringing downloads.

Secondly, people reckon the legal options for watching movies online are lacking. Paid online movie services like iTunes are restrictive because of their own delayed release dates (staggered by region - NZ still gets them late). The range of titles in these libraries isn’t considered wide enough either.

Thirdly, local data costs and caps are proving restictive. When the math is done on the total cost of data PLUS the fee from iTunes or whatever online movie service, it's expensive. A paying customer observes:

My internet cap is the main reason I don't watch more streamed movie content online. As I have to pay for the data used and the movie, making the whole experience more expensive then the quality and perceived convenience deserves.

Would we still go the cinema if movies were released simultaneously at theatres, on DVD / Blu-Ray and online (as some commentators have advocated)? 47% say they'd go as often as they do now, 46% say they'd still go but less often, and 6% would never go.