Previews before movies at the cinema are a good thing. They give you a little buffer room if you are late for show time.
Previews before a Blu-ray or DVD movie are a bad thing. At the very least, they require you to spend some of your time mashing the “Next Chapter” button.
But previews before a Blu-ray are at their worst when they are unskippable.
It’s about time
That’s exactly it! This is about time. Our time is valuable. After all, we only have so much of it. And not that movies are the best way to spend our time, but if someone chooses to do so, it’s their right. And an infringement of that right is the time that unskippable previews waste!
Movie goers at the theater are already committed to a considerable timeslot. For a 90 minute movie, figure 15 more each way for travel, plus another 15 for purchasing tickets, grabbing some popcorn, and finding your seat. If you are going to the theater, you probably aren’t pressed for time.
At home it can be an entirely different scenario. People watch movies at home, at least partly, because there is more freedom and flexibility. Kids are in bed, we have 45 minutes before we should responsibly get to sleep, let’s squeeze in a TV show or part of a movie.
- Pop in Blu-ray disc rental
- Preview starts playing (of course)
- Hit skip button (nope)
- Press top menu button (nuh uh)
- Hit fast-forward (last resort)
Are you kidding me? It’s bad enough that the previews play before the movie. But it’s not like the movie just starts up afterwards (which would at least mimic the theater experience). No. If you sit through the 7 minutes of trailers, it plops you down at the main menu. It’s like a rude reminder that you didn’t pay 12 bucks a head to go see the movie in public like all the cool kids. Blu-ray watchers are treated as second-class citizens.
And this applies to rentals and purchases alike. Netflix and Redbox customers are paying customers too. If you rent a Blu-ray, you have paid for the service of watching that movie. It’s arguably worse with Blu-ray purchases, since you would expect that purchase to come with some “rights” attached. In either case, you are a paying customer who is forced to pay an extra tax on top of your initial transaction.
Do away with the “Preview Tax”
Movie piracy is a crime. Theft is a crime. Movie studios are stealing our time when they disallow us from getting to our product by paying further with our time. Time, the most valuable of resources. This is what they are stealing. Our silence on the subject only encourages them. Vote with your voice and your wallet. If I know a movie has unskippable previews, I won’t buy it.
The simple solution is for the movie studios to enforce that previews be skippable via the top menu button or chapter skip button, just like every other chapter on the disc. Previews should not be treated as special content that is above our control as disc renters and owners. Share this article with your favorite movie studios to raise awareness. Let’s take our time back!