It’s pretty funny reading comments like this Wired commentary on the newly launched Amazon Unbox, because despite the onerous DRM issues (which are definitely a problem, don’t get me wrong) – the UK has nothing like this. Even just renting films from a shop is crazily expensive. Netflix? Yeah, we wish. Amazon and Blockbuster have both set up online DVD rental services in the last year or so, and there are now some indie companies doing this too, but there’s nothing (as far as I know) that’s good, cheap and makes you think like you’re sticking it to The Man, like Netflix seems to do in the US. In fact, one of the more well known DVD rental companies in the UK is actually Tesco. Tesco, for those who don’t know are a supermarket who take £1 for every £8 spent in the UK. That’s a hella lotta cash.
I guess the only tenuous comparison I can really draw where the UK audience gets a better deal is, inevitably, with the BBC. The BBC puts a certain amount of their output (specifically that which is produced entirely in-house, I believe) on the web, available to watch for seven days after broadcast and unencumbered with DRM or the need for a special player. It’s not especially high resolution, and if you use something like Net Transport to download the Realmedia stream which they broadcast and pipe it to your TV you’ll see definite blocking and colour loss.
I look forward to the day when such affordable downloads are available (legally) from companies in the UK. They’ll probably be burdened with DRM but I really don’t think that’s going to go away any time in the near future.