Wednesday, December 26, 2018

More movies than I realized

I've posted from time to time about the number of movies I have, particularly when I hit some milestone of some kind. But, I didn't realize just how many movies I had. And, to explain that, I'll be covering some stuff I've covered before. You've been warned.

A lot of background

Over the years, I've purchased movies in many different ways and from many different sources. I used to have a bunch of VHS tapes. I only have a few of those left, and most of those are part of my Mystery Science Theater 3000 collection. In fact, I think that's all I have left now. I gave the other VHS tapes away years ago.

I bought a lot of DVDs over the years, too. Most of what I buy anymore is still part of the MST3K collection. Occasionally, I'll buy a DVD if something is only available that way and has been only available that way for some time.

Then, one day, I bought a digital movie. From Apple's iTunes store. It was the movie "Unbreakable" and I bought it because it was on sale, and I wanted to see what the deal was with watching movies on my iPod. The answer: it was easy to do, but hard to see. I had one of those old wheel iPods.

My old iPod, from 2007

The experience wasn't great, because of the small screen, but the image was actually as big, relatively, as looking at the TV across the room, as the picture above shows. It just seemed smaller.


Once I realized that I could watch digital movies, and I got comfortable with the idea, I began to purchase digital content. Most of the purchases coming from Amazon, since I could tie by Amazon account to my TiVo.

In late 2010, I bought an Apple TV. Not for me, actually, but so The Wife could play her music from her computer through the fancy speaker system we had tied to the TV. She loved it, and to this day, that's how she usually listens to music when she's at home. I bought a Roku for me, since it played Amazon content (Apple TV didn't at the time), and I was looking to cut the cord from cable. I did, and bought the occasional movie as my digital library slowly increased.

Enter Apple

As I mentioned, The Wife loved Apple TV, so I started buying some movies from the iTunes store. That made it easier for her to watch digital content, as the always had the TV on Apple TV. Yes, she used TiVo some, but after we cut the cord, she hardly picked up the TiVo remote, preferring to watch stuff from Apple TV.

I'd still buy most stuff from Amazon, since I was planning on Roku being the primary streaming device. But, she never really got into Roku. After a bit, I bought from whichever was cheaper for any particular movie, Apple or Amazon. If she wanted to watch it, and it was from Amazon, I'd do the switching of inputs to Roku and play the movie. She still preferred Apple TV.


Later, Walmart decided they wanted a piece of the action. They launched their streaming service, called VUDU. It was just another way to buy streaming content, and there was an app for Roku. But, I didn't buy anything. Until I found out about Disc To Digital.

When it was launched, you could take your DVDs to Walmart, hand them to a clerk in the electronics section, and they'd take them and so some Walmart voodoo and you'd have the movies in your VUDU account. I took my Star Trek collection to Walmart and, sure enough, I was able to watch Star Trek movies from the VUDU app on the Roku.

They added an app for your PC or Mac that allowed you to insert the DVD yourself -- no more hauling DVDs up to the Walmart store -- and do the conversion yourself. They've since added the capability to do that from your phone using the bar code on the DVD case, but they've since removed it from iOS device -- still on Android though -- and requiring GPS enabled so people don't go up to the store and scan them there without buying the discs.


Roku partnered with a company called M-Go, which was partly owned by Dreamworks, to enter the digital sales market. I bought a movie they had on sale -- Ender's Game -- and tried it out. It worked, but it brought nothing new to the table. Well, it was kinda integrated into Roku, but apart from that, no biggie. I don't think I bought anything else from M-Go.

It's no longer called M-Go, by the way. Fandango bought it in 2016, and it's now the service FandangoNOW. Works pretty much the same, though. Well, it works better, because the infrastructure was improved, but I don't know if Dreamworks did that, or if Fandango did that. Anyway, more reliable than it was.

Disney in the middle of it

During all this time, Disney introduced a service called Disney Movies Anywhere. The idea was that if you bought, say, a Disney movie from Google (which we'll talk more about in a bit) because you had an Android phone, but then got an iPhone, you'd lose your Disney movie, since you can't play Google movies on an iOS device. Or, if you bought a Disney movie from Apple for your iPhone, but then switched to Android, you couldn't play your iTunes content on Android.

To remedy that, Disney introduced Disney Movies Anywhere, that allowed you to sync across platforms. That meant you didn't have to buy a Disney movie more than once, if you switched platforms.

It also meant, if you bought from other services, such as Amazon, you'd be able to play your Disney movies on other participating platforms. And that was where it benefitted me. I had bought some Disney stuff from Amazon, and some Disney stuff from Apple. And, to watch any of it, I had to switch to whichever device supported that platform. With Disney Movies Anywhere, I didn't need to switch devices. A purchase from any of the participating platforms meant I had the movie on all the platforms.

Movies Anywhere

Disney Movies Anywhere no longer exists. It didn't exactly die so much as it expanded. It's now called Movies Anywhere. When they converted, all the Disney movies moved over, and other studios signed on. Not all studios, though. It's not a perfect service, but it's another step in the right direction. About half the movies I have are from a participating studio. That means that about half of my movies -- actually, 44% -- are tied in with Movies Anywhere. That means I can watch them from any of the participating services.

It also means that if I buy a movie that's in the Movies Anywhere library, no matter which service I purchase from, I can watch it via any of the services. Which means I can shop around and get the best price.

That's handy, because not all movies are the same price from all services. Occasionally, iTunes will run a movie for $5 which is $10-$20 from the other services. And, sometimes, VUDU will have a $5 sale that the others aren't running. Or Fandango Now will sell a movie for $5 while the other have it higher. Or Amazon. Or Google. Speaking of which...


While I once had an Android phone before moving to an iPhone, I had never purchased any content from Google. That's now changed. Sure, I have an Android phone now -- I also have an iPhone for work, but we won't go into all that now -- but I've not done a lot of shopping from the Google Play store. Until recently.

I still don't buy a lot from Google, but I do shop around, and when I find something on sale that's also in Movies Anywhere, I'll buy it. I don't generally buy something from Google that's not Movies Anywhere, but every now and then I'll slip up.

Google has also given away movies for, I don't know, reasons I suppose. And the net effect is I have 4 movies from Google that I don't also have on iTunes.

More movies that I realized

This past week, I've been off work several days, and I've been under the weather. So, while sitting indoors, bored, and not able to see anyone lest I contaminate them, I grabbed my remote and fired up a spreadsheet. It was crunch time. As in crunching numbers. here's what I found.

Because of the occasional mistake -- buying something without ensuring it's part of Movies Anywhere -- or occasional promotion -- Google or other services giving away movies for reasons -- I have more movies than I realized I had.

In total, I have 175 movies ripped from DVD or download purchases from other sources -- Rifftrax, MST3K direct purchase, etc. I reduce that number from time to time by purchasing a digital copy that is then downloaded into iTunes on a computer that functions as my streaming server. I increase that number when I get a DVD of a movie I haven't purchased digitally. Those were part of my count the last time I posted a total video number.

The rest of the movies in my local library, 1,000 as I recently posted, were downloaded purchases from the iTunes store. That means I had 1,175 movies, closing in on 1,200. Or so I thought.

I noticed that I had a movie or two in Google that wasn't in my local library. There were some VUDU movies, too. And some Amazon content. So, I decided to catalog them all. That's when I discovered I didn't have 1,175 movies, but 1,194. So, there were 19 movies that were only available from a streaming service. Six were Amazon, nine were VUDU, and four were Google. There were actually more Amazon, VUDU, or Google, but some I also had on DVD and had ripped those. So, 19 streaming only movies.

I'll eventually get those into my local library. I'll purchase them from iTunes if they go on sale for $5. I may attempt to download them and rip them, as I have purchased them and have archival rights. But, I'm not a huge fan of that. Sure, I have the capability, and I do rip some DVDs, but I'd prefer to have them as part of a library that I can take with me. Since I have an iPad, then iTunes would be the preferred service.

Anyway, I'm a lot closer to 1,200 than I realized: 6 instead of 25. I'll hit that number one day. And bore you with all the details then.

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