I’m sitting here waiting for a file to download to my computer right now. Based on last night’s experience, it’ll probably take around 5 hours. What I’m downloading is a DVD-quality WMV file of Blood Diamond, at no charge, perfectly legally. I downloaded Sherlock Holmes last night. Best Buy, and their CinemaNow website, started an 8-day promotion yesterday in which they’re giving away purchases (not rentals) of digital copies of select movies each day. Being a movie fan with the most meager of budgets, I should be pretty happy about this, but I’m honestly just a bit irritated. I know it’s not polite to look a gift horse in the mouth, but having some experience with horses, I know that’s precisely what you need to do; you don’t want the trouble and cost of the upkeep of an unwell horse, after all. Best Buy’s promotion needed to be thought through better before they did it. They’re putting up one coupon code a day, and limiting it to the first 5,000 people. There are currently 5,443,084 people “liking” Best Buy’s page. Which means that a little less than 0.1% are actually going to get to use the code on any given day. That’s great for those people, and on the first two days I’ve been lucky enough to be one of them, but I’m sure my luck won’t hold forever, and it’s not so great for the 99.9%+ who miss out. Best Buy doesn’t owe anybody anything with this, but it’s hard for people not to resent being told “sorry, you’re out of luck” when they miss a window of opportunity that is literally only a few minutes long. You don’t want your freebie promotion to generate more ill-will than good. Plus, all those people trying it is resulting in “server too busy” errors; it took me 10 minutes to “purchase” the item, and another 50 to actually succeed in initiating the download. So, while I am grateful — free movies! — I can’t help but think it could have been handled better.
But while I was waiting for RoxioNow to initiate my download, I got to thinking about the various ways I watch movies. I currently make my living off of eBay and flea markets, because in this economy it’s hard to find a job as a programmer. So I don’t have enough to always go to the first-run movie theatre or buy a full price DVD (and I don’t have a Blu-Ray player yet). But even if I only see the latest-and-greatest when I can occasionally scrape together a bit of money, I still see a fair amount of movies, and as noted in my “About” page, if it’s new to me, that’s all that counts. So here’s the Cheapskate’s Guide to Cinema: the best ways to watch movies without breaking the budget. Continue reading