What Those ‘Veronica Mars’ Download Problems Really Mean

If this is the future of movie distribution, there are some things we need to change.

Last week, many supporters of the “Veronica Mars” Kickstarter campaign found that they were unable to claim their free digital download due to issues with the UltraViolet service and the Warner Bros-owned app Flixster.

WB, who also distributed “Veronica Mars,” claimed that most of the digital downloads from Flixster went off without a hitch. “The vast majority of ‘Veronica Mars’ backers who attempted to redeem their code had a successful experience,” the studio said in a statement. “A communication was sent to all backers yesterday from Rob Thomas telling them to get in touch with ‘Veronica Mars’ technical support if they were experiencing problems.”

An email sent to backers with problems offered alternatives to the UltraViolet download, including reimbursement for purchasing “Veronica Mars” through Amazon or iTunes, though it’s been annoying, a lot of the frustration seems to be over.

But the technical issues don’t bode well, especially when they happen to a movie that was supposed to signal the start of a new distribution model. Warner Bros is doubly to blame since they choose to use their own, flawed platform to deliver perks. If crowd sourcing and digital download perks are the way of the future, there are a few major issues that need fixing.

One Log-In
The number of log-ins should always be equal to the number of tasks you’re trying to accomplish. Want to check Twitter? One log-in. Want to look at a Facebook notification? One log-in. Want to watch a movie you own? One log-in. Ultraviolet downloads work within a number of separate apps like Flixster and Vudu, and when you set up one of those apps, you need a log-in for both services. It’s an annoyingly unnecessary step that only seems to exist so that studios can get another cut by pushing their own app.

No Dedicated Apps
The last thing you want to do after retrieving log-in info for two different services is to be told that you now need to download an application. Amazon and Netflix have thrived on being browser-based for laptops, and pretty much everyone already has iTunes already downloaded to manage their phones or iPods. Asking someone to add another program to their likely already-crammed hard drive is a bridge too far, especially when everything is so cloud-based now.

File
The solution to the dedicated app is simple, but would require more creative thinking on the part of the studios. Let people download an actual movie file that they can play with third-party applications like VLC. Yes, the physical medium might be dying, but people still need the feeling that they possess the thing they bought. A video file that they can download as needed and store without having to worry about app compatibility is what we need now that everything is going digital. Because what happens to all of the Flixster movies you paid for when that service goes off line or isn’t compatible with a new device?

“Veronica Mars” is available in theaters and for digital download now.

Writer/editor for MTV. If it involves cowboys, spies, or hitmen, I'm there. All three would be ideal.
@KPSull