Watch Movies Online: Save the Environment

Last month CinemaNow conducted a survey on its Website about consumers' viewing habits. One of the more entertaining tidbits to come from the survey was that the majority of those surveyed thought that of all the actors who played Batman, Christian Bale looked the best in his Batman outfit. Keep this in mind, because we'll be coming back to Christian Bale's Batman outfit in a bit...

The main finding from the survey, however, that CinemaNow really wants to publicize is:

"94 percent of Americans believe that they make a bigger contribution to the environment by downloading a movie online versus renting or buying at a video store."

(By the way, we're not just speculating here that this was CinemaNow's main point, as here is the actual title of the press release: "CinemaNow Survey Shows Ninety-Four Percent of Americans Believe Movie Downloads are Better for the Environment.")

In other words, you can help save the world from human-induced global climate change by watching movies online using services such as CinemaNow. While it's true that every time you forgo a trip in your car, you are burning fewer fossil fuels, do people actually make a conscious decision to watch a movie online instead of getting one from their local video rental store because they are trying to save the environment? We'd love to see how the question was originally worded in the survey as well as see the raw data to determine how that statistic was calculated. A far more likely reason as to why people might prefer to watch movies online instead of from physical rental discs can be gleaned from this survey result:

"More than 64 percent of those surveyed believe the biggest benefit to downloading online is not having to drive to get a movie or wait for it in the mail in the first place."

That sounds more like it. In other words people like the flexibility of choosing what to watch while still at home and prefer the potential convenience of watching movies online. Some might call that instant gratification... Not that there is anything wrong with that...

(Of course, some are just too lazy to get up off the couch to go to the local video rental store. Which is too bad, because some of us could really use the exercise-- especially if the video rental store is within walking distance. We'll concede, however, that not all video rental stores are conveniently located and sometimes it's difficult to find the exact movie you want on the shelves.)

What the survey results do not take into account is that the available choices of online content from providers such as CinemaNow are limited when compared to traditional brick-and-mortar video stores and mail-based services such as Netflix. CinemaNow might have a large video library to choose from, but many of those titles are films you've probably never of heard of before and the selection of recent, popular movies pales in comparison to what is on the shelves of your local Blockbuster.

Remember Christian Bale and his Batman outfit? Online movies are frequently highly compressed and the resulting image quality is often far inferior to what you would get on a standard 480p DVD. That Batman outfit might just look like a big black blur. Very little online content is currently available in true DVD quality or even high definition--although that is starting to change. So if you really want to appreciate the nuances of the different Batman outfits, your best bet is still to rent the DVDs (or Blu-ray discs) and watch them on your large-screen television. Batman Begins on CinemaNow is listed as a "Premium (1,500Kbit/s)". Compare that against the site's true "Premium (8,000Kbit/s)" 720p high-definition content titles, and you get an idea of just how compressed Batman Begins is.

For convenience we'll watch movies online. But to appreciate image quality, we'll stick to DVDs and Blu-ray discs. And let's not forget movie theaters either... The new Batman movie, The Dark Knight, can actually be seen at a ridiculously high image quality if you are lucky enough to see it in IMAX format. For that, you definitely have to leave the house.