Should you buy digital content from your cable provider?


Recently, I was at my aunt and uncle’s house for a family gathering. They had purchased Disney’s Frozen through FIOS OnDemand for the kids to watch. The kids loved it, but it made me consider the question of whether or not you should purchase video content through your cable provider. Why? Isn’t it the same as buying through iTunes or Amazon? I would argue it is not. Here’s why.

While buying content through a service like iTunes, Amazon, or your cable provider allows you to watch the content through many devices (tablets, computer, TV, devices like the AppleTV) there is one big problem I see. People switch cable providers on a regular basis. Is one offering a better deal than the other and you aren’t under contract? Why not switch and save some money each month? Are you having issues with your provider? Switch to the next one. The problem is if you switch you lose the videos you purchased. You can’t take movies you bought from FIOS to XFINITY, for example. This is the big problem in my eyes.

Renting is another issue. You have the content for a limited time and then you “give it back.” You don’t own it, which is the purpose of buying. You want to own the content.

You might argue tat buying from iTunes locks you into the Apple world. While this may be true, most people don’t go from an Apple device to another brand. Plus, even if that did happen the content is still yours. You can always watch it through iTunes on a computer, watch it on an your old device (if you keep it), or even watch it on another person’s device with your Apple ID.

Content from Amazon has a little more flexibility because you can use their video app to play videos you purchase across platforms.

In the case of Amazon and iTunes, or other similar services, the content is yours. You can switch devices, but as long as you have your account information you can always access that content. However, as I said earlier, if you switch cable providers you lose that content when you stop paying for your service.

In my opinion, stick to a service like iTunes or Amazon when buying movies and other videos. That is one way to have a little protection on your investment. Of course, there is always the chance of a new format coming along and we’ll be rebuying our favorite content anyway. This happened with VHS to DVD, DVD to Blu-Ray, and now moving to digital. Progress can’t be stopped, but until that happens it might be worth thinking about where you make your digital content purchases.

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