by Caris Bizzaca
Australian audiences have more choice than ever before about what to watch and when to watch it, but with such vast libraries of content it can be overwhelming to know where.
One of the excuses for illegal downloading is that it's too hard to find titles legally, or that they're not available in Australia. There are some titles that simply never make it onto the internet – often because the original copyright holders are impossible to track down and occasionally because they don't wish the film to be online. But the ability to find where to watch Aussie content that is out there couldn't be easier.
Thanks to technology from local start-up Gyde, people can visit The Screen Guide to discover where to stream or buy titles. The Screen Guide has been created by Screen Australia and is a free, fact-checked, authoritative version of IMdB for Australian titles.
"It's actually the simplest thing I can see, in respect to combatting piracy as more and more content is available legally," Gyde CEO Andrew Julian says.
He says those that pirate content need to first find a site, download it, and hope they don't pick up some malware on the way. Then there's the hassle of getting that on their television and not being able to use a standard remote control.
"So it actually is far simpler to consume that content legally, even if there is a small price attached to it, than it is to pirate." Not to mention the moral obligation of paying creatives for their work.
Gyde initially started in 2014 with the intention of creating an SVOD TV guide, but it led them to working on The Screen Guide. And now they're making the technology available to organisations beyond Screen Australia.
"The problem of content aggregation across multiple services is a very technically tricky one to solve, but we had largely done that with the apps we were building, so we were able to make that same technology available for Screen Australia," he says.
"The technology we built is now available for studios, distributors – anyone really who has their own catalogue and can link to Video on Demand. We signed Roadshow Films and are working on integrating the same functionality that The Screen Guide has, on Roadshow's website.
So what does it mean? Well, say if a person loves Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries they can
All of the major broadcast networks, including ABC iview, Foxtel Now, 9Now, Plus7, SBS On Demand and Ten Play are on board with The Screen Guide, as well as SVODs Stan, Netflix and Docplay, plus digital stores such as Ozflix, Dendy Direct, iTunes and Google Play.
And it's constantly updating. So if Doctor Doctor, Wake in Fright or The Secret Daughter have recently been on air, The Screen Guide will show they are available on the relevant catch-up service. Once those episodes expire, they will disappear as a viewing option on the site.
"That's a big part of the technology Gyde has built - actually monitoring content as it becomes available and once it expires," Julian says.
"The thing we need to work with the industry on is making sure titles from The Screen Guide database are appropriately linking to the platform."
One thing Gyde can't fix is if content just isn’t available digitally, which is sadly the case with some classics such as The Year My Voice Broke and Young Einstein.
"But the primary thing for the industry is actually making people aware that there are lots of legal channels for consuming content. Instead of broadly saying, 'the content is available legally', it's about hyperlinking to where they can watch it right now.
It's also beneficial for the industry to ensure their titles are showing as available to buy/stream on The Screen Guide because as a gov.au website, it is often prominent in search engine results.
Julian says it's about making the experience fast and seamless.
"I don't think traditionally people had too much issue going down to the local video store and renting a bundle of movies for $12. The reality is you don't need to even leave your house now, (and) for about the same price, you’re sent a movie and it starts playing instantly," he says.
"The added benefit of that is you're fairly compensating and supporting the local industry."
"From an altruistic point of view it’s one of the reasons that Gyde spoke to Screen Australia - we wanted to play some small part in helping the local industry, because really amazing content comes out of Australia and it's something we should be quite proud of."