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February 24, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Rick Cotton

NBC EVP and General Counsel Rick Cotton is predicting that the motion picture industry is heading toward a day when people will be paying for movies that they watch at home based on the age of the movies, with one price for a movie that has just been released and another price for a movie that has been around for a while. “That will happen,” Cotton emphasized during an appearance on a panel at the Paley Center for Media last week. (A video of the discussion was posted on BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield’s blog on Thursday.) Cotton expressed his agreement with venture capitalist Fred Wilson that the current system of withholding movies entirely from the public until months after their theatrical release serves merely to encourage piracy. “Once you make it impossible to watch something, you’ll figure out a way to watch it illegally,” Wilson remarked. Asked whether the industry would gain from so-called pricing-based windows, he replied, “For theater owners, it might be a loss and for content owners it might be a gain.” But Cotton was unwilling to go that far. “I think the answer is that nobody knows,” he said. “There are existing business relationships [between studios and exhibitors], and those have to be respected, so change happens more slowly than Internet time, but it’s clearly happening.”