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Pay-Per-View Downloads of TV Shows? 446

An Extremely Anonymous Coward asks: "I've been thinking about the mass downloading of TV episodes. The TV companies appear to not be so desperate to sue people into bankruptcy for watching an illicit episode of _Friends_ or _The OC_. Does this mean they really are wondering about using this new media, rather then foaming at the mouth and suing twelve year olds? Will TV show production companies be the first to show some sense and offer their own downloads on a pay per view basis?"
"I'd be happy to pay a monthly subscription of around ten dollars, so I could get access to tv shows without being branded a criminal.Alternatively, I'd happily pay around a dollar a show, if the quality was good. The argument that this would give no incentive to buy the series DVD's can easily be dealt with, since the sales from downloads might easily replace the revenue from the DVD box sets, and there are some people (myself included) who'd still like the higher definition versions and box sets of a few shows.

Adverts in the deal would change the amount per episode I'm willing to pay. Perhaps options like a free stream with unavoidable adverts, or a subscriber download with either very few, or no adverts, with price determining the amount of adverts included might help entice more users to use the service. A free stream of a popular show with adverts would probably stop most illegal downloaders, simply because their aim of watching the show would be achieved.

DRM is inevitable, which may be why it's taking so long for the executives in control of such things to pull their fingers out. The fact that it's essentially pointless doesn't seem to have stemmed their lust for it. I own lots of DVDs, and yet curiously I've never once had the urge to copy them, making their included anti-copy technology pointless. Also those who do want to copy them seem perfectly able to anyway, but that's another issue.

I find this delay in legal downloads of TV shows surprising, it seems to me that legal downloads of TV media could be the Internet's next gold-rush phenomena, but maybe that opinion isn't shared by many.

If any kind of service were offered I'd join it, even if only to encourage it. How much would other Slashdot readers be willing to pay? And on what sort of terms?"
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Pay-Per-View Downloads of TV Shows?

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  • Market Adjustment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slashnutt ( 807047 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @03:17PM (#11836721) Journal
    Will TV show production companies be the first to show some sense and offer their own downloads on a pay per view basis

    They'll have to. Don't underestimate the bandwidth of Netflix, Blockbuster, and Walmart via mail truck bouncing down the road. One day the download scene may over take the mail truck bandwidth but the market is going to have to adjust. Distributors will have to figure out a way to make a profit that companies and consumers accept.

    I bet the TV show 24 has done almost as well in rentals as it did during original airing. People aren't tied down to show times anymore. Tivo turned on a bulb and the shinning light has freed people to watch what they want when they want. With the FTTP arriving, the bandwidth is getting there now the companies have to get inline.
    • Re:Market Adjustment (Score:3, Interesting)

      by atrizzah ( 532135 )
      One day, if the media companies are smart, they'll start distributing shows with commercials intact. That way they can still rake in the ad revenue, and customers get what they really want--to be able to watch and rewatch what they want, when they want. Personally, I could care less whether commercials are in the mix. I wonder if others agree
      • I'd rather just pay a couple of bucks and dump the commercials. Of course that was the original draw to cable, till they slowly but surely sneaked those in there too.
        • by JWW ( 79176 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @03:51PM (#11837104)
          My only problem with that is that you'd be willing to pay a couple of bucks and the original poster sain a dollar per episode.

          The thing is that I don't trust that the price of episodes will be $1. What happens if they want to charge $5 per episode? Would you still buy it then? What if your only chioce is PPV, if they have the do not copy bit on, it might be, and you might not be home during the original air time? Now does paying $5 for something you used to be able to record and watch later really really piss you off. It should.

          They won't be reasonable with the price. Hell, theres already been what, 3, stories about how the RIAA things that $1 per song is way TOO LOW.

          Don't by into this, don't give up your fair use recording rights for the "promise" of downloadable TV for a "reasonable" price. The greed of the people who will be setting the prices knows no bounds.
          • Re:Market Adjustment (Score:4, Interesting)

            by HeyLaughingBoy ( 182206 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:26PM (#11837452)
            Downloadable TV is different because unlike music, viewers are used to seeing commercials on TV.

            It will take off when it's free. TiVo and the like are giving advertisers fits. But if they could let you D/L the show/get a free DVD of it at the grocery checkout counter with non deletable/no fast forward allowed commercials intact, it may prove to be even more profitable than broadcasting to millions of people.

            Besides the movie chanels, about the only thing I watch on TV is the Food Network and Speed channel. What's an advertiser's cost per viewer to air a single ad on either of those shows? Would it be more profitable for them to buy time on a DVD of "Barbecue with Bobby Flay" that was free with a bag of groceries at the local upscale grocery store? A copy of "The Ferrari Story" DVD free with any $10 purchase at the auto parts store?
            Now instead of broadcasting to people who just happened to tune in cause nothing else was on, they're targeting people very likely to be interested in their product.

            These guys will eventually catch on to new media: it's either that or die, and they'll die hard.
          • by luna69 ( 529007 ) *
            > What happens if they want to charge $5 per episode?

            Then people will use the DRM-busting tools that will necessarily emerge in response to whatever DRM schemes are used by the copyright holders.

            The thing I love about the iTunes music store is that it's so cheap and so easy, people are actively buying music instead of downloading illegal copies. If a typical whole CD was $16 on iTMS, just like a physical CD is, they wouldn't be doing so well.... ...which suggests to me that the way for video media prod
          • Re:Market Adjustment (Score:4, Interesting)

            by HTH NE1 ( 675604 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @06:54PM (#11839194)
            The thing is that I don't trust that the price of episodes will be $1.

            I'm not sure if I'd want to pay even $1 an episode. I could go to a local theater tonight and spend $2 on a ticket to see any of Being Julia, Fat Albert, Incredibles, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Ocean's Twelve, Polar Express, Ray, SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, or White Noise, all of which have twice the runtime of current "hour-long" dramas (except possibly SpongeBob at 85 minutes). Tomorrow brings in Elektra and Meet the Fockers.

            I certainly wouldn't pay $1/episode for a half-hour sitcom. Not unless I get to retain it, play it back whenever I want however many times I want, and make backups and other fair uses of the content.
      • I don't expect that will happen unless timely commercials are able to be added. Seeing a commercial for a discontinued product is funny sometimes, but i can't imagine the maker paying as much to put it there.

      • Well I'd rather watch an episode nonstop, with all the characters wearing pepsi shirt, coca cola jeans.

        To stop your show every 5 minutes with a commercial is an old concept started in the 60s. About damn time we change.

      • Re:Market Adjustment (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rjelks ( 635588 )
        How much is one viewer really worth to advertisers? $0.25, $.50, $1.00??? I'd gladly pay a dollar to download old, canceled TV shows. I've got the Tivo for new shows, but there are shows that I'd like that are off the air. I would never pay $40 at once for a season of TV, but at $1.00 a pop (no commercials), I'd use a service like that all the time. Give me bittorrent speeds, not worrying about copyright infringement, and a large library...I'd be a customer.

        I admit to downloading some TV in the past,
      • One day, if the media companies are smart, they'll start distributing shows with commercials intact

        They can't. 1/2 of the commercials are local, and almost all of them are time sensitive. The release of a new car model, or cellphone promotion doesn't play well after the promotion is over.

    • by garcia ( 6573 ) *
      With the FTTP arriving, the bandwidth is getting there now the companies have to get inline.

      Says who? Us? LOL. You think that just because a bunch of geeks that prefer to download shows w/o commercials, DRM, and watch them when they want to watch them that the networks will bend over backwards? ROFL! They bend over backwards to the advertisers. The advertisers decide what happens based on who is watching what.

      People watch TV and they aren't going to stop just because "they want to download". Perso
    • I bet the TV show 24 has done almost as well in rentals as it did during original airing.

      I always wanted to watch that show, from the 1st season.

      Recently it started coming in on Netflix.

      Let me tell you -- I feel like a junkie every time an episode ends, needing just one more fix... (kinda like season 3). Nothing quite wastes time like 21 hours of a TV show that is as seamless as a movie.
  • Not quite yet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by l0rd ( 52169 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @03:17PM (#11836722)
    No, it means that it's still only nerds and geeks that are downloading everything. Once RSS & Bittorrent become mainstream, easy to use and/or standard features on HD Recorders, THEN the shit will hit the fan.
    • It's already easy enough, of course people still give me a funny look about "watching TV" on my computer, that is until I set up bittorrent and point them to a few sites that have all their favorite shows or hand them a external harddrive with the last 4 years of a show they were interested in but have never had a chance to watch.

      • Get yourself a modded xbox or a media-center PC and all of a sudden that external hard drive becomes available through your regular TV interface.

        I started late on Lost. Watched episodes 8 and 12, decided to go back and see the first ones. Bittorrent to the rescue.

        Now that I'm caught up, I watched last night's episode on my TV from my local cable broadcast. Quality absolutely sucked, even though I was still using the same TV to watch it. I'll just watch it from the torrents from now on.
    • Re:Not quite yet (Score:3, Insightful)

      by XorNand ( 517466 )
      BitTorrent accounts for 35% of *all* Internet traffic [redherring.com]. I think it's safe to say it's already been adopted by the masses.
      • Re:Not quite yet (Score:4, Insightful)

        by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Thursday March 03, 2005 @03:37PM (#11836957)
        No, that means that the geeks use bandwith more than the general population does. Most people use their high-speed connections for email and reading cnn.com. They aren't downloading that much.

        The technology oriented ones are the people that are keeping their bandwith pegged on BT transfers.
        • Re:Not quite yet (Score:4, Insightful)

          by antic ( 29198 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @03:57PM (#11837153)
          Correct. Low level users in Australia, even with broadband, have maybe a 300-500MB data allowance on their accounts. None of those I know with that limit are exceeding it.

          I have two accounts that I've used to download media with -- 32GB and 16GB -- and in a month I can (and have done so in the past) download 10-40GB. If you take a cross-section of Internet users that includes 99 standard users and a user doing 40 GB/month, you could say "media downloads are 50% of traffic", but that 50% could easily be done by 1% of users.
    • Re:Not quite yet (Score:3, Insightful)

      by demachina ( 71715 )
      First answer is the TV networks obviously are trying to do something about, which is what the broadcast flag thing is all about. It will take a while for it to take any hold and it will never stamp out recording their content but obviously they are concerned about it and trying to stop it. I assure they are deeply concerned about people using Tivo's to skip their commercials, or people putting copies of their shows on the net with commercials edited out.

      The network executives are eventually going to catc
    • I can personally see an online movie store where people can download copies of movies with broadband becoming available practically everywhere.

      And I predict that Apple is already looking into this and might release something very similar their iTunes music store. I was surprised how easy iTunes is to use, they just have to put that same philosophy in Movies ( after they have all of the infrastructure to handle the increased load ).

      I would gladly pay $1 to download a commercial-free episode of Top Gear
  • Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Blue-Footed Boobie ( 799209 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @03:17PM (#11836723)
    I think it would be brilliant to keep the current seasons shows in pay-per-view.

    Think about it, you catch show #10 of '24' and realize "Hey, this show looks damn cool!". Now, if you could PPV rent the firs nine shows of the season that you missed - wouldn't you?

    • Not only the current season, but how about prepaying to make sure there is a second season; from my blog...

      (P2P: The street performer protocol and the cancellation of ST Enterprise)
      When suprnova.org went down some said that suprnova.org had been their main source for finding and downloading the latest episodes of Star Trek Enterprise.

      Ignoring if they downloaded the episodes legally or not, we find that there are a lot of users out there that want to watch ST Enterprise, but can't simply because
      • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MrAndrews ( 456547 ) <mcm@nospaM.1889.ca> on Thursday March 03, 2005 @03:58PM (#11837162) Homepage
        (I first must ask all to NOT click on the URL in my profile, because it's not meant to be related and I'm too lazy to change it...)

        I want to make a show. It'll be a cool show, and you all will love it. To make 13 episodes, I will need to raise at least $3,900,000. Let's say the price'll be $3/episode. Pre-pay me now... just $39, and if 100,000 of you do, we'll make the show available for download, HD quality, on the web. So go ahead, send the money... you'll love the show.

        The problem of course is that no one will pay to watch a show they don't trust to be good, so this scenario only works for established shows everyone likes. Not that you implied it, but purely on its own, you'll never get innovation in drama this way, because everyone will be trying to make cookie cutter projects to make the pre-payment a safe investment for consumers. So there has to be a first part to this theory that makes it possible to get to what you describe...

        But I do agree, it would be a better way to do the Enterprise fiasco... don't DONATE $36M, just prepay for the DVDs. But of course that's not what Paramount wants... they want to bleed every dollar they can out of this show, so you've gotta pay your $30 donation plus another round of cash when the DVDs come out...

        There's something really brilliant in all this, but I don't think anyone's been able to pick it out yet...
  • Allofmytv (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jimmy page ( 565870 )
    Before you flame me - could something like Allofmp3 (that pays royalties) work. Variable quality rates, price per MB, included comericals with lower prices.

    I think it would be great!
  • I've downloaded and watched every episode of The OC, Desperate Housewives, Everwood, Mad About You, and Deadwood... all commercial free and usually available the day after the episode airs. Its better quality (I dont have an HDTV), more convenient, and I can backup all my shows on DVD+Rs for later viewing. I would definately cancel my cable provider if it wasnt for my roommates :P
    • Re:I 3 bittorrent (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Catcher80 ( 639611 )
      The way things are looking, it seems bittorrent sites won't be around forever... I'm still mourning over suprnova, lokitorrents myself :( What are you gonna do when johnny corporation finally manages a shutdown of bittorrent sites? There will still be IRC, but we all know that people on IRC are there for leeching and not seeding :)
  • What is that? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by null etc. ( 524767 )
    An Extremely Anonymous Coward asks: "I've been thinking about the mass downloading of TV episodes."

    Congratulations, thanks for sharing. It's good to see submissions like this get accepted, whilst my newsworthy sumbissions get bounced.

    The TV companies appear to not be so desperate to sue people into bankruptcy for watching an illicit episode of _Friends_ or _The OC_.

    Which "TV companies?" Are you referring to broadcasting networks? Given that broadcasted networks do not sell TV programs yet, progra

  • by Kaa ( 21510 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @03:20PM (#11836753) Homepage
    Will TV show production companies be the first to show some sense and offer their own downloads on a pay per view basis?

    Pay per VIEW basis is the holy grail of the entertainment industry -- they would *love* to charge you every time you glance in the direction of a copyrighted work...

    However what most people seem to want is pay per DOWNLOAD and then be able to view the show whenever they like. For some reason this presents a problem to media execs.

    But anyway, it's not like it's hard to buy a DVD (or get it from Netflix) and rip it...
  • by learn fast ( 824724 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @03:21PM (#11836769)
    The TV companies appear to not be so desperate to sue people into bankruptcy for watching an illicit episode of _Friends_ or _The OC_

    This is because there is no "TVAA" piracy division, because historically there has never been a TV piracy problem until a couple of years ago.

    Don't be impatient. Just wait a couple of years and they'll be a new member of the *AA class ready to shoot first and ask questions later.
  • well... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ed.han ( 444783 )
    sci-fi's been offering episode 1 of their new battlestar galactica series on their site. doing this on a PPV basis does make sense. a monthly, per network fee would probably be the result, IMV, and i agree that this would go over well. after a while, perhaps a few parties would get together and create a single method whereby you could do that with a single source.

    but i think the real key here is gonna be price point.

  • On Demand: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ets960 ( 759094 )
    Isn't one of the ideas behind on demand television to pay a subscription fee and then be able to watch any of the television shows whenever you want?

    I'm pretty sure thats the idea, which would be great. Say you want to see an episode of the OC from last week, you just watch it using On Demand and then you don't have to download it. I think that the reason people download the TV shows is because they miss an episode and want to catch up, and don't want to record it on Video.

    Just my opinion...
    • That's the reason I do it, but there are also the cheap asses that don't want to pay for it and just download the shows.

      The thing that sucks is they put 3 shows on at the same time and then you are really forced to download it if you don't have 3 VCRs.

      Ok, so maybe not forced, but if you want to follow the series and not wait a year for it to come out on DVD and then pay a crap load of money for something you might only watch once then you don't really have a choice.
  • by Stubtify ( 610318 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @03:22PM (#11836777)
    TV shows exist for one reason, to make money for networks. They do this through ad revenue, which is tied to ratings. Higher ratings mean higher costs for a 30 second spot. However, fragment your viewing audience, say by spinning off part of them (who would likely be demographically different than those who don't download) and you've got a problem with your revenue stream.

    Similarly, local networks get a specified amount of revenue from showing these shows. Take the distribution method out of the loop by allowing the end user to directly access the media content and you'd have some pissed off affiliates.

    Furthermore, allowing off network viewing of a show would not only hurt a network's bottom line, but also its brand image. People know FOX is channel 7, or 11, but what channel is it when you're downloading from a website? Even if it is fox's website.

    • Those are good points, but you missed an important one: things will HAVE to change. With Tivo and other methods of recording and skipping commercials, advertisers will realize that less and less people watch the commercials. -They- will eventually require something to change since your points will become less valid over time.
    • People know FOX is channel 7, or 11, but what channel is it when you're downloading from a website? Even if it is fox's website.


      If you want to keep it traditional, affiliates could offer downloads of shows for people with a confermed address in their regular broadcast area. Revenue could be earned as always by selling ads. As a bonus you wouldn't need a neilson box to judge ratings.
    • TV shows exist as an advertising vehicle for TV stations. TV stations affiliate themselves with the networks because the network allows them access to shows, scheduling, branding, and marketing - all things you want when you're basically an advertising vehicle.

      The TV shows themselves are somewhat independent of the TV Network that shows them - depending on the deal. It all depends on the deal.

      An independently produced show (unlikely) could theoretically distribute itself any way it chose. There aren't a l
    • TV shows exist for one reason, to make money for networks.

      In the beginning there were the Networks. The Networks produced their own shows. Then independent TV production companies got into the mix, and they started producing TV shows and selling them to the networks, which then ran them and sold advertising on them.

      TV shows currently exist for two reasons: First, to make money for production companies. Second, to make money for networks. There are other reasons, too, but those will do.

      These da

  • by Rinikusu ( 28164 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @03:23PM (#11836785)
    I'm more all about On-Demand TV. Keep a large back-catalog of your shows. This way, when I stumble onto something like Battlestar Galactica in the middle of the season, I can immediately go grab the episodes I missed on my TiVo so I don't have to pray and worry about the series getting cancelled. See Firefly.

    I don't think DVD sales will suffer much because I've seen all kinds of quality rips on *torrent, which is nice when I want to "preview" a show to see if I like it. But I'll still buy the DVD set, just as I still buy CD's after checking out stuff via limewire or whatever. But that's entirely an unqualified/uneducated guess.

  • Price (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jpunkroman ( 851438 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @03:24PM (#11836793)
    There is no way each show would cost a dollar, or only 10 bucks a month. Mp3s cost more per song and they are trying to raise the price, and Napster charges 15 bucks a month I believe. Look for it in the 5 bucks per and 40 bucks a month range. (Kinda the same as it costs to get TV anyway.)
    • "Kinda the same as it costs to get TV anyway." The price, and you get what you really want, and not crap.

      Sounds like a deal.
    • CDs cost about 15 bucks, and DVDs cost 15-20; TV DVDs tend to cost more like 10-15 per disc.

      Why exactly *shouldn't* the shows cost a buck or two per episode?
    • That depends. It's possible that all shows would be priced the same. What I would find more interesting (though it were never happen) would be if shows were priced based on average production costs for the season. A show's cost would be 1/1000th of 1 percent of production costs. So a show like Enterprise ($1.6M per episode) would cost $1.60 under that structure. 100,000 downloads would cover the entire cost of the episode.

      Times 22 episodes would be $32 for a season set, which is a decent price to pay
  • They will fight it tooth and nail just like the RIAA. They don't see the way the market is going, end up fighting until they are forced to adopt it.

    The most interested is the porn industry. They WANT you to spread their videos. RIAA & MPAA & whatever the tv show makers are called don't get it. It is what people want, just not what they want. They will eventually, they could make a fortune now, but no, it is easier to fight the whole way for them.

    It is about convenience for most people, i don't min
  • by CerebusUS ( 21051 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @03:25PM (#11836828)
    I'd be happy to pay a monthly subscription of around ten dollars, so I could get access to tv shows without being branded a criminal

    And this is where AOL / Time Warner really missed the boat.

    Can you imagine how many new AOL Broadband subscribers there would be if your $20 / month fee included the ability to watch all of the previous seasons Sopranos? or Carnivale?

    • Can you imagine how many new AOL Broadband subscribers there would be if your $20 / month fee included the ability to watch all of the previous seasons Sopranos? or Carnivale?

      Do you know how fast they would have shut that shit off once they saw the other media owners making $65+ on a set of DVDs for a recent season and $35+ on a set of DVDs from a show that's from 1983?

      You do realize that there are bandwith providers out there that are shutting people off because they are going over their "unknown" bandw
  • "Will TV show production companies be the first to show some sense and offer their own downloads on a pay per view basis?"

    Not for any reasonable price no. All studios these days are scared silly about pirating because people like the RIAA have convinced them the losses will eventually bankrupt them. Instead of it being the same problem it's been for years. So when they do offer downloads (and they will, just to see) it'll be at some outrageious price I'm sure.

    Hell even discovery (which has some great s
  • Pay-Per-....View? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lakiolen ( 785856 )
    Is that supposed to be pay-per- view or pay-per-download? I mean if they expected us to pay them everytime we wanted to watch our favorite show of say Family Guy or 24 that would cost hundreds of dolars a month (ok tens of). Wouldn't a pay-per-download of an episode be a much better (say easier) buisiness model.

    And on another note would the episodes we download from the TV stations have commercials or could the cost of producing and such be covered by the revenue of the downloading?
  • The broadcasters aren't actively pursuing downloaders of shows for the same reason that they won't make them available for pay-per-download - namely, television shows are already "free".

    The copyright law is the same, but actively prosecuting (or re-selling) something which has been previously distributed without cost will simply be more problematic than doing the same for movies or music.

  • This Wired article [wired.com] has some great insight into the difficulty of licensing the music that occurs, even fleetingly, in TV shows. David Pogue also commented on this in his NY Times blog [nytimes.com] recently. He was told by a TV producer that segments that air only once, such as news shows, couldn't be offered for download because of the licensing nightmare to clear every visual and audio element of the broadcast that may have licensing restrictions. These issues might not be insurmountable but they sure represent a hu
  • I would pay... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Jhan ( 542783 )

    $2... No, perhaps $3? Even $5 doesn't seem too steep.

    $5 (per week/episode), to download the latest installment of my favourite show(s). Of course, it would have to be a fast download, HDTV plus 5.1 and <blink>*no* *effing* *DRM*</blink> .

  • Film companies get pissed off at pirates because they make their money from people buying tickets to see the film or the DVD.

    TV shows are already paid for by the networks, and even if you download the occasional show, chances are you still have a cable / satellite subscription. Hence, no money lost, although I guess DVD sales might not be so good in the long run.

    I've used Bittorrent to keep up to date with Stargate while I've been away from home. My parents have a Sky subscription so we have "sorta" pai
  • I would say, if anything, it provides them of a way to see what shows are successful (Maybe it's not a fair test, more of a computer geek statistic). But the music industry has used the songs that have been popular in downloads (illegal&legal) to inform them on what the people want.
  • by doowy ( 241688 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @03:33PM (#11836906) Homepage
    I too would ditch my cable TV in an effort to select shows to watch.

    It seems like a business model could be setup by the broadcasters, but we are forgetting one thing... ... the message isn't the shows content. the show is merely a medium to deliver the real message: advertisements.

    The advertising model currently used is in trouble if shows are delivered as downloads. Advertisers ran scared with VCR's and now with DVR's - this would make things much worse for them.

    There needs to be a shift in the revenue models for broadcasters - their customers are not their viewers, but are their advertisers.. what you suggest may seem simple and obvious, but it is really a VERY big change - you want the viewers to be the customers.

    I would say broadcasters are reluctant to give the viewers much more control than they already have under the current structure of things - they need to keep their customers (advertisers) happy.
  • by RomulusNR ( 29439 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @03:33PM (#11836912) Homepage
    What, you mean production decisions made based on the actual value to viewers?

    The only problem is that the only things left on TV will star 20 year olds playing the parts of teenagers who whine about their parents and sleep with their best friend's S.O.'s.

    Then again, it could save Enterprise.

    (I'm not sure that that's any better.)
  • I'd gladly pay for show downloads, especially if I could get on-demand anything. I'd like to see an "interspersed ad", "no ad", and "frontloaded ads only" version (traditional, ad-free, and maybe an ad or three at the start but then uninterrupted), so I could choose the level of marketing.

    You know, while we at it, this leads to far more POWERFUL marketing. Imagine a fully interactive system where you got showed 6 ads, at the start of a program, each 30 sec-1 min. You could choose to watch any/all of them,
  • I only subscribe to the cable internet service, but I wouldn't mind having access to downloadable TV content.

    The only reason I don't watch TV is the amount of chaff vs the number of shows that would interest me...

    Plus the fact that the current system does not allow anyone to watch much TV from overseas.

    Everytime my cable ISP calls me to ask me if I'm interested in their new TV cable deal, I ask "do you have any channels from Japan?" The guy always says no, so I tell him "call me back when you offer acces
  • they should (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pacifix ( 465793 ) <zorp.zorpy@com> on Thursday March 03, 2005 @03:39PM (#11836978)
    I stole movies. Then they gave me Netflix, and that was more convenient and reasonable, so I don't download movies anymore. I stole music. Then they gave me iTuenes music store, and that was more convenient and reasonable, so I don't do that anymore. Now I download TV shows. Charge me $5 and episode for good quality, everlasting rights, and I'll happily pay for that.
  • There is no way to get around that we will eventually have DRM-protected Video on Demand. Most likely it will come (in the US) in the form of cable PVR set-top boxes with DOCSIS 2.0 modems in them, as well as MPEG2/4 hw encode/decode, and probably a web browser of some sort.

    I've seen numerous boxes that had most of this stuff that were actually in production. It's only a matter of time. There's money to be made, so it shall be done. The box will also be your router/gateway box, and probably have either

  • ...I don't know how many people have noticed this, but some DVD releases of Television shows don't include the title music, or include "new" and different title music. This is because when the show was made, the license purchased from the music's creators (...which translates sometimes into a deal between the television show producers and the RIAA...) were sometimes short-term or included certain restrictions that required royalty payments per airing of the show for the title music or soundtrack.
    So in com
  • by melted ( 227442 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @03:47PM (#11837063) Homepage
    To watch their cranial bubble gum. $50 a month doesn't seem too steep. I'd even leave commercials on while I'm out to take a leak.
  • Lots of VOD (Video on Demand)opportunities already exist. Scripps Networks (Food, HGTV, etc) already have robust VOD offerings on Comcast's service. Best part? They are free. There's a :30 spot in the beginning, the show and then a :15 or a vignette at the end. That's it. Quite brilliant actually. As VOD matures, this will become more and more commonplace.

    VOD from the major networks will probably have a slower adoption rate. Their biz model is busted, but they have a lot of inertia. It takes them
  • Well...some people are willing to pay up to 4 million to watch a season of Enterprise. It's hard to imagine that people would not want to pay a couple of bucks per episode.

    Maybe a subscription fee for the entire season?
  • I would suggest that there are concerns that by releasing episodes they damage syndication value. I don't know for sure, but I assume that unless a show is wildly successful (read Friends) they will shop syndication and only release DVDs when syndication opportunities are exploited.

    By helping people access episodes on demand they could possibly erode the market value of the show. Re-runs of shows, have a market because people want to watch a show. I would suspect, based on my personal experience, that most
  • Why should we pay? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ItsIllak ( 95786 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @03:56PM (#11837148) Homepage
    Not meaning to sound cheap, but why should we pay for this? Why can't it be advert supported. When the article was recently posted about the UK bittorrent downloading of sites being the highest in the world, I commented that it was the perfect forum for the TV companies to distribute their shows complete with adverts intact. They can then draw the money from advertisers to pay for it (and bandwidth wouldn't be so enormous, they'd just have to seed and catch the slack).

    On the other hand, they could probably add a smaller revenue 50c, $1? per show if they offer them on the day (or following day) of original broadcast. That only leaves the problem of the rest of the world!

    We get things 6-10 weeks after the US originally broadcasts (in the UK). That gap would have to be closed or the networks over here would complain (and not pay!).

    In the end, as I mentioned in reply to the previous article, if there's any TV Execs out there that want this, let me know, I'll set it up for you :)
  • 10 years ago (95-96) my family tested Bell Atlantic's VOD service called Stargazer. It was MPEG-1 video streamed over a DSL connection that was tied into a settop box (We also were testers for their DSL service -- we had two DSL lines coming into the house over two phone lines at a time when you couldn't get DSL regularly :-p). At the time, they had recently released to video movies available at 3 to 4 bucks, and older TV shows available at about 50 cents a pop. This seemed to be a totally reasonable price
  • It may not be well publicized, but the studios threaten movie swappers just as much as they threaten television show swappers. Paramount routinely sends DMCA violation notices to my university's help desk, and about half of those are people downlaoding shows like Enterprise.
  • Some TV truths:

    1) TV exists due to commercials. The idea is for networks to broadcast free programs, but then to get you to watch the advertisements. They only care that you watch the ads. Everything that doesn't affect you watching ads is not a problem, but things that do are a big problem (like VCR recording and timeshifting).

    2) TV networks are experts at fudging the numbers. Big companies like numbers. Networks like numbers. If you can prove that you can get big numbers for a show, you can charge
  • iTunes to iTV (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cmpalmer ( 234347 ) * on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:06PM (#11837250) Homepage
    For years, I said that if I could download high quality music files that were reasonably DRM free without a subscription for around $1 per song, I'd happily do it. Skeptics said it would never work, music companies and radio were horrified, etc. Now, with iTunes raking in ungodly amounts of money (or at least selling millions of iPods, thereby making ungodly amounts of money), I have all of that (except for the DRM part, but then I have an iPod, I can use the iTunes songs on all my computers, and it isn't really that hard to burn to CD-RW then re-rip to non-DRM'ed MP3 for my other MP3 player).

    Now we're approaching the same idea with TV. If I could "buy" an episode of a show for some small amount of money, with decent quality and no commercials and without a subscription (except maybe for my digital cable if I got it through OnDemand or Pay Per View), I would do it.

    The TV and cable companies are getting all upset that people are Tivo'ing or otherwise DVR'ing their shows then skipping through the commercials, well, as the poster said, if I pay a buck or so to watch an episode without commercials or have access to, say, a feed with commercials that doesn't have skip or even FF for free, then they're making their money either way and I can choose whether I want built-in bathroom breaks or not.

    The hosting and management issues are beyond the local cable companies capabilities and just targeting computer viewing may not be enough. What we need is a cooperation between cable companies, STB manufactures, and networks to allow streaming of shows through your digital cable set top box to your TV from the network servers with payment going through your cable account. The same network servers could serve computers without as much overhead and without the cable co. skimming.

    Then, every week if I wanted to watch, say, Battlestar Galactica, I could:

    1) Watch it when it comes on
    2) Tape or DVR it and watch when I wanted
    3) Watch it in a forward only stream with commercials from my On Demand or PPV screen on my STB for free
    4) Watch it commercial free on On Demand or PPV for $1.50 ($0.50 to the cable company, $1 to Sci-Fi)
    5) Watch it on my computer for $1 (all to Sci-Fi)

    or, to be honest, (6) download it from somewhere, but I actually don't bother doing that unless I've missed some once in a lifetime event -- it's too much hassle and I can wait for reruns.

    If there any reason why this wouldn't work and make (almost) everyone happy? The cable company makes more money, the networks make more money, the advertisers might actually see lower rates and would know about how many people actually are being forced to watch the ads, and the consumer has more choices.
  • Never Happen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by UES ( 655257 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:06PM (#11837252)
    The consensus opinion on Slashdot seems to be that Big Media does not like to 'give the customer what they want', (or, in other words, allow mass download of cancelled shows) because they are big jerks.

    That is not the case.

    This is unlikely to happen because television and movie rights are absurdly complicated, doubly so for defunct programs. I think a little education is in order. Let's use as an example a fictional show, "Blar Trak".

    Now, let's say the show originally ran on NBC from 1966-1969. The rights are now held by Paramount, a division of Viacom. IANAEL (I am not an entertainment lawyer, but...)

    Let's see how this would work:

    - User wants to download the 1-hour episode "Sark's Brain".

    Who owns it? Viacom, through Paramount. Just pay them, right? Nope. First, check to see if Paramount has DISTRIBUTION rights. These are distinct from ownership and/or PRODUCTION rights. Production rights let you make more episodes or spinoff movies. Distribution lets you put it on TV, in theatres, or on DVD. Different methods of distribution are often covered by separate contracts. In the film world, movies can be distributed by a studio that didn't produce the movie. "Master and Commander" had THREE studios working on it. "Titanic" on DVD is Paramount in the US, Fox in the rest of the world.

    Production companies do the actual physical production of the show, they ALSO have contracts that may limit distribution rights or assign partial or whole ownership. These rights are transferable to heirs, if the show makes grandpa look bad, no show for you, sayeth the grandkids.

    Paramount may also have a limited option or distribution deal for that particular episode, or a group of episodes, or the whole series. Ever wonder why DVDs go out of print? Now you know- the distributor has a LIMITED TIME contract.

    That's not all. All of the actors and workers from that show need to get paid residuals. Yes, even 40 years after production. Many of them will have contracts that state they get paid FOREVER. The ones who don't may sue to stop distribution, they don't want Viacom to get richer off their work. VIacom may screw all the actors by claiming the contracts are nullified in this case because they do not specifically refer to the internet as a distribution vehicle.

    Whoops. The ongoing litigation may take years. No episode for you. It won't be $1.00, that's for sure.

    That dollar has to cover:

    Production Contract
    Distribution Contract
    Actor residuals
    Writer/Producer residuals
    Legal costs
    Pipeline/Delivery costs

    Don't even get me started on what happens when Viacom wants to deliver content on Time Warner pipe, suffice it to say they have to pay Time Warner and devise yet another contract, too.

    Oh, and if the show contains POP MUSIC, give up now. You need to clear EACH SONG with the music industry equivalent on the other end, or replace the music.

    The short answer is: If there is money involved, it is very complicated. If no one wants to make money, distribtion is easy-peasy, rightsholders just sign off on it.

    Problem: EVERYONE wants to make residual income, it requires no effort and is very lucrative.

    • Re:Never Happen (Score:3, Interesting)

      First, awesomely thoughtful, insightful, and informative post.

      I can see how the cost might not be $1.00 per show, but shouldn't it be less than or equal to to the $4.00 or $5.00 Blockbuster charges for a movie rental?

      Also, wouldn't it be possible for a new series to be developed that bypasses the studio altogether? What would prevent Bad Robot (production house behind Alias and Lost) from maintaining the production rights and distributing via Tivo or DirectTV without going through one of the traditional n

    • Re:Never Happen (Score:4, Insightful)

      by curtwaugh ( 829224 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @05:42PM (#11838414)
      What a great post. Thank you. And THIS is why people will just steal the damn thing after all. If you think of theft as yet another market force, it's easy to see why people would do it. When the law becomes overly burdensome, people just ignore it (i.e., speed limits, marijuana, taxes, etc.). How may times have folks said, "I downloaded illegally until iTunes/NetFlix/etc came along." There is no reason, other than centuries-old legal practices, why ALL media is not distributed through every means possible. The technology is there. The market is there. The money is there. Where is the supply?
  • by voss ( 52565 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:13PM (#11837335)
    Have a player for (windows and linux) of course...and the player could fastforward but the commercial would still be on the screen during the fastforward or when you pause. Have Blipverts...commericals that last 5 seconds.

    Advantage...the programs would be free not PPV. Theres no reason why you should have to pay for something the public gets for free if youre willing to watch the version with commercials.

  • by vjmurphy ( 190266 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:28PM (#11837472) Homepage
    While downloading specific shows would be great, I'd first like the ability to choose what cable/satellite channels I get individually. I don't want to have to subsidized 20+ sports channels just so that I can watch the Food Network.

    I've seen my cable bill rise just so that some idiots can get a sports channel featuring a regional team. Fine, pass that cost directly onto the people who want that content. I don't.
    • The problem with that is:

      In reality, it's those 20+ sports channels that are subsidizing channels like Food Network, History Channel, Sci-Fi, A&E, and anything else the typical American common denominator (who loves thing like Ashlee Simpson, NSF, NBA, and Bachlorette/Survivor 9: The Quickening).

      If you choose the a-la-carte way, any channel that isn't very popular with the vast majority of the American public (with whom I share little in the way of entertainment taste) will go off the air.
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @07:36PM (#11839563) Homepage Journal
    They are watching the other industries duke it out with their customers.. waiting to see how it comes out..

Mr. Cole's Axiom: The sum of the intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is growing.