Monday, January 31, 2005

For All You Pirates Out There -- Argh, Matey!

A post on Slashdot yesterday took notice of this well written article in Sunday's NYT about the growing number of television programs available for download, thanks in large part to technologies like BitTorrent. The story quotes several media execs who are aware of this trend and are trying to avoid, as the story puts it, "the disruptive fury that sideswiped the music industry."

I am happy to learn the television industry is taking this threat seriously and considering proposals that would make television-viewing more flexible:
Mr. Poltrack of CBS said that according to his network's research, a large number of viewers would welcome the chance to pay $1 to watch each television show, if they could do it on their own schedule and with the ability to skip commercials. With commercials, they'd be willing to pay 50 cents. And because the average viewer sees only half of a show's episodes, he said, this on-demand viewing won't hurt the regular showing.
In my view, the faster the media companies bring ideas like this to the market, the better. They could even take advantage of BitTorrent's filesharing principles and reduce the cost for providing online content. I hope they avoid the pitfalls that snagged the music industry, like placing too many restrictions on use and attempting subscriber fees.

1 comment:

Joe said...

The proposal by Mr. Poltrak is an interesting one. On my first read I though they were really good prices. On further reflection they may be a bit high. The Daily Show, to take one example, has about 20 episodes a month, which would be, obviously, $20/mo. That's a bit pricey for one show. If you had 2-3 such shows you liked, getting content would run you more than your cable bill, and the temptation to pirate would still be substantial. I think a subscription system may be a viable alternative, or supplement, to that system (ie, they have a bunch of different show, you pay $15-20/mo, and can download whatever you like). An added complication is that continued convergence of Tivo-like systems, home entertainment systems, and PC's may also conspire to take control of this process out of the hands of the content providers.