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Pay-Per-View Downloads of TV Shows?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the new-entertainment-economy dept.

Television 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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Please lord... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11836711)

Give me a first post!



Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11836749)

Steve Fossets dead. LOLOLOL.


Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11836904)

He is set to land in Kansas within the hour.

Does this mean they really are wondering.... (-1, Flamebait)

iibbmm (723967) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836714)


More complete answer: (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11836836)

...they can't enforce their copyrights as aggressively as Hollywood can. In the US you are allowed to tape a television broadcast and give that tape to a friend. The US Supreme Court said that like 20 years ago.

You're not allowed to do that with a motion picture DVD you bought or rented.

In other words, they have very little to gain from going after people who are taping TV shows.

Re:Does this mean they really are wondering.... (0, Offtopic)

maddskillz (207500) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836918)

Somewhere thousands of lawyers are sharpening their pencils

Re:Does this mean they really are wondering.... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11836983)

Maybe im a little un-informed, and i probably am....

but last time i checked, Prime Time TV doesnt cost me a dime. Yeah you could say you pay monthly for cable or satallite access, but you dont NEED cable or sattalite to watch the fox network, or NBC or other local channels, its still broadcasted over the air, and from what i know, the only thing that cost me is the cost of the TV. Sure i dont have the HDTV, but, the downloads ive seen off the net of TV shows, (the ones i have seen remember) are just as good of quality as what i would get on aired TV.

so my question is, if its free to watch on a tv, why is it illegal to download and watch on a computer?

is it wrong for me to compare TV shows to open-source?

wait a minute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11836717)

now tv shows? sure what else, tv-ads.

Can pay-per-view really work? (3, Interesting)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836925)

Most stuff on TV is pure crap that people will sit and watch rather than look at, and talk to, their partner/kids/grandma. Are people really going to want to pay for TV on a per-show basis?

The stations make their main dollars from advertising by charging based on viewership. It does not really matter that people get up during the ads to get another beer/take a dump etc. Anything they can do to hike the viewership numbers is considered a GoodThing. If they can do this through counting downloads then they win.

Pay per view is a barrier to hiking the viewership numbers.

Market Adjustment (5, Insightful)

slashnutt (807047) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836721)

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 (3, Interesting)

atrizzah (532135) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836760)

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

Re:Market Adjustment (1)

Charcharodon (611187) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836831)

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.

Re:Market Adjustment (1)

mmkkbb (816035) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836852)

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.


Re:Market Adjustment (2, Informative)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836857)

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 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11836874)

But they'll probably do ads *and* pay-per-download. Greedy bastards.

Re:Market Adjustment (2, Interesting)

rjelks (635588) | more than 9 years ago | (#11837012)

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, but it was mostly stuff I could have recorded, but forgot to. I can't count the times that the first few minutes of a Tivo'd show has been cut off...I don't think I've seen the first 3 minutes of an episode of Lost since I watched the pilot. Their customers want an on demand service. There's other options if you want to buy/rent a DVD, but there's plenty of people with setups using their computers. Why else would downloading shows be so popular?

I think they're worried about contributing to the files that are already floating around on p2p networks...but the p2p networks aren't going away. Apple's mp3 site is a good example of legal downloads that are bringing in profit.

/my long rambling post is over

Kids These Days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11836819)

Tivo turned on a bulb and the shinning light has freed people to watch what they want when they want.

Video recorders were invented in the mid-70s. Tivo may be a nice usability enhancement, but the "freedom" to record and watch later has been around for decades.

Re:Market Adjustment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11836841)

Hell, 24 was what made me go out an rent/buy the entire season on DVD!

I missed 3/4 of Season 1, was about to start watching when I figured it was better to wait for the DVD's when they came out. At least that way I could watch from start to finish at my leisure. Even better, I bought the DVD set used and save half of what it would have cost to rent them individually. Eventually I took that back to get credit on a used copy of Season 2. ;)

TV is lacking in quality programming to begin with, so I resent even more having to schedule my time to watch the one or two things worth watching.

Right now, I would love to be able to see all the new Battlestar Galactica episodes on my demand.

My 2c.. :)

Re:Market Adjustment (2, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836863)

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". Personally, I don't know anyone outside of a handfull of friends that care about downloading shows or even watching them timeshifted.

People have been so ingrained with scheduling their lives around their TV that it's just part of life. Oooh, Survivor on Thursday, gotta be home. Ooh, American Idol is on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday for the past three weeks... Sorry can't see karaoke at the bar because I'm watching sober singers sing worse on TV every day this week.

With FTTP arriving people arne't going to get it. They are getting too good of a deal from their cable company with $5 extra for HD content (even when they don't have an HD TV). They are going to continue to get their $5 package discount because they have cable, TV, and telephone running in from Comcast.

Why would they need to wait to download a TV show when they can watch it live right there on their TV?

It's sad but it's true.

Re:Market Adjustment (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836924)

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 (4, Insightful)

l0rd (52169) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not quite yet (1)

Cantide (743407) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836745)

No. Pay-per-view for television is a wild idea with no basis in reality.

...It seems like we're going down that road, what with Comcast's OnDemand and all.

Re:Not quite yet (1)

Charcharodon (611187) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836791)

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.

Re:Not quite yet (1)

CerebusUS (21051) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836873)

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 (2, Insightful)

XorNand (517466) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836829)

BitTorrent accounts for 35% of *all* Internet traffic [] . I think it's safe to say it's already been adopted by the masses.

Re:Not quite yet (3, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#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 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 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11837040)

You must not know the general public. I've met people who have enough trouble browsing the web, but they use BT, and other P2P apps to pirate.

Re:Not quite yet (2, Insightful)

demachina (71715) | more than 9 years ago | (#11837023)

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 catch up with the RIAA and MPAA in ham handed enforcement, its just network executives have for a long time known to be exceptionally slow learners.

At the moment I wager they can't really sort out all the variables influencing their revenue:

A. People are watching less broadcast television in favor of video games, internet, pay per view, DVD's etc.

B. There are so many channels now that broadcast television has a deep inherent viability problem. It is nearly impossible to fill up all the channels with interesting content, and the viewership for each channel shrinks as more channels are added.

I think at the moment networks are focusing their efforts at propping up their revenue on:

A. Steadily increasing the number, length and volume of commercials so they can get the same revenue for the dwindling number of suckers that still sit through them. Ironicly they are reaching the point they so annoy viewers they are forcing consumers to find ways to avoiding them, either Tivo'ing, downloading edited shows off the net or stop watching commericial laden channels.

B. Increase the amount of reality TV because it costs next to nothing to make. Since they have lower production costs they make more profit even if their ad revenue is weakening. Lucky for them people are apparently complete suckers and watch this foolishness.

C. Put ever more infomercials on ever more channels. Not sure who the idiot is in the loop that makes this a viable strategy, the companies paying for the time, the people who are stupid or braindead enough to actually sit and watch a half hour advertisement and buy the worthless crap they push, or the networks who are willing to fill up ever larger blocks of time with garbage no one in their right mind woulf actually watch.

D. Push the broadcast flag in a futile effort to stamp out digital copies of their shows

E. Try to milk revenue out of people through a cut from cable and satellite subscriptions, pay per view, DVD's, etc.

Well... (5, Interesting)

Blue-Footed Boobie (799209) | more than 9 years ago | (#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?

Re:Well... (1)

cosinezero (833532) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836823)

On Demand for several cable companies has reruns of most of the shows on premium cable...

Re:Well... (1)

lambent (234167) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836880)

But due to limited space, demand, or cable overlord crotchety-ness, they usually don't offer the full backlog. Only a few shows at a time in rotation, or the last few that aired. And usually not complete previous seasons.

Re:Well... (1)

svanstrom (734343) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836830)

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 went down some said that 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 no to them available stations carry it; ie they (a lot of them, at least) would gladly pay for access, but there's no one to pay.

For many of them the only legal option would be to wait months, and then buy the DVDs; but being a fan of a series you don't really want to wait, especially not when you know that you could download an episode of perfect quality each week, hours after it was first aired...

The stations that air the episodes when they are brand new ends up being the main income for the people making the series, and even some of those possible viewers will find it easier to download the episodes from the Net...

The result is that the series doesn't get enough viewers, and so it's cancelled. =(

What if they (UPN and Paramount) instead of just killing the show tried the street performer protocol?

Basically they'd go out to the public and say: "If we get enough money donated to us we'll keep the series alive for another season, and if we get [this much money] we'll release each and every episode for free on the Net; and if we don't get enough we return the money (less X% to cover our costs)".

I have no idea how much it costs to produce one season of ST Enterprise, and I have no idea how many would donate how much, but why not give it a try?!

Re:Well... (1)

harley_frog (650488) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836846)

Actually, as much as I like 24 and Lost, I would still rather wait for the DVD to come out rather than go PPV. Okay, so I won't be hip for the current season, but at least I can catch up and watch the show anytime I want from now until Alfred E. Newman becomes President.

Re:Well... (0)

osme (634595) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836848)

Watching Jack Bauer yell and go on a killing spree isn't entertaining.

Allofmytv (2, Interesting)

jimmy page (565870) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836727)

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 3 bittorrent (1)

CyberBill (526285) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836732)

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 (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836789)

Commercial free yes. Product placement not. That is the new form of advertisement and I have a feeling that TV producers know this. Embed the commercial into the show and you have removed any possiblity of the consumer missing the product. Then there's no reason to sue anyone.

Re:I 3 bittorrent (1)

Catcher80 (639611) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836839)

Embed the commercial into the show and you have removed any possiblity of the consumer missing the product.

You think people wouldn't take extra time to edit the commercials out before seeding? Have you taken any consideration to embedded commercials would do to DVD sales? No one would stand for it, and there would be twice as much retaliation! Sure, they could edit out the commercials for DVD releases, which is exactly what the bittorrent community will be doing anyway. Or else, they would just wait and rip those DVDs instead. duhhhhhhhhhh

Re:I 3 bittorrent (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836914)

Sorry, you misunderstood my post. "Embed the commercial" meant "product placement". How can you edit out the Coke can that someone is holding in a TV show?

Re:I 3 bittorrent (2, Insightful)

Catcher80 (639611) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836790)

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 :)

Re:I 3 bittorrent (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11836985)

Then don't use BT.

Get into a scene with a few like minded people and keep it real.
I moved from web based downloads into hubs years ago.
I share around 40gb of sci-fi content and series episodes, and have access to everything I could possibly want. Theres about 1000 of us on any normal day.
Because its a tight knit community and not publically listed, its a whole lot more secure than kazaa or even places like suprnova.

Downloads are fast, content is checked and validated before being shared, and in my particular favorite hubs, theres no porn (at all) and low tollerence of mp3s.

I've been there for coming on 4 years now and not one person (that we know of) has been sent a C&D or other threatening letter.

The only way this can be stopped is if my ISP starts monitoring traffic and punishing me there.

Re:I 3 bittorrent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11836972)

You must not be looking hard enough.. Most popular shows are available online before it airs on the west coast.

Me too... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11836735)

I've been thinking about the mass downloading of TV episodes.

I've been thinking about it too.

What is that? (2, Insightful)

null etc. (524767) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836751)

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, program piracy has yet to impact the "market". But try stream a live event, such as SuperBowl, over P2P and you'll likely get sued. Especially how the NFL grants no unauthorized individual the ability to reproduce or rebroadcast the show, included "verbal descriptions" of the show.

Does this mean they really are wondering about using this new media, rather then foaming at the mouth and suing twelve year olds?

The networks discovered that suing 12 year olds reduced the effectiveness of commercials against said individuals.

Will TV show production companies be the first to show some sense and offer their own downloads on a pay per view basis?

Hopefully it will be before they allow the customer to skip past commercials.

Re:What is that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11837016)

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

Waaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!! Nobody in the Slashdot community recognizes my superior intellect and that my submissions are uber newsworthy!!! If only I could get an article posted on Slashdot, then my life would be complete. Waaaaaaa!!!

Re:What is that? (3, Informative)

Kiryat Malachi (177258) | more than 9 years ago | (#11837019)

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

Strange. I could swear that these [] were [] on [] broadcast TV [] .

Careful with terminology (2, Informative)

Kaa (21510) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836753)

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...

HAH! (1, Insightful)

tekiegreg (674773) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836762)

*ROFLMAO* The TV Production companies doing the right thing? Aren't these the people who are trying to implement broadcast flags for HDTV? Trying to heavily DRM TiVo devices? Amongst other stupidities I can't even count. While pulling gimmicks like announcing Star Wars trailers will be featured in "the OC?"...

Sorry Mr. Extremely Anonymous Coward, but I have no hope for the TV industry as a whole. Sure they produce a few gems (Whose line is it anyways and The Simpsons come to mind for me), but they're really just like the **AA organizations. Mostly interested in fighting piracy and hardly interested in innovating.

But your idea is a good one though! I'd love the day when I can go to their website and pull down an episode of the Simpson's for a few bucks and watch. I don't think I'll live to see that day, and the only downloadable episodes of the Simpsons will be Torrents/p2p downloads of whatever flavor.

Mini-series (1)

fembots (753724) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836765)

Actually the best testing bed is mini-series, where the production cost is pretty low and the show usually ends in 4-6 episodes.

If someone can channel few million dollars donation to make a short film, and make it exclusively internet only, we will be able to better judge the public acceptance of pay-per-view tv.

Re:Mini-series (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836901)

Now THAT'S an interesting idea.

Some professional, yet relatively new and unknown, production company should produce a show and offer it only through direct sales and/or subscription via the Internet or DVDs.
I'm sure there's some venture money somewhere ready pay for this.

For the first try, make the show genre, sci-fi, hire some great writers and don't worry that much about expensive effects.

If it makes money, they could keep expanding to new shows. Before you know it, we'll all be getting 50% of our video entertainment directly without the networks.

Or it will flop and we'll all go back to watching the Love Boat or whatever crap they are telling us to like.

It's an organizational problem (5, Insightful)

learn fast (824724) | more than 9 years ago | (#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... (2, Interesting)

ed.han (444783) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836773)

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: (2, Insightful)

ets960 (759094) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836774)

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...

Re:On Demand: (1)

yabos (719499) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836943)

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.

Re:On Demand: (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11836994)

Comcast already has this implemented to some degree (at least in my area). In fact, you can't get a box from Comcast that doesn't have OnDemand enabled (it doesn't cost extra...yet). They have a extremely good selection for the permium channels (HBO in particular). HBO will typically have a show available OnDemand 2-3 days after it originally aired. The selection isn't quite as good for basic cable channels, where new episodes don't show for a very long time (if ever). The major network selection for OnDemand is almost zilch, I think I can get my local news from 6pm anytime I want, and that's about it.

Comcast also offers some movies OnDemand for free, but they're typically movies no one would want to pay for anyway. Like "976-Evil", which is Mystery Science Theater bad.

Difficult TV business model (5, Interesting)

Stubtify (610318) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:Difficult TV business model (1)

Wakkow (52585) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836926)

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.

Re:Difficult TV business model (1)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836961)

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.

It could be worthwhile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11836778)

When you buy a DVD series, the per episode cost is usually around 1 - 3 bucks an episode. I would imagine that the studios could charge 4.99 for NTSC/PAL and 7.99 for HDTV and that would be acceptable for most people. especially if they released at the begining of the week. Maybe they could release a version with the commercials still embedded for $.99/1.99. Either way, there is more profit potential than dvd series releases. It becomes more of an impulse buy, which taken on the whole should come out to more than the deliberate descision of waiting for the DVD box set. ( which the diehards would by anyway for the 'special features' )

Different Market (1)

Codeak (586463) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836781)

Broadcasters aren't as concerned as the RIAA because TV shows are expected to have a limited number of viewings, unlike the last music hit from *INSERT GROUP* where it's listened to over and over and over....etc DVD set mainly offer a viewer the opertunity to catchup on a missed episode... a download service could certainly fill that void as well. Keep in mind that the Broadcasters created a model where they expect everyone to have "free" access to the product.

I dunno about PPV TV, but... (4, Insightful)

Rinikusu (28164) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

It won't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11836786)

They will charge people $2 per episode to view it only once. That would mean there would'nt be many people that would use the service, and the members of the MPAA will say "See, people don't want watch the TV shows legally, there's no market for having TV shows online. That would give them power to revive the Induce act, this time, all Republicrats will be for it.

Price (4, Insightful)

Jpunkroman (851438) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.)

Re:Price (1)

Leroy_Brown242 (683141) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836962)

"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.

Re:Price (1)

Kiryat Malachi (177258) | more than 9 years ago | (#11837048)

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?

King of Media Comment... (1)

hamlet2600 (739627) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836795)

Howard Stern is already doing this. []

Granted he is also offering all the TnA you can stand, but the idea is already there. I would hope he is making money off this as it would allow more "content providers" to place their stuff on the web for pay-per-view.

I might pay for a show if it was easy (1)

redd robber (827133) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836799)

I have a friend who is an expert bit torrent user and has some sort of massive switch that can record from any source to any format. He gave me a copy of 'The Office Special' that he recorded off cable. The quality wasn't the greatest, and there were no subtitles available, so it was hard to catch all the dialog. If there was an easy way (like iTunes) to get these shows, I would pay for the quality and features.

you admit to watching Friends and the OC??? ewww (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11836800)

dude this is /. at least have the decency to indicate that you wanted to download enterprise, stargate or andromada (notice i didn't put in the new battlestar glactica? Why cause it sucks...)

Of course not (1)

hsmith (818216) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836802)

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 mind using iTunes because i don't feel like searching the net 20 minutes if there is a song i MUST have.

Not likely - here's why (1)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836821)

What you are talking about here is, basically, TV on demand. It is coming and in some markets it is already here.

advertising? (1)

dmf415 (218827) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836826)

Why would they care about downloads? They get money selling advertising.

The music companies should do the same.

THIS should have been AOL's business model. (4, Interesting)

CerebusUS (21051) | more than 9 years ago | (#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?

Business Model (1)

mattmentecky (799199) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836833)

Well, it all has to do with the business model. While I certainly see a niche market for pay per view downloads, is it really possible for a massive shift to user-supported content? Well, someone will object "offer the content on TV, with commercials and then offer commercial free online for a nominal fee". But as the shift towards people paying for commercial free content grows, the advertising dollars would diminish. So really, the fundamental question is, could a show sustain on direct user paid fees? I say no. For reference, in an odd way, look at the Slashdot article and hubbub about the latest Star Trek. They are in effect, raising funds from users, and the millions it takes is astounding.

Now granted, a perfect example is HBO. Completely subscription based, and it survives if not thrives. However HBO has very little original content in the grand scheme of things. Also, there are only a handful of those types of channels. And comparing that to an internet-TV-subscription model doesnt translate perfectly.

Personally, I hope it can happen, but I just do not see it as likely.

Wiseity (1)

fwitness (195565) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836838)

"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 shows) wants like $24.99 for an episode on DVD. What would be the price to download $20.99?

Pay-Per-....View? (2, Insightful)

lakiolen (785856) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836851)

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?

For the same reason (1)

imrdkl (302224) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836855)

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.

Ads aren't that bad (1)

lfrandom (858433) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836861)

I've always thought that time-shifted programs were ok. I understand that the company wants the ads to stay in, but the truth is that if I could download a show with ads I would put up with them. Hell, DRM them I don't care. The truth is that I can't always watch TV shows when they are on TV, I don't have a TIVO or the equivalent, but I want to be able to watch certain shows. So, let me download them, I'll watch the ads, and they can still get ad revenue. My $.02!

fu3k 4 doll (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11836870)

as it is licensed eefort to address DOG THAT IT IS. IT who are intersted the hard drive yto example, if you Log on Then the

Licensing restrictions (1)

Octagon Most (522688) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836872)

This Wired article [] 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 [] 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 huge hurdle for an industry that's not inclined to embrace the Internet as a distribution method in the first place.

1 dollar a show is rediculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11836875)

At 1 dollar per show would cost primetime tv addicts a fortune. Most people have at least 1 show they are addicted to. If you wanted to watch shows like this your bill could run really high at that price model. I wouldn't pay more than 0.25 maximum.

Re:1 dollar a show is rediculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11836955)

Not as rIdiculous as your spelling of rIdiculous.

I would pay... (1, Interesting)

Jhan (542783) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836886)

$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> .

Isn't it obvious? (1)

David Horn (772985) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836889)

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" paid for the ability to watch. After all, it's no different from my dad recording it and posting a tape up.

Mind you, we're putting a 250GB disk in our Sky+ box this Easter so we can just record all the shows I want and watch them once a month. :-)

Ratings (1)

AnonymousCowheart (646429) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836890)

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.

I agree.. but there are issues. (2, Informative)

doowy (241688) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836906)

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.

You must be crazy (2, Funny)

RomulusNR (29439) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836912)

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.)

Hell yes! I would pay also (got rid of cable). (1)

ylikone (589264) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836915)

I have recently gone from subscribing to digital cable TV with extra pay channels to no cable at all (except for keeping my cable internet access). I figured I don't watch enough TV to make it worth it and it saves me almost $60/month.

But there are a few shows I would still like to watch occasionally. I can borrow DVD series from friends or I can download them via bittorrent. I wouldn't mind paying a small monthly fee to download a limited number of TV programs legally. Although, I am realistic and know this WILL NEVER HAPPEN!

/off to find more bittorrent sites

I'd gladly pay (1)

MattW (97290) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836930)

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, but you had to watch 1 before watching the show. You pick, you watch it, you're back at the menu, and now you can continue to the show.

I'd probably be watching ads for stuff that interests me - movies, books, maybe music, computer-related things, PSA-type things possibly, etc. And I wouldn't be force-fed the same obnoxious commercials over and over.

On-demand pay media could not only become a big improvement, it could become a far more effective marketing channel than it is.

Not a BAD idea... (1)

Kimos (859729) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836933)

... but it'll have the same issues as online music stores. Some people pay to get their content in a legit way, but most still prefer the free route.

Problems? How bout bandwidth? Effective DRM? Who would be licensed to sell it?

How about demand? Online music stores took off at the same time as the iPod and iTunes. There is still no viable option for effective and efficient storing and viewing of video (not for the average consumer at least).

Don't misunderstand me though, I hate TV and commercials and would be more than happy to see a move away from the current system.

They say they are... (1)

rookworm (822550) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836950)

In the case of the unfourtunately cancelled FOX series My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss, they have not delivered on their promise to make the unaired episodes avilable online. They had originally promised to do so in January, but their webisite [] has not changed since then. This seems to indicate that there are some forces at work who are afraid of taking the plunge.

This case could represent the first step in delivering TV to a whole new audience (for instance, as a university student, I do not own (or want) a TV, so I only watch what I download).

Customers matter in the end, so if you want to see downloadable (or streamable or whatever) television, contact the people in charge: Fox Broadcasting Company 10201 West Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035 Phone: 310-369-3553

My ISP is also a TV Cable Provider (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836973)

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 access to *all* tv channels on this planet. You have the technology, but until you make it happen, count me as not-interested."

I've got an idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11836976)

Let's take the inaction of an entire industry, twist it around, and make wild baseless assumptions based on it!

they should (4, Insightful)

Pacifix (465793) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

It is a racket that even PBS is in on (1)

noky (631168) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836984)

I've been wondering the same thing. My family lives in Ithaca, NY and TV reception is horrid. We can tune in to FOX or the religious station with rabbit ears. All my family wants is PBS and we're out of luck. The antennaweb [] site has been revealing.

I've thought, boy, wouldn't it be great if I could just download some Sesame Street for the kids or NOVA episodes for myself? Well, there is an entire industry around selling DVDs and videocassette tapes. Even PBS is in on this racket [] . They sell Nova episodes for $20 a pop! You can watch some of them online for free [] , but they try really damned hard to control the content and prevent users from downloading the shows.

It is a racket, and people buy the stuff. Go to a library or a children's hospital. Look at how many videos they buy of shows that could be taped from the television. This stuff obviously sells. Why should these stations go through the effort to make their content available online for $1 an episode, only to have it traded on P2P networks? People are spending the big bucks on the prepacked stuff.

VoD is DEFINITELY coming. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11837020)

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 802.11g or a slot for same in the back. Many of the existing units have a smart card slot, which would be a good way to manage the encryption.

They're already doing this. (1)

shimbee (444430) | more than 9 years ago | (#11837026)

Perhaps they're playing wait and see with a target audience. You can already watch episodes of popular soap operas on Soap City []

Suck it Trebek

Border control and preventing p2p redistribution (1)

matt me (850665) | more than 9 years ago | (#11837030)

As reported in BBC Technology News last month, UK net users lead TV downloads [] . Everyone here is desperate to watch 24, The OC, Desperate Housewives, Battlestar Galactica. These 'shows' are typically broadcast month(s) later here.

This is great for TV-watching geeks (we don't all play CS (ugh) - contary to some studies). Catch the first episode here, decide you like it, and you can download American bootlegs of the next episodes (DVDs aren't usually out).

Any net-based download system would want to be able to prevent users from countries where the shows had not yet been broadcast, otherwise it could catch on where it's not supposed to and some TV channels here could get angry. Of course, it's a similar problem with delayed DVD releases. Multi-region players and cheap shipping mean anyone import DVDs from abroad.

Also, steps would have to be taken to stop people saving the streams and redistributing them over p2p. Think how easy digital CDs and DVDs made it so easy to distribute music and movies (compared to copying tapes). No need to plug a cable from an analogue device into the PC and record in real-time. Just let it rip.

Think of the BBC's Listen Again [] which lets you listen to all their radio programmes for up to a week after broadcast. They're transmitted in .ra over RTSP. You can't right-click and save them to your computer, but with the right software you can save the stream (at several times real-time) and listen to them wherever/whenever you like (once you have re-encoded to mp3). Good enough, although the streams aren't great quality (better to use optical out on DAB radio and direct encoding on iRiver). Of course the BBC want to introduce podcasting (legal issues to sort out), so that should make it a lot easier.

A further problem that may prevent this ... (1)

acousticiris (656375) | more than 9 years ago | (#11837050)

...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 comes the DVD, and the television industry sees it as a great opportunity to get a few more bucks but then run into a brick wall with all of the licensing of the content that doesn't directly belong to them.
IANAL, but I can imagine this same situation will happen with any subscription based or pay-per-download model. Depending on how the "deal" is setup, a subscription based model would not be cost effective because every time a person viewed that episode, the provider would have to pay a royalty to the band/RIAA/song writer/actor/actress, etc, etc, etc. The costs to the producers would go up each time a show is viewed while the price paid to them would not change.
So even though it may seem that the television industry isn't controlled by the MPAA/RIAA et. al., in the end...they are still accountable to them. And we all know what their position is on "new distribution models."

Red versus Blue does it right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11837057)

I think Rooster Teeth Production has a great method. DVD sales and subscriptions for the really extra stuff is the way to go. I have acess to all the shows whenever plus I get the new show when it comes out.

Pay for streaming video feed of TV chanel? (1)

CarbonUnit_718 (769094) | more than 9 years ago | (#11837062)

I would pay a subscription fee to SciFi and TechTV for a streaming video feed to my computer. I want to have TechTV and SciFi but I don't want to pay for a $50/m package to get them. Why don't they bypass the cable company and sell directly to the viewer? Then more desireable chanels would not be pushed into an expensive package. They could the traffic more managable by having something like P2P-Radio(
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