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Network TV Downloadable Via iTunes

Zonk posted about 9 years ago | from the television-catches-up-with-the-rest-of-us dept.

Media 527

IconBasedIdea writes "Dallas Mavericks owner and opinionated media entrepreneur Mark Cuban blogs about Walt Disney cheese Robert Iger, and his recent deal with iTunes to allow TV episodes to become available for purchase and download. Granted, it was only a matter of time, but someone had to go first, and it is apparently ABC. Could this help niche shows stay alive longer? Will it kill traditional TV ads, long on the downswing of effectiveness? Will we end up eventually paying (or stealing) all of our future programming?"

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FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13790511)

Fr1st ps0t fuckaz!

Einstein humped his cousin (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13790516)

The truth is Einstein was not a healthy man.

First off his wife [] helped him come up with the e=mc^2 theory, yet she received no credit for it.

In the original publishing of the theory in 1905 she was credited with co-author credits []

Another small piece of Einstein history that few people know is the terms of his divorce from his first wife (The woman mentioned above) was that she received all prize money when he wins a Nobel prize for the theory of relativity. He agreed to this and in fact Einstein never saw any of the money when he won the Nobel prize.

Einstein awarded Nobel PrizeAfter seven nominations, Albert wins the 1921 medal for physics. He gives the prize money to Mileva, per their 1919 divorce agreement. It is the smallest cash award since the Nobel Prize was created, worth about $348,000 (in 2003 USD).

Sorry, I can't link to it but it is in the PBS timeline.

The kicker is that after his divorce from the woman who helped make him famous, the guy married his cousin. Yup, his COUSIN!!!!

cousin fucker []

So there you have it folks, the man so many think of as a symbol of modern science not only stole ideas (or at the very least refused to acknowledge getting help) from his wife but also decided that it would be fun to screw his cousin.

MOD UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13790674)

Interesting stuff, granted it is off topic but interesting none the less.

Slashdot (1)

Auritribe (856763) | about 9 years ago | (#13790517)

Slashdot: Yesterday's news, today! It just works :)

Portable TV never worked and never will (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13790520)

Oh, Yeah. (2, Interesting)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | about 9 years ago | (#13790579)

I want that garbage traveling around with me, in my pocket!

Look out! I can watch "Just Shoot Me" and "America's Top Model" anywhere!

I pay good money to hide from this stuff.

Re:Portable TV never worked and never will (4, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | about 9 years ago | (#13790758)

The iPod does have an advantage, though, over those pocket TVs. I can download the episodes I want, and watch them anywhere and at any time, without worrying about reception. It's like having a pocket-sized TiVo built into your miniTV with a video out to watch it on a normal TV if you like.

There is a big difference now (5, Interesting)

ShatteredDream (636520) | about 9 years ago | (#13790778)

iTunes could be extended to allow people to burn the content they buy as a DVD. Imagine being able to pay $3-$5/episode for something like Firefly. That would probably be enough to really fuel the success of such a project. With technology what it is today, Apple could easily offer a service where they let people burn that content to DVD thus destroying the rental market and making a new alternative to downloading movies possible.

This technology if taken to its fullest potential could be what truly expands the movie industry for the next decade or more. If they work with Apple to create an alternative payment processing system that takes a fee of only $0.05-$0.20 per transaction the amount of money they could make on selling eventually a full length movie for $7.00-$8.00 on iTunes would be amazing and would allow them to undercut their hated ally Wal-Mart.

Btw, my dad bought one of those portable TVs back in the 80s and if you have ever seen one, you know why it was a failure. The display sucked and the reception sucked even worse. The iPod by comparison lets people have a gorgeous display and can hold hours of stored video.

Re:Portable TV never worked and never will (4, Insightful)

joshv (13017) | about 9 years ago | (#13790781)

This is not about portable TV, this is about legitimate, for pay, TV downloads. I downloaded the season premiere of Lost this morning, it's playback quality was perfectly acceptable, full-screen on my 19" monitor. For the life of me I don't understand why Apple is marketting this as Video IPod only. It works great on a PC with I-Tunes. I too think the video IPod will be a market failure, but for-Pay TV downloads have a great future. Screw the cable companies. I only want to pay for the shows I watch, and I want to watch them on my own schedule.

Apple, when are you going to get the Sci-Fi channel on board? I want BSG downloads.

BSG? Hmm, funding model for new Firefly? (2)

Grendel Drago (41496) | about 9 years ago | (#13790804)

Hey, might this be a marketing model for a new "Firefly" series?

Letting the market decide... (3, Interesting)

lpangelrob (714473) | about 9 years ago | (#13790784)

I don't like this comparison. You can't put your own content on a 20 year old portable TV... so it's not terribly hard to see why they wouldn't do so hot. On the other hand, Sony Walkman sales soared in the 80's because consumers bought / made their own cassette tapes.

Ultimately, the reason why this has more potential than the Casio TVs are because iPod is already a well established brand, and starting now (or whenever these iPods are released), anyone with an iPod that's not a nano or a shuffle will have video capability. They might not all use it, but I'm willing to bet that people who give it a try will purchase one, two, or ten shows that they can't live without.

Re:Portable TV never worked and never will (2, Interesting)

ch-chuck (9622) | about 9 years ago | (#13790810)

I call it the "videophone" effect, where a video extention of an audio system is posited as the 'future', and has been in action since 1927 where a Videophone was potrayed in the futuristic silent movie, "Metropolis". The dustbin of technology history is filled with failed attempts at videophones etc. Conference calls are useful to business, Video Conferencing, except for pr0n or showing slides, is just staring at blurry suits on a big screen.

Don't be a moron (1)

billybob (18401) | about 9 years ago | (#13790835)

I agree portable TV is retarded, mainly because of the abysmal screen size, but that's totally not what this is about. It's about the ability to LEGALLY download television shows from the internet. You can watch them on your computer too ya know and the quality is surprisingly good considering it's 320x240 and only about 4MB/minute. I downloaded the latest episode of LOST to discover this. This is much more exciting than the fact that you can also watch said video on the new damn iPod. It will be amazing when we have the ability to download nearly all popular shows without commercials. They'll need to drop the prices slightly though, as $2/episode is a bit high. I understand that 200MB/episode is quite a bit of bandwith, what they need to do is build BitTorrent into iTunes and then all will be good.

128x128 (1, Insightful)

Malicious (567158) | about 9 years ago | (#13790521)

The resolution's going to have to be a lot higher than whatever an Ipod screen is, before I'll bother downloading to watch on my television.

Re:128x128 (1)

cacoe (870499) | about 9 years ago | (#13790569)

320x240, i downloaded one just to check the quality, its fairly poor on screen (as you'd expect) but i imagine it'd look fine on an ipod which is the primary purpose for their availiabilty really..

Re:128x128 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13790572)

The resolution of the files are 320x240, which is the resolution of the new video iPod's screen. When enlarged to 640x480, the resolution looks similar to a VHS recording of the show.

Re:128x128 (3, Interesting)

Dav3K (618318) | about 9 years ago | (#13790582)

The res on the new ipod is roughly the same as that on a windows mobile device. At 320x240 you can actually display a pretty decent picture. The days of 128x128 are behind us now.

Of course, with the video out feature, the screen is really just for personal use. For group viewing, one would simply output the stream to the TV or monitor.

Re:128x128 (5, Interesting)

gellenburg (61212) | about 9 years ago | (#13790590)

Everybody bitching and complaining about the 320x240 resolution needs to keep in mind that TVs aren't computer monitors. 320x240 doesn't actually look half-bad on a television screen. Sure, on my 23" ACD it looks slightly pixelated, but on my 32" TV in my bedroom the same video looks actually fairly decent.

No, it's not HDTV or even DVD quality, but it's not THAT much worse than cable TV.

I do feel though that the price needs to be slightly adjusted. Take a 22 episode TV season... that's almost $44 in iTunes. I could buy the DVD (if it was available) for less. TPTB need to keep that in mind.

Re:128x128 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13790669)

> I could buy the DVD (if it was available) for less.

Congratulations, you just bumped into the law of supply and demand.

Re:128x128 (3, Interesting)

Gulthek (12570) | about 9 years ago | (#13790741)

My wife and I watched 'Lost' from iTunes last night (rather than torrent the missed episode) on our television. Compared to the free torrents, the quality $2 iTunes download was extremely bad.

BTW the price for a full season is already adjusted (just as the price of an album isn't the sum of its $1 songs). You can buy the first season of 'Lost' from iTunes for $34.95.

If I had a video iPod I would be pretty interested. But for pumping to a tv this just doesn't cut it.


Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13790770)

(How come when you need moderator points, you had them two days ago, but not now?)

Re:128x128 (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 9 years ago | (#13790748)

Take a 22 episode TV season... that's almost $44 in iTunes. I could buy the DVD (if it was available) for less.
Depends on the show. Some (like Star Trek at $3.41/episode [] ) are ridiculously expensive.

Re:128x128 (1)

timster (32400) | about 9 years ago | (#13790755)

Well, on iTunes the complete first season of Lost is available for $35. I compared that to the DVD set on Amazon at $38.

not even TV standard (1)

everphilski (877346) | about 9 years ago | (#13790759)

It's not even cable TV quality. They downgraded it from what your VCR or TiVo would record...

(tv=500 vertical lines of resolution)


Re:128x128 (1)

frank378 (736832) | about 9 years ago | (#13790795)

I do feel though that the price needs to be slightly adjusted. Take a 22 episode TV season... that's almost $44 in iTunes. I could buy the DVD (if it was available) for less. TPTB need to keep that in mind.

Yes the price is lower, but the point is the portability right? Lugging a DVD player and tube around with you because you saved a few bucks on the purchase price of the show....well you see where I'm headed with this.

Re:128x128 (1)

nine-times (778537) | about 9 years ago | (#13790825)

No, it's not HDTV or even DVD quality, but it's not THAT much worse than cable TV.

I do feel though that the price needs to be slightly adjusted. Take a 22 episode TV season... that's almost $44 in iTunes. I could buy the DVD (if it was available) for less. TPTB need to keep that in mind.

I tried it out. I just downloaded a copy of Lost and watched it on my 20" computer monitor. Yes, it was pixelated. If you sat up close you could clearly see that there were compression artifacts. If you sat across the room, though, it was easily good enough to watch, though. The picture/sound was better than some of the reception I've seen on non-digital cable.

As far as price, I agree $2 an episode is a bit high. They seem to offer a package deal, though, like they do on albums. It's $2 an episode or $35 a season. Either way, I can understand the criticism that you'd rather buy the DVD and get better quality audio/video, but can you just buy the episodes you want on DVD? Can you buy the episodes on DVD the day after they air?

I'm hoping Apple will start making deals with HBO, Showtime, Comedy Central, etc. I don't have cable at the moment, and there are just a few shows that I miss.

Re:128x128 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13790628)

The resolution's going to have to be a lot higher than whatever an Ipod screen is, before I'll bother downloading to watch on my television.

Or, better said, "The iPod's television-quality resolution will have to be better before I'll bother to watch on my television."

Re:128x128 (4, Insightful)

noewun (591275) | about 9 years ago | (#13790657)

I bought the one of the Pixar shorts yesterday (For the Birds). Looked okay on my monitor. On my TV it would probably have looked just fine. And, for me, that's the point: it's TV. For the most part it's not great art. I don't have an HDTV, nor do I intend to buy one in the near future: I don't really care about super-sharp quality when watching CSI, because it's CSI. That's why I think downloading TV like this might work.

If it were a movie, I would feel differently. Movies have real cinematographers/DPs, are shot on 35mm, etc. TV is, well, TV.

YMMV, etc.

Re:128x128 (1)

Gulthek (12570) | about 9 years ago | (#13790794)

TV is more movie-like nowadays. While I agree that CSI is CSI (traditional episodic bs), Battlestar Galactica and other intelligent new shows are small movies every week.

Re:128x128 (1)

noewun (591275) | about 9 years ago | (#13790816)

I don't entirely agree. While BG has pretty high production standards, it's still TV: (mostly) character-driven melodrama. As much as I like it, there are some times when I am tempted to switch channels because they're laying it on a little thick. So, at least for me, it's not something I would feel bad about seeing at less than stellar quality.

I still use my VCR to tape shows, and I have watched BG on tape more than once. Didn't miss anything.

Re:128x128 (2, Insightful)

amigabill (146897) | about 9 years ago | (#13790691)

The resolution is possibly also like a built-in broadcast flag thing. They don't want you cracking the DRM and passing good looking copies around the net. They don't want people to want cracked videos, even if it means the low quality makes us not want to buy the original either.

Re:128x128 (1)

stupidfoo (836212) | about 9 years ago | (#13790788)

I agree. $1.99 for a horrible quality video file? No thanks. I stick with downloading non-DRM HD quality TV shows.

Now, $1.99 for a nice non-DRM HD quality TV show... that I may actually do.

I think FOX/Newscorp (with their recent aquisitions) will be the first to offer something like that, or at least something close to that.

DRM (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13790525)

This is great but the only problem is the DRM means the content will be perminantly restricted. After some time it should become the property of the people, even when (if) the copyright expires the DRM still lingers controlling what you can do with the files.

I dont buy itunes music for the same reason :(

Re:DRM (1)

Dorothy 86 (677356) | about 9 years ago | (#13790659)

burn it, rerip it, delete the DRM'ed ones. It's pretty simple, really.

Re:DRM (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 9 years ago | (#13790798)

But it's the principle of the thing!


Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13790543)


jellomizer (103300) | about 9 years ago | (#13790587)

Mod Parent Up! Extreamly Insightful.

pricepoint (1)

goombah99 (560566) | about 9 years ago | (#13790841)

the price is interesting too. I get a 30 min video with aac audio for $2. compare that to a 3 minute song for $1 or 45 minute album for $10. it makes the audio seem like a ripoff in terms of bits/dollar. I wonder how they can afford to deliver that much material and bandwidth for so little expense?

on the otherhand in terms of sheer bits/dollar a pvr+ cable delivers a lot more if you are not selective. of course you don't have the option of commercial free versions of broadcast video on cable.

Key Milestone (5, Insightful)

matr0x_x (919985) | about 9 years ago | (#13790562)

I believe this to be a major milestone in the way we view entertainment - more significant then even the mainstream growth of PVRs. This is the first step in a whole new direction for the industry as a whole, 5-7 years down the road I strongly believe that the average American will pay for what they watch, not for a given channel. This will also have a major effect on television advertising - where do ads fit into this new model?

Re:Key Milestone (5, Interesting)

cowscows (103644) | about 9 years ago | (#13790681)

They don't. And I'm ok with that. I want to pay for my content directly. I don't watch 99% of what the cable company sends me, but I have to pay for it anyways. I'd much rather just pay for individual episodes of some of my favorite shows, and maybe subscribe to a few of the less predictable channels (news, sports, etc).

If things go this way, there will be plenty of free content. How else would you get someone hooked on one of your shows so that they'll buy more episodes? So I can download the first couple episodes of some new sci-fi show for free, and if I liked it, then I'll pay for the rest of the episodes when I have time to watch them. Ads make sense with the broadcast model of television. With cable, they make less sense, since I'm already paying a tidy sum, but I guess that ad revenue helps subsidize more shows/channels. With video on demand, and a pay per show model, ads don't belong. And notice I said pay-per-show. If I pay to watch all the episodes in season 7 of Stargate Atlantis, I want to be able to watch it again later without paying for it again, or at least be permitted to record it.

Re:Key Milestone (2, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 9 years ago | (#13790775)

If cable and satellite are any indication, we'll pay for our content and get ads anyway.

ipod for video (1, Insightful)

js3 (319268) | about 9 years ago | (#13790565)

are they really serious about this? I mean the psp has better video capabilities and I still wouldn't use it to watch anything other than something mildly interesting.

Re:ipod for video (2, Informative)

Eslyjah (245320) | about 9 years ago | (#13790624)

Just because you download it from iTMS doesn't mean you have to watch it on your iPod.

Re:ipod for video (4, Interesting)

guet (525509) | about 9 years ago | (#13790711)

Are they serious about video on the ipod?


About selling video on the ITMS

Yep. Apple and the big media networks stand to make a lot of money selling TV shows and news clips and eventually films if they can persuade enough networks/producers to sign up. Yes the resolution is not great, but it's much better than most videos available for download from websites ( or the comedy channel in the US).

Now I'd rather something I could play full screen on a monitor, and I think they'll be forced to provide that eventually if they want people to start buying en masse, but this could signal a revolution in TV similar to that brought by iTunes in the world of online music. Easy ordering, massive catalogue, and low prices all led to mass market adoption. Critically, Apple already have the installed base of ITMS customers who have entered their credit details and are just a click away from impulse purchases.

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out against Microsoft's Media PC thing-me-bob.

Re:ipod for video (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13790733)

Personal screen when you're on the go (great for airports etc...) and the already-available video-out cable/dock for when you're at home or want to share with more than one person.

Re:ipod for video (1)

Entanglebit (882066) | about 9 years ago | (#13790797)

It's not really about sitting and watching TV shows on your iPod... it's about portability and seamlessness, and brand unification. If you watched Steve's presentation, it's key that their Front Row, iTunes 6, and the new iPod were all announced in unison. It's all about getting media -- audio or video -- "owning" it, and having it be completely portable. Want to watch/listen at home? Use Front Row on the new iMac. Want to watch/listen on the road? Use the iPod. How about at a friend's house? Use S-Video or audio cables. I think Tuesday's announcements were pretty brilliant; it's a new media front for Apple and a whole lot of brand unification.

Three words: (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 9 years ago | (#13790823)

Mac Mini PVR


Airport with AirVideo

We can only hope... (3, Insightful)

Grfxho (866867) | about 9 years ago | (#13790575)

The loss of traditional TV ads might mean they have to actually focus on the quality of the programming... Of course, instead I will end up with commercials on my iPod.

Re:We can only hope... (4, Interesting)

evil agent (918566) | about 9 years ago | (#13790668)

Yes, I agree that commercials will find there way onto iPods, but why should they? If I'm paying to get this episode off of iTunes, why should they stuff advertisements in there as well?

Re:We can only hope... (4, Insightful)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 9 years ago | (#13790696)

The loss of traditional TV ads might mean they have to actually focus on the quality of the programming... Of course, instead I will end up with commercials on my iPod.

In a way, advertisers have already coped with this. It's call "product placement ads" and it's been around since TV started. These days, you'll have strategically placed computers (noticed that most laptops tend to be shot so they're easily recognizable? They didn't take the shot of the computer screen with the Dell logo on the side as part of bad camera angles - they did it to get the logo in specifically for the shot. Same goes for PowerBooks (though, since they're really quite distinct, they're easy to take from any angle), MP3 players (Oakley thumps, anyone?), soda (main actor reaches for the distinctly red Coke can), cellphones, etc). Rather than try to advertise during the commercial break, they advertise in the show itself.

Of course, on a tiny iPod screen, it just means made-for-iPod TV filming just got more creative with camera angles and closeups.

Somewhat limited (3, Insightful)

Daath (225404) | about 9 years ago | (#13790584)

It's only five shows, "Lost", "Desperate Housewives", "Night Stalker" and two kids' shows, and it's $2 per episode... Is it just me or is it only available for iTunes muisc store customers who are in the USA?!

Re:Somewhat limited (1)

seanyboy (587819) | about 9 years ago | (#13790671)

f.y.i The first four episodes of season 1 Lost are available to the UK. I think they'll limit the availablity of episodes according to the point the show is up to on normal TV in each country. I'm not entirely happy about this. I'd happily plum for the last season and a half of Lost at $4.00 an episode, but I can understand why they're doing this.

Bet this will include commercials... (0, Troll)

cdrguru (88047) | about 9 years ago | (#13790585)

You will get the straight network feed recorded with network commercials and blank spaces for local commercials to be filled in. Or, all "network commercials" and no blank spaces. But the shows will still be cut and have the same running time - 30 or 60 minutes.

This will in the end just force advertisers to be more watchful and probably restrict their TV ad buying. This will mean less shows get made.

Alternatively, if you want to watch a remix/parody of current shows with a voice-over by some teenager who thinks his smutty remarks are the height of comedy, you will have lots and lots of that stuff to choose from. And some of it might even seem "professionally done".

And, of course, thanks to the pirates, it will all be free. You could pay, if you feel guilty, but why? Nobody else is.

Re:Bet this will include commercials... (1)

ip_fired (730445) | about 9 years ago | (#13790676)

If you look at the length of the shows like Lost, it is only 45 minutes or so. I'm betting the commercials aren't there. I haven't purchased an episode yet, but I plan on it to see what it's like. I already have a computer hooked up to a projector, so I don't need to buy a pricey video iPod.

It doesn't (yet) (2, Insightful)

Alcimedes (398213) | about 9 years ago | (#13790708)

As most places have picked up on, the shows don't include the commercials. However, that's not saying they won't some time in the future.

Re:Bet this will include commercials... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13790752)

This will in the end just force advertisers to be more watchful and probably restrict their TV ad buying. This will mean less shows get made.

Only if advertising is the only way producers make money.

I'd pay to download compelling content if the encoding quality were higher. I'm doing that, now, anyway. I rarely watch broadcast TV anymore; I PVR what I want to see and watch it on my schedule. At cable rates that's, what, 30 shows from iTMS (my wife pays the bills, so I don't know what the numbers currently are)? So why should I care what the delivery mechanism is?

Hmm. So now we can't claim that it's free. (3, Interesting)

Grendel Drago (41496) | about 9 years ago | (#13790586)

So... does this mean that those people trading and sharing TV eps can no longer claim "they're free! how can you steal free stuff?"?

Re:Hmm. So now we can't claim that it's free. (2, Insightful)

That's Unpossible! (722232) | about 9 years ago | (#13790836)

If TV shows are free, why do TV studios need budgets?

TV shows have never been free, up until now they've been subsidized entirely by advertisers, and in the case of cable channels, by cable subscribers.

What I want to see (5, Interesting)

varmittang (849469) | about 9 years ago | (#13790589)

Free nightly news on iTunes, right after, or during the broadcast on the TV set. That to me, would be what puts the nail in the coffen for TV. But I don't expect that to happen. Reason I say free is because it has always been free. The people that have the bunny ears for their TV I think can still get ABC/NBC/Fox and watch the news for free. I know some people are going to jump on me and say news papers are not free, but you are mainly paying for the paper, and the opion parts of the paper, not the news part. Plus the newspaper has ads to help pay for its production. As for adds in the nightly news broadcasts on iTunes, I could deal with, as long as they are free downloads.

One step at a time (4, Interesting)

tsa (15680) | about 9 years ago | (#13790601)

We all know why Steve wants this so much, don't we? Many people don't have a broadband connection at the moment, so he first starts with music video's and TV programs, aimed at the tech-savvy adolescent market. They will soon want more, but by offering this low resolution video's Apple can get a feeling for the demand, as well as the technical problems they have to solve before taking the next step. Next step is higher resolution, and I will not be surprised if we can download Finding Nemo in DVD quality before 2006 is out.

One other thing: what I find amazing is that apparently the RIAA finds 1.99 for whatever music video a good price, and different prices for more popular video's were not mentioned.

Re:One step at a time (2, Informative)

dsgitl (922908) | about 9 years ago | (#13790757)

What I'm upset about is that the music videos on iTMS used to be free to view, and now there is only a 20 second preview available. I don't like monkeying around with Launch and certainly not MTV or the radio. Nuts to iTunes.

I was excited ... (2, Interesting)

pturpin (801430) | about 9 years ago | (#13790605)

At first i was very excited about this, but as soon as i realized a few things my enthusiasm quickly died down (i was thinking more for watching on a computer than an ipod). First the resolution is only QVGA, a quarter of VGA, not even analog TV standard. Second I started doing the math and realized that if i watch a reasonable amount of TV i am better off with cable or something similar and a PVR or TV tuner card. Hopefully though i would like to see this progress. It is still a big first step forward.

This is just retarded (0, Troll)

gelfling (6534) | about 9 years ago | (#13790612)

Jobs partnered with Disney in order to get some other things developed and Disney jammed their bullshit ABC televsion lineup down his throat in the bargain.

Re:This is just retarded (1)

oberondarksoul (723118) | about 9 years ago | (#13790750)

You may think it's 'retarded'. So might Jobs. But the shows that are going onto the iTMS are those that make a lot of money for ABC. Doesn't it make sense to try and hook the market with what's popular?

AAA!!!! (2, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | about 9 years ago | (#13790614)

It's going to change/steal all of our future programming!


The reason the programming exists in the first place is because there is demand for it. The fact that it's now being shown through a different medium is irrelevant to that demand.

And where there is demand, someone will find a way to make money off supplying that demand. Just simple economics.

Re:AAA!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13790700)

And where there is demand, someone will find a way to make money off supplying that demand.

Perhaps. If there is a viable way to make money. Demand != guaranteed opportunity for profit.

There is demand for plenty of products and services that simply aren't supplied because there isn't money in it. Ask anyone who has started their own small business.

Re:AAA!!!! (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | about 9 years ago | (#13790790)

I would say that there is insufficient demand if you can't make money at it...That or the supplier wasn't connecting effectively with the demand.

If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door...If they find out you created a better mousetrap, and figured out where your door was.

An interesting step (4, Insightful)

Moby Cock (771358) | about 9 years ago | (#13790615)

People seem to want to own copies of programming and are willing to pay to do so. Look at the large market in DVDs of television programs, some of which are heavily syndicated and aired frequently (like Seinfeld and Friends -- they never seem to be off-air). A downloadable version of programs is the next logical step. When the video iPods were released I forsaw this exact scenario. The use of iTunes will help this along, since there is brand recognition and folks will 'trust' the source and be willing to download it.

This could eventually spell disaster for marketing in the traditional sense but not for a while. I don't expect consumers will tolerate downloads thatr have ads embedded since they are paying a proce for that content. However, there will still be a demand for live-to-air programming for a long time. I can't imagine downloading the SuperBowl and watching it after the fact. Things like this will preserve television in its current form (or thereabouts) for the foreseeable future, I think.

However, I have to say, being able to download Lost and watch it at my convenience is a very tempting propect.

Re:An interesting step (1)

dsgitl (922908) | about 9 years ago | (#13790829)

"However, I have to say, being able to download Lost and watch it at my convenience is a very tempting propect." Going back to a point you made earlier, imagine if iTMS had a fully categorized and searchable database of Seinfeld, Friends, Simpsons, or whatever episodes? What market does this hurt the synidcates in? I can't imagine people wouldn't jump at the opportunity to easily pay two bucks for a favorite episode of Seinfeld that they could easily watch at their convienence. I think we're only beginning to see the effects of pay-per-episode downloadable television.

PVRs will change TV quicker (4, Insightful)

slashname3 (739398) | about 9 years ago | (#13790618)

PVRs are poised to change TV quicker than podcasting. Per the article blurb above advertising on TV will have to change as PVRs allow users to skip over commercials easily. mythtv has changed the way a lot of people view TV. Personally I rarely watch "live" TV anymore, I much prefer to record a show, commercial flag it, and watch it when I want to watch it with the added benefit of not having to watch any commercials.

What I find particularly funny is that the ads on TV have started to mirror the spam in email, they all seem to be pushing viagra and variants. The PVR will allow users to reclaim thier TVs just like spamassassin allowed us to reclaim our email systems.

As to selling shows over the Internet, it may have a niche market, realizing you only need a small percentage of Internet users to make a reasonable profit. But to appeal to the widest possible audience such distribution of shows will need to be bundled with the cost of Internet access in some way as part of the $40/month this most cable services charge for access.

Value needs to improve (4, Insightful)

glennrrr (592457) | about 9 years ago | (#13790619)

The problem is one of perceived value. Desparate Housewives, Season 1 costs $38 on DVD on Amazon. It's enhanced for widescreen which means it is encoded at 720x480 (some of which may not be used due to matting). The same content available from the Apple Music store is $35 for a 320x240 cropped version. The DVDs also come with a 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound. Unless you desparately, need to watch the show right now, it's a much, much better deal to just order the DVDs.

If you wanted, there are ways to rip said DVDs into a format playable on the iPod.

Even better, you could record the magnificent 1920x1080 interlaced MPEG-2 widescreen broadcast every Sunday going forward, it'll take up 10GBs of space which at today's hard drive prices is around $2.50 of space, and if you buy your tuner card before the broadcast flag gets rammed through there will be zero DRM encumbrances.

The value you are getting is: it's already pre-ripped and encoded for your video iPod. You can get yesterday's show for a semi-reasonable price. So this is good for people who just want to catch up with their stories and don't want to wait for the DVD. I'd be happy to get Curb Your Enthusiasm this way so I could cancel my HBO subscription. It'd save me a ton of money over the course of a year. (Don't tell HBO).

Re:Value needs to improve (1)

keraneuology (760918) | about 9 years ago | (#13790688)

Desparate Housewives, Season 1 costs $38 on DVD on Amazon. It's enhanced for widescreen which means it is encoded at 720x480 (some of which may not be used due to matting). The same content available from the Apple Music store is $35 for a 320x240 cropped version. The DVDs also come with a 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound. Unless you desparately, need to watch the show right now, it's a much, much better deal to just order the DVDs.

Not to mention that ABC is adding more commercials than normal (five breaks instead of the typical four, IIRC) and have slightly shifted the start/stop times so people setting their players to record shows on other networks crop the first and last 30-60 seconds.

Unfortunately, Dish and Comcast have both started charging a monthly fee to use PVRs (though Dish only charges the monthly fee with certain of their players), and AFIK there are technical issues preventing seamless use of free recorders.

The market always provides... (5, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | about 9 years ago | (#13790623)

...for both parties.

Advertisements in their current form are different than they were 10 years ago. They're tested at regular speed and fast speed. Thought is given to logo placement early before one can click skip.

Yet the distributor doesn't care who pays, as long as someone does. iTunes should consider a survey ad system for buying points. Watch a 60 second ad, answer 5 questions, earn 50 points to use for purchase.

Also, piracy is counterproductive for true fans. If Firefly 2.0 gets on SciFi and 80% of you bootleg it, don't expect a third season. I'll never understand the people here who complain about lack of good content yet have 3000 songs from Limewire.

In the long run, offering multiple acquisition options makes sense. I'll pay a subscription for content I like. I'll pay extra for HD and DD. I'll pay extra for bloopers and outtakes, and maybe for getting it a few days earlier.

Content control doesn't bother me. As long as I can watch it on my TVs at home and on my PDA unlimited times, I'm fine with DRM. Shows requiring deletion after a week I just won't watch.

iTunes won't kill the networks. Freedom of choice will kill those unavoidable to provide what the market wants.

Until government regulates iTunes to protect the networks.

DUPE (0, Troll)

eh0d is my daddy (825041) | about 9 years ago | (#13790629)

Is this just an excuse to re-cover the Apple Ipod release? What the fuck is wrong with this site, anyway? It's become a massive Apple & Google circle jerk. Bunch of fucking elitists run this place. There's got to be another tech site alternative.

Not the greatest, but... (1)

dbolger (161340) | about 9 years ago | (#13790630)

I know, its only going to be at 128x128, but I'd take Firefly any way I could get it. As the blurb said, if shows which deserve a wide viewing manage to hang on this way, then they stand a better chance of catching the imagination of a larger audience.

I never saw Firefly when it was on tv over here (Ireland), but I heard/read the buzz about it from the States on the Internet. If I could have downloaded it legally and had it on my iPod, I would have ranted about how great it was to all my friends (as I did when I eventually saw it on TV). I think a lot of people would be the same.

paying for ads (1)

captnjameskirk (599714) | about 9 years ago | (#13790636)

Will it kill traditional TV ads...?
Did DVD rentals kill ads? No. You actually *pay* to watch ads these days, as anyone whose ever rental a DVD at Blockbuster can tell you. Not only will you pay to download a show, but that show *will* contain ads. Whether at the beginning or in the middle (never at the end), there will be ads in the shows you pay for. It's like death, taxes, and Madonna. It's inevitable.

This will work and will be one way people watch (1)

sbate (916441) | about 9 years ago | (#13790642)

This will work, It will be one of the ways people watch thier favourite serial video production. Think of podcasts, is this killing NPR on your radio - do you still listen to Science Friday and send in your pledge during beg week? The IPod with video will connect to the video out on your hd monitor, you can watch the video on your PC. There will be a dock with a larger screen so you can plug your kid in while you wait in line at the DMV.

I hope this is a way to get a subscription for Red vs. Blue or any of the number of independent serials that will be available.

I am sure that this will have a greater impact on video than it had on music. - as far as dividing up the money pie.

The real question is, though... (0)

the_rajah (749499) | about 9 years ago | (#13790643)

Why bother? Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should.

Either pay or commercials should be an option (1)

pyite69 (463042) | about 9 years ago | (#13790650)

There are some channels where I'll pay to not have commercials and some where I won't.

Ideally, it should be a choice on every channel. For example, to keep the times in sync they could offer a more expensive alternate channel where all of the commercials are pushed to the end of the time slot and the show is shown commercial free followed by the same set of commercials.

Some of us already do... (1)

accelleron (790268) | about 9 years ago | (#13790652)

I've not watched a single show on TV for years... Not because I'm repulsed by commercials per se, but because I don't usually want to wait for a show or movie to come on. With broadband, it's possible to stream medium (400kbps) to high (1000+ kbps) content on demand. I wouldn't mind streaming an episode of a show I want to watch, commercials and all, if it were free and easy to access (i.e. I would not have to wait an hour for BT to find seeds or for newsgroups to download and unpack the avi file.) If I could watch an episode of south park by going to and choosing an episode, I wouldn't mind having 10 mins of commercials before it plays, as long as I do not have to watch them during the show. This would make the show the ad revenue it needs to make money, and would not tie me down to "wait until 8pm, watch 5 mins of the show then 5 mins of commercials" etc.

As for paying for shows (I imagine something like $3-5 a pop), I wouldn't want to do that. If they offered a single-play, $0.50-$0.99, commercial-free licence, I wouldn't mind. But knowing the MPAA, they're probably going to want something like $2-4 per episode for a single-play licence. I'd rather download a season overnight.

The idea behind this is good, but as it is the custom of these things, I suppose it will be overpriced, low-quality, and will probably still play a commercial or two before the show. I don't think this will ever fly well in competition with free alternatives such as BitTorrent.

Who protects tv content? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13790653)

So if the RIAA sues for the music. The MPAA for the movies... Who's going to be doing the suing for the television industry? Is there a four letter acronym that we can expect to see future headlines for?

Hmmm..... (1)

8127972 (73495) | about 9 years ago | (#13790656)

"Could this help niche shows stay alive longer?"

Maybe. A show like Firefly or Birds Of Prey that would normally draw a very limited audience and get tossed from broadcast TV quickly. Maybe this as a distribution model may keep these shows alive longer. But I don't know if that's enough to convince the PHB's that make these decisions.

"Will it kill traditional TV ads"

Yes. But they'll just pay for product placements. Problem solved.

"Will we end up eventually paying (or stealing) all of our future programming?"

Yes if the price is right (or the shows show up quickly enough on BitTorrent).

BTW, Mark Cuban was behind and I think that there's a bit of self interest behind his thoughts.

Firefly's hope? (5, Interesting)

Alcimedes (398213) | about 9 years ago | (#13790687)

So Fox owns the broadcasting rights to the show, but do they own the downloading rights?

Would this allow a producer to make a show, throw it on iTunes for $2 an episode, and then just continue to produce as long as they're making money? Sounds like a good way for fans to rescue worthwhile shows that are cancelled in place of "Who's Your Daddy" and the like.

Purchased content (2, Interesting)

harryk (17509) | about 9 years ago | (#13790694)

As someone who regularly buys tv series of a few shows that I enjoy, I would be willing to buy said content based on a few peices of criteria.

1. it would have to be available in multiple size/screen resolutions - atleast the basics, and be availble in its original format.
2. the content (even if drm crippled) would have to allow me to watch any resolution show as many times as I wanted, still based solely on the first purchase (I buy a DVD, and I encode it to any resolution I want today, and maybe tomorrow, and perhaps again in three months when I've lost the first encode)
3. the content would have to be reasonably priced. I figure I pay somewhere between $30 and $40 for a complete season of episodes, depending on the show. Break that down between ~10 episodes, and I'm looking at roughly $3-$4/episode. If I am going to purchase a single show, commercial free, it would have to be comparable to this price.
4. the license and/or use of said content would have to be transferable. If I decide that I want to sell my copy of said content/media and relinquish my rights to it, I ought to be able.

I'm not a freak when it comes to DRM. I am all for fair use, and I truly believe the media companies ought to have some say in how their contents is distributed, as long as it is within the confines of fair use, I'm for it. If I buy a DVD, and decided that it wasn't all it was cracked up to be, I will either sell it to CDMax (or other retail chain) or sell/give to a friend. The same should apply for media purchased online.

Thats about all I can think of at the moment. Perhaps overly simplistic, but I'm looking at the lowest requirments. I would prefer that the media be playable on alternative OS' , but it would not be a requirement.


More Business, from me anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13790706)

The TV industry would get more business from me if I were able to purchase certain episodes. I don't have cable, because a) most of what I watch is broadcast b) the only other channels I *would* watch would be sci-fi/cartoon network/history channel. I don't want to have to pay for all that other crap. So, for the time being, I just use an antenna. So I don't get any sci-fi channel. But, if they sold TV episodes, I would likely buy some of them.

Google Video (1)

slashkitty (21637) | about 9 years ago | (#13790717)

It would have been nice if apple linked up w/ google video... or if only google had a gPod.

Car talk (5, Interesting)

3770 (560838) | about 9 years ago | (#13790719)

Episodes of the NPR show Cartalk was $3.95. I used to buy a lot of episodes. I'm a sucker for that show. Then the price was raised to $5.95 (or something like that) and then it just crossed over to not being worth it for me. $3.95 was rather expensive to begin with.

Comparing the price of a song with a TV show such as desperate housewives is a bit apples and oranges. But comparing a one hour radio show with a one hour TV show isn't. At least in my mind.

A TV show for $1.99 is worth more than a $5.95 radio show generally speaking. I hope that this will help push Cartalk down to $1.99 or even below.

Depends on what they charge me (1)

Spacecase (121674) | about 9 years ago | (#13790727)

I read an article discussing the future of on-demand cable programming and the future of commercials. The article stated that on a regular TV show (IE NOT the super bowl, or big event etc..) the average was 1 penny per viewer per commercial based on the Neilson ratings. If the average TV show has 24-30 commercials per hour show and my wife and I watch the show together then we are looking at about 60 cents per show the producing channel makes in profits. I am very keen on the idea of paying 60 cents per show to never see another commercial, if the TV companies get the money they want, and I get the show sans commercials I want, it is a win-win unless you are a advertiser. $2.00 for a show at iTunes resolution is not a great deal, but if cable companies or iTunes step-up and tell ABC that they will charge a rate closer to the advertising rate then people would swarm to it. I am not suggesting they force payments on every viewer, but if they had a on-demand system or web system that let me purchase shows without commercials I could decide if I wanted to watch Free-ABC or Commercial-Free-ABC.

Just my 2 commercials worth of ideas.

Apple's Tivo-on-demand? (4, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | about 9 years ago | (#13790728)

The big deal with iTMS was that they got so many major record labels to sell music online. They convinced the labels that their DRM was good enough (far from perfect, but good enough that it's easier to post the rip from a CD) and so the iTMS catalog is enormous, with major-label content.

Now they've got a deal with one of the networks to sell TV shows. I wonder if they're planning to go from there to the rest of the networks. And then to a set-top box hooked into the Internet. It would be like a combination of a TiVo and video on demand: you don't have to set it in advance but it plays regular broadcast TV rather than movies.

Slashdotters will probably swear up and down that it's overpriced and they'd never pay that much for DRM content. $2 a pop is kind of pricey, given that you're used to getting it for free with your cable/satellite bill. If you're the sort of person who watches the TV every night from 8 until 11 then you're going to spend a lot this way.

But I wonder if such a thing might just work. It's like the ultimate a la carte. I got rid of cable because I was too busy to watch TV, but there are a few shows I miss and I'd happily watch $10 or even $20 a month worth of TV to have it come in commercial-free and on my own schedule.

This gets really complicated. As with music, there are many independent content producers who would love to use this to bypass the networks entirely. When 24 came out on DVD it was said that this was what they were really selling, and that the TV broadcasts were just advertisements for those DVDs. I wouldn't go that far, but it really does bring up a whole new avenue for artists to produce content (in this case, short-format video), get it to audiences, and pay for it.

I'm getting way ahead of myself. Apple's next step would be to secure agreements with the other networks (and to get the rest of ABC's programming.) But if Apple starts sending out mysterious postcards again some time next year it wouldn't surprise me to discover that they're hinting at a new iPod that you leave at home.

In a way, not stealing TV shows (2, Interesting)

TheQuicksilver (858383) | about 9 years ago | (#13790743)

Here's my take on TV shows on any downloadable, pay medium. When it comes to television shows that are available on broadcast airwaves (like ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, not like HBO, SpikeTV or those), then you should not be required to pay for the content. You can put up an antenna for free and get the shows, therefore downloading them should in no way be seen as illegal. This hasn't come up in court (that I am aware of), but with my understanding of broadcast law, I see no way you could get into trouble for it. So, with iTunes charging $2 a show, which is all well and good, I will continue to download torrents of my shows for free. It's just another form of time/space shifting of the freely available content. Quality of the download vs. broadcast isn't even a point of contention, especially given HDTV broadcast signals.

I don't mind the commercials (1)

pr0t0 (216378) | about 9 years ago | (#13790769)

It's an OK deal really. Provide the content for free and pay for its creation with advertisements. If we had to pay directly for content creation, what would our cable bill look like? The problem has been the creation of an inequity in the deal. More and more time going to commercials, and lower and lower quality of content.

Personally, I'd prefer it if the downloads were free and came with commercials. Perhaps you could be given a choice of commercials to be auto-inserted upon download. That way, the commercials in a sense become part of the content and provide advertisers an incentive to create more engaging commercials. Sure someone could strip out the commercials and provide a torrent link for divx...but why go through the hassle? Why download the file from an untrusted source for that matter?

The summary aludes to it, and no I didn't RTFA, but you also have to wonder what would have happened to shows like Enterprise or Firefly that had loyal fans willing to pay for that content. I really liked Firefly, but I'm not willing to pay $1.99 and episode for any show.

Anyway, just my $0.02

Slashdot posting blogs now? (1)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | about 9 years ago | (#13790773)

Hello, I am Zip Zorroski, CEO of Blogs, Inbloggerated. We are starting a new blogging service where bloggers can blog about anything at all (including blogs). We are also beginning several new ventures to spin off commercial blogs, called blogazines. These blogazines are like standard print but not, because they are blogs. This makes them cool (we prefer the term "bloggy"). Blogs are revolutionizing the planet by giving a new name to things that already existed 10 years ago when they were called "journals," "personal websites," and "weblogs." Now that they have an official name of blog, you can submit blog entries to major websites claiming to report news, and they will report them. Because they are blogs, and blogs are everywhere, and blogs are great.

Please, go to and sign up for your own blog today, and begin blogging the exact same things you blogged about 10 years ago. Except now it's all bloggy. Sign up this month and you get a free "Blog it!" t-shirt (aka blog-shirt).

Sincerest regards (and blogs!),
Zip Zorroski
Blogs, Inbloggerated, CEO
Co-founder of Blogging Consortium of Blogs

No worries (1)

Lacrymator (842893) | about 9 years ago | (#13790789)

The advertising companies shouldn't fret, the internets are gonna climax this month.. :P

An Evolution, Not A Revolution (4, Interesting)

WombatControl (74685) | about 9 years ago | (#13790811)

I watched a few episodes of Lost through iTunes the other day. The quality wasn't great, but on my iBook's 12.1" screen it was good enough. That H.264 codec makes even low-res video seem much better than you'd think. Would I pay $40+ for a season of a show on iTunes? Nope - I'd rather buy the DVDs and get the extras and better video quality.

What this represents is a step. The biggest hurdle isn't technical - it's legal and cultural. Apple could offer full-resolution versions of these shows at any time. They could do the same with movies. The technology may be in its infancy, but it's here today.

If Apple can prove that this works, we'll start getting things like a true video iPod, more shows, more networks, and wireless streaming of shows through an AirPort-like base station - or better yet the iMac with Front Row will morph into an Apple PVR/media center. And unlike MCE, that solution will look good inside and out.

Apple's testing the waters, making sure this thing will actually work before they throw themselves fully into becoming a media distribution company. They're making evolutionary rather than revolutionary changes, which is the way to go when you're navigating a legal minefield of IP law and business relationships. The networks are facing the possibility of drastic changes to the way their products are distributed, and dragging them kicking and screaming into the future just won't work.

I think had this new form of direct distribution been around, shows like Firefly, Wonderfalls, Greg the Bunny, etc that were well-written, well-acted, and deserving of viewer support but were killed by networks who didn't understand what they had would get a chance. Shlock like Joey, whatever other sitcom-of-the-moment, or the latest reality show may still get the big ratings, but more challenging shows could show a real bottom-line profit that would mean that the horribly flawed Nielson system wouldn't cause them to be prematurely axed.

But that will take some time, which is why the long-awaited video iPod is somewhat underwhelming - but make no mistake, this is just a way of laying the groundwork for what will be a revolutionary way in which we view TV.

this idea needs much improvement (1)

sumday (888112) | about 9 years ago | (#13790819)

at first i was thinking, "awesome! now i can download Lost legally! that's all i ever wanted". but then i read TFA...

problem #1: the files are only for use on the new video ipod.

eventually someone will figure out how to bypass the DRM and play it on a computer, but the screen size will still be tiny.

problem #2: it's only available to US citizens.

surely their biggest market would be people who can't watch the same content for (effectively) free on their regular television.

in short: buy some other portable digital video player (probably for much less cash than the video ipod) and simply download what you want to watch from elsewhere. or turn you pc into a PVR if you want to keep it legal.

Help shows stick arround? (1)

bano (410) | about 9 years ago | (#13790820)

In the case of "Thats so raven", lets hope it is not true.
I was actually supprised to hear its still on the air.

UK / International (1)

Manip (656104) | about 9 years ago | (#13790821)

People like me, from the UK, and other internationals will be sad to learn that Apple doesn't want our money. They have Lost series 2 on the ITunes US store but won't allow us to sign up, they'd rather we use BitTorrent to view it... The PayMent options for the US store all check your address, so unless you have a US PO-Box and a US registered credit card then you're stuck.

I'm sure six months down the road Apple will add TV to the UK store but I bet even then that it won't contain the content that we WANT to see, instead it will contain content that was on TV a week ago... :-/

Too bad the quality sucks! (2, Informative)

huxrules (649822) | about 9 years ago | (#13790837)

I think that this is really just a stopgap measure for Apple. Its just not all the way there. Unlike the first ipods- which were great except the small hd space. I see the main problem in the downloads because they are at 320x240. Might look fine on a ipod, but sucks on a computer. AND we still (and possibly never) can easily rip our own videos into itunes. This is really the key- but near impossible. If Jobs convinced MPAA to allow itunes users to rip their DVD's we would still have to reencode them into 320x240 h.264. And on my mac mini this would take probably a day per DVD. A super chore with all the DVD's I own. Probably could take up to a year just to import them. Right now it is obvious, this is just a work in progress for Apple- lets just hope its not another newton.

The Long Barbed Tail (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 9 years ago | (#13790838)

Advertisers judge how many people their ads will reach when buying media time. These downloads now increase (indefinitely) that media exposure time and audience without further charges to advertisers. Sure, many will be fast-forwarded and otherwise edited, but that subtraction will be compensated by the multiplied exposure. Advertisers might find their rates increasing, as media publishers learn to demonstrate how much more they're buying in the "afterdistro" of these deathless downloads. And smart advertisers will convert most ads to "product placements", seamlessly embedding not just the products and logos into the main content, but also buying spoken lines, plot devices, and theme songs all the same as the "ad content" in their campaigns. God damn their soulless weasel hides.
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