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Can iTunes Resurrect Old Time TV?

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the only-the-shadow-knows dept.

Media (Apple) 214

An anonymous reader writes "With iTunes selling a couple of popular TV shows now there has been significant hesitation from other television producers to follow suit and put their content on the Web. It has also sparked activity from the actors unions who want additional compensation for what appears online. But there is also existing content that stands to be revived in this new context, older television shows from the 50's and 60's that have been squeezed out of the traditional broadcast by popular shows of more recent vintage. It was suggested to a producer who is presently digitizing 27 episodes of a 1950's show called Captain Zero to offer it up on iTunes for a buck an episode. Is this an opportunity for these old shows to strike while the iron is hot and while the owners of more contemporary content are caught like deers in a headlight? As the Captain Zero article points out purveyors of old time radio programs have enjoyed a significant revival by embracing web-based technology. Why not old time TV?"

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Public domain, et al (4, Informative)

Eric(b0mb)Dennis (629047) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905982)

Have you seen the bargain DVD rack at your local Wal-Mart?

You can get entire seasons of old TV for a buck....

Re:Public domain, et al (1)

Charles Jo (862028) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905994)

But everything looks cool on an iPod.

Re:Public domain, et al (3, Interesting)

Seumas (6865) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906077)

Have you seen the bargain DVD rack at your local Wal-Mart?

No, I've never actually been inside of a Wal-Mart.

However, even at bargain bin prices, it's not worth it. $5+ for a movie that's 20, 30, 40, 50 or even 60+ years old is not worth it.

Re:Public domain, et al (4, Insightful)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906100)

However, even at bargain bin prices, it's not worth it. $5+ for a movie that's 20, 30, 40, 50 or even 60+ years old is not worth it.
Actually, that is so on topic that it isn't even funny- That is why the online distro is such a good idea. You aren't paying 5$ for the movie. You are paying 50 cents for the movie, and then You are paying for the freight to get it to the store, to heat the store, pay the staff, buy shopping carts, advertise, press the DVD, the DVD case, the shrink wrap and on and on etc etc etc.... With the online distro, you cut out so much of that expense....

Re:Public domain, et al (2, Interesting)

slackmaster2000 (820067) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906213)

Yeah, but at $5 I'd say it is worth it when you factor in online distribution means you have to wait for the dang thing to download. Then if you're going to burn a DVD (if you're not blocked by DRM) you have to factor in the time and expense of that, *especially* if you have to transcode. Plus you don't get a nice case or get the durability/playability benefits of a pressed DVD.

On the flipside, buying a DVD and getting it onto your iPod might prove pretty challenging, so the opposite might be true (that is, the benefits of online distribution specifically for iPod might be greater).

It depends on what you're going to watch the show on, how much trouble you're willing to go through, and whether the packaging is worth something to you.

For me, I prefer watching movies on DVD and on my TV. Seeing as how I can rent a movie for a few bucks or buy a movie second hand for a few bucks more, I'd never want to go through the hassle of downloading and burning. Been there, done that, *hated* it.

Off topic: I don't buy anything from Walmart unless there is no alternative (rare).

Re:Public domain, et al (1)

Taladar (717494) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906294)

You know they invented these things called "cables"? With them you can even connect two devices in your house without burning DVDs...

Re:Public domain, et al (1)

LocalH (28506) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906526)

Yes, but there are valid reasons for wanting to burn on DVD - for example, if the computer is not in the same room as the good TV, then you'd want to burn it. Or, if you just plain want to watch it somewhere without a computer near a TV.

Or, you could go all out, build a file server and one media box for each TV you want connected, network then with at least 100mbps-capable NICs and stream the videos from the server. This is technically on the shady side of the law, but if you only use legally-purchased DVDs or PVR functionality as your source then you're "morally" okay, in that you're not stealing from anyone.

Re:Public domain, et al (3, Interesting)

laffer1 (701823) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906484)

And you lose more quality than the DVD. Why? Apple uses an incredibly small resolution for ipod videos.. 320 x 240 or so (from memory). My first computer did 640 x 480 for christ sake. I bought a music video on iTunes adn when i went full screen on my iBook it looked worse than the quicktime file i made from an old vhs of u2 videos. Apple needs to offer a high quality version at higher resolution. I'd even be willing to pay more for it.

Re:Public domain, et al (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13906107)

$5+ is not worth it for most of the movies that are 1, 2, 5, 10 years old. There are many old movies that are: Fellini, Antonioini, Kurosawa, Hitchcock, Welles, Godard, and so on. In fact, there are undoubtedly more movies over 20 years old that are worth buying than there are ones less than 20 years old.

Re:Public domain, et al (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13906520)

> However, even at bargain bin prices, it's not worth it. $5+ for a movie that's 20, 30, 40, 50 or even 60+ years old is not worth it.

Woow. That's an impressive statement.

25+ years old: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0079944/ [imdb.com]
30+ years old: http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0068646/ [imdb.com]
40+ years old: http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0059578/ [imdb.com]
50 years old http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0038650/ [imdb.com]
60+ years old http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0022100/ [imdb.com]

Saying that any of those movies are not worth 5$ bucks just shows the world what a moron you are.

Cheers,

--fred

Re:Public domain, et al (3, Insightful)

Blondie-Wan (559212) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906603)

$5+ for a movie that's 20, 30, 40, 50 or even 60+ years old is not worth it.

I'll charitably assume you're speaking from the POV held by many here that copyrights ought to not last as long as they do, and this stuff should enter the public domain and be freely downloadable by this age, rather than the incredibly moronic POV that movies that old aren't worth watching.

I think if I were to put together a list of my all-time favorite movies, the overwhelming majority of them would be more than 20 years old, and I'm sure the same would be true of any credible list of all-time greatest movies.

Re:Public domain, et al (2, Insightful)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906106)

Yes, but not everything.

There's a lot out there I'd pay good money to get on DVD, like Get Smart. Unfortunately they won't make DVDs of that series (though 1 or 2 Get Smart movies are printed and some series bootlegs exist).

I wish that just about everything was available on non-VHS media. Even some shows SciFi series from around 1999 or 2000 are being held back.

Re:Public domain, et al (1)

ksheff (2406) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906119)

Yes, but spending 30 minutes to search through them all isn't what I would call fun unless I'm really bored. However, I did find an old Bela Lugosi movie that way. Here is the company that produces most of them, so you can at least see what might be in the bargan rack: http://www.digiviewus.com/ [digiviewus.com]

Re:Public domain, et al (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906139)

Have you ever felt uncomfortable diving through the bargin bin? I know that there is stuff in there that is sometimes worth getting, but you oftern feel like you are diving only to find the whole bin is filled with stuff you wouldn't want to buy anyhow.

What would tempt me is if you could buy the film for $1 on an iTunes like site and then get redirected to somewhere that would allow you to buy a better quality version in DVD form.

Re:Public domain, et al (1)

moviepig.com (745183) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906278)

Have you seen the bargain DVD rack at your local Wal-Mart? You can get entire seasons of old TV for a buck....

When prerecorded tapes first appeared, there was an explosion of video-stores... every one a cash-cow. But, unfortunately for most of those early stores, the consumer base quickly ran through the Joan Crawford ouvre, and its attention settled largely upon new releases, where it remains today. Seems reasonable to expect the same growth profile for these hand-held revivals...

Re:Public domain, et al (1)

tgibbs (83782) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906345)

Have you seen the bargain DVD rack at your local Wal-Mart?

You can get entire seasons of old TV for a buck....


Which means that they are effectively going out of print, and pretty soon you won't be able to get them at all.

It simply is not worth it to the publisher to sell a DVD collection when people aren't willing to pay more than a buck or so per episode.

I've looked through the bargain bin. Mostly, they seem to have everything but what I'm looking for, and I expend several bucks worth of my time just digging through the bin (something that only sells for a buck isn't worth the employee time that it would take to alphabetize them, either).

First Post! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905986)

first post!

Ha! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905987)

First.

ipod... (3, Informative)

Brilleklar (924846) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905989)

I really hope they strike when the iron is hot. I would enjoy watching some old shows again, especially those from before my birth.

Re:ipod... (5, Insightful)

SYFer (617415) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906008)

Could not agree more with the premise. In a world where content is king, it continually amazes me that the vast piles of old TV programming out there can't find a market. Online delivery at low prices strikes me as the perfect delivery channel.

I assume the overhead is low and, in an era where new, expensive HD content is raising the bandwidth bar, these old 4:3 shows would be light on the pipes and relatively easy and cheap to deliver.

I for one would happily pay to see old episodes of shows like The Saint or The Prisoner without having to pay for a whole additional tier of cable TV service just so I can get channels like BBC America (and then hope they run the shows).

Listening to Podcasts like "Soap Detectives" [soapdetectives.com] has gotten me into listening to old radio shows lately and I'm amazed by how entertaining they are.

On demand, online delivery of old TV content sounds like a sure winner to me.

I think big media already owns most old content. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13906151)

And that's why you're not seeing it released already. I mean the video iPod is just another storage format as far as a content exec is going to see it. You could ask the same questions about all kinds of other media. Why didn't they release all those old TV shows on VCD in 1995? Or DVD in the last few years? Yeah, you get some, but I don't see vast quantities compared to what must exist in the archives. The big hits are out there, but I haven't seen gobs of obscure TV re-runs from the sixties and seventies.
        There's a few obvious reasons this isn't done and the first and foremost is that there's already a huge longstanding media glut even without opening up all the TV archives. Eyeballs are much, much too valuable to release old content at low prices thus detracting from the high profit new media and since the companies that own those media resources are usually controlled by the same investors that doesn't make any business sense.
          So, the iPod is not going to change the fact that copyrights are all about corporate control of media consumption. That's not what video iPods do. The good news is that there is something going on that is changing that --massive global copyright infringement. Real change happens when people simply rip shows that do get broadcast and then trade them on-line disregarding the will of big media.
          The video iPod almost seems to be intended to fail anyway. Where the audio iPod hit precisely because it walked the line of appearing legit from a business perspective while drawing its primary audiance thought supporting MP3s which could be freely downloaded, the Video iPod excludes DivX which is beyond any doubt the most popular video format traded on-line. This product, like the iPod phone seems to be a sort of intentional failure. The only people excited about these products are the consumers and those insignificant peons are hardly the ones calling the shots in this so-called free market.

Re:I think big media already owns most old content (1)

agraupe (769778) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906194)

DivX is compliant with MPEG-4, I believe, meaning that the new iPod is compatible with it (although it does have to be resized, maybe). Either way, video transcoding (even on linux) is getting to the point where its easy enough to not be a bother.

Re:I think big media already owns most old content (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13906318)

Xvid, and 3vix are standards compliant MPEG-4 level2 (A)SP codecs afaik , but I've heard Divx diverges from the standard a little bit.

The iPod will actually play standards compliant MPEG4 level 2 SP encoded video with =230400 pixels (that's 480x480, but any resolution with that many or fewer pixels works, even if it's more than 480px wide, like wide-screen movies encoded at 640x360, so a good deal of stuff that's already out there will work without re-encoding). You just have to put the video in a standards compliant MPEG4 container file (or a quicktime movie) instead of an avi file.

Re:I think big media already owns most old content (1)

tgibbs (83782) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906361)

And that's why you're not seeing it released already. I mean the video iPod is just another storage format as far as a content exec is going to see it. You could ask the same questions about all kinds of other media. Why didn't they release all those old TV shows on VCD in 1995? Or DVD in the last few years?

Because at the prices people are willing to pay for these old shows, they won't make back the shipping, packaging, or media costs--none of which are relevant to online sales.

Re:I think big media already owns most old content (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13906631)

What on earth do you mean "the video iPod almost seems to be intended to fail anyway"? It is the new version of the iPod. If you want an iPod, it now can do video as well. It is not an alternative (except to their nano and shuffle forms), it is an upgrade.

Plenty of people still want an iPod - now they get one that can do video too. I don't see how it could possibly fail, unless you think that the iPod itself was about to fail. So far, the market would appear to disagree with you on that.

Re:ipod... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13906543)

"I would enjoy watching some old shows again, especially those from before my birth."

You had TV in the womb?!?

Well (5, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905990)

Programmers are not compensated for every copy of their software they develop for their employers. Actors are no different.

Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson got paid an average engineer salary to develop unix, yet only Bell Labs and now the open group make money off of every copy sold. They agreed to work for x amount a year.

Re:Well (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906127)

Actors are no different.
Aren't different, or shouldn't be different?

Even if actors' work doesn't require more talent or hard work (which is debatable), they're not interchangable so some lucky ones end up getting rich. I don't think there's any getting around it unless computer-generated "actors" ever catch on.

Re:Well (1)

General Alcazar (726259) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906226)

Exactly. These are the standard, royalty-based contracts that are used in the entertainment industry. Artists take the good with the bad. Most end up getting screwed for one reason or another, but the lucky few get decent royalties. The reason for this is that actors, musicians, etc. are hired on an as-needed basis, and are rarely hired as a salary, since they are not needed full time.

If an engineer wanted to forgo their salary and try to negotiate a royalty-based contract, they are free to do so.

Next time you make a movie or a television show, why don't you just put the actors on salary instead of these grievously wrong-headed royalty-based contracts which allow the artists to take all the money and run!

Re:Well (2, Insightful)

CrankyFool (680025) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906209)

It's a free market. If a programmer can negotiate some sort of royalty/residuals deal, I'm sure we'd applaud her (especially if the software's good). That programmers don't get terms that are as favorable is about as relevant to actors as it should be to us that your average hourly janitor doesn't get health benefits -- it's unfortunate, maybe, but shouldn't mean we should give up our own benefits.

Plus, in the end, actors' names do have an obvious impact on the financial success of movies (please, lets assume that a horde of geeks have responded to this and said "I don't care who's in a movie as long as it's good" or "I boycott mass-market movies" and move on). Who knows the programmers responsible for a title? Are their names on the box? Does their name recognition add any actual financial value to the producers?

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13906316)

Programmer? Her? Surely you jest.

Re:Well (1)

morcego (260031) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906354)

It's a free market. If a programmer can negotiate some sort of royalty/residuals deal, I'm sure we'd applaud her (especially if the software's good).

Many already do. It is called Stock Options.

Yes, it is not exactly the same thing as royalties, expecially since it will take you some time before you are able to collect it. But the ultimate effect is about the same.

Re:Well (1)

vought (160908) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906210)

Programmers are not compensated for every copy of their software they develop for their employers. Actors are no different.


So, in other words, since people who create software were dumb enough not ot form unions, actors deserve the same treatment, despite the fact that they do have unions?


Great idea.

Re:Well (2, Informative)

servognome (738846) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906399)

So, in other words, since people who create software were dumb enough not ot form unions, actors deserve the same treatment, despite the fact that they do have unions?

The average actor in the union makes $7500 a year acting, the average programmer makes several times that. This has less to do with unions and more to do with standard contract of the industry. Programmers tend to go towards salary (+ maybe stock options) which is a much safer bet than royalty based pay scales.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13906220)

Actors are different. They have a union. They have collective bargaining. Why should they settle for less because software engineers won't organize?

Re:Well (4, Informative)

cgenman (325138) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906221)

In the old studio system it was different. You were an actor, you did your schtick, you got a check. If your movie turned out to be the next Casablanca, you got maybe a token bonus. If your movie was a flop, you still drew a nice salary.

And then that changed, and actors were willing to accept less guaranteed pay for more points. And studios were happy to offer points because it mitigates their risk. This has three effects 1: more and more expensive movies get made, as the risk is artificially spread out over multiple parties, 2: the median actor salary goes down, and 3: actors take a more active role in the production.

I'm still not sure whether the points system makes movies better, like tipping makes service in resturants better, or if it just means that most actors starve. Either way, the actor's guild is just looking for the same types of income stream with shows online that they get from syndication and overseas views.

Re:Well (4, Insightful)

rollingcalf (605357) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906383)

"I'm still not sure whether the points system makes movies better, like tipping makes service in resturants better, or if it just means that most actors starve."

Tipping doesn't make service better. Go visit a restaurant in a country where tipping isn't done (i.e. most countries outside the US) and you'll see.

Tips are expected by the staff merely for showing up, so they're not a motivation for better service. Tipping is only insurance against getting deliberately bad service the next time you visit.

Jeez... Not this again. (1)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906269)

Actors aren't engineers.

No one buys theatre tickets because of the stage crew.

Ritchie and Thompson may have agreed to work for "x amount" a year, but actors don't. The concept of "residuals" is as basic to them as free coffee, sick days, and Christmas off is to the 9-5 cube-dweller. No one group is better or worse, they just have different and long-entrenched schemes of compensation.

...all of which the individuals know about when they start their careers, so I can appreciate the red flags going up in their camp when something as basic as where their next paycheck is coming from might change. Ya wanna change the rules on one particular group cuz now "we're digital" and cite the old shoe about Model T's and buggy-whip makers, fine, g'head, be as boring as you like, but if someone takes away your Christmas holiday cuz the Internet has "brought the world closer" and no one works on December 25 in South Central Asia, you'll be looking for loopholes as well...

Re:Well (1)

nunchux (869574) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906398)

Sorry, but the comparison doesn't work. You're trying to make sense out of a business that makes no sense, entertainment. The entire business is built on the concept of "get rich quick." It's also built on screwing over the other guy as much as possible, which is the reason why we have actor and writer guilds, and is the reason why most TV programs (and many movies) have tangled webs of rights that make it difficult to easily distribute them when new mediums pop up.

What I want: (4, Interesting)

Seumas (6865) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905993)


If you want me to be a customer, you need to offer me several things:

+ I don't want to view it just on my ipod.

+ I don't want to be able to view it only with Quicktime.

+ I don't want to have severe DRM limits that hamper my ability to store and watch the content any time I want on any device I want.

+ I don't want to pay through the nose for the content.

+ If I watch it on a non-iPod device, I want higher quality downloads available.

+ You should have at least the selection that Netflix does. Even if you're just the "Netflix of television".

I'm one of those consumers who is not opposed to paying for information/entertainment/data on any real basis other than I want it to be affordable and flexible. Don't place silly restrictions on me that hamper my enjoyment and don't charge me so much that I have to seriously think if each download is worth it.

Also, isn't most of the content they're talking about already public domain? Hell, some of it can be downloaded from the Internet Archive already.

Public Domain TV (5, Informative)

Jonathan (5011) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906027)

Also, isn't most of the content they're talking about already public domain? Hell, some of it can be downloaded from the Internet Archive already.

Not in general. No TV is old enough to enter the public domain naturally. What happened with some programs and movies (even such famous movies as the original "Night of the Living Dead") is that they were never officially copyrighted or were incorrectly copywrited during the time when copyright was not automatically granted.

Re:What I want: (2, Insightful)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906072)

May I play devil's advocate? Think about the majority of the TV watching public. Many don't care about the things you mentioned.
If you want me to be a customer, you need to offer me several things:
That's great, and good points, but if 240 million boobs in the the US don't care, and 10 million educated people like who who understand the issues with DRM do care, I think the 240 million will rule the market.
Sort of like, If WalMart wants me as a customer they need to offer X Y and Z... WalMart doesn't give a shit what I want- they have their customers....
So If you want me to be a customer, you need to offer me several things:, they will tell you to shove it up your ass, and don't watch TV, and sell it the 100s of millions of people... It sucks, but it is capitalism at its finest....

Re:What I want: (3, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906118)

Meh, drop the elitist attitude. Some people just don't care about the DRM. Don't call me dumb, don't call me a slave. I saw what was out there, and I decided to go with iTunes. Just because you don't like it does not make my choice any less valid. People on this site can't seem to realize that perfectly intelligent people have opinions and priorities that differ from theirs and then proceed to call anyone whose opinion differ from there "the unwashed masses".

Re:What I want: (1)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906140)

I think you are taking it wrong my friend. We are for the most part interested in tech if we are on here, either careerwise, hobbywise or both.
I don't know much about Ham Radio, that doesn't make me "the unwashed masses" but it does mean that I don't require much from a radio, while a Ham would...
The same way an auto tech may have opinions on cars that the average driver doesn't... (Even if the driver is doctor or something)
The same way someone who's main interest in cooking may have differing opinions/more involved opinions about food and ingredients than the average eater...
And about calling my fellow Americans boobs- sorry, I had to go to the WalMart in Stow, Ohio today, and let me just say, if you ever want to see obese, rude people in large quantities, go to the WalMart in Stow, Ohio. But the truth is, to make money on volume, you need to be able to sell to those people... And yes, I believe the majority of the people I saw were unwashed, and thus "The unwashed massives"

Re:What I want: (2, Insightful)

Dan Up Baby (878587) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906261)

I hate to break it to you, but not every person "interested in tech" expects to be able to buy things completely without DRM. I, for one, couldn't care less--so long as the license is no more restrictive than the typical iTunes one, or something similar, it's fine with me. I don't expect to be able to burn things designed for an iPod onto DVD--I'll just buy the DVD if that's what I want.

Oh, and I doubt the obesity rate is higher at Wal-Mart than it is on Slashdot. Let's be honest, here.

Re:What I want: (1)

e4g4 (533831) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906379)

This [engadget.com] article has an interesting perspective as to why iTunes doesn't have the things you want. Essentially, the tv companies, the advertising agencies that support them are reluctant to change a business model that's been a steady source of income for many, many years. So $1.99 per show, and a wimpy 320x240 res is more a move to limit the consumption of this particular format.

Re:What I want: (1)

n4t3 (266019) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906486)

I imagine that although not very many people have your scrupels, there are enough of them that WILL NOT REST until the DRM on some precious content of interest to them (hmmm... Star Trek, Stargate, Bab 5, come to mind) is cracked wide open.

I personally balk at buying anything with any kind of DRM at all. I can usually find a way to get the content onto whatever platform I happen to be using at the time anyway, but it's the principal of the thing, man.

http://lessig.org/freeculture/free.html [lessig.org]
Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture OSCON 2002 (flash presentation)

Love that stuff (1)

bobalu (1921) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906005)

I've got all the old Commando Cody series on DVD, Flash Gordon, etc. Love that stuff. Plus in black and white the file sizes would be small.

Firefly? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13906006)

I think this would be a great venue for canceled shows like Firefly to revive themselves! Fuck FOX just make it a paid internet download; no broadcast rights to worry about!

Joss, you hearing me?

I'm down- (0)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906012)

I can't wait until a true itunes style tv system is a reality. I would love if al tv were available pay per view, with some type of ala carte system.
I am sure I will get made fun of for this, but I actually subscribed to the Hallmark channel to get Walker Texas Ranger. I would love to be able to buy the episodes iTunes style.
I think most media will go the itunes route- just like music. 10 years ago I would have thought you were talking crazy if you told me I would be able to say, in 2005, I haven't bought a physical music CD in a few years.
Not to sound melodramatic- but I don't like being a slave to tv schedules (not that I watch much tv). Like most people of the digital generation, I want what I want, when I want it....

Re:I'm down- (1)

Eric(b0mb)Dennis (629047) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906025)

I wouldn't be supprised if this gets quite big..

Imagine Apple releasing a set-top box iTunes... think of TiVO + iTunes...

This could really be a big hit.... only time will tell

Re:I'm down- (4, Informative)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906041)

It will be interesting to see however, considering the grumbling of the music execs about the 99cent fixed price, whether we will see an ownership type system like iTunes (I understand the vagaries of the copy protection on iTunes- I am being general) or a subscription system like Yahoo Music. With the subscription, I would be like cable I guess, with different levels and channels available, i.e. subscribe to HBO and get to watch movies whenever (sort of like Adelphia in demand), or subscribe to TBS and get the whole Segal and Dirty Harry catolg etc....
When you stand back and think about it, we live in amazing times consumer-technologically. 5 years ago I thought burning my own CDs was awesome- now I have my iPod with thousands of songs hooked up to my car....

Re:I'm down- (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906628)

Why would this have to be an either/or proposition?

I do think TV is different from music and I do agree with Steve Jobs that people are used to buying music. The concept of renting your favorite music and paying a monthly fee seems pretty odd. But some of this is because that's the way it's always been. For more than 100 years, from the old wax-cyllinders and player-piano rolls, people have bought music.

Conversely, for most of it's history, people have paid to watch video due to the technology. TVs have only been in widespread use in America for 50 years or so. The ability to "buy" a movie has only been around for about 30 years and has only seen any kind of popularity for maybe 15 or 20 years. There are still plenty of people who go to the video store to rent movies.

I actually hit this recently. My cable got screwed up on Wednesday night and I missed "Lost." "Well," I figured, "I can always buy it from iTunes!" But, as much as I enjoy the show, I don't really care about "owning" one episode--possibly not even a favorite episode, just one that I missed. I'd rather just pay some money to watch it. Fortunately, I didn't have a problem--the episode was a rerun anyway.

So I could see video being an either/or proposition--definitely more so than music. You might see one episode for $1.99. You might see a "one viewing" license for $1. And you might see subscriptions for $20. I might pay $1 to watch an episode and then buy that episode because it was so good. I might watch two or three episodes, decide I'm hooked, and pay the $20 for the subscription.

Re:I'm down- (1)

GreyWolf3000 (468618) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906123)

I am sure I will get made fun of for this, but I actually subscribed to the Hallmark channel to get Walker Texas Ranger.

I'd laugh, but I kind of like that show too. Used to be on USA a lot back-to-back with Highlander. Good times.

$1. an episode, ok. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13906015)

I'd consider $1. an episode for some stuff, IF I could:

1) store it in the format of my choice
2) make a backup copy in the format of my choice
3) be assured that sometime within my lifetime the copyright will expire and the broadcast / show / performace would enter the public doman, say 25 years after first broadcast. Heck, I'd settle for 25 years after the death of the major actors.

Enough of this mickey-mouse (yes, that was a direct jab) bullshit about extending copyrights and trademarks.

If the actors are all dead and only their estate remains, then sorry for their estate, but stop profiting off of the work of dead people.

Bandwidth (5, Insightful)

Bones3D_mac (324952) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906029)

The interesting thing with doing this, is that the amount of bandwidth needed for these older shows is far lower than that of the modern programs, such as Lost. Many of these older television shows only need to be encoded in greyscale and given a mono soundtrack. This could be a great, yet, inexpensive way to give the itunes video store some credibility.

Re:Bandwidth (1)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906110)

I think it is a hardware issue though. Until there is a simple way for it to work on the TVs in the house, it won't take off. Even with a Big old monitor, watching TV on the computer isn't much fun. (Then again, 5 years ago I never thought I would have my morning coffee in front of my computer while reading the paper online.. so who knows...).
This is true of many technologies that could be deployed if we had the infastructure.

Re:Bandwidth (0)

foo12 (585116) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906187)

Just because an image appears grey does not mean it is composed of only grey colors. Think warm grey vs. cool grey.

Re:Bandwidth (1)

Piquan (49943) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906225)

I'm not so sure. When I was coverting 10 and 15 year-old film to digital, I discovered that the degredation of the film seemed to significantly increase the encoded filesize. MPEG is good at dealing with surfaces, patterns, gradients, stuff like that. Not so much at dealing with random noise.

Re:Bandwidth (1)

adpowers (153922) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906330)

This is true, but wouldn't they have ways to reduce grain and other problems? I mean hell, they fixed up the Star Wars movies for DVD (and broke them in many other areas, but they didn't improve color), I'd imagine they could reduce grain and stuff on old TV shows. However, would this be price prohibitive? They want to sell these shows on the cheap, which they might not be able to do if they have go through and improve the quality of each one. However, IANA Video Engineer or whatever, so I wouldn't know.

Re:Bandwidth (1)

Bones3D_mac (324952) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906574)

Well, you have to consider that most of this work is already done. Many of these old shows, including the really obscure ones, have already been cleaned up and put to DVD. Aside from that, the process for video/film restortion is pretty much automated these days. Really, there's relatively few issues preventing these shows from being ITMS ready within a matter of weeks.

Re:Bandwidth (2, Interesting)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906646)

" Many of these older television shows only need to be encoded in greyscale and given a mono soundtrack. This could be a great, yet, inexpensive way to give the itunes video store some credibility."

Hmm... I have a concern about that. Those old B&W shows were also noisy. Noise is the worst thing to encode. (not just video noise, but depending on the period they used film etc...) They may actually have a hard time encoding those shows at a lower data rate because of the added artifacts that the technology of that era added to the video.

My first thought when you mentioned monochrome encoding was that they'd shave off 2/3rds of the video data right away. But now that I think about it, I'm not so sure. As I understand it, MPEG'ish encoding starts with the green channel and tries to retain as much of the data it can for it since that's where most of the luminance of the data occurs. Red is less important, so it often gets pixelated. Blue is destroyed the worst in the process. Since monochrome data is just luminance, the bulk of the data needed to generate the image is still there.

That said, I've never tried to encode monochrome footage. I don't know that either of the codecs supported by the iPod have a special B&W mode that would encode it with significantly less data. If somebody knows more about this, I'd love to hear from them.

Where's Nick at Nite when you need them? (1)

mcc (14761) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906035)

I don't know about anyone else. But give me the opportunity to buy Get Smart episodes on the internet*, and I will take it.

* As long as it doesn't require Windows to do so.

Re:Where's Nick at Nite when you need them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13906313)

I agree. NickAtNite had Get Smart, then TV Land had it, then it dissapeared, and I was like, "That's the second biggest dissapointment I've ever had." If they do offer the classic shows that nobody sirs for some reason, such as Get Smart, I would jump on the oppurtunity.
Ofcourse, if I do buy content of the internet, I believe there should be no restrictions as to how and with what I can play the content with. And, prices should be reasonable.(And I consider 99cents a song too much, but that's just me(but I buy the music anyways))

I'd buy that for a dollar... (1)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906060)

So long as it was an expansive selection..

I Hope They Bring Back Johnny Nuance (1)

Nova Express (100383) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906071)

Johnny Nuance [typepad.com] , a little-seen but well regarded CBS Western from 1958, sounds like a great candidate for the iPod:

"Although it ran a scant 13 episodes, the western series 'Johnny Nuance' still prompts fond memories among baby boomers who followed the exciting weekly adventures of the treaty-slinging frontier diplomat.

Johnny Nuance! Johnny Nuance!
From the shores of Martha's Vineyard he rode his horse out West,
With a treaty in his holster and a medal on his chest,
Bringing law and justice to a wild and violent land,
Talking was his creed and sanctions were his brand!
Johnny Nuance! Johnny Nuance! (Hyahhh!)
Outlaws feared his blazing pen!"

Re:I Hope They Bring Back Johnny Nuance (1)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906255)

"Johnny Nuance' still prompts fond memories among baby boomers who followed the exciting weekly adventures of the treaty-slinging frontier diplomat."

shit, i thought this post a joke about John Kerry (did you know he was in Vietnam for 4 months?)

I wrote about this too... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13906109)

I wrote on my blog [slashdot.org] about a similar idea to resurrect the StarTrek franchise. Eugenia

Wh not? (1)

JohnWiney (656829) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906111)

Because most of it wasn't very good.

old time tv shows (0, Troll)

dexomn (147950) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906112)

It could probably resurrect your mom.

80s TV shows... (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906113)

I would like to watch TV shows (cartoons and sitcoms) from the 80s, not just before I was born.

At $1 a pop, no chance (3, Insightful)

Jameth (664111) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906121)

They need to realize that, with those old shows, they have a very different market. The amount of people who desperately want their old shows to the point that they'll pay what they would for a recent one is very low, while the amount of people who will say, "Hey that was a kinda cool show. I'd like to have a copy of that for a couple of cents," is very high. And, since the entire show has already had its run and made its money, selling them at $0.25 or $0.50 a show instead of $1 per episode is still making a profit.

Naturally, I'd consider paying a half-dollar an episode for one of the good slightly old shows, like The Prisoner or The Six Million Dollar Man.

Re:At $1 a pop, no chance (1)

c_forq (924234) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906192)

If they can sell all there songs for $1 I don't see why these couldn't sell at the same price. Plus if they diversify their prices too much here the music companies may get some leverage to enforce higher prices in the music store.

Re:At $1 a pop, no chance (1)

Jameth (664111) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906364)

"If they can sell all there songs for $1 I don't see why these couldn't sell at the same price."

Because people really, really like music and most of that music is new and fresh. Also, one good song gives more use than one good video. Owned videos tend to be watched two or three times by a person, maybe a few times a year if they are really good (this is purely anecdotal). Good music will often be listened to two or three times a day for several weeks in a row (also anecdotal). All told, the music is usually used for more total time due to the fact that it is passive entertainment. That is, you can listen to a song while doing almost anything, but you can do relatively little that is useful while watching a video.

Re:At $1 a pop, no chance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13906222)

I'd happily pay $1 for a half hour of commercial free entertainment that I can view for the rest of my life.

Another example of The Long Tail (3, Interesting)

The Mutant (167716) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906141)

I see a market for this, driven by the need of someone, somewhere, who wants to see an episode of some older TV show, or even a current TV show that doesn't have mass appeal. Appeal that's in the upper 20% of overall demand that is.

iTunes is a very effective distribution medium, and has helped the careers of many a smaller label / band, and even moved significant amount of back catalog.

Currently the networks are marketing to the top 20% in terms of demand, and ignoring the remaining 80% because they don't have the broadcast capacity.

Teaming up with iTunes they do. Another example of The Long Tail [wikipedia.org] .

I see this working.

Re:Another example of The Long Tail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13906289)

Mod parent up!

3 cheers for the Long Tail... Internet distribution and retailers embracing the long tail
are responsible for me being able to find lots of great old music I probably wouldn't have
access to otherwise... it's a very valid principle and generally a Good Thing.

Don't Care (2, Interesting)

Jerry Rivers (881171) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906148)

I don't care if it's Quicktime only. I don't care if I can't make a "backup" copy to give to my friends. I don't really even care about the quality all that much because the quality of 50's and 60's tv shows was generally pretty bad over the air anyway. As long as the price is right (under a dollar) and I can get a wide variety of old shows such as Ripcord, The Man From Uncle, Fireball XL5, or even old kids shows such as The Junior Forest Rangers or Razzle Dazzle, I will buy them. Package sets would also be nice.

I can already imagine (1)

netkid91 (915818) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906160)

The next Apple service, iTv.

Why don't they... (1)

c_forq (924234) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906179)

just bury the old TV shows in that Pet Cemetary on the top of the hill? I'm sure with the added demon possession it will be easier to market.

Let me know when (3, Interesting)

Fahrvergnuugen (700293) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906193)

I can download all of the Wile E. Coyote episodes uncensored. It kills me that they see a need to hack the shit out of the classic looney tunes cartoons to protect kids from viewing violence. It was okay for a whole generation of children and adults alike and now suddenly it's not okay, so they need to censor them.

M*A*S*H (1)

a_greer2005 (863926) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906201)

THis show alone could make a shit load of cash! I am talking 50000 DLs per day -- think aboiut it, there are cable channels that show it like 12 hrs per day (sadly those are the 12 hours I am at work and class)

Also, they could offer both the American and forgin versions, in the UK the show is exactly the same just without the laugh track (acording to a friend who lives there)...this would be an amazing thing if I could buy the whole seriese sands canned laugh.

Re:M*A*S*H (3, Interesting)

henni16 (586412) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906369)

if I could buy the whole seriese sands canned laugh.
Having the seasons 1-8 (9 will be released in Dec, IIRC) on DVD behind me on the shelf:
you can have that right now.
I don't know about the RC1 release, but for the RC2s (1 or 2 seasons of mine are the German DVDs, most are from the UK) I can assure you that they all contain a "laughless" audio track.

Each RC2- season box contains 3 discs with 8 episodes each (sadly, no bonus materials) and sell (at amazon) around 25 pounds(UK) or 20-27 Euro (German, also cotaining laughterless English track).
Judging from the comments at amazon.com (20$ a season) you can turn off the laughter on the RC1s too; at least on the early ones (I checked season 1,2 and 7; BUT 7 didn't list two english tracks so you might want to take a closer look).

So you can get them already for 0.85$-2$ per episode,.

the big problem is getting the rights... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13906217)

The big problem is getting the rights from the copyright holder (and finding the copyright holder!). These old shows were made in a time when broadcast on TV was the only distribution option, and the only thing covered in the contract. To sell by another method you need to get the rights & make a new contract, otherwise you're opening yourself up to a big fat lawsuit.

Even today, to release recent (1970s) TV shows on DVD, the hardest part is getting the rights to the music used in the TV show.

Since everyone in the entertainment business is aware of the fiction of "net profits" they want to have a share of the gross.

Re:the big problem is getting the rights... (2, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906308)

This should have been a non-issue. If copyright laws were still in compliance with the US constitution, these old shows would have entered the public domain years ago.

Where the money is. (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906219)

Just like with the music store, the big money is in the back-catalog sales. There are hundreds of thousands of TV shows from the 20th century, and only a few of them live on in syndication the way that the Andy Griffith Show or I Love Lucy have. There's only so much room in broadcast and even satellite TV schedules, so most of those old shows just sit on a shelf, making no money at all for their owners.

I know there are hundreds of episodes of old cartoons I'd love to get, for a start.

-jcr

Re:Where the money is. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13906291)

captn fukn planet

No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13906273)

It cannot.

Deers in the Headlight. (0, Offtopic)

ToeNipples (838697) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906304)

Deer in the headlights!

But, what about ... (1)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906319)

I think those rabbit ears will be a big problem on an iPod. You need those to watch old time TV - at least that is my recollection. It was a long time ago. I could be mistaken.

Playhouse 90, Hallmark Theater, etc (1)

paranerd (672669) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906347)

I would pay for old Playhouse 90, Hallmark Theater, and American Playhouse specials. Those were often wonderful experiences that have been lost to the monopolization of our media industry.

Heck with that, there's newer stuff I'd buy. (1)

Matey-O (518004) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906403)

Maximum Bob was a GREAT mini-series...something like 7 episodes. I loved every one of them. It show on TV, then sank from sight, never to be seen again.

I can't wait to see... (1)

snStarter (212765) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906409)

...Les Nesmond on WKRP in Cincinnati broadcast the great turkey drop during their first season. It might be one of the greatest comic episodes of US television history. Of course we might NEVER see it because of music licensing...

eyeteeth (1)

Johnny Mnemonic (176043) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906441)


I would give my eyeteeth for episodes of Mission Impossible, Secret Agent/Danger Man, and the Avengers. And by "eyeteeth" I mean less than the $10/ep that it looks like Amazon wants for those old series.

Well, maybe the Avengers isn't that much at Amazon, but gee, I dunno, it seems like such a commitment. Whereas if I bought one or two, I think I'd wind up spending a lot more by Christmas.

There are a LOT of old shows that have more interest than their contemporaries, yet appear to be almost out of print or hard to find. Whereas once they're digitized they can provide a residual income for ever, even if just one a year is sold--it's not like they're taking up space on a shelf.

Re:eyeteeth (4, Informative)

spisska (796395) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906584)

For what it's worth, my local library (Arlington, VA) has complete collections of the old Avengers, Secret Agent, and I Spy (the one with Bill Cosby) on DVD, plus a lot of other BBC stuff -- Poirot Mysteries, Monty Python, various mini-series, etc -- some HBO series, and quite a few old (and not so old) films. My point is that it's worth checking out libraries in your area before looking into cosmetic dentistry.

they want too much (1)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906451)

They're (they == you know who) are simply asking for too much money. The only reason they haven't been selling this stuff already is that it used to cost too much (fixed + variable) to distribute the bits.

My ass wasn't born yesterday, so I'm gonna pull a number out of it and say that distribution costs have gone down by a factor of 100 since the VHS days (vs bittorrent).

I don't care about fancy menus and stupid commentary tracks. Spare me the pleasantries. Just lemme put the shows on my shelf and i'll give you some buckos. WTF do they need ITunes for? They have the bits, I have the money. We're only as far away as a google search, a URL, and a credit card number. Make it happen at my price and I'll donate a MythTv plugin. Kudos to Steve Jobs for interposing his company as another layer of needless markups.

I recently STOLE the first two seasons of "WKRP", a better than average 70's US sitcom. You can't buy it, largely do to the fact that it contained so much copyrighted music. The way I see it, they're all so busy trying to screw each other they're neglecting their own core business.

I'd happily send someone $15 if they would make an "honest man" out of me for those 50 episodes, but it won't happen. They're too greedy. C'est la guerre.

Here's an idea (all rights reserved), make a "reality" tv show about maximizing viewer satisfaction and distributor profits by efficiently distributing the product.

One man's opionions, take them or leave them.

How about obscure sports, like say cycling... (1)

baroquecycle (712944) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906458)

Along the same lines, I'd love it if I could download complete coverage of cycling events - all the European classics, the TDF, etc. I'd be happy to get it the day after it happened for a couple of bucks. Right now I basically have no options for cycling coverage, unless I pay tons of money to get OLN from Comcast... and even then the coverage is completely anemic and limited to only a couple of events. Why not make money selling something like this, instead of making nothing on it in the US market right now?

The Golden Age to live again? (1)

Mobster (306973) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906477)

This is AWESOME! I would love to see old TV shows to get a second chance. Granted most of us weren't even born when these shows first aired, but they are by far something that needs to be preserved. It's part of the American culture and of broadcasting history. I for one, would gladly get some of these shows. Especially if they leave the old comemricals intact!

"Old Gold! A Smooooth flavor you can enjoy!"

SPOOOOOOOOOON!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13906483)

Not that any of you people care, but I want the TV series "The Tick" (both the animated version and the real-life version - both were great).

Dragnet (1)

rdunnell (313839) | more than 8 years ago | (#13906501)

I'd love the old Dragnet TV series. It never seems to have come out on DVD except for a few of the first black and white ones. I want the one with Harry Morgan!

I keep hoping it will come back on TV Land or something so I can get it with my Tivo and then record it to DVD or something, but if it were available electronically in a format that I could somehow get to the normal TV that would be great too.

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