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TV Industry Using Piracy As A Measure Of Success

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the talking-out-of-both-sides-of-their-face dept.

Television 173

mrspin writes "Last100 has an interesting post from Guinevere Orvis, a web producer who works in the broadcast industry, who describes the way in which 'unofficial' but sanctioned BitTorrent leaks are being used as a measurement of a TV show's likely success. Orvis writes: 'Broadcasters aren't posting their shows directly on PirateBay yet, but they are talking informally and giving copies of shows to a friend of a friend who is unaffiliated with the company to make a torrent ... it's partially an experiment, but the hope is that distribution of content this way will lead to new viewers that wouldn't have been reached through traditional marketing means.'"

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Makes Sense... (5, Interesting)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687402)

How would you feel if you made a product so bad that no one would steal it?

Re:Makes Sense... (1, Funny)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687738)

How would you feel if you made a product so bad that no one would steal it?

I could always ask Microsoft, I guess. Their answer seems to be a simultaneous slackening of WGA lock-out behavior with a grand marketing announcement as to how well their anti-piracy efforts are going (50-some-odd-percent, was it?). Not exactly sure how to translate that for the TV industry, though...

/P

Re:Makes Sense... (5, Insightful)

big_paul76 (1123489) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687790)

You'd then be in the same boat as commercial radio - they've made a product so crappy that not only will people not use it for free, they'll pay 10-15 bucks a month to use something else.

Re:Makes Sense... (5, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688090)

A bit OT, but maybe not...

Commercial Radio and Commercial TV suffer from the same things: crap scheduling, a lot of crap content with few gems buried among said crap (e.g. the occasional song that plays during "The Morning Zo0!!!11!111" on the radio, or conversely, television jammed to the gills with lame sitcoms and reality shows with the occasional "oh shit that was cool!" show wedged in there)... things like that.

They both suffer from being packed to the rafters with commercials.

Now, not all of either industry is like that - for instance, 94.7 FM (in Portland, OR) doesn't do morning "shows" at all - they play music all morning, with a couple of blurbs for "The Jon Stewart Minute" and a short 5-minute episode detailing how an alternative-type band or singer's career came and went. The closest they come to any kind of thing is what they call "The 8 at 8", where they play 8 songs in a row with a common theme... sometimes lame, but sometimes pretty inventive. They keep the commercials to a minimum (less than most, anyway), and even in the evenings on weekdays, the most you see that isn't straight-up music playing is a two-hour-long program of techno/alternative/industrial mixes by local DJ's (most of which aren't half bad).

Rattled on too long there... sorry. Now by contrast, broadcast commercial TV networks suck as a rule, but occasionally something decent shows on it. Their problem isn't the media format or technical means of delivery - it's the way the medium is being strangled for every last drop of revenue it has, and to the detriment of the folks watching it. I'm not even really talking show content here, which also suffers greatly from this. As a producer, if you've only got 36 minutes to tell a story (or at least some of it) in a full 60-minute slot --not counting time spent on intro and credits-- you tend to drop subtleties and intricacies in a hurry - as a result the show quickly becomes crap unless carefully constructed).

Little wonder that people are drifting away from television in general, truth be told...

/P

Re:Makes Sense... (1)

big_paul76 (1123489) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688358)

First let me say how I envy you for having a decent radio station... Although a news-junkie like me tends to listen to CBC mostly up here in the great white north...

But anyways...

Yeah, you're absolutely right, it's the desire to squeeze every single last drop of revenue. Which, I suspect, is why the best shows on the air (my personal vote is for "The Wire" and "Dexter") have been HBO/showcase et. al., 1 hour timeslot really means basically 1 hour that way.

A bit off topic, but didn't the royalty system for radio airplay have to be enforced on copyright holders by the government?

Re:Makes Sense... (4, Insightful)

packeteer (566398) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688652)

kexp.org

No commercials, good music, streaming over the internet if you don't live in Seattle.

Re:Makes Sense... (2, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21689516)

Which, I suspect, is why the best shows on the air (my personal vote is for "The Wire" and "Dexter") have been HBO/showcase et. al., 1 hour timeslot really means basically 1 hour that way.


1 hour slots on HBO/Showtime tend to have less than one hour of show in them, by several minutes, though its not as far short of the full hour as on commercial networks. And the filler is in institials at the ends of the time slot, rather than interruptions in the flow of the show.

Re:Makes Sense... (1)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688012)

"How would you feel if you made a product so bad that no one would steal it?"

They did, it was called "The Bionic Woman".

Just like Fansubs of Anime (2, Interesting)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688634)

The North American Anime distribution companies have been using Bittorrent distribution of fansubs to tell how popular new shows are for years now. The thing is, is that it works very well. The popularity of the fan subbed version either means that there is a strong niche/cult following, or that it will have strong widespread popularity.

Re:Makes No Sense At All... (1)

nickrout (686054) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688674)

How is a "sanctioned" release "piracy".

Re:Makes No Sense At All... (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21689270)

Just apply liberal amounts of doublethink.

Re:Makes No Sense At All... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21689414)

I'd guess its probably because the 'friend of a friend' who releases it has permission to do so, other users do not.

It would be interesting to see what royalty collection agencies would say about this. I'd love to see them sue tv companies over lost income.. at $222,000 per infringement.

Where are these new tv shows? (1, Offtopic)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687412)

I thought the whole industry was supposed to be on hold while they figured their union shit out. I do wonder if they'll have to start importing british shows to fill the dead air that's left when they've rerun every episode of friends and sex in the city.

Re:Where are these new tv shows? (2, Interesting)

mini me (132455) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687520)

I'm wondering why independent shows haven't started popping up and gaining in popularity over the internet. Talk about the perfect opportunity to change how TV is produced and delivered while the majors are down and out.

Re:Where are these new tv shows? (2, Informative)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687602)

Well, there are some, just look at the sort of things that popup on youtube from time to time. Every now and then there will be something independent that makes a splash on the internet, but there are a number of barriers to mass popularity. The most important is probably one of advertising. Without at the very minimum a central channel or resource to promote the show people simple won't know about it. Relying entirely on word of mouth a show can still be popular, but it won't get the kinds of numbers most mainstream cable shows can pull in. The second smaller hurdle is one of quality. It still takes some money and talent to produce a good show, and results are all over the board for most of the independents that are running on shoestring budgets.

Re:Where are these new tv shows? (2, Interesting)

AmaDaden (794446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687726)

I would love to see some better TV out there but I get the feeling that WGA writers are not to blame for shitty TV. A lot of the shows that I like such as the Daily show, House, Family guy and the Simpsons are down from the WGA strike but other shitty shows are still up and running. It seems like WGA writers make for better TV not worse.

The list of hurting shows [wikipedia.org]

Re:Where are these new tv shows? (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688020)

Um, Family Guy is not shitty TV?

Maybe when they started out, sure. But not now. Now it's just the same old premise over and over.

Re:Where are these new tv shows? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687908)

Oh, they have popped up. You just don't get bombarded with previews and trailers on TV. I mean, why would they want to raise some kind of competition?

Re:Where are these new tv shows? (1)

XPisthenewNT (629743) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687946)

I'm guessing because it takes time and money to produce something worthwhile.

To make money from a show you need to have advertising. You can't convince people to give you money if you have no product and no clear business plan that gives the advertisers some idea of their return on investment.

PS, I bet there are lots of amateur level shows on say, youtube... have you heard of any?

Re:Where are these new tv shows? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688226)

"I'm wondering why independent shows haven't started popping up and gaining in popularity over the internet."

They have, but they're few and far between. Despite popular belief, it's not easy to make a good TV sho. Writing and acting actually require a good deal of talent. Set design and construction require a good deal of money and labor. Funding requires faith in your product. It's not like there was a hoarde of independent TV show makers simply waiting for a delivery mechanism. They've had that for at least 5 years, 10 for early adopters.

That said, there have been a couple of successes. This, of course, depends on how you measure success. I'm going simply by positive reaction here, meaning the likelihood is good they'd be able to gain a big audience if they were really on TV. Ninjai had quite a following. It was a Flash animated series that ran in 11 chunks. In the end, it had a lot of people keeping an eye on it. (Pity it has died.) The other.. I can't remember the name of it, but it's a fan made Star Trek TV show. It even managed to get actors from the original series to appear in it. Sadly, there's no way they'll ever make money off it, rights issues etc.

Anyway Im just kind of babbling right now. There are some shows out there, but don't expect an explosion of them. Even if you know what you're doing, it's VERY hard to make an 'episode' of something. That's an underlying reality that won't be overcome by some technological magic bullet.

Re:Where are these new tv shows? (1)

LouisZepher (643097) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687526)

What, and have programs that are actually good? No, no, we can't have that now can we?

Coupling (1)

piltdownman84 (853358) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687686)

Its crashed and burned when they tried to redo it stateside, but I think Coupling would do really well here. Its so funny. Hell air Footballers Wives in the Desperate Housewives time slot, and see I'd would think it would be a mini hit. Little Britain might be the first as the show is moving over now anyways.

Re:Coupling (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688028)

BBC's Coupling was damnably funny. I think that if they had marketed that AS IS in America, it would have done better. "Oh, this is a show about british people. OK."

Re:Where are these new tv shows? (1)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687748)

Most of the scripted shows have only started going into reruns over the past week or two as they've run out of already filmed shows. The networks also have several episodes of shows slated to be midseason replacements that are also already in the can. Some of them may even trot out shows that were originally rejected in order to fill time. Most (all?) of the networks also have a selection of reality shows that have no writers (or at least not any union writers) ready to go on the air. So basically, the new stuff will likely suck, but there will still be some new stuff.

If the strike goes on for a very long time, expect to see schedules filled with almost entirely reality and game shows.

Re:Where are these new tv shows? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687938)

Now that would certainly crush any kind of sympathy for the writers. Those network bastards!

Cost of Piracy (5, Insightful)

kaoshin (110328) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687418)

Since piracy statistics are being used to help with marketing and increase profits, is this a measureable reduction to the actual cost piracy has on the industry?

Re:Cost of Piracy (1)

Compholio (770966) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687886)

Since piracy statistics are being used to help with marketing and increase profits, is this a measureable reduction to the actual cost piracy has on the industry?
Losses due to piracy is up by $3 billion, but our marketing costs are down $10 billion. We better sue the pirates before it's too late!

Re:Cost of Piracy (1)

kaoshin (110328) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688004)

I should have bolded the word actual.

Re:Cost of Piracy (2, Interesting)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688946)

Since piracy statistics are being used to help with marketing and increase profits, is this a measureable reduction to the actual cost piracy has on the industry?

As far as I've heard, TV companies haven't been so vicious at hunting down pirates. Not as bad as the movie companies, and certainly not as bad as the RIAA.

It's probably that their product goes out free to all anyway - ad-supported, sure, but there's no revenue coming in directly from people watching the show. A heavily pirated show is clearly a popular show and a sign of success. Many of the pirates are people in whose country the show is not yet out - like, say, Brits watching season 2 of Heroes. Not that I'd be one of them or anything. These pirates build buzz about the show ahead of time - and they'll quite likely get their friends to watch when it finally does air, and watch it again with them.

Ever watched the flags go by in the 'Peers' window on KTorrent? That's a TV marketer's dream. Just sit there and see where you ought to target your show overseas.

Brings to mind... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21687420)

It's good that Slashdot's level of success isn't measured by uptime.

Free Distribution (5, Insightful)

TheLazySci-FiAuthor (1089561) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687430)

What they call 'Piracy' will continue to rise - there is no point at which it will retract. I wonder if they have added into their estimations the accelerating growth of this piracy they are measuring.

Which brings me to something that I've been wondering about for a while; how would the entertainment industry survive if there was theoretically no way to protect their intellectual property from open and free distribution. How would they handle a world where there was no legal route to enforcing a royalty-style or licensed payment system?

Because it is my thoughts that as our world further connects itself together that this is exactly what will happen in the (no so distant?) future.

At least in the technological sense, the legal sense is difficult to gauge, though I hope the legal system will suffer a major overhaul in the coming decades.

Re:Free Distribution (3, Insightful)

Enoxice (993945) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687644)

A total overhaul of the legal system? Do you have any idea how much work that is? Rethinking our morals as a species, and now lots of "new" technology comes under consideration, opposing views and interests, etc...

As much as I'd like to see that, I feel like society as a whole is far too lazy to do more than talk about such things until there is some major shift in society that makes them realize that laws and government aren't perpetual and tend to lose power as society revokes it.

Sadly, I feel like over the years people have come to trust the government and almost think of it as a given in the natural order of things.

Re:Free Distribution (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687676)

What they call 'Piracy' will continue to rise
Well at least the Global Warming Problem [venganza.org] will be solved...

Re:Free Distribution (4, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687810)

How would they handle a world where there was no legal route to enforcing a royalty-style or licensed payment system?
People will pay for convenience. I know I've hit the "Buy" button on iTunes more than once because it wasn't worth the effort to look for something on P2P or usenet. I occasionally hit Blockbuster rather than wait for a movie to download. Movies would likely still have some exclusivity because of their theater run. Money can still be made from music through commercial licensing and live shows.

People will pay for an "exclusive". If they offered a pay download of the "Sopranos" finale, you can bet that people would rush to buy it - not willing to wait for it to be uploaded to the P2P sites.

Ads can be intertwined more with the content. People probably wouldn't bother editing out all the scene where Ross in a future "Friends" style show is constantly holding a Pepsi or has dialog talking about how sweet Chandler's new Chevy is. It might be difficult to work in laundry detergent ads into soap operas, so I guess they'll have to wait until the writers call off the strike.

Finally, I don't think that YouTube and its ilk would suck so much if it wasn't essentially competing with mainstream TV and movies. I mean, there would still be mountains of crap, but there might also be more fun stuff on there. Even as it is, I can kill a lot of time just browsing around.

One thing is for certain - society would go on... this stuff just isn't that important. :)

Re:Free Distribution (2, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687900)

Treat the internet like public airwaves.

"Transmit" unencumbered official versions of shows from network
websites with all of the add still intact just as if you had
captured it yourself with MythTV or MCE.

Most lazy people won't bother to remove the ads.

These are the same people that own Tivos or cable provider PVRs
and don't bother to set them up.

Make it easier to get their version. Make the pirate networks redundant.

eventually, compulsory/statutory license... (2, Interesting)

big_paul76 (1123489) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687976)

My prediction is, eventually, a compulsory license will be the only way.

You probably can't stop piracy short of Trusted Computing, and that's if and only if trusted computing turns out to be 'unhackable', which history shows is probably unlikely. And the down sides to Trusted Computing aren't worth it anyway.

So, eventually, the only way is a flat fee compulsory license that is tacked onto your ISP bill. Then some system of measuring "# of downloads per show/song/movie", distribute funds accordingly.

Now, the elephant in the room is, this may lead to a situation where meat-puppets who won a genetic lottery that makes them nice to look at will not be making 7 and 8-figure salaries for a movie that takes less than a year to shoot.

Historically, actors and musicians were somewhere between working class types and prostitutes, on the social status ladder. It may end up returning to that eventually. Same with producers and directors etc. These guys seem to think that they're entitled to office space at 100 bucks/sq. ft, private planes, and 7-figure salaries, like it's in the constitution or something.

Re:Free Distribution (1)

log1385 (1199377) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687994)

If only an overhaul of the legal system would take place. Unfortunatly, the government is like a poorly written computer program. If something doesn't work, they either don't fix it or try to write some new code to fix it, instead of just fixing the original problem.

Re:Free Distribution (1)

kEnder242 (262421) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688092)

The entertainment industry needs to realize that they only have one advantage, they distribute first.

The whole issue is here because, nowadays, distribution isn't expensive. I currently pay (from wire to eyes) ~50 cents/Gig for content that I can time shift/copy/archive any way I want. (This doesn't include my hefty investment in a home theater system.)

There is only one way to survive. Its like the slashdot subscription; I'm willing to spend an extra dollar to get content a day early. Now, they could still try to 'teir' their content by delaying releases with increasing fidelity. It's been done before, but that usually just ticks me off.

Re:Free Distribution (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688324)

how would the entertainment industry survive if there was theoretically no way to protect their intellectual property from open and free distribution

Product placement.

O RLY??? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21687442)

FRIST!

Smarter than the average media exec? (1)

Duncan Blackthorne (1095849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687468)

I'm glad to see some signs of intelligent life out there, perhaps the MPAA and RIAA will take the hint too?

Not suprising (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21687470)

This isn't really surprising. A colleague of mine used to run a warez site back in the day. He claimed that he often got his stuff directly from the companies.

SLASHDOT SUX0RZ (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21687486)

_0_
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'=o='
.|!|
.| |
TV industry using goatse as a measure of success [goatse.ch]

They won't have to resort to piracy . . . (4, Insightful)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687490)

Many television networks are putting many of their popular shows online now, for free. All the major networks: CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox -- are all putting full episode content on their websites now. Even Sci-Fi is starting to do it, although they don't have too many shows with full episodes up (but a. they're owned by NBC, who is getting into the online distribution format quite rapidly and b. they're probably realizing that a good number of their shows are popular with geeks that know how to share their shows via bittorrent quite readily). I wouldn't be surprised if a few more networks, like Comedy Central, get into the action. I think what's happening is that the corporations that run the networks have seen how a site like Youtube has practically sprouted up overnight, and they're seeing this as a way to reach out to more people (and thereby increase their advertising streams and revenue).

Re:They won't have to resort to piracy . . . (1)

boris111 (837756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687586)

Add Cartoon Network to that list. I watch my Boondocks and Aqua Teen Hunger Force on the website. Although there are commercials it's much more tolerable since there is only one 20 second spot per commerecial slot. Closer to how TV used to be. I can put up with that amount. I feel like it's fair.

Re:They won't have to resort to piracy . . . (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687634)

Watch it on Veoh TV's [www.veoh.tv] software. You get the full episode here, but you're using other software to pull the episodes, not the network's own software, so it only gets the initial ad at the beginning and not the other ads throughout the show,... ;-)

Re:They won't have to resort to piracy . . . (1)

boris111 (837756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688070)

How did this one slip by me. I'll give it a try. I see the UI is a little more television friendly than Miro.

Re:They won't have to resort to piracy . . . (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687658)

Having shows available free online is great. The still-missing component, however, is a way to view online shows (be it from youtube, nbc.com, whomever) on your TV, at your convenience. I just can't believe tivo isn't all over this.

Re:They won't have to resort to piracy . . . (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687798)

Many newer PCs, particularly those with "decent" graphics cards (not the "integrated video" of the cheap ones), have S-video output built right in. Just get a standard S-video cable from Wal-Mart or Target for $10-20, and connect to your television's S-video input. If you're TV only has standard RCA inputs, you can get a converter for another $10-20.

Ok, so there's still that little "problem" of your computer being in a different room than your TV, right? Unless of course, you have a notebook PC with wi-fi -- problem solved. Many notebooks are probably more apt to have the S-video out as well, since that can be used for presentation graphics. But you still might have to shell out a bit more than $500 for your basic, el cheapo notebook PC,...

Comedy Central (1)

dj245 (732906) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687742)

I wouldn't be surprised if a few more networks, like Comedy Central, get into the action. I think what's happening is that the corporations that run the networks have seen how a site like Youtube has practically sprouted up overnight, and they're seeing this as a way to reach out to more people (and thereby increase their advertising streams and revenue).

Comedy Central recently added the entire library of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to their website. This is a tremendous amount of content that you could spend weeks watching if you wanted to and not see the same episode twice. This is good, since new episodes are currently suspended due to the Writer's Guild Strike or something similarly silly.

Free Internet distribution and the WGA Strike (1)

sakusha (441986) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688022)

Many television networks are putting many of their popular shows online now, for free. All the major networks: CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox -- are all putting full episode content on their websites now.

That's what the Writer's Guild strike is all about. The studios would vastly prefer to distribute their shows via the internet, because they do not have to pay royalties for online distribution. None. Zero. This gives them a huge incentive to avoid distribution under the well-negotiated royalty rates for broadcast TV, and instead, use the internet, which did not really exist when the last contracts were negotiated. That's how they can afford to give the shows away for free, they don't have to pay for them.

Every authorized internet distribution of a TV show is screwing someone who worked hard to create it.

I don't get it (3, Insightful)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687500)

If possession of pre-release material is a felony, then why would a TV exec condone this? So downloading is ok if it helps make the companies money? Am I the only one that sees something fundamentally wrong with this?

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21687616)

If possession of pre-release material is a felony, then why would a TV exec condone this?

A) It's not.
B) Even if it were, you're assuming that TV execs act rationally.

Re:I don't get it (5, Insightful)

boyfaceddog (788041) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687922)

Yes, downloading is okay if it makes the company money. Remember that anyone with a television can 'download' the 'streaming content' from the 'providers' for free any time they want to. They can even 'timeshift' the broadcast to watch it later. The problem was never that the broadcasters were afraid of this technology it was that they were afraid of what this technology would do to traditional broadcasting. Now that the ship is sinking the raft doesn't look so bad.

Deja vu? (2, Insightful)

uberphear (984901) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687506)

This story is terribly redolent of this instance [torrentfreak.com] of an independent film producer receiving a tonne of publicity (and sales) for his film because it was widely pirated.

Personally, I never saw the problem with the piracy of TV shows: a large proportion of those who watch them, assuming they like them, will probably watch the original broadcast or the next episode when it's aired anyway. It's a different matter for large-scale, large-budget Hollywood films, but in instances like these, I think that this is a move in the right direction.

Leaked pilots (3, Informative)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687508)

Many new shows this year were leaked weeks and months before their pilot aired, undoubtedly creating early talk about the shows that they wouldn't get otherwise.

I watched a few and they helped me make decisions, half of the Geico Cavemen pilot was enough forever, and the Sarah Connor Chronicles pilot renewed my interest in the Terminator series and I'm totally pumped for the show this January or February.

Re:Leaked pilots (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687606)

Many new shows this year were leaked weeks and months before their pilot aired, undoubtedly creating early talk about the shows that they wouldn't get otherwise.

Why do you think Sci-Fi released their two minute mini-episodes, both on air and on the web, throughout the fall season? They're trying to create that buzz themselves, and get people to watch Razor and the next season in the spring,...

Re:Leaked pilots (1)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687974)

Nor did the Sci-Fi Channel gripe much when the whole Razor episode was leaked and viewed by thousands via-torrent weeks before the episode aired. The episode was CREATED solely to keep BDG fans interested as we wait for new episodes in March. They could not care less what method was used to get the show to the most viewers.

Re:Leaked pilots (1)

V'Shael (126156) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688704)

It couldn't have helped them much so.
Heroes 2nd volume sucked major assage.
The Bionic Woman... meh. Every reviewer and his uncle told them that the Starbuck chick was an audience fave, and the actual star was as boring as drying paint. And what changes did they make? They got rid of the deaf sister, and her deafness.
Journeyman has already been cancelled.

If NBC was planning to use P2P as a sort of major focus group thing, ploughing the interwebs for comments on their leaked shows, they didn't listen very well.

Re:Leaked pilots (1)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 6 years ago | (#21689116)

Well, this isn't exactly your typical season for new TV shows. Many new shows are not even being considered for continuation due to the writer's strike. I kind of enjoyed Bionic Woman, and I think it would have continued past eight episodes if not for the strike, maybe not for a second season though.

Win-Win, or alternately catch-22 (5, Funny)

teklob (650327) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687510)

And then if the show doesn't take off, they can always recoup their losses by suing the pirate...

not only bittorrent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21687518)

I hear some corporations have also taken to "broadcasting" their TV shows wirelessly for free to those with the required receiver technology. I have no idea how long they can keep that up -- there is after all valuable intellectual property involved.

Not surprised... (1)

shoptroll (544006) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687548)

I know I saw House M.D steadily increase in seeds over the course of the first two seasons, and I'm pretty certain the same thing happened with Heroes last season.

It's not too bad a benchmark, I mean, if something is popular people are gonna want it. So they should see increased viewership and piracy as something gets popular. Which is kinda "duh" when you think about it.

Re:Not surprised... (5, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688010)

Actually if it wasn't for torrents, I would have never been hooked on House. I have a fairly well set aversion against doc shows. I somehow can't stomach the usual tear squeezing and heart-rending stories of someone dying (or not dying so someone else has to or what not), and generally I don't feel for the patient.

Now finally there's a doc who shares my feelings. Quite refreshing!

I saw the show at a friend's who got a few episodes from torrents. So now I'm sitting every week for an hour in front of the TV watching. That's one viewer more they wouldn't have without that torrent existing, or at the very least it would have taken me a lot longer to find out that I do actually want to see this medical show.

Damn straight. (1)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688082)

I never would have tuned into Heroes, except that I saw a torrent of the first episode, halfway into the first season. Never would have purchased the whole season on DVD either, but I did.

I perfect example of how pirating helps the networks, IF the shows are good. People will tune and and buy the DVDs for the best quality image and sound of a show they already like.

I don't get how it's really "piracy" (2, Interesting)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687568)

For network TV, I fail how to see this as piracy. With an antenna and DVR, I can record it and replay without their express permission. So if someone else does it for me, is it still pirating? I'm gonna watch the show with my DVR or a torrent version from someone else, but the end result is the same. I watch the show.

This is exactly how I got hooked on Jericho. I watched the series after it got canceled. I really liked it and ending up watching it again with my friends, who, in turn enjoyed it. Now, we're waiting for the show in mid-January. With HD recording software of course.

Re:I don't get how it's really "piracy" (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687832)

With an antenna and DVR, I can record it and replay without their express permission. So if someone else does it for me, is it still pirating?
Yes, actually. [lifehacker.com]

Re:I don't get how it's really "piracy" (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688080)

It's all about control and ratings. If they could somehow keep you from taping the show, they would. Well, with the onset of the digital age, they will be able to, but that's not the point now.

The difference is that you're not in their rating when you download the show. When you watch it when it's aired, first of all you watch the ads, which in turn means you are watching at all, and that in turn means one viewer more. Imagine the best show on earth, but only one person watching it, torrenting it and seeding it. It's canceled within a season, despite everyone being hooked on it, but everyone just gets it from torrents.

And then there's control. Control over content. When there were only a few people taping a show that later turned out to be great, you can easily do a complete rerun between seasons and still get perfect ratings, because everyone's trying to see the old episodes. When they've been out on torrents, everyone has already watched them.

Control runs deeper, which can easily be seen with Disney. But that's a completely different matter.

It's nice to see that the networks finally understood the value of advertising can offset the benefit of being able to rerun your shows a few more times (because instead of mediocre ratings twice, you get perfect ratings once. Which is worth a hell lot more in the ratings war).

I, for one... (3, Interesting)

radarsat1 (786772) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687576)

I, for one, can attest that I've definitely discovered a few new shows by simply checking the list of most-seeded torrents on some web site.

I've also discovered that it's not always an indication of quality. :)

RSS+Torrents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21687594)

I canceled my cable TV about a year ago now. I still watch a few shows: House, The Daily show+Colbert Report, Lost, BSG, and 24. The TV torrent tracker I use provides an RSS feed, so I setup a few filters and shows get downloaded automatically when they're available. It's usually 1-2 days behind the broadcast by the time it finishes, but that's fine for me I don't mind waiting.

Now if only this damn strike hadn't happened, but I suppose it's worth it if the writers end up getting more.

Re:RSS+Torrents (2, Interesting)

un1xl0ser (575642) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687838)

1-2 days? That sounds seriously lagged. Either there are serious bandwidth issues with the seeders, or you aren't using the correct site. It isn't uncommon to see pre-air releases and pilots on Usenet/torrent sites, so sometimes you get it well before it is broadcast. You also have the advantage of getting it from any market, and sometimes (but rarely) schedules in other countries (Canada and Australia come to mind), will lead to releases even a few hours early.

After air in the east coast, I expect it to be available online in 10 minutes. Generally I can have it downloaded in 20 minutes or so, for ~350 MiB episodes. Again, this is a second hand copy. I assume that someone grabs the scene release off of somewhere (Usenet/ftp) and then seeds the torrent.

If they broadcast it through my airwaves, I don't have a problem downloading it. That's my rationalization. :-)

Re:RSS+Torrents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21687940)

1-2 days is the time it takes to get queued up, work it's way through the queue, download, and sit around waiting for me to actually watch it.

If all I was doing was TV shows I'm sure I could be watching shows the same night they aired, maybe the same time because of the Eeast/West time difference you mentioned, but I don't always get around to it that fast. And my max download speed is 500kb/s, but it rarely maxes out, 20 min. for 350 sounds like you might have a faster connection than me. I've got the fastest available for my area, I'd switch if there were better options.

Re:RSS+Torrents (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687956)

1-2 days? I use TVShows.app + rtorrent. I usually have the show the night that it airs. Only more obscure stuff like Nip/Tuck I'll wake up to in the morning. But popular shows: Heroes, Lost, How I met your Mother, Mythbusters. I usually get it before midnight (CST).

Umm... (2, Insightful)

StarvingSE (875139) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687596)

Ok, so what if I, Joe Pirate, go and download the latest episode of Lost from the pirate bay and subsequently get sued for copyright infringement. What if this episode was something that was leaked "unofficially" by the studio. Since it is done under the radar, the mafiaa officials won't know the difference. They're basically baiting you.

It's like putting a diamond ring on a park bench, hiding in the bushes, and then calling the police when someone picks it up.

Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21687916)

As the copyright holder they can distribute episodes freely if they desire. However their distribution doesn't grant you redistribution rights. So what they will nail you for is uploading, not downloading the file. Since that is how P2P networks are supposed to operate they would be baiting you in a sense.

The unofficial 'friend of a friend' aspect seems nonsensical. It doesn't matter if they're a friend, a subsidiary, a third party, or the CEO, so long as they are authorized to distribute the files. If they aren't, then whoever is doing it for them is as liable for infinity billion dollars as anyone else, and whoever is leaking the stuff is subject to termination, being sued, perhaps criminal charges, etc. So for the sake of whatever suckers seed these things, I hope they're authorized.

Thanks for the question Joe (1)

xilmaril (573709) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688254)

Well Joe, anti-piracy lawsuits, and the fear that goes with them, are actually a healthy part of the Media Ecosystem. You see, there exists a test bed for new shows, where they are usually created, and then individual market players can get all sue-happy, or whatever they like, confined in the test-bed known as the 'united states of america'.

Because you see, my dear Joe Pirate, nobody of consequence (eg. me, in calm Canada) gets sued. It's all these imaginary "americans", who as you know from watching television, are a make-believe people that couldn't possibly exist in real life. I mean, just imagine some of the whacky [betanews.com] hijinks [lawandhelp.com] these "americans" get up to every week. They're ridiculous, really only a Corporate-Media creation for our entertainment.

This allows the consumers, you and me, to download all the shows we like in peace, secure in the knowledge that immoral copyright lawsuits and whatnot will only happen in fictional [fox.com] programming [cnn.com] , where it belongs.

Re:Umm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21689088)

Understand that there are different business models in play here.

TV's model is selling eyeballs to advertisers, though sometimes they forget that.

The show producers sell content to the TV networks and channels, evidence that the show will attract eyeballs is a selling point for them.

Movies lease content to theaters and TV (and have been dumping to risk off on investors of late, I don't know how much longer the investors can take it). Since most movies for the last several years are junk, they need to hype them unmercifully to get as much audience in opening weekend as possible, before word of mouth spreads how bad a turkey the film is.

So the show producers hope that alternative distribution will build up demand, so they can sell their shows to TV. The studios, on the other hand, have reason to fear early viewing of their product, because it will most likely work as negative advertising.

sicko (3, Informative)

hajus (990255) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687668)

I remember many people thought Michael Moore's "Sicko" movie was released on BitTorrent on purpose.

It was like that since Napster (2, Insightful)

Laxator2 (973549) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687674)

This is why the record labels decided to go after Napster to begin with. If the songs are available for free download all the "albums" containing one hit and 9 filler songs got split into pieces. Everyone got the hit and ignored the ballast.

The P2P sharing shows immediately what people want, and allowing that would force the record labels to produce high-quality music rather than mediocre one that can be forced down the customer's throats (ears ?). And high-quality music is a lot harder to come by than the turn-of-the-crank filler that we have been blessed with in recent years. No wonder the CD sales are decreasing.

Piracy as an index of popularity (4, Interesting)

sakusha (441986) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687696)

I know that the IP owners watch piracy to see what's hot. I noticed this a long time ago on usenet in a few .mp3 subgenres. Some extremely rare audio tracks that were not in print and only available in very old, extremely limited editions on vinyl were restored by certain (ahem) users. They were immensely popular, were constantly reposted, and basically became the only copies available in any media. The studios apparently noticed the popularity of these tracks, and the vinyl LPs were suddenly released on CD. I've seen this happen numerous times. They watch to see what the collectors consider worth investing their time in audio restoration, what the users consider worth collecting, and then they see money and rerelease the product from their vaults.

Wow Anyday now (1)

moogied (1175879) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687706)

Anyday TV stars might only make 90 grand a year, producers the same, directors maybe 200k. Soon there insane pay rates might drop in order to let the media giants profit slightly! OH THE INSANITY

TV piracy is the oldest kind (5, Funny)

Optikschmoptik (971793) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687724)

Because you can pick it up, unencrypted, right out of the radio spectrum just about anywhere. People have been stealing television content for years, with equipment kits you can buy at most garage sales.

Some content providers have started to insert commercials both as a deterrent against stealing content, and as a way to recoup the massive losses. Advanced piracy tools already have hacked this system, with things like a 'mute' button.

I oppose the mute button on moral grounds. Also, I am miserable.

Def works (1)

bahwi (43111) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687756)

That's how I got into Stargate Atlantis. You have to be kidding me if you think I'm going to pay for cable for 8 shows. Now I can get it (legally) on iTunes, and I do. Bonus, goes to the ipod automatically(for travel watching, etc.. hooks into my portable screen). There should be more shows on services like this, and more solutions like itunes/ipod(zune comes to mind, so does amazon unbox).

I'd approach this with caution (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687896)

One minute, it seems like the industry finally gets it. The next, they immediately revert back to their old ways. I wouldn't be surprised if the same thing happens here.

Good Idea (1)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687898)

Having missed the first episode of "The Bionic Woman", I watched a torrent of the show provided me by a neighbor, and quickly decided I would rather install Lotus Notes than ever watch that garbage show again.

Interestingly, The Bionic Woman, the most heavily promoted show on NBC, has been CANCELED, and I - uh, I mean MY NEIGHBOR, um, has never seen the show as a popular torrent on any of my- uh-his popular torrent sites.

I SWEAR!

Re:Good Idea (2, Funny)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688232)

The only thing worse than watching Bionic Woman is being sued for downloading it.

Works for me! (2, Interesting)

misleb (129952) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687932)

I download all my TV shows from Bittorrent. I don't even have cable. Why should I? If I'm just going to Tivo/MythTV the shows and skip commercials anyway, why not cut out the cable-TV middle-man?

Though I think it may have had the opposite long term effect on my viewing. I don't see ads for new shows so I don't hear about them like I used to. I only have like 4 shows that I watch regularly and if they were ever canceled, chances are that I would simply watch less. So downloading shows and skipping commercials has weened me off of television on the whole.

Doesn't bode well for the producers. They have to balance between the number of people who might, like me, just give up on broadcast television and those who'll use Bittorrent only to sample shows and then switch to regular TV. I suspect that more people will begin to see what a ripoff cable/satelite TV is and switch to "piracy" in the long term.

This isn't new (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688006)

Hollywood has actually been doing this for years. They use the negative publicity after a torrent is "unintentionally released" specifically to generate more press. Take careful notice of who in Hollywood fights for DMCA versus the ones that get media coverage for "something leaking that I never meant to leak". How many years has that been going on?

Its only the really shitty ones that have been going after consumers as criminals, the rest caught on, I'd say.....8 years ago ish.

It does make a lot of sense (1)

Soulcat (841274) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688146)

It does make a lot of sense. There is a delay between a torrented show and its original airing, unless it is a leaked show. We have some viewers who talk about a show to their friends, who missed a few episodes, so friend is curious so downloads the first few to see what it is about, they find they really enjoy it, So start watching it regularly, probably on tv, if it is available since that is where they will usually find the newest episode first. Plus also you have missed episodes available, which is very important with a lot of the more serialized shows, because you miss a couple shows and you are lost, so now if people miss em they will often download them to catch up. If a show is popular it's torrents would definitely show a lot more activity.

That's what I said (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21688220)

Hasn't this argument been made for years in favor of file sharing? New markets, new audience, of course the most wanted things are pirated the most. Wanna see what hot movies are out there? see how many people are seeding axxo's files. effin' duh!

Makes sense (2, Interesting)

Orp (6583) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688270)

While your demographic might be a bit different than the General TV Watching Demographic, this is an obvious, free, and valuable way to determine popularity, probably as good as the Nielsons, and mabye slightly less useful than Tivo data (since they can, as I understand, know whether you actually played, and ostensibly watched, the show using Tivo data).

If it weren't for the advertiser-driven model that we currently have, the bittorrent "content delivery system" would be nothing but positive for the industry. What they need to do is make high definition, high quality video files available for download for a reasonable fee, and remove all ads (or at least make that an option). I'd say the removal of commercials is the second most valuable aspect of getting shows off the Internet compared to the tuning in at 8PM (the first being able to watch it when I feel like it, something about as novel as the VCR).

File sharing can't be stopped. Well it could, but it would involve stopping the Internet, and rather large economies would collapse if that happened. The writer's strike is all about writers getting revenue from "new media" and I have to say, I think they have a point since it's pretty clear that before long the boundary what is TV (coming over cable) and what is being delivered by the Internet (which, in my house, comes over cable already) will be less and less distinct.

there is no real piracy ... unless you're at sea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21688456)

besides, everybody knows that we're not the pirates, they are!

leaked Dexter (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688532)

I have a sneaky suspicion this is what happened with season 2 of Dexter. The first two episodes had been floating around various torrent sites a good 2-3 months before they had aired on Showtime, not to mention the final two "pre-air" episodes had leaked out about 2-3 weeks ago (the season finale airs this Sunday). For those of you who havn't seen Dexter [wikipedia.org] , oooooomg you don't know what you're missing. I'd say it's easily the best show on TV right now.

Re:leaked Dexter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21688832)

Seconded. If you think House is a good role model for the disaffected nerds that populate slashdot, you haven't seen Dexter.

Let me get this right: (1)

why-is-it (318134) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688604)

Does this mean that at least some of the media cartel believes that there is a legitimate use for P2P after all?

Broadcasters facilitating! (1)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688700)

Broadcasters ... are ... giving copies of shows to a friend of a friend who is unaffiliated with the company to make a torrent

Methinks the notion that it is "piracy" just evaporated.

Global Frequency (1)

R_Dorothy (1096635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21688788)

Too late for Global Frequency - allegedly, after the pilot became incredibly popular on bittorrent the studio said that they wouldn't run the series because of piracy fears.

count me in as a convert (1)

mrmaster (535266) | more than 6 years ago | (#21689140)

Count me as one of those that got hooked on a few TV shows due to downloading them on TPB. Currently, I am watching season 1 of Heroes. Saw zero shows of it until I recently downloaded it. Sopranos is another one where I will be buying the DVD's for it after only watching it off bittorrent.

Clothing designers and shoplifting (1)

Krishnoid (984597) | more than 6 years ago | (#21689490)

Didn't some major clothing designer (Tommy Hilfiger or Abercrombie and Fitch) actually tell their employees to allow shoplifting but to note which clothes were being shoplifted, to spot clothing trends in lower-class urban youth? I think I read this something like ten years ago. Isn't this similar (and can someone provide corroboration for this)?
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