NBC has announced it’s going to stream full episodes of “classic” TV shows like The A-Team, Buck Rogers, Miami Vice and more on its site. The content will also be available through Hulu.com, which will syndicate it through its partner network. This is a natural progression towards creating a massive content cloud we can switch on at any time (and one more reason to not buy DVDs), but my question is, have you actually sat through an entire episode of The A-Team lately? I mean all the way through, to when Hannibal says he loves it when a plan comes together? Nope, didn’t think so.
The thing about most older TV shows, especially the hour-long programs, is that they are s l o o o o w. We’re so used to accelerated pacing, gritty realism and multiple storylines that programs from the 80s seem so… quaint, and boring, and not funny. The novelty of the show wears pretty thin pretty quickly.
Sony understood this when they created the Minisode Network, which distills sitcoms like Diff’rent Strokes and hour-long cop shows like T.J. Hooker into suprisingly complete six-minute shows.
Eric Feng of Hulu says that more than 80 percent of its catalog is watched each week, and that users are engaging more with full-length episodes than clips. But because the site is in private beta, Feng wouldn’t share any stats, such as length of session per user. It would be interesting to see what the drop-off rates are and at what point during the program they happen.
Again, it’s not a bad idea for networks to throw everything up online. It’s a necessary step to getting us into an on-demand world where everything is a click away. It’s just that the whole thing reminds me of this old headline from The Onion: Nostalgic Memories of Land of the Lost Ruined in DVD Release.