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The TV Show Download Bunkum

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Rationality is the first victim of panic. And right now what I see all around me is a panic driven, knee jerk reactions by media giants to the world which is spiraling out of their control. The perfect example of this panic-driven move is today’s announcement from CBS and NBC. This is such non-news, I cannot even begin to work up outrage.

They want to allow downloads of their popular television shows like CSI and Law and Order:SVU. For 99 cents they will make these shows available for replays on (CBS) Comcast/ (NBC) DirecTV. CBS will allow you to have the privilege of paying a buck for watching the shows with commercials after they have aired. No you cannot take it to go like ABC shows on Video iPod. No it won’t playback on your PC. So in essence you are paying for something you can currently do for free if you own a TiVo/DVR, or even use one of the DVR set-top boxes sold by either Comcast or DirecTV.

What is coming from CBS and NBC is really a press release to appease the Wall Street. They can point to the news and say we are doing something, for god sake. ABC, at least showed some signs of machismo, and decided to try out a new model with Video iPod and iTunes. Clearly a missed opportunity for CBS and NBC. They could have jumped on the Video iPod bandwagon, and perhaps shown that they too can think outside the box. And isn’t there someone who can make Forrester Research’s Josh Bernoff from saying inane things that make you go … duh!

14 Responses to “The TV Show Download Bunkum”

  1. Jesse Kopelman

    Another thing you ind of missed, Om, is how big this news is for DirecTV and Comcast. Maybe especially DirecTV, since they don’t even have real broadband solution. Their worst nightmare is that you can buy shows a la carte off the internet and thus not pay them $30-100/month for a bunch of channels you never watch. I’m surprised we haven’t heard from HBO and Showtime yet, they have the most to lose from people illegally sharing their original programing. My message to them, to paraphrase the Bard, get thee to an iTunes!

  2. Wes Felter

    Given the small amount of TV that I watch, I’m not interested in paying for a DVR. But I do have VOD and I would pay $1 for a show that I missed. In fact, I’d rather pay $1 for VOD on my TV than $2 to buy the show from iTunes (and be forced to watch it on my computer).

  3. Well, again it is only half way.

    I would gladly pay for my favorite show an amount of money – not sure if it would be really a dollar – if I could view them some days after they air. But for now I have to wait until their DVD releases and / or for a dubbed version on television.

    Which is not in any way my model of choice. I have turned on my TV in the last year for 3 or 4 times, I should sell it.

    We don’t have those kind of services here, with or without ads. But many like me would like to be able to watch our favorite shows some days after they air and keep on track witht the original schedule. But we can’t.

    I don’t know how many Germans would go online and pay for such a download, but I am one.

    Well, if they do it good enough. Which means: I can see it when I want and where I want and do not need some crappy DRM to respect just to be able to view what I payed for.

    Which is for example why Threshold is uninteresting – only a short period of time to look at it.

    There are big chances and I am fairly sure they will blew it again …

  4. Ronald Bruintjes

    The best part of the AP news story is the quote from CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves: “This is an incredibly exciting evolution for CBS and network television – video on demand is the next frontier for our industry.”

    Yes, it may be incredibly exciting to CBS, but old news to the rest of us. It seems they severily limit their audience by only offering this on ComCast. For twice the revenue they could have put it on iTunes, with a much broader audience as a result. I hope they can add that to their distribution channel very soon!

  5. I actually think this is a bigger deal than you Om. While you are right that it’s really a press release and won’t generate a ton of dollars, it is interesting in that it shows the truth has finally hit the content companies: people are blowing off their commericals on DVRs. It is admission, in my mind, that they realize that while the 30 second spot is not dead, revenues from advertising in the future will/may decline.

    Just a thought!


  6. This is from the AP report:

    “Comcast’s service will be available starting in January to customers in markets with a CBS owned-and-operated television station, which includes the nation’s seven largest media markets. The episodes will be available as early as midnight following a broadcast and will include commercials.”