Heroes Producer: Honored To Be The Most Unauthorized Downloaded Show

from the recognizing-the-future dept

One of the talks at SXSW was apparently about "multiplatform storytelling," which fits in with a point that we've discussed here in the past. Content creators are realizing that they no longer need to pigeonhole themselves as "just musicians," or "just filmmakers" but can reach out and tell stories in very different ways. And, in the end, that's what every content producer is really doing: they're telling stories. It doesn't necessarily matter what the format is, and there are no rules that say you're restricted to telling your entire story through just one platform.

This talk was given by Tim Kring, creator of the popular TV show Heroes, and he made some interesting points -- noting that he's "honored" that Heroes is the most "illegally" downloaded TV show out there, because "we'll take audience anywhere we can get it." But he's not just sitting back. The reason he doesn't care if people are watching the show on TV or elsewhere is because they're really working on ways to connect with fans in much deeper ways, including creating a pretty complex and massive alternative reality game that had true fans of the show actively involved -- such that they knew about certain characters and important plot points way before they appeared on the small screen, and were made to feel like actual participants in the story. As he noted, "people want to participate in their TV shows."

Again, this is a point that has been made before -- but so many of the suits upstairs still seem to think that TV is a purely broadcast media, not one where people want to communicate and participate in meaningful ways (and, yes, that means a lot more than just calling or texting a phone number to "vote" on something). It's great to see the folks actually making these stories are understanding this, because eventually that thinking will begin to become more common, rather than seem like some crazy idea to appease "the internet folks." We're not there yet, of course. NBC, which airs Heroes is still freaking out about those illegal downloads and wasting tons of money and resources claiming that it must be stopped -- all while its basic network schedule has been a huge disaster. If NBC top brass listened to folks like Kring, and realized the challenge is to make people happy, rather than spending so much time trying to force them into "the way NBC wants things to work," perhaps the network wouldn't be in so much trouble.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Hephaestus (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 12:42pm

    "If NBC top brass listened to folks like Kring, and realized the challenge is to make people happy, rather than spending so much time trying to force them into "the way NBC wants things to work," perhaps the network wouldn't be in so much trouble."

    Its never going to happen that the current tv studios try something new. They are frozen with fear. They have seen what has happened with the record labels and see that happening to them. In this end this need to control every aspect of every download and view is going to destroy them. They are alot like a deer caught in the headlights of an on coming car. The headlight being the internet.

     

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      :Lobo Santo (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 12:44pm

      Re: Headlight

      If the internet is the headlight; is reality the car (bearing down upon them at tremendous speed with apathetic murder gleaming in its eye)?

       

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        Reason2Bitch (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 2:59pm

        Re: Re: Headlight

        Going by your analogy, the studios can only see the headlight (internet), but not the car (reality).

         

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          Hephaestus (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 3:30pm

          Re: Re: Re: Headlight

          "the studios can only see the headlight (internet), but not the car (reality)."

          The studios are alot like a deer caught in the headlights of an on coming car. Frozen in fear. They can only see the headlights (internet), but not the car (reality).

          Thanks!! that works better as a last line to the above comment

           

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    Hephaestus (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 12:49pm

    Kudos to Tim Kring. I am not sure if he is responsible for all the mini episodes on Sprint?? The studios should take a long hard look at what he is doing. They should also think about doing subtitling contests the day the new episodes come out and present an officially supported version that was done by the fans. Hey if you cant beat the pirates join them and figure out how to monitize it. One thought would be to include a "Feel free to share this video as long as you leave the commercials in. any stripped versions will be considered piracy and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law"

     

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      GregSJ (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 1:35pm

      Re:

      Instead of just saying "feel free ..." why not create a torrent themselves. In full HD quality with commercials. It seems to me by tracking the torrent they would be able to give advertiser considerably more data. Specifically they could report on how many people downloaded the show, geographic region, etc.

      By giving people the content they want at quality they could minimize illegal downloads and give advertisers added value by inserting their commercials into the downloaded versions.

       

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        Big Mook, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 2:09pm

        Re: Re:

        This! Brilliant!

         

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        Hephaestus (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 3:15pm

        Re: Re:

        "why not create a torrent themselves"

        Thats exactly what I was thinking, it would spread the load out and they wouldnt have to worry about infrastructure. Server farms, bandwidth, etc.

        "give advertisers added value by inserting their commercials into the downloaded versions."

        Here is the actual value added stuff, extended versions with scenes that didnt make it into the 40-45 minutes avail on tv. If they did multiple versions each with a different "scene excluded from tv" some people would download all versions. This would also allow for different advertisers in different versions and location specific adds based on language. The studios have a problem with this in they are contractually obligated in different countries to do the first run on TV.

        number??? note/entry) Add this Idea to the business plan.

         

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          GregSJ (profile), Mar 17th, 2010 @ 10:22am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Love the idea of alternate versions.

          As far as contractual obligations, might be time to start re-negotiating bad contracts if they are losing you money...

           

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    Hulser (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 1:20pm

    Multiplatform crap

    If NBC top brass listened to folks like Kring, and realized the challenge is to make people happy, rather than spending so much time trying to force them into "the way NBC wants things to work," perhaps the network wouldn't be in so much trouble.

    Not to get too snarky here, but even if they take Kring's advice on "multiplatform storytelling", it wouldn't change the fact that his show is crap. Putting a show that's lost its way on multiple platforms won't get NBC out of the trouble it's in. Making better shows will.

    Oh, and one more thing...

    Conan forever! Leno never!

     

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      Sylar'sNotEvilJustLost! (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 2:15pm

      Re: Multiplatform crap

      Are you just trolling?  Let's see, Heroes has the largest following of any TV scifi currently on the air. Spanked Lost in ratings, arguably some of the best written characters since Stargate SG1 or Star Trek TNG. Now if you don’t like the scifi genre, than perhaps you reserve your comments then. As for Leno vs. Conan, I didn’t like how NBC handled it, but I’ve never been a big fan of Conan, I kind of liken him to a talking pencil with about as much character as a whinny teenager. But that’s my opinion. 

       

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        nasch (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 2:49pm

        Re: Re: Multiplatform crap

        I kind of liken him to a talking pencil with about as much character as a whinny teenager.

        So that would be an adolescent horse?

         

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        Hulser (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 9:16pm

        Re: Re: Multiplatform crap

        Are you just trolling?

        Nope. Just someone who got bored of a meandering and increasingly non-sensical story line.

        Heroes has the largest following of any TV scifi currently on the air.

        So, by your logic, Britney Spears is the best artist of the last decade. I'm not knocking popularity, but it's a far cry from proving quality.

        As for Leno vs. Conan, I didn’t like how NBC handled it, but I’ve never been a big fan of Conan

        Again, to each his own. On top of the shitty way that NBC handled it, the real issue is that NBC chose Leno who is guarenteed to appeal to more (mostly older) people in the short to very short term over someone who will appeal to a much broader audience in the longer term. Short sightendness FTL.

         

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    Devonavar, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 1:24pm

    Stories

    And, in the end, that's what every content producer is really doing: they're telling stories.

    No, every "content producer" is not telling stories. Many of them are, and virtually all of the most marketable ones are. You're romanticizing what artists do here, but you're overgeneralizing a bit. Many artists chose their medium because they are attracted to the specific characteristics of that medium, and many of the best examples of film art are neither story-based nor easily transferrable to other mediums. The same goes for music, painting, photography and all sorts of other types of culture.

    I'm all for being multidisciplinary and telling stories in multiple ways. It's what I do. But the phrasing "no longer need to pigeonhole themselves" irked me. It sounds like marketingspeak for "content production" without a good understanding of what actually motivates many artists.

     

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      vivaelamor (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 5:20pm

      Re: Stories

      "No, every "content producer" is not telling stories. Many of them are, and virtually all of the most marketable ones are. You're romanticizing what artists do here, but you're overgeneralizing a bit. Many artists chose their medium because they are attracted to the specific characteristics of that medium, and many of the best examples of film art are neither story-based nor easily transferrable to other mediums. The same goes for music, painting, photography and all sorts of other types of culture."

      Are you sure you want to go there? I enjoy arguing semantics and story is a pretty easy word to argue over.

      Semantics aside, you seem to draw on some fictional suggestion by Mike that everyone needs to embrace multiple mediums. I thought he was just presenting it as yet another way for those in the creative industry to embrace technology to reach a wider audience. It doesn't matter if a business model doesn't work for everyone because not everyone has to use the same business model.

       

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    NAMELESS.ONE, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 1:43pm

    YES and free is good

    and guess what its too late for tv
    ive been doing the same thing wiht music as tv for oh 15 years
    now im the old one and hte next gen is doing movies buy the buckits even the crap ones you can see them and you see popular movies get hundreds a takes per site and not so get few

    thats marketing data that they dont have....that could and should be paying for stuff, add advertising around a torrent site and .......invest into seed box companies and make money on distribution again
    NO DRM no back doors....

    the solutions for a future have been there for 15 years only the margins are vastly reduced due to technology.
    so do more and use the tech.

     

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    Wolfy, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 3:02pm

    It's top rated for sci-fi?!? It blows. You folks need to go back and watch 2001 again... indeed, if you ever saw it a first time. I'm talking visual media, film or tv... same thing, really.

     

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    Bob Vila, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 3:30pm

    Damn, best article in awhile.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 3:51pm

    nbc has figured out that making a program most popular with freeloaders isnt good business. the downloaded versions have no commercials and make nothing for nbc. it is a perfect example of content companies stopping making content when there is no money in doing it.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 4:02pm

      Re:

      nbc has figured out that making a program most popular with freeloaders isnt good business

      Except that's not even close to true. What Kring noted in his talk was that Heroes is making a lot of money. It's deal with Sprint brought in $30 million, I believe...

      he downloaded versions have no commercials and make nothing for nbc

      Isn't that NBC's fault? They could easily solve that by offering up their own high quality download with commercials.

      it is a perfect example of content companies stopping making content when there is no money in doing it.

      Except they're not stopping and they are making money.

      So basically, you're right other than being 100% wrong.

       

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        vivaelamor (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 5:29pm

        Re: Re:

        "Isn't that NBC's fault? They could easily solve that by offering up their own high quality download with commercials."

        You know that if they did they'd do something dumb like trying to make the commercials unskippable.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 5:45pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Perhaps they could include commercials that are short or interesting? To place within the viewer a feeling of desire to not skip the commercial? Remember when advertisments were simple:

          "This is a chair. Buy one."

           

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 7:34pm

        Re: Re:

        actually heroes is likely to get canceled for next year because the ratings are poor. only thing saving it is that nbc is back filling their 10pm leno mistake right now.

         

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    justin, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 4:33pm

    You're welcome, Tim

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 4:55pm

    My household has two cable connections, two televisions and one computer. Upstairs, on the one television, Heroes is playing, thanks to a coaxial and cheap cable connection.

    Downstairs is the telco connection, both cable and internet, cable running to the television, which is playing Heroes and then there's the internet.

    So, if I have this right, if I decide to download an episode of Heroes in torrent form then I am a pirate? Because I am too lazy to spend ten minutes making a home-made DVR? Because I treat the internet like a massive DVR?

    I have watched Heroes (insert any television show) on cable, telco, torrent and streaming from the channel that has the licensing rights.

    But that handful of times I've chosen to torrent the show I am a pirate?

    Sure I am.

     

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    NAMELESS.ONE, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 5:54pm

    why heroes is most downloaded

    A) stargate SG1 isnt releasing eps , and GUESS WHAT
    there just aren't any other sci fi shows
    and if you call some people that barely do special affects sci fi , then your more on glue and thsi show has sooo lost its way form season 1 , and when they stopped it for 6 months

    thats what killed it for me
    NOW go look at the numbers for SG1
    if you htink heroes will get ten seasons , 3 movies and two other spin offs your on hte crack alright

    seriously
    WHERE is the sci fi?
    go look on torrents they consider LOST to be sci fi?
    YA sure, kinda like how smallville was PURE drama with 3 minutes a sci fi for what 6 seasons.....

     

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    :), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 9:54pm

    Spellfurry in youtube is CC Commons.

    Red vs Blue also is funny.

    If TV broadcasters don't do somethng they run the risk of being left behind.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2010 @ 6:02am

    What's with the scare quotes around "illegal," Mike? (And why change the quote in the headline (from "illegal" to "unauthorized." I get that your opinion of whether such downloading is a good idea or not (and the degree to which it helps/hurts various players) is different from, say, NBC's. And maybe you think that unauthorized downloading shouldn't be illegal at all, but I thought your view was that, regardless of the legality of downloading, content producers shouldn't be enforcing it to the hilt, because that's a better business model that benefits producers and consumers. Is there some legal argument you're not sharing with us as to why downloading a full-length, unauthorized copy of a commercial work is not infringement?

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 17th, 2010 @ 10:36am

      Re:

      What's with the scare quotes around "illegal," Mike?

      Not "scare" quotes -- just trying to be accurate. What he claims is illegal may not be illegal.

      (And why change the quote in the headline (from "illegal" to "unauthorized."

      Because that's more accurate.

      get that your opinion of whether such downloading is a good idea or not (and the degree to which it helps/hurts various players) is different from, say, NBC's. And maybe you think that unauthorized downloading shouldn't be illegal at all, but I thought your view was that, regardless of the legality of downloading, content producers shouldn't be enforcing it to the hilt, because that's a better business model that benefits producers and consumers. Is there some legal argument you're not sharing with us as to why downloading a full-length, unauthorized copy of a commercial work is not infringement?

      I'm just saying that it may depend on the situation, and I don't think it makes sense to declare it illegal, when the circumstances may not make it illegal. Depending on what they're talking about, it could be fair use. I don't think it's right to make a blanket statement.

      Do you think it's right to automatically declare all unauthorized use illegal? Because that's not what the law says.

       

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    Joel (profile), Mar 17th, 2010 @ 10:01am

    Kring has the right idea! NBC needs to understand that fans are what makes their channel work; by limiting viewership they are limiting the amount of ad money they could make. If they were to offer a download on the NBC website with the commercials and not just the streaming video; I would download because I wouldn't mind the commercials...gives me time to do something in the mean time.

     

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    ECA (profile), Mar 17th, 2010 @ 11:05am

    Stating the Obvious..

    umm,
    Since you can watch the series ONLINE free..
    Why is this a problem? or a concern?
    At least using the Backdoors on the net, MORE people can watch it. NOT just those in the USA. NOT those that can goto NBC and are willing to DL the crap drivers to watch it.

    HULU and VEOH had a good start, but the corps interfered with the Idea/concept..Problem is that they STILL want money from the Videos. and when others are making money they are Jealous.
    They are NOW trying to install their OWN services.
    But, until they understand...that we want 1-3 locations to watch the shows..rather then 20+ locations.
    They WONT GET IT.

     

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