TV Experiments Just Keep Coming
from the a-step-sideways? dept
There has been an awful lot of experimenting from TV executives lately. It mostly started about a year ago, but in just the last few months it’s really heated up, from the Cartoon Network’s streaming of Adult Swim to UPN and Google streaming Everybody Hates Chris to Apple and ABC offering $2 downloads of shows to be viewed on the new iPod to NBC and CBS selling extremely limited versions of shows for a dollar. Now we can add to the list that AOL is streaming free versions of classic sitcoms (well, depending on your definition of “classic”), with commercials. On the good side, it’s clear that TV execs realize they need to do something. They need to change and they’re trying out a lot of different things. That’s a step forward. However, all of these experiments have problems. None of them really take advantage of the medium, and all of them practically scream out how afraid the TV execs are of losing “control” on the internet. The streaming versions are bandwidth hogs for the companies, and do little to encourage people to watch the shows whenever, wherever and however they want. The paid downloads are all limited to provider and device and cost extra when there are plenty of alternatives around. The TV producers need to let go, and recognize that they can get a bigger audience for advertisements the more they get people watching — meaning whenever and however they want. Put the shows up (with commercials) and use BitTorrent to distribute it (thus avoiding the bandwidth costs). Let people “subscribe” to certain shows and watch it however they want and you build up a much more loyal audience and can sell more advertising. The TV execs are worried that if they don’t “control” things that their shows will get “Napsterized,” but they’re wrong. By trying so hard to control it, they’re encouraging the Napsterization of TV shows using BitTorrent already. Last week, there was all sorts of buzz about Tioti (Tape It Off The Internet), a new system for tracking TV show torrents. If the TV execs were smart, they’d be embracing this as fast as possible and offering up authorized versions of these shows to build up audience and loyalty. Instead, they’re dipping their toes in the water in ways that make people wonder why it’s worth it before firing up BitTorrent to get their favorite show in a more appealing manner.