NBC Universal Study Shows That It's Hollywood's Own Damn Fault So Much Content Is 'Pirated'

from the though,-that's-not-how-they-spun-it dept

All week people have been submitting variations on the news that a study commissioned by NBC Universal, and promoted by the MPAA, shows that 24% of web traffic involves “piracy.” If you look through the actual methodology, done by research firm Envisional, there are all sorts of problems with it, including the fact that they seem to bootstrap these findings based on research done by others. Another problem is that the source Envisional used, the PublicBT tracker, does not include many of the legal BitTorrent uses, meaning that they may have significantly undercounted legal usage.

Of course, the MPAA is using this data to suggest that piracy is a big problem, and governments need to step in and help (of course). Yet… if you actually look at the data, as Rob Pegoraro at the Washington Post did, you get a very different picture. It really suggests that all that movie piracy is the industry’s own damn fault for not making legitimate content available online. This is not news of course. One of the main reasons why people access unauthorized copies is because they can’t get legitimate copies. The movie industry is so infatuated with “windows” that it doesn’t seem to realize that restricting how people can access their movies only drives more and more people to unauthorized means.

Pegoraro compares the different stats in the report and notes that there’s a very clear indication that when legal alternatives are available, the amount of unauthorized file sharing drops considerably. So if the MPAA’s goal is to reduce file sharing, then the answer is to start offering legitimate services. Pegoraro even asked the director of the study about this, and the guy agreed:

I think the availability of legit content in the US may be one reason why infringing use is lower in the country than elsewhere worldwide: the US has Hulu, Netflix, Amazon VOD, Vudu, streaming content from the tv networks, etc. This level of availability just can’t be found elsewhere. Further, the content in the greatest demand online is that which originates from the US — television shows and films in particular — which often take a while before they appear in other countries.

So, the real lesson of this study is that the large amount of unauthorized access in movies online is the MPAA and NBC Universal’s own damn fault for failing to adapt and to offer legitimate services to the market when they want it. Thanks for sharing that information with the world…

Filed Under: , , , ,
Companies: envisional, mpaa, nbc universal

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “NBC Universal Study Shows That It's Hollywood's Own Damn Fault So Much Content Is 'Pirated'”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
crade (profile) says:

Of course the percentage of “Pirate” traffic would go down when legitimate services are available.

You would need hundreds of people sending emails and web browsing to make up the traffic of 1 person downloading 1 pirate movie whereas 1 user using netflix or something will probably mostly balance that 1 pirate out by themselves.
Even if the pirating stays the same, the percentage of traffic should drop considerably.

DandonTRJ (profile) says:


Exactly. An acquaintance of mine made the same point the other day:

If you pirate one shitty quality DVD in Divx format, you are downloading about 1500 novels (estimating a novel to about 300 pages). Now imagine how much text is in a novel, and imagine how much text do you possibly read in a day on the Internet. Most sites are optimized to not waste your bandwidth. Movies and music are simply exponentially larger than text. Even apps — how many apps do you have installed on your laptop/desktop? Even at 1GB per app (huge!), you probably pirate more movies in a month than you install apps in year.

Library of Congress = 5.6 TB. I’ve got about that much in hard drives sitting around my room. I only use about 2TB, but when you count old internal drives, I’ve got enough room to store the entire Library of Congress in my room. If I filled that same space with Blu-Rays (I’ll be conservative and go single layer only, ignoring the high capacity Blu-Rays) I wouldn’t be able to even fill up the IMDB Top 250.

I could have the entire Library of Congress, but not the IMDB Top 250.

How is it shocking, at all, that 1/4 of the web’s traffic goes to movies/music?

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

I gotta...

The movie industry is so infatuated with “windows” that it doesn’t seem to realize that restricting how people can access their movies only drives more and more people to unauthorized means.

Just like with another “Windows,” these people badly need to be introduced to a free, open-source alternative. I suggest Ubuntu, Mint, or PC-Linux.

; P

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

The customer is always right.

I really really really want to give them money, but they don’t want it. I almost never go to the theater, and if I do, even if I had the movie on my computer in HD, I would still go see it in the theater. I refuse to pay $5 (or whatever it is now) to watch one movie, one time via On Demand. I really like the Netflix or Hulu streaming options, but the selection is limited and waiting 28 days is just stupid.

The recording industry is finally starting to wake up by working with services like Spotify, Mog, Rdio, and Grooveshark (maybe not on GS?) and other such sites. Are these over-paid executives really so dense that they don’t understand what’s going on? I will go down the path of least resistance, and *ANY* obstacle they put between me and what I want only serves to drive me to a less legal, but also more convenient, option.

Anonymous Coward says:

What doesn’t get mentioned is that you can’t beat piracy, at best you can match it. You match it by giving the product away for free.

See, if they try to actually make money on it (say by having ads or trailers or anything like that in the video) people will be pissed off, and use pirated services to get the pure version with the ads cut out.

The logic in the end doesn’t follow. You cannot compete when all methods of making money are blocked or treated as a disease.

Richard Kulawiec says:

It never ceases to amaze me...

…that Hollywood et.al. simply Do Not Get it.

Thanks to 40 years of work (much of it unpaid — the heavy lifting on the ARPAnet, Usenet and Internet has quite often by done on a voluntary basis) by some extraordinarily smart and visionary people, Big Content has been presented with a distribution platform beyond their wildest, wettest dreams. They couldn’t possibly even conceive it, let alone actually design, build and operate it. And all they have to do, to make another obscene fortune on top of the one they already have is: use it.

But they Do Not Get it. And so instead they’ve decided to declare war on it.

Only an idiot fights a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the
throne of the kingdom of idiots would fight a war on twelve fronts.
–Ambassador Londo Mollari

fogbugzd (profile) says:


>>So since the US does indeed have content services set up, how is piracy in the US Hollywood’s fault?

One of the points of the article is that piracy rates in the US are actually lower than in the rest of the world, and one of the reasons is that the media is available. However, there is a lot of content that is not available legally in the US, and piracy caused by people trying to get material they can’t get legally is partly Hollywood’s fault.

The recording industry tried to shut down MP3 services and managed to teach an entire generation of young people how to do file sharing with music. It was a small step for them to go to sharing movies. That probably means that the piracy rate is going to be significantly higher than it would be if the RIAA and MPAA had handled the situation better when file sharing started.

Nick Coghlan (profile) says:


That’s absolute garbage. If there was a video service that offered:
– on-demand access to all current cable TV programming
– show subscriptions that alerted you to the availability of new episodes
– pre-caching of content to allow watching while offline/downloading during windows of low internet activity (i.e. overnight)
– access to your subscription from multiple devices (multiple TVs, desktop, netbook, tablet, smartphone etc)
– the ability to transfer content between subscribed devices to avoid multiple redundant downloads
– worldwide access to your subscription
– immediate access to content as soon as it is available either on disc or on traditional television
– a guarantee that a share of subscription funding would be distributed to show developers based on what you actually watch
– recommendations of shows you might like based on what you already watch
– a nice, responsive, platform appropriate UI

You would get *plenty* of people signing up for a service like that, since it would be a *hell* of a lot more convenient than monitoring torrent search engines for new releases of shows you want to watch. But the networks are so obsessed with control and limiting what their customers can do, that they refuse to offer a service that is better than what is available for free.

Anonymous Coward says:


it still doesn’t matter. If the content is available for a price, people will pirate it.

If you make it freely available, you have given in entirely.

Your idea is wonderful, and would require a DRM to assure it works properly. But the freetards hate DRM in any manner, which means we aren’t able to go in that direction.

As soon as there is any restriction, the result is piracy. The only solution to piracy is not tolerating it.

Machin Shin says:

Re: Re:

One thing I really love about this is how clueless a lot of you guys are about piracy and who the “pirates” are. You say the solution is to “not tolerate it”. Well how do you propose to do that? You already have laws. Has that helped? You already have DRM. Has that slowed it? NO. Ever stopped to consider why?

Well for one thing supply and demand come into play. There is a demand so someone will fill it. Also though is your stupid laws and DRMs are creating a mountain. The harder you clamp down and say “I’m going to stop you from doing this” the more you will find people challenge you just because. It is like when they asked why someone would want to climb Everest “Because it is there”. You are challenging a world wide community. You say you can stop them and they sit back rubbing their hands excited for the next “mountain” you throw at them.

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:


No. No no no no.

Don’t make me rub your nose in it. I will, so help me.

You can not prevent piracy! Where is the damn flash tag when I need it? You can’t. It’s impossible. Ever since fucking dollar you spend trying to stop it is a wasted effort.

There are people who *want* exactly what Nick described. We have the money, we’re waiting to give it to the first group who can give us that. This is hollywood’s Napster moment. They can give us exactly what we want, while we’re still willing to pay for it, or they can fight and someone will create an unauthorized site that gives it to us, and we will be so accustomed to getting what we want for free that they will struggle to get us to pay for anything at all.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:


If the content is available for a price, people will pirate it.

Yup. But if the service is available for a price, and the price is right, and the service is good, then people will pay for it. Some will still pirate the content, and I can understand the initial pessimistic view that everyone will – but the numbers don’t match that assumption. Across the board we see piracy going down wherever legitimate means are available.

Anonymous Coward says:


“If you make it freely available, you have given in entirely.”

You mean like over the air broadcasts of my local television channels where you don’t have to pay a dime but all the content is just there waiting for me to choose what I want to watch?

Just an FYI – this has been going on for over 60 years – are you saying that Hollywood gave in entirely 60+ years ago?

If not, exactly what is your point?

BigKeithO (profile) says:


I know a LOT of people in Canada who were really excited for the Netflix launch. Every signed up on day 1, sat down and got to streaming. At first it was really exciting, we were streaming shows off of the internet legally! Amazing stuff.

Then everyone ran out of shows to watch, all 6 of them. We can see what is offered in the US and it makes no sense to the average user why they can’t have access to the same stuff. Now all of these friends are canceling Netflix left and right, everyone has the same reason, lack of selection. Are these people just going to go without? Nope, 90% of them will just go back to getting it off of a torrent. Every one of these people were ready and willing for pay for the content, they are just unable to in a way that they want to and for a price that they want to.

That, my Anonymous friend, is how piracy is Hollywood’s fault.

Hephaestus (profile) says:


“That probably means that the piracy rate is going to be significantly higher than it would be if the RIAA and MPAA had handled the situation better when file sharing started.”

Actually it is going to continue to rise even with legal alternative available. The 14-32 crowd will continue to age and infringe. They will teach their kids. It is already happening.

With free alternatives via YouTube, uTorrent apps, VODO, HULU, TV Network Websites, people will not think twice about downloading. They already expect it to be free. If NetFlix starts charging more because the studios gouge them expect to see a huge pop in infringement.

It really is a lost cause for the studios.

THe Baker says:


I can’t get Cable where I live, satellite seems to expensive and old school. I get TV the old fashioned way — over the air — for free! PBS has a 1080 signal better than anything my friends have on HD cable and I get 3 PBS stations and all of the networks on digital OTA. I can record OTA via a tuner and Win 7 Media center so I’m not tied to watching OTA on the networks schedule. I have a 18M wireless internet connection to a nearby town so Hulu and Netflix stream seamlessly. Yes isn’t a all in one solution but it only costs me ten bucks a month (Netflix) and it is all legal. I don’t get Dirty Jobs, Myth Busters or some of the other shows I like but they aren’t a life priority.
I would pay for the solution you suggest, but not much over $25 a month.

Blatant Coward (profile) says:


it still doesn’t matter. If the content is available for a price, people will pirate it.

So what, you have more money coming in that you are tossing away by doing nothing. Gain is gain.

If you make it freely available, you have given in entirely.

Broadcast TV, Advertising, Radio Station Payola give 50+ years of ‘Teh Lie’ to that.

Your idea is wonderful, and would require a DRM to assure it works properly. But the freetards hate DRM in any manner, which means we aren’t able to go in that direction.

DRM issues are always restrictions of use, usually due to failures of the DRM method. Key servers lose contact, software interacts improperly with other software or malicious software in a system. Get a DRM that actually allows AT LEAST proper use of the D in the RM and you will see a lot of that hostility go away. In the meantime we will sit here and glare at our Celine Dion CD’s and Settlers of Caatan desktops.

As soon as there is any restriction, the result is piracy. The only solution to piracy is not tolerating restrictions.

FTFY. Had you never saw the mention on this website about
a nearly unknown site called NETFLIX. They seem to use a little bandwidth as they offer LEGAL use of movies and TV in a handy convenient form. I guess they don’t charge- what? they do? monthly fee? Huh. Wow.

Can I use NETFLIX and wear a patch? I can! Yarrrr Gleeeee!

Hephaestus (profile) says:


“It’s a sad state of affairs when you can see the writing on the wall before all the chess moves have even started.”

What is it with all the chess references over the past two days?

I really have to agree with you. You have the same patterns being repeated over and over in the content industry. The end result of which is copyright basically being ignored by everyone.

Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) (user link) says:

Thanks for the link!

“Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols observed that many incremental releases of that open-source operating system would not show up on the BitTorrent site, PublicBT.com”

Something else that wouldn’t show up is companies that run their own trackers. E.g. the use of BitTorrent by Blizzard and Microsoft. Blizzard has been using BT (using their custom Blizzard Downloader client) for a while now to distribute game patches, videos, and even full games (once you register your game key with your account you can download the game any time you want). That’s gotta be an enormous portion of the legal content that uses BitTorrent, which isn’t being considered at all.

AR (profile) says:

Thanks for the link!

To begin with nice article!
Just so I understand correctly.

On only that day, there were 2.7 million torrents available on PubicBiTorrent (globally available).
Out of the top 10,000 torrents downloaded:
3,583/35.8% = porn
3,516/35.2% = films
291/2.9% = music
In real numbers.

Then extrapolated for all 2.7m torrents:
11.5 million = film
3.2 million = porn
593,016 = music

For iTunes (I assume globally available) I found:
12 million songs available
9 million songs downloaded/day (down from 11m due in part to price hike to $1.29)

If these number are close to being correct, there is a very large undeserved customer base for an iMovies or Netflix. If they were offered globally at a reasonable price, they could make a lot of money and take a big chunk out of the BiTorrent load like iTunes has done. Thats also not counting the people grabbing a song or two while waiting for the movie to download.

Excellent job!!

Anonymous Coward says:


I don’t think that is really the point. Of course some will always freeload.

The bigger issue is that there are potential paying customers who want to watch your movie/show or listen to your song AND pay for it, but it’s not available. These people are driven to piracry and are truly lost sales.

On this same vain, there was an article not too long ago referring to how a record company had an epiphany that it was (probably) a bad idea to release songs to radio, have them get popular, then wait 2+ months to release the album. Unsurprisingly, piracy was through the roof during that window as there was no legal way to purchase it.

You have the same issues with television shows. In the US, they are aired first. For someplace like Australia (as an example), the same show might not air for months. That’s a massive hole that unauthorized copies are easily capable of filling.

Anonymous Coward says:


You mean like over the air broadcasts of my local television channels where you don’t have to pay a dime but all the content is just there waiting for me to choose what I want to watch?

Where do I start with someone who is so friggin’ dense? Didn’t you read my post?

Broadcast uses commercials. You trade your attention (however you want to say it is fleeting) to the commercials in return for the programming. It isn’t free, you just don’t pay for it with money.

Online, when companies try to put commercials into videos (like in normal places for commercials) people will not download it or watch it on the site, they will purposely download the pirated “chopped” version to avoid the ads.

So online, you cannot do the same thing that you do in broadcast, because the people who want it free want it free of all restrictions and all possibility of income.

So that isn’t at all like broadcast, which isn’t free, it’s just without cash out of your pocket.

Rekrul says:


it still doesn’t matter. If the content is available for a price, people will pirate it.

Then how do you explain the success of the iTunes store? It came AFTER people had already learned to use P2P networks to pirate music, and it imposed DRM on the files. How did it succeed if people could get music for free?

How is Nintendo making money from the Wii’s virtual console (which lets you play old games for other systems)? The selection is pitiful and there isn’t a single game that isn’t already available on the net for free, to be played in a free emulator, which will run on any computer from the past decade.

Anonymous Coward says:



Ok, go with your intolerance and I will go to the LAN party this week LoL

Before there was no reason to do it and pay also, people did it because it was fun and had no harse words for those people heck some even sympathized and conversations at the table probably end up with you need to pay for those things eventually, now you want to put a real motivator to people to do it and no pay? Those same conversations at the dinner table probably end up with, don’t give money to an industry that is hellbent in harming you.

Anonymous Coward says:


Still the end result is the same for the public it is free is it not?

Secondly Google made 17 billion dollars in profits in 2010 that is more then the big for studios combined and they are ad powered.

Yahoo had 3 billions in profits(2010).

Obviously ads pay a lot for those who know how to do it, why are we letting people who don’t know what they are doing run big companies?

Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) (user link) says:


I’ve found that the most common reason for disagreements is, rather than some people being more rational than others (despite how almost everyone likes to think they’re smarter and more rational than those they strongly disagree with), different assumptions that lead to different conclusions when followed rationally.

In the matter at hand, there are a few such assumptions that can be readily identified behind both sides. Perhaps the biggest one is this: one side is absolutely certain that giving things away for free and recovering money in an alternate manner cannot work, while the other side believes it can.

A second obvious assumption is that piracy is something that cannot be controlled in the internet age, vs. the opposite.

Ed C. says:


Then how do you explain why legit streaming sites like Hulu are SO popular? Sure, some will always be opposed to having shows cluttered with ads. However, many do understand that ads are what pays for most of that “free” content, or at least will go for streaming since instant access is far more convenient then finding a torrent and waiting for it to download. Either way, at least streaming sites keep ads short enough to be tolerable.

The fact is that in traditional “free” broadcast, the show is not the product sold to viewers, the viewers are the product sold to advertisers. The problem with this proposition is that the ads add little or nothing of value to the viewer. The reason why people have treated them like a disease is because the percentage of time devoted to them had passed the limit that most people will tolerate. People will timeshift the broadcast and skip the ads, or just leave to do something else when they air. (In fact, ads are SO loud because they want you to sill hear them from another room!) In sort, over adverting in broadcast had devalued the service for viewers, which in turn has devalued the service for advertisers too. The viewers still find value in the shows–a great deal of value. The studios just simply have to be willing to strike a better proposition with viewers. If broadcast has become a losing proposition, then so be it.

Ed C. says:

The gatekeepers

I wouldn’t be so quick to blame the studios for delays in foreign releases, Mike. I’ve heard it can take months, even over a year, to clear the legal, licensing, and distribution issues in any given country or region. It just simply takes time to jump through all of the logistical and bureaucratic huddles to do a traditional release. It all worked when the gatekeepers in the foreign markets also controlled the media releases too, but the internet lets people find the *real* release dates, and well…people are impatient!

Now that broadband in many countries easily exceeds the speeds that people can get in the US, the internet is an obvious choice for distribution. If the studios are willing to forgo foreign dubbing (which I’ve heard usually sucks anyway) then there’s no technical reason nowadays that you can get near instant global releases. The internet cuts a lot of the distribution issues and cost, but it still doesn’t get around the issues with foreign laws and legacy licensing agencies.

KC says:

Video On Demand Please

I think the availability of legit content in the US may be one reason why infringing use is lower in the country than elsewhere worldwide: the US has Hulu, Netflix, Amazon VOD, Vudu, streaming content from the tv networks, etc. This level of availability just can’t be found elsewhere.

As I said last time I posted here, my YouTube channel (which I will not link to due to the fact that every video on there infringes on somebody’s copyrights) has a worldwide audience! (apart from one episode of one show blocked in Germany because of a song used in it!) I have an audience of happy viewers from America, Canada, the UK and Australia!

Now the downside to this is that nobody is getting paid for any of this as not much of what I’ve put up has been ContentID matched. And even then, for the ones that have been matched, I doubt the original people involved are getting paid, just the companies that own the copyrights. But then again, the original people involved with the shows got paid at the time (I hope!) that the show was made, whether it be 1965 or 2005.

I myself do not wish to be paid for putting up other people’s TV shows: YouTube have offered me the chance to monetize several of my videos, which I declined as I refuse to make money off other people’s work!

What I don’t understand – and what I don’t think ANY of us understand – is why things are available in one country and not another. Didn’t almost every country sign up for international copyright during the Berne Convention 120-odd years ago? On the other hand, I am glad that the whole world does not follow the United States copyright laws as then nothing would ever fall into the public domain.

Now, some of you out there will think I’m the “give everything away for free” type. I’m not. I believe in paying all the appropriate parties involved. For the sake of argument, let’s pretend for a moment that “Hollywood Accounting” does not exist. Using only writers as the example, if a TV show is sold to a TV channel, the writers get paid. If that TV show is sold overseas, the writers get paid. So if the TV show is officially put on YouTube (by the copyright holders) for a worldwide audience, the writer should get paid.

For whatever reason, though, the copyright holders have to pay the writer for every country that YouTube is accessable in. But this is not the same as selling a show to a TV channel overseas. YouTube is worlwide from the get go. YouTube “buys” the show once. The writer should get paid for that purchase once regardless of the fact the audience is not only in the one country.

I feel strange arguing for the copyright holders. But quite frankly the whole thing is a mess. There should be new contracts for all TV shows, movies, music, etc, whereby the copyright holder sells the product and the revenues shared amongst the writers, actors, etc, get the same percentage of the profit regarless of the platform. That way the amount of money made from sales of the product will be totalled, regardless of whether it be distributed via physical media, broadcast media, the internet or other.

I know, I know, “Hollywood Accounting” would mean everybody gets $0 of the profits. That’s a different issue. Unfortunately it only adds to the complexity of the issue at hand. I don’t have the answer. Nobody does. But does anybody even know what the question is anymore?

When all is said and done, and has been said many times on TechDirt, the world is changing. Consumers are changing their habits. Just putting a TV show on TV and selling commercial time is no longer the only business model. It is one business model.

Come to think of it, copyright holders should thank YouTube, not hate it. YouTube have provided a new business model and distribution platform for copyright holders. YouTube have provided it for use free of charge. Copyright holders upload the content, YouTube foot the encoding costs, the distribution costs, they supply the advertising and all the copyright holders have to do is sit back and collect the money as the viewers roll in. Heck, the copyright holders don’t even have to upload the content: People like me do it at our own expense!

YouTube and Hulu and all the others do not replace TV. The suppliment TV. It can become another “window” in the distribution model. Screen on TV then upload to YouTube. YouTube is a pain in the neck to access compared to watching a DVD, though, so DVD sets will still be in demand. Sure, YouTube may give you heaps of shows in one place, but who wants to sit at their computer all day watching TV?

With Google TV you won’t have to sit at your computer to watch YouTube. Currently if a copyright holder is monetizing a video at YouTube they have the option to disable Google TV and force you to go to your computer to watch the video so it gets monetized. Why do it that way? You can have a video through Google TV with the embedded ads still present: That little pop-up bar at the bottom of the video can still pop up. If the copyright holders are worried about the fact that it is easily ignored, work with YouTube to make it pop up multiple times, say once every five minutes. Obvioulsy the click-through rate is enough to keep that model of advertising going. You can click-through on Google TV. Removing videos from Google TV will only result in less viewres and thus less click-through and thus lower advertising revenue.

I’m still not done. If the writers, actors, etc, insist on doing things country by country then this is where geo-locating software comes in handy. Rather than blocking countries, use the software to detect which country the viewer is in. Then copyright holders can say “Canadian viewres earned us this amount of money” and “UK viewers earned us this amount of money” and pay as appropriate, counrty by country if need be. If the world must be divided up, don’t block anyone, use it to satisfy the contract for each country. This will mean more viewers. And more viewers means more chance of click-through on advertsiisng (which itself is already geo-located to be appropriate for the veiwers) which means more money for the copyright hodlers and all parties contracted to recieve money.

Since I was a kid I’ve been reading about video on demand and how it’s just around the corner. And don’t think I just mean reading stuff online, I’m 32 years old! At last it no longer needs to be around the corner. It can be here now. And on that note, there is no reason to not put up everything that still exists. From forgotten movies from the 1930’s to game shows from the 1980’s, there is no reason to not make everything in existance available.

A Video On Demand platform, such as YouTube, doesn’t rely on ratings to be successful. It doesn’t matter if a video has ten viewers or a million. It doesn’t matter if a show runs overtime so there’s no need to “cut for syndication”.

Such a service doesn’t need to replace TV. It doesn’t need to replace cable TV. Sometimes people want to watch whatever is on at the time. And it certainly wouldn’t replace DVD sales as nobody wants to watch videos with ads popping up all the time, as per my suggestion aobve with Google TV.

This will cause a slight disruption to the current business model: Seeing as TV shows will be available to stream to a worldwide audience shortly after screening, shows will need to be distributed to TV channels around the world simultaneously.

Here’s a novel idea: Try producing TV shows in advance and not just the week beofre they go to air. This will give the writers more time to write better scrpits, the actors more time to memorise thier lines and work out how to play a scene, and so on. It could work out to result in better shows. And the idea isn’t so novel either. It’s been done this way in the UK for decades!

This is the time for people to say “But Hulu is failing. How can a video on demand service expect to work if Hulu can’t?” There’s many reasons why Hulu is not succeeding as hoped.

For a start, it did not offer everything from everybody, only a few studios signed on. It was blocked outside of the United States, thus cutting off a massive percentage of the audience. It relied on subscriptions. Yes, I understand that these studios which are worth billions of dollars want to make billions more but the average person is not made out of money and can only spend so much on each thing. As has been pointed out, money not spent on buying a CD or DVD is still spent elsewhere. Only subscribers could watch on their mobile devices making it video on demand but only if you demand it on your computer.

The above mentioned restrictions helped make Hulu a mere shadow of what it could have been.

It all boils down to the “Reasons to Buy” side of things. People will still buy DVD’s when the Video On Demand version still has ads popping up every five minutes. People will still watch whatever is on TV when they don’t feel like browsing through hundreds of videos when they just want to relax. People will still subscribe to cable TV when first run programming still gets the first run on cable. And the people who illegally download stuff on a regular basis were more than likely never going to buy the stuff in the first place.

Now I’m sure many of you out there reading my rant can come up with more and better ideas than I have. These are just a few suggestions for the content industries, specifically for the TV industry but I believe they can be applied to most content idustries.

Anonymous Coward says:

not even 6

people keep saying this. There’s so much to watch and new shows and movies are added everyday. What a lot of people i was talking to didn’t realize that just because it wasn’t in the main screen of cycling around the titles, doesn’t meant it wasn’t in netflix. I just started typing in titles in the search feature and there’s a whole lot more than most realize.

Anonymous Coward says:


Nope, for the public it is still not free – it is without “cash out of pocket”. But if you didn’t pay for it (with your attention) the ad rates would go down and the program wouldn’t be available. It is the nature of the game.

Google makes major profits because Google doesn’t create content. Google gets in the middle of your internet actions and profits that way. If they actually created content, they would be in trouble.

Yahoo has much lower profits than Google because they actually spent time and effort to create content. In order ot make the company more profitable, they are dropping much of their content production.

Ads can profitable especially for the company brokering them , taking 50% of the action, unheard of anywhere else. Yes, that is how Google makes their money, taking a full 50% of adsense stuff displayed on other people’s websites and 100% of what shows up on their own sites.

But again, all of those ads only work with attention. If everyone tomorrow started blocking Google ads on every page they went to, Google would die off pretty quick. Their ads division is paying for everything else. Take away that money, and there isn’t much of Google left.

BigKeithO (profile) says:


Perhaps it isn’t the users problem? People don’t like commercials, period. So instead of claiming that the ad supported model is dead perhaps it is time to rethink the ads? The format for commercials hasn’t changed since TV was invented.

This is the same mentality that you see with big media refusing to adapt to the internet. Why don’t people like commercials? From experience and talking to people it seems to mainly be the interruption in the program, the volume goes up, repetition, length of show, etc. Now what do people do when they are forced to watch commercials they don’t want to watch? They skip them using a PVR (or is it a DVR in the US?), get up and go to the washroom, chat with someone else in the room, change the channel, “chop” them, etc.

So how come no has has found a way to incorporate more product placement into shows in a less intrusive way? The shows get longer due to less breaks, no more annoying volume increases for crap you don’t care about and less repetition, users cannot “chop” them, more eye balls watching them.

I don’t think the users are the issue, I think its the format the commercials are presented in that is the issue.

hegemon13 says:


Since I got Netflix, I haven’t downloaded a movie in ages. Why bother? I would be willing to pay at least $30 a month it they expanded their streaming titles. As it is, I don’t have cable at all, and I prefer Netflix to when I did have cable. The few shows I watch are all on network TV, except for a few series I have started watching on Netflix. If there is something I can’t get on Netflix streaming or Hulu, I can wait for the Blu-rays and get them by mail.

Netflix is way more convenient that torrenting. I can browse and watch what I want now, not after waiting a few hours for the torrent download. It’s just a way better experience.

eric (user link) says:

Free is not the answer

Many cable networks window online content to appease cable companies. Why pay for cable if the shows are free online at the network’s site? If everyone gets their content online for free, cable companies will fail. If cable companies fail, networks lose money — and their ability to produce the content in the first place.

It’s a distribution problem. The answer is not to give away more content for free. Rather, networks need to figure out a better distribution model than TV and cable. Or content needs to be offered to subscribers only, and it needs to be protected from illegitimate copying and distributing. This is why I love models like Netflix.

Anonymous Coward says:

The gatekeepers

I wouldn’t be so quick to blame the studios for delays in foreign releases, Mike. I’ve heard it can take months, even over a year, to clear the legal, licensing, and distribution issues in any given country or region. It just simply takes time to jump through all of the logistical and bureaucratic huddles to do a traditional release.

Quick question – who put all those “issues” and “hurdles” in place?

Oh, right – the studios.

Anonymous Coward says:

American Overseas who buys pirated tv shows

I would buy legit ones but they come out so late after originally showing. I mean come on, why can’t I buy Boardwalk Empire the day it shows on HBO?

Why cant I buy a full season of V or Stargate Universe for less than $25?

It’s your fault movie studios! If you actually had the content available online ad supported or available for purchase then you would get my money. Till then the bootleg guy sells 3 episodes of Dexter for $3.50 and delivers to my door.

Huph (user link) says:

New Customers

I’d just like to point out that prior to my subscription to Netflix, I didn’t watch movies AT ALL. I think I went 7 years without watching one single film. Anyway, once I saw that Netflix streaming was relatively robust (I prefer older films and shows, anyway) I signed up. Shortly after the subscription, I noticed that I wasn’t even flipping my cable box on anymore.

I suppose that might make my cable provider mad, since I’ll probably cut cable, but what I really wanted to point out is that offering a decent service doesn’t only just stop people from pirating, it makes some of us actually start paying attention to the content we may be ignoring.

Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) (user link) says:

Re x7

“Google makes major profits because Google doesn’t create content.”

Factually false. While Google indeed makes its revenue via ads, in terms of what it does (what its employees are employed for), it is a software company (one of the four primary classes of “content”), plain and simple.

You seem to think you type in words and search results magically appear, with nobody having to do anything other than make their own web sites. But those search results are generated by millions of man-hours of research and software engineering, all of which is given away to the public for no cost.

And that’s only talking about the search engine itself (which made Google a billion-dollar company well before Google started brokering ads for third party sites). Google is constantly making new software of all kinds, and always makes it available for no cost – little things like Gmail, Chrome, Google Docs, Google Maps, Android, etc. that hundreds of millions of people use every day. Google is the biggest customer of its own ad-brokering, and always has been.

To reiterate the thesis: it’s quite simply false by any definition that Google does not make content.

Jeff Rife says:


You’re several orders of magnitude off in your estimate of the LoC, which is many petabytes, not a few terabytes.

Likewise, I have nearly a hundred movies sourced from Blu-Ray on my media server, and it takes up less than a terabyte. Although I don’t have all the extras from the movies, I do have full-quality soundtracks and video. So, it would be quite easy to store 250 movies in less than 6 terabytes.

jc (profile) says:


Where do I start with someone who is so friggin’ dense? Didn’t you read my post?

Apparently you start by trying to insult their intelligence and then follow up with a series of paragraphs that proves you are functionally retarded.

Saying that people don’t watch ads and won’t pay for things doesn’t make it so. Part of problem with the “content industry” is that people in the industry spend so much time making up and living out fantasy worlds that they are unable to distinguish them from reality. Here in reality, we use facts, research, studies, and polls to determine what people will or won’t do. In “content land” you just make up shit and then present it as evidence.

In this technological era, nothing but utter stupidity prevents me from having access to the collected artistic works of mankind via a simple subscription based application. If the “content industry” wants to survive they need to create that app; otherwise they’re dead … and I won’t care.

jc (profile) says:


I applaud your effort to bring some neutrality to the debate. Unfortunately, it is NOT rational to make assumptions when we have facts and evidence which directly refute an assumption.

one side is absolutely certain that giving things away for free and recovering money in an alternate manner cannot work

Again, I applaud your effort in trying to understand the other side; but, an “assumption” such as the one above is irrational and one cannot reasonable discuss this issue with anyone who relies on this “assumption” because it is provably false. 60 years of broadcast television have shown that content can be “given away” with money from other sources. People on the other side of the debate can’t simply start the debate with an irrational assumption and then expect to be taken seriously.

Derek (profile) says:


When will these industries realize that WE have a window too?

In my case I call it my “give a shit window.” If the music/movie/TV biz can’t manage to lob their content through my moving, sometimes narrow window — in the form I want it it, from Omnimax to iPhone to DVD with Dolby Surround — then they lose.

Sorry. Better luck next time. Oh wait, this IS “next time.”

It’s no problem to pay money or see advertising — I’m glad support artists and performers I enjoy — but if the material isn’t there, ready, in the right format, without hassles… Well there are plenty of other options that respect my time and attention.

Heck, these days just podcasts and friends’ (very good) music is enough to keep me away from TV and movies and radio for months at a time.

See ya around, content industry! Write if you find relevance.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »