Duh: The TV Business Is On The Verge Of Collapse

from the it's-happening dept

We’ve been noting for quite some time that the old TV economic model is unsustainable — and pretty much the only argument we’ve seen in favor of TV as it works today is that for now it still makes a ton of money. But that’s a reason why the TV guys like it — not a reason for the public to continue to embrace it. In fact, with cable/satellite TV costing so much these days just to feed those economics, more and more people are seeking alternatives. The Hollywood guys remain in complete denial about this, insisting that when people “grow up” they suddenly decide to pay tons of money for TV.

But that’s increasingly not the case, and it’s not difficult at all to predict that TV is facing a pretty big crisis, which could lead to a pretty rapid decimation of the business. At that link, Henry Blodget makes the right comparison: to the newspapers. They denied there was any real problem with their business for ages — and were shocked at how quickly the market changed.

This is a point that we’ve raised for over a decade concerning businesses going through disruption. The standard refrain when the disruption comes along is to insist that it’s no threat at all. After all, it’s “crappy” compared to the established player. But then things get better, and it starts eating into market share — and we’re told that it’s just a temporary thing, or a “cyclical” market. At some point, the blame game starts ramping up — and we’re told that “piracy” or stupid execs giving things away for free are to blame. And then there’s my favorite: execs in the legacy industry demanding that they can’t change until someone tells them how to make the same amount of money and spend the same amount of money as before. But that’s not how disruption works. While it almost always creates larger markets, it does so by changing the game and having that money pop up somewhere else — somewhere that’s difficult for the legacy players to capture without being true visionaries (which they almost never are). And that change happens really, really fast. So when you see legacy execs demanding to know how they can make what they used to make — as Ari Emanuel recently did concerning television — it’s a key sign that the legacy business is about to collapse, and its main players have no idea.

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Comments on “Duh: The TV Business Is On The Verge Of Collapse”

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Lowestofthekeys (profile) says:

This reminds me of the delineation between cell phone services in the USA and Europe.

From what I’ve read, Europe offers a bigger array of options even allowing a potential customer to have a cell phone package “a la carte” with just voice service.

On the other hand, in the US you get services bundled together you may not even need (then there’s the extra cost for text messaging which is ridiculous in its own right).

Cable is the same way. We get 600 channels pumped into our cable boxes and we only watch maybe 10-20 of them. There’s no choice in the matter of what we get, we just have to pay a flat fee to accommodate a business model.

BigKeithO says:

Re: Business is the key word

Microsoft’s E3 announcement of Microsoft Glass comes even closer than an iPad. The problem with the iPad is that it is only 10″, why not use your tablet as a remote to control the internet displayed on your 55″ HD TV?

Microsoft Glass actually sounds very compelling.

Anonymous Coward says:

“So when you see legacy execs demanding to know how they can make what they used to make”

Why is the question “how can the public be best served” never asked. It’s always “how can the government-industrial complex be best served”.

None of the Techdirt shills says “think of the poor public, if this IP isn’t enforced the public will starve.” No, it’s always about someone else, be it being allegedly about the artists/inventor or the executives/industry, but it’s never about the public.

MAJikMARCer (profile) says:

Need a new way to pay

I big issue is that for every hour of entertainment there is at least 20 minutes or more of commercials. I’ve also noticed a number of 30 minute shows are actually only about 10 minutes of content, with 20 minutes of commercials and ‘recaps/previews’.

With the rise of DVRs people are skipping over a ton of this crap. Studies have shown that you still get some of the commercial ‘content’ when skipping so it’s not about the length of the commercials.

We have a lot of alternatives drawing our attention today. We don’t NEED to sit idly by and absorb the content that is given to us. We have a choice now.

It seems the providers still seem to think that consumers WANT a completely passive entertainment system. Maybe some still do, but that number is dwindling.

Almost Anonymous (profile) says:

TV keeps trying

I suppose we’ve all noticed, at least though of us still watching regular TV, that shows are increasingly trying to seem “hip” and “with it” by having some sort of social media tie-in. The local news, for instance, seems increasingly desperate. They read a few tweets on-air, and beg you to like their facebook page, and somehow that means they are interactive. I just feel like patting them on the head and saying “Aww, that’s cute, keep trying sport, you’ll get it someday”, even while I know they’ll never get it.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think is in the human nature to resist change, it is hard to learn anything new, it is hard to have to pass that phase where you are not skillful in what you are doing, we all know repetition makes perfect the thing with change is that it disrupts that and not many people grow in an environment that stimulates that kind of thinking.

Anonymous Coward says:

People don’t want to pay a lot of money for channels they do not watch. They are forced to pay for content they do not want. This is the problem. There needs to be choice where you pay for what channels you want or even what shows you want. This whole bundeling thing is basically a swindle. I am not sure TV will adapt, they are too stupid.

Almost Anonymous (profile) says:


On the other hand, in the US you get services bundled together you may not even need (then there’s the extra cost for text messaging which is ridiculous in its own right).

And let us not forget the Data Plan that basically every carrier forces you to get if you have a “smart” phone OMGWTF HOW CAN THEY FORCE ME TO BUY A SEPARATE DATA PLAN FOR EVERY PHONE AND IT’S NOT EVEN UNLIMITED AND I’M ALWAYS AROUND WIFI ANYWAY!!!!111!!1!!!1 oh yeah, because there’s not really any competition in the US, that’s right, ok, calm down…

Anonymous Coward says:

Business is the key word

TV content, however, shall continue its rise.

Who give a rat’s a**? Crap is still crap and more crap is just more crap!

The “quality” (tv ‘exec.’s’ would piss themselves laughing over that choice of words) can’t get much lower. Content is about more than sheer quantity and interminable advertising. There has to be something worth my time on tv and there just isn’t. The so-called programming “quality” (again with that word) is worse than horrid and not worth a second of my limited time on this planet.

Clearly from the above, I blame piracy for the beyond-miserable quality of television content.

Arcesious says:

With a service like netflix, my own family sees no point in having cable either. We dropped our phone and cable services years ago in favor of netflix, a cheap cell phone service, and pure internet.

Since then we’ve actually had a cable guy come to our house a few times and BEG us to resubscribe to cable again. Apparently, without it, our internet connection isn’t as good as it could be. I suppose I can understand how it may supplement the connection, but it’s a bunch of bundling BS again. You can’t even negotiate the services you get in the bundle.

The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:

Re: Business is the key word

And yet, it’s still got a puny screen and is a pain in the ass and far less immersive compared to flopping on the couch and getting your veg on.

Sorry, I can’t see the enormous flatscreen TV hanging on the wall losing its place in the market. Especially when it’s so easy to hook up a media center PC/ps3/etc… and pipe (legally or otherwise) downloaded content to it.

Anonymous Coward says:


Not too mention the data plan surcharges for even smarter phones. So not only are you paying for a data plan you may not even want (which is now the case, whereas before you could say “No, I do not want the data plan” and they’d grudgingly allow you to activate a phone without one) you are now being charged extra for data on your smart phone. Ala Sprint. There is a $10 surcharge for “smart phones”. Wtf? What’s even worse is it’s also called a 4G charge in some places, like where I live for example. Which in my case is South Texas. Where, surprise surprise, the nearest 4G coverage is literally over 2 hours drive away to the nearest big city (which is Corpus Christi). So I’m paying a surcharge for a service I can’t even use and which they have no intention of implementing in my area anytime soon. (Although shockingly, there are a handful of 4G areas locally, as in stretches in the boonies where for a mile or so you’ll have 4G coverage, which they only recently installed. Why? Because if they didn’t they’d lose their 4G contract with whoever it is they signed up with.)

Joe Blow says:

Re: One solution...

Get StraightTalk. $45/month, unlimited calling, texting and data (although in reality, they get mad if you go over 2GB) They now have a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) option so you can use AT&T or T-Mobile’s network and use a nice smartphone instead of the cheap sucky ones.

Buy the phone off eBay or CL for cheap and you’re set. No contract, no fuss. Wanna change phones? no problem. Throw your SIM card into a new one and off you go.

Now if TV could do something like this too.

Anonymous Coward says:

I used to be on the TV all the time when I was a kid… back when 14.4 dial up modems were blazing fast. However as I “grew up” TV didn’t grow with me. I gained responsibilities, I couldn’t plan my day around a TV Programming schedule. I also failed to see the reason why DVRing TV programming was even necessary. Why the hell do I have a device that can pull up all sorts of shows and entertainment from the internet when I want it and this other service that is just as if not more expensive CAN’T.
TV execs need to grow up.

Anonymous Coward says:

TV keeps trying

The interesting thing about this particular phenomenon is all of the effectively free advertising that FaceBook gets from the near constant begging for “likes”. Whether it’s on television or embedded in nearly every web page having the ‘f’ has become mandatory. If only Zuck could figure out how to monetize that!

Anonymous Coward says:

There is a very solid technical reason why the TV business is dying: it’s because the whole TV concept is becoming obsolete.

TV is a mere broadcast medium: it pumps stuff into the airwaves (or a cable) and anyone with a receiver can watch it. The problem is that there is no fast-forward or rewind. You can’t skip the current programme and watch the next one (or the previous one). You are stuck watching whatever is on.

This is unacceptable in this day and age.

On the Internet, I don’t have to be there at a specific time to catch my “shows”. I can watch at my own pace and on my own terms. Also, while my cable TV pack has around 130 channels, on the Internet I have hundreds of thousands and counting, without paying more for it.

TV just can’t compete with the Internet. It is completely obsolete.


Re: Killed by DRM

Broadcast can be a much more effective distribution medium. You can push out a lot more stuff with much less bandwidth required. The main problem is that such networks imply a physical monopoly that allows price gouging.

That’s problem #1: Pricing.

Then you’ve got the pathological need by network owners and content providers to sabotage anyone tech that might make that broadcast signal more useful.

That’s problem #2: Cable DRM.

Between these two you have an overpriced service that is quickly lagging behind the usefulness and usability of devices and services that leave legacy broadcasting behind. You could have some really interesting devices but the incumbents try to bully anyone that provides alternatives.

Without DRM, a simple $30 broadcast tuner is all you would need to start setting up your own PVR. Anyone would be free to do it including Apple or some guy in a garage.

If I have to choose between Tivo, Microsoft, Apple, and my cable monopoly then I am likely to choose Apple despite the fact that I don’t like them much either.

MAJikMARCer (profile) says:

Business is the key word

I’m sorry but you can’t blame piracy for the sh!t ton of reality tv crap that ALL the major networks are spewing out. Remember when TLC meant The Learning Channel?

And all of the contest (American Idol/Dancing With the Stars) shows… those are just as bad.

How did we get that crap from piracy? The reason it’s on is because it’s CHEAP and there is a large percentage of the population (unfortunately) who eat it up, but mostly because it costs so little to produce compared to other TV programming.

2012 Calling says:

So what?

Boo effing Hoo. “TV Broadcasting” is ready to join Records, CD’s and the Horse and Buggy in the scrap heap of history. So effing what? Only a fool would suggest that inferior mediums (aka the best you could do at the time – say – 75 years ago) would live forever. Look at a calendar – it’s 2012! Do you morons still not get it that its about Easy Access to Content, not Controlled Access to Medium?

I don’t want to drive a car “every Thursday night at 8:00” and only on Main Street. I want to drive it when I need to drive it and where I need to drive it. I also don’t want to stop at every goddamned corner for 10 minutes of advertising.

I want to see content commercial-free and I want to see it when and where I want to see it – not when and where some overpaid dimwits “think” I should be allowed to – and then not in 2-minute installments interrupted by 10 minute of commercials.

So, to TV Broadcasters I say: Who cares? You’re just an antique and you’re last century’s best stab at it – vastly inferior to this century’s best stab at it (which will eventually become obsolete too).

Surely you didn’t think we cared in the slightest about you all these years (we really don’t have Stockholm syndrome). So good riddance and don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

You’re done, TV Broadcasters, and you’re embarrassing yourselves with your petulance. Just quit your your whining and go.


Ed C. says:

Numb from the neck up

TV execs are paid millions to lead their companies. True leaders are visionaries who see the road ahead and take action. But TV execs don’t get it, not at all. The board is responsible for hiring leaders who will lead their company forward, yet how can they when they’re all looking back to the past–the glory years of glowing tubes in every living room. When their focus is keeping things the way they are, they hire execs that share that vision. And nothing changes. The entire heads of the TV companies are numb to the realities of our internet connected age–that the people, not the execs, get to choose what they want and when.

fogbugzd (profile) says:

TV is about consumption. Now people want interaction. That is what is making TV obsolete

One reason shows like Idol and DWTS are popular is that they provide some audience involvement. There is voting plus lots of opportunity to comment on a variety of sites.

One way big media could extend its lifetime would be to allow more fan interaction through re-editing and remixing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Business is the key word

I think that’s the point. Tv shows are only a fraction of what a television set is used for. Anyone up for a 62″ monitor? IPTV? Even Netflix courts with producing their own shows.

What the execs don’t want to face is that there are more than 3 or 4 shows entertaining a captive audience. They must learn to compete or …

ECA (profile) says:

You all understand this..

Let me add something here.

Cable in this area, and probably SAT is the same..
Charges $50 for basic service..
My mother was looking into SAT or CABLE..and I showed her a trick..
LOOK at the channel listing..
MARK off what you arnt going to watch..
It came down to about 15 channels at the most.

For those that dont understand this.
ESPN charges about $5 per month, PER PERSON..
this is PART of the basic package. YOU CANT TAKE IT OFF.
so, if you DONT watch sports…YOU STILL PAY.
How much would you be paying if you could WIPE 1/2 the channels off the list, that you DONT WATCH??

Would you be happy, paying $1 per channel, for the CHANNELS you would watch? The average is 15-20 channels. $20.
OR do you like paying $50 for 200 channels and probably WONT EVER watch 150 of them.

HOW MANY of you are SUPPOSED to get local channels also?
Ever try a REAL antenna with a booster and SEE ALL your local channels?
I live in the country and I’ get 20 channels.. how many do you get?
I get some NICE independent channels. one of them, late night, shows international sports. Ever watch Professional BAD-MITTEN?? Korean Golf?? and its FREE.
Ever want to watch some of the OLD shows?? Daniel boone with Fess Parker? FREE?? the OLD dragnet?? As well as ABC/NBC/CBS/FOX and a few others you may know.

YES, it takes abit of OLD FASHIONED know how to set up…
FIND the right direction for certain channels
Check the net for broadcast locations in your area..

But its GREAT..and free.

Anonymous Coward says:

Business is the key word

In my opinion we’re in a golden age of television programming. Game of Thrones, Dexter, Mad Men, True Blood (5 days!), and Walking Dead are all fantastic. I enjoyed Grimm and Once Upon a Time this season and I’m glad both are coming back next season. Eureka and Warehouse 13 are campy fun (sad about Eureka ending though). How I Met Your Mother and 30 Rock are hilarious. Yes there are a ton of reality shows and this year we seem particularly awash in talent shows, but I’m not forced to watch them and there’s still plenty else on.

ECA (profile) says:

Re: Business is the key word

DONT you think that SOME stations are pushing you to better content..
The standard Broadcast channels Creating CRAP to force you to get SAT/CABLE to see/watch something else..
HOw many shows STARTED on antenna broadcast and was bought up/SHIPPED to CABLE..

and if you dont understand all this…only 6-7 CORPS own 99% of the channels around the world.

Jim says:

Re: Business is the key word

“In my opinion we’re in a golden age of television programming. Game of Thrones, Dexter, Mad Men, True Blood (5 days!), and Walking Dead are all fantastic. I enjoyed Grimm and Once Upon a Time this season and I’m glad both are coming back next season. Eureka and Warehouse 13 are campy fun (sad about Eureka ending though). How I Met Your Mother and 30 Rock are hilarious. Yes there are a ton of reality shows and this year we seem particularly awash in talent shows, but I’m not forced to watch them and there’s still plenty else on.”

Here’s the problem with this comment…you are truly in the minority. Sorry to say that, but it’s true. And I think that most comments here would agree, we are SO NOT in a golden age of TV.

Over at Business Insider, they say the same thing (all industry types over there). That if the networks collapse, or we go into an ala carte model, that quality TV will disappear. This is something the record industry has claimed for years (although there hasn’t been much good music for awhile). While advertisers still pay much of the freight, and the business model has way too much fat (too much money to performers, producers, execs, etc.), the real dirty secret is that people who only watch a few channels are paying for these shows, that only a few people like. So, my friend, those days are coming to an end.

But, buck up! Yes, there will be some time as independents figure out how to create good shows at reasonable costs, and you’ll have to watch reruns during that time. But in the end, like with every other technological advance, a new, more dynamic industry will emerge, with shows you’ll like, and maybe, for the hell of it, shows that the rest of us like too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Business is the key word

“LOL. God you people are morons.”

Coming from you this is the most hilarious thing I’ve heard all week.

“”Business Insider” WANTS the TV industry to fail; it’s run by the SillyCon Valley bozo that founded DoubleClick.

Nobody gives a flying fuck what propaganda they spew.”

I sincerely hope you aren’t the same moron AC who post links routinely to that thetrichordist website by David “I bet he ain’t paint chips as a kid (and still does as an adult)” Lowery. Because the irony of your statement just might be enough to literally cause the universe to explode.

Of course, since you are an AC who refuses to use any kind of username that we can trace your comments back to (doesn’t even have to be registered, may I suggest “Moron/Troll AC” since it would suit you and your personality type) I can’t confirm that you are the one posting such links. But it’d be reasonable to assume you are. You write just like an idiot, the same way that other AC does.

Anonymous Coward says:

Business is the key word

What on earth does piracy have to do with 200-300 channels showing CRAP; toddlers with tieras? I don’t even want to remember the tittles. And let’s not forget shopping networks, paid infomercials, religous (same thing really). Out of all those channels, I can edit down to 5 or 6 which is stretching it. Each season has 1-4 shows worth following and most of those shows do not have any legal means of watching them without a “package” deal = $100-$200/month.

I’ve never seen a series of 7-13 episodes worth $100-$200/month. That is what leads to piracy. I like Game of Thrones but it is not available without that insanely priced package. I’m enough of a fan that it’s hard to wait for the next episode. Don’t they want to court fans like that? It seems not. That is the reason the industry is in trouble.

Tv competes with everything else for entertainment dollars. It’s not just white noise in the background or something to do when there’s nothing else.

What will prop up the industry and balloon it are the billions pouring in from political advertising this year.

Anonymous Coward says:

Business is the key word

I’m sorry but 10 out of thousands of shows is not a decent average. For whatever reason, the skies and the cards lined up to offer some good shows this season however it’s been a few years since that’s happened. Usually I only expect 1 or 2 shows per season worth following and to get access to those it’s $100-$200 / month “package”.

A lot of people don’t find that a good value.


Re: Fixating on just 1 year verus the 50 others.

He’s right about the golden age. He’s just wrong about the reason.

It’s a golden age because you can have the entire history of cinema and TV at your fingertips. It may not be free but it can be pretty cheap. I can pick and choose whatever I want from any of the classics.

I don’t have to be satisfied with products coming out of the broadcast network death spiral.

I can load up on what I want and eventually turn my back on the entire industry. I can easily ignore everything that’s being made today.

The big threat to Big Content is not piracy, it’s the back catalog.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Fixating on just 1 year verus the 50 others.

This article is retarded.

There is a ton of tv content being produced right now and there will continue to be.

Don’t like crap shows? Then don’t watch them. Watch Mad Men, Game of Thrones etc instead.

Don’t like crap reality shows? Then don’t watch them. Watch great ones like Top Chef, Amazing Race etc.

The quantity figure is meaningless. The only thing that matters is quality, and there is plenty of that to be had.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re:

When network television goes away, people will watch only the shows they want to watch.

For instance, I watch a lot of great stuff on Netflix. Granted a lot of it is stuff that is no longer on air. I also enjoy things on Hulu that are currently on air.

That said, I am finding a lot more enjoyment with niche shows found only online. Things like the Daly Show starring Tim and Sam Daly. There is also the Red Green Show that has taken on new life since discovering the Internet.

Of course, that is just what I watch in between playing video games. I spend more of my entertainment time playing games than watching any kind of tv or movies.

The point is, there will always be entertainment even without broadcasters, labels and giant movies studios.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

But the problem isn’t the content of TV broadcasts, and it is rather sneaky of you to try to steer the conversation away from the real problem.

The problem of TV is the technology and the business model associated with it.

As I have pointed out above, TV is obsolete. It is a “static” form of entertainment, with onerous penalties for those that cannot just “be there” on time and dedicate themselves to it.

The Internet, however, solves the problems of TV.

TV will eventually fade away and that is an undeniable fact, but, most probably, the same shows you see on TV will migrate to what is undeniably a better way of watching stuff.

gorehound (profile) says:

Business is the key word

INDIE TV Content is the cool thing.It will happen and we will have some great shows with a beginning, middle, and end.And these shows won’t be Cancelled on a Cliffhanger.
I am sick of MAFIAA TV. I would rather read a book from my Library.Once Fringe is the only show I am following to the end.I will buy a used Blu-Ray of the final Season in a year or so.When that Game of Thrones Ends I may Buy a New Blu-Ray as I did buy the New Rome Blu-Ray.I hate myself for letting MAFIAA HBO get a dime out of me.
I hate the MAFIAA Lies & Attitude.They make it hard for me to feel like giving them any support.

Anonymous Coward says:


Sprint dropped it’s 4g charge which originally was to “help them build out the netword”. Now it’s the smartphone charge even though there are few dumb phones offered and no promises of network upgrades. As irratating and frustrating as that is, Sprint is the closest thing to a competitor to At&t and Verizon.

What is the difference between regulated, national service (like in the 60’s) vs. unregulated monopolies?

ToFit says:

Re: Re:

This view is comparable as long as this is in play-

As long as you don’t deprive the stores of any physical goods and replicate the exact same product on the spot with a 3D printer and take the product you made from the 3D printer with you- there is no problem with copying goods from the floor of burger king or build a bear. Maybe you can even build a better bear since you have a better technology than what is sitting on display there…

Anonymous Coward says:


Ah I stand corrected. I will agree with you though that as irritating and frustrating as it is Sprint is the closest thing to a competitor to AT&T and Verizon. In fact, the only reason I stay with Sprint is because of the unlimited data. Which the other networks have done/are doing away with. (It’s my understanding though that the other guys soon plan to have a “data only” plan by the end of the summer/early fall. I believe AT&T is going to implement that first, with Verizon implementing something similar after, as well as having a “family data” plan.)

However, while it is no longer called the 4G charge, according to you, I’ve still heard some Sprint representatives refer to it as such. Also the “smartphone charge”. Makes things a bit confusing to some customers.

Anonymous Coward says:


The part that nobody here wants to address because no one was discussing that or even mentioned it is this piracy stuff that YOU seem to bring up. You have no proof that anyone here pirates a thing, yet you label us all as pirates and assume we trip over ourselves to download a thing.

Answer this simple question: What proof do you have anyone so far in this article downloads a single thing? Keeping in mind that you have to present evidence, while also presenting evidence that what we download is this “crappy network content”. (Because some of us do download stuff that is freely offered by creators or things that are shareware and whatnot. In fact, downloading is not illegaly. It’s just what you download that may pose a problem.)

When you answer my question, we might answer yours.

But just to be nice, when network programming goes away we will probably be watching independently created and funded projects. Much like we do now. Some of us don’t need a network approved fix, we’ve already found other options.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Epic Mealtime is pretty cool. New episodes every Tuesday. Also, Youtube was webcasting New Orleans Jazz Fest last month, and they’ll likely be doing the same for Bonnaroo soon. Recently, ECCC 2012: Star Wars Trilogy: The Radio Play – Official Video was posted, and new stuff like this is getting uploaded all the time. Not to mention the depth of content at sites like pinkbike and others.

That’s the type of stuff I’m watching these days. And loving every minute.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

That ECCC 2012: Star Wars Trilogy: The Radio Play is hilarious! Saw that awhile back on another site and couldn’t stop cracking up. That provided me more entertainment than most of the latest offerings from Hollywood.

But I’d like to say I agree entirely with the following statement: “That’s the type of stuff I’m watching these days. And loving every minute.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I think part of what’s being suggested (if I may be so bold as to speak for others) is that “alternatives” to television aren’t necessarily video-based entertainment.

In the last week, I’ve:

watched: three episodes of “Mrs. Marple” on Netflix
downloaded: Humble Indie Bundle games, a Patch for Diablo 3, more links than I care to admit from Reddit
listened: Public radio on my drive to/from work
visited: 2 new restaurants with friends

…and those are just the major “entertainments” I’ve tried enjoyed. Frankly, there are so many other web sites I enjoy (including TechDirt’s lively conversations) and activities waiting for me, it’s hard to imagine going back to planning my night around sitting in front of a TV or at the theater at someone else’s schedule.

Yes, “Mrs. Marple” is certainly television, but it was on my time at a price that was reasonable. My take on the show was that it was still a social experience (though on a smaller scale) because my wife suggested the program. If it was not available on Netflix for our immediate enjoyment, we would have never seen it. Even if I only had to go get my credit card from another room and pay just $0.25 for a show, my interest wasn’t high enough to go through the trouble…but click a single button? Sure, why not? If I really hate it, I can quit any time and I’m not out anything.

The internet has forever changed how I entertain myself, so of course traditional television and film would be impacted. Why would I spend an hour in front of my TV staring blankly when I can connect in seconds with friends across the country and have a blast blasting demons?

So let me ask you a question: when you said “What did you download,” were you expecting?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Well, I’m no pirate. I pay for Dish Network. But to answer your question, I DID NOT WATCH ANYTHING YESTERDAY.

I woke up in the morning, got ready for work and went to work. When I did get out (early by chance) I went straight home and read a book, after catching up on the latest tech/geek news from various sites. I then took a short 30 minute nap. When I woke up, I had a missed call from a friend who I promptly called back. I was invited to go eat lunch, which I did. After the late lunch I took an hour long drive, just cruised around to clear my head. Once I’d cleared my head I drove home and had a few drinks while listening to some cds of local indie bands as I researched some stuff over at the XDA forums. A few hours later, after tinkering with my phone for a ridiculous amount of time without realizing it, I then passed out and slept until my alarm went off this morning.

So yeah, I watched nothing. I did do a little bit of download though. Of course it was all ROMs and apks. Oh, not true. I totally forgot that Steam also updated a few games I got off the Humble Bundle for Android. A message popped up saying my copies of Edge and Edge Extended were updated (indie games).

As for avoidance and not being specific, I see you still haven’t presented anything to support your claims that the rest of us are tripping over ourselves to download this or that. You see, you’re known as a troll for just that reason. Making wild claims without anything to back them up and then demanding proof that others back up their responses to you.

As for the “alternative”, well you’re obviously an idiot. There’s plenty out there. Obviously you’re not looking hard enough and/or are deliberately ignoring plenty of stuff. Indie music, indie games, indie shows and movies. There’s plenty of each. I just gave two examples for games. One band I was listening to yesterday is named Yoink. That’s an example right there, in fact their music can be found (freely shared and promoted by the band themselves) on a number of sites. I can’t remember the name of the project, but I know on uTorrent awhile back (and a couple of sites) there was a SciFi short films collection being independently funded/created that was being promoted online. As soon as I remember or find the project I’ll link to it. Since you aren’t aware of such things… not that I’m surprised since you seem to be one of those “if it wasn’t produced by Hollywood it must be trash” types.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

” I see you still haven’t presented anything to support your claims that the rest of us are tripping over ourselves to download this or that.”

See Torrentfreak.com – top downloads of the week.

All Hollywood movies.

Go look at what is popular to download. It’s network TV, it’s “this week’s episode” and so on.

” I’m surprised since you seem to be one of those “if it wasn’t produced by Hollywood it must be trash” types.”

No, I am a “if it’s trash it’s trash” type. I am looking at what the majority of people are doing, what they are downloading, what they are watching. People claim to be “cutting the cord” and then spend an incredible amount of time looking for the same content they just cut off. It makes sense to me only that people are trying to be trendy and hip (“I so cut the cord”… best said while wering hipster glasses and chatting over the top of a Macbook). In the end, what the majority of people are still doing is the same old same old, just trying to look hip while doing it.

Can you explain why this is so?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I see, so you go to Torrentfreak, see what the top downloads are and then assume that people on Techdirt are ALL downloading that same thing, with no evidence whatsoever that corroborates that assumption. That about sum it up?

I can look at that list too and know what downloads are popular this week (notice how that list though is only about movies and tv shows, it DOES NOT list what else may be popular or what the most downloaded content for a week is… just what movies and tv shows are popular… an Ubuntu download could have all that beat for all we know). What I can’t know based upon looking at that list is WHO is downloading what off it. Which is something I already asked you about. I specifically asked how do you know that any of us HERE are downloading that. So yet again, no proof to corroborate your claims? Perhaps you shouldn’t go making such wild assumptions about people’s viewing or downloading habits.

I can’t explain what people I don’t know or have no clue about may or may not be doing, and I for one refuse to speculate about people based on a list on a site. That would be something you might feel comfortable doing, but I for one DO NOT.

Notice the problem here? One of us is making blanket assumptions about people and one of us is not. Which of us is doing what? Care to answer that question and why that is?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“I see, so you go to Torrentfreak, see what the top downloads are and then assume that people on Techdirt are ALL downloading that same thing, with no evidence whatsoever that corroborates that assumption. That about sum it up?”

No, that doesn’t sum it up. In fact, that is very far from the truth. Rather, the question is what the average person out there is really doing. The average cord cutter is still watching Hollywood movies, HBO series, and network TV shows, they are just obtaining them in less than legal fashion.

The point is that if those sources go away, what exactly would these people suddenly be watching?

“One of us is making blanket assumptions about people and one of us is not.”

No, one of us is ignoring reality and trying to cover up for it, and one of us is pointing to the numbers and going: “See, this is what joe average is doing”, and hoping to get responses from the Techdirt posters. Perhaps you can go back, understand what is being discussed, and actually make a contribution?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“No, that doesn’t sum it up. In fact, that is very far from the truth. Rather, the question is what the average person out there is really doing. The average cord cutter is still watching Hollywood movies, HBO series, and network TV shows, they are just obtaining them in less than legal fashion.”

But you see, yet again, you have no idea who is doing what. You’re taking one list on one site and just applying it to whomever you feel. How do you know that that list represents the “average cord cutter”? How? I’d like to see your proof that clearly and with no room for error shows the “average cord cutter is still watching Hollywood movies, HBO series, and network TV shows, they are just obtaining them in less than legal fashion”. Please, by all means, present said proof. Pointing to the week’s top downloads on Torrentfreak is not proof of that. It’s just proof of the week’s top downloads. With no data whatsoever showing who is doing what.

Which yet again, was my original question to you, which you’ve now seen fit to overlook/ignore/avoid three times now. You originally made the claim that the people here on Techdirt, myself included in this group, were all tripping over ourselves to download that stuff. I asked you how you knew this and if you had proof. You said “look at Torrentfreak”. I looked. No proof.

Would you now, at this point, like to either retract your original statement and issue an apology for making an assumption about the Techdirt readers? Or do you want to keep avoiding the original question and instead focus on making blanket statements, again with no proof, about the “average cord cutter” (this time around)?

“The point is that if those sources go away, what exactly would these people suddenly be watching?”

Plenty. There is plenty to watch that is none of that. Geez. There are quite a few examples already given in reply to your original comment. The Sam and Tim Daly Show. The Guild. Independent films and shows. I mean geez. Do you seriously want me and everyone here to list every single non-Hollywood produced entertainment (each individual show and film)? Is that what you want? Would that satisfy you? Because I think even if we did it still wouldn’t.

“No, one of us is ignoring reality and trying to cover up for it, and one of us is pointing to the numbers and going: “See, this is what joe average is doing”, and hoping to get responses from the Techdirt posters. Perhaps you can go back, understand what is being discussed, and actually make a contribution?”

Oh, so now you change your tune. You started with saying this is what all of you (the Techdirt readers) are doing, when questioned about it you avoided giving a proper answer and now when being repeatedly asked for one you change your tune to the “average joe”. I see how it works. Moving the goal posts at it’s finest. Congrats, I thought you wanted a genuine discussion, I see I was in error to make such an assumption. Much like you were to make claims about those of us here on Techdirt. (Or do I need to quote your original comment?)

I for one am not ignoring any reality. But I’m not making baseless assumptions based on one list on one site that DOES NOT in any way mention who is doing what. In fact, you can’t even say that is what the “average joe” is doing, because you don’t know. You can say that is what the “average downloader” is doing and that’s it. Or the “average pirate” or “average file sharer”. But nothing more or less can be gathered from that data. At all. Yet you somehow, of all people, are able to look at a list and know who exactly is doing what based off it. That’s a hell of a gift you got there. I think you would be better off using your gift for good, instead of making vast unsubstantiated claims.

As far as understand what is being discussed and make a contribution goes, I think I’ve very much done that.

I understand that you made an original claim about Techdirt readers. I then made the following contribution (per the way most discussions work):

* I asked you to substantiate your claim. (By presenting proof and evidence to support it.)
* I then answered your question directed at me (what did I download and/or watch the previous day).
* I then, yet again, asked you to substantiate your original claims (that those of us here were downloading anything).
* I then pointed out that your “proof” was nothing of the sort.
* I then again, pointed our your original claim and asked for proof supporting it.
* You again, presented nothing, which I pointed out and commented on.
* I also pointed out how you’ve changed your original claims from “Techdirt” to “average cord cutter” to “average joe”, each time I’ve pointed out that your “proof” says in no specific terms who is doing what (thus invalidating it as “proof” of your original claim).

I think I’ve contributed more to the discussion than you have. In that I’ve shown you refuse to answer a simple question and you refuse to back up, much less substantiate, your claim that Techdirt readers were tripping over themselves downloading stuff. Heck, I think I’ve shown that you don’t want to have any kind of discussion at all. You said something, the burden of proving it falls on you.

Or to put simply… It’s like you said “god exist”. I asked you to prove it. You then spun around in a circle and just pointed at everything you could and said, “See. There’s proof.” I said, “That in no uncertain terms is anything but proof. Be specific and back it up.” You then questioned me about what I did the day before (irrelevant as it was about God existing). I saw fit to answer you anyway, because I’m a nice guy like that. I then said, “Stop waving your hands around. Back up your claim that god exists.” At which point you pretty much refused to and said I was being difficult for questioning you followed by a, “Screw you guys! I’m going home!”

Now… would you like to contribute to the discussion and back up ANY of your claims with proof. Or would you like to keep pointing at Torrentfreak’s top weekly film and tv show downloads list and saying that the people doing that are Techdirt readers (at first), then “average cord cutters” (second), and finally the “average joe” (your third evasion)?

I’ll come back to this article later to see if you’ve presented any ACTUAL proof to support your claims later. Keep in mind, I want proof showing how you know who is doing what. That is now the key focus of my questioning. Since you are so certain and all. : )

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I’d also like to be nice and give you a way to back out now. So I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do. If you say the following (that I’ll write and put in quotes) then I will cease doggedly questioning you and allow you to slink off to whatever next article you pop up in, giving you another opportunity (and time) to rethink your discussion strategy and prepare (and be ready to support with ACTUAL proof) your next argument.

The following is what you must say: “I was wrong in making my original statement about Techdirt readers, which I was unable to substantiate with any definitive proof. I apologize for making such a claim and retract said statement.”


Re: The economics of TV

Do I download?

Do I need to?

Assuming I have a good enough antenna, I can attach a $30 TV tuner to my PC and record and watch stuff FOR FREE.

That’s all perfectly legal. So anything that’s on my local major networks, or Fox, or the local “reruns” channel is all fair game. It’s free and legal.

LunaSilver says:

Re: Re:

Well, let’s see, yesterday and this whole week I haven’t watched anything. In what used to be the “TV part” of my day, I now read free books, chat with friends,write my own book, check my facebook, play Wordfeud, read online articles, read and write emails, listen to music…

What I download the most is stock photos and fun brushes for Photoshop. Sorry if I disappoint.

rubberpants says:

Re: Re:

In the last 7 days I’ve played about 10 hours of Skyrim and TF2, listened to NPR, watched some Miranda Sings videos on YouTube, read several papers on computer science, and browsed tech news websites.

There are no doubt many people who enjoy what traditional media companies are putting out, but with this new fangled Internet and all it enables, Hollywood needs to get used to being just another option rather than the center of the entertainment universe. There’s no way to put I Dream of Jeannie back in the bottle.

I’m tired of hearing them complain frankly. Of course their business is struggling. It’s called progress. Look into it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Optional policy? I don’t think it matters here; all you’re going to do when presented with an answer you don’t like is shoot it down and demand, “Be honest!”

Your insistence that we’re all either obsessed with watching “network content” or obtaining it via illegitimate means is an extremely short-sighted, arrogant and incompetent perspective.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Obvious troll is obvious.

This is NOT a blog devoted to defending piracy and has already been noted, Mike has one more than one occasion explicitly stated he DOES NOT support or condone piracy.

However, pointing out that piracy is going to happen and that current (bad) attempts at enforcement are doing nothing to curtail is ALSO NOT DEFENDING PIRACY. It is being a realist and honest. It’s merely saying, “Hey, you’re not stopping it this way. You’re not stopping it that way. But how about trying this instead?”

Except the problem with that is morons (like YOU) take that as defending piracy, when it’s anything but.

Also, wtf does your comment at all have to do with what you replied to. The previous comment merely stated the truth. Any answer given that isn’t in line with your views or with what you want to hear is going to be ignored or shot down and you and your type will demand a different response. That and you all assume we need you and your content, when the truth is a majority of us can and have been doing without. The real truth of the matter is you need our dollars, but you’ve done nothing to earn them and have in fact done the opposite. You’ve got out of your way to not earn them.

You’re reaping what you’ve sown and are throwing a fit (again, unsurprisingly) and acting like the entitled brats you are. Demanding the world, governments and citizens fix YOUR problems and pay for any fixes.

Anonymous Coward says:


Eh it’ll cost just as much if not more, since you would no longer have people, who think the content you like is awful helping subsidize your content.

Means less content you like being produced.

Its a double edged sword, you are no longer paying for content you don’t lik that others do, but they are no longer paying for content that you like and they don’t. Means less money for all programming, but niche programming especially suffers.

A la carte programming was tried before and failed, most viewers chose bundling because they got more and better content.

But that’s not to say the current system isn’t broken and needs to be replaced, its just the system that’s going to replace it is going to have its own set of problems, and things are never as black and white as they seem.

rubberpants says:

Re: Re:

Anecdotally, I have a friend who’s a developer at a mainstream television broadcaster that shall remain nameless. Any time to they try to do anything remotely innovative or interesting the media companies either pull their content or sue. They’re not only dying, but they’re want to bring every partner in their supply chain and ecosystem down with them, not unlike a panicking drowning person pushing their rescuer under the water.

The companies and alternatives that end up on top will be the ones that eschew the traditional industry entirely.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

...or maybe not

I write software for the broadcast media industry, so stuff like this is very interesting. I shared the linked article with the boss, and he said to take a look at this article, which responds to it.

Apparently the studies reported on have severe methodology problems, including self-reporting and selection bias issues, that keeps them from being all that reliable. So this really ought to be taken with a grain of salt.

Jack Furlong (profile) says:

two problems with tv commercials as they now exist

1) They are no way targeted to my interests
Tell me when the next movie or book I may like
is coming out; where cheaper gas is, etc.
DONT tell me about “reality shows”, alcohol, drugs,
lawyers, semi sleazy “chat lines”, and vacations
in the bahamas!

2) They are repeated far too much
Sometimes three times within the same break!
At least do four versions, and don’t run them back to
back, please!

Digitari says:


My wife and I are a Nielsen family, we have kept track of the TV we watch and they call us every year, the Best part is, most of the shows we watch never stay on TV long (Firefly, Eureka, Space, above and beyond)We have a DVR and they get most of the info off of that, we rarely watch “live” TV

oh and as to what I downloaded this week, a few palm apps yesterday ( I have a palm treo 755p, cause I can print weekly schedules from my PC even without net access)and Urban Terror(a free open source FPS game for a friend) and a few demos on steam.

We don’t watch movies on the PC or TV shows on the PC, it seems like wearing a condom while masturbating, kinda defeats the purpose. (ie not interactive)

we read online about 4-6 hours a day, but watch very little TV, we may cut the cord if TCM and AMC and H2 start streaming online, those are the Channels we have on (in the background, while online)……..

RT Cunningham (profile) says:

Down with TV, or most of it

In my neck of the woods, not the US, where I like watching specific TV series from the US, the local stations hack it up – censoring anything that might upset the local censorship board. Of course, it’s not just TV shows. HDO Asia and Cinemax Asia don’t broadcast uncut movies either.

To top it off, they’re usually behind and they don’t offer everything, so there’s always something I can’t watch on regular TV.

Rather than hunt (without any TV guide of any kind) and try to remember when or where a particular show is being aired, I’ve done the next best thing. I’ve switched off the TV.

My wife watches the local channels while I watch episodes downloaded via EZTV. Am I a pirate? Only by Hollywood’s definition.

Greenaum says:


It doesn’t matter that each person only watches 20 of the 600 channels that they get. If each person’s watching a different 20, then each channel is earning it’s keep. Consider the cable bill a charge for your 20 channels, with the other 580 free. It’s the same end result, and since technically it is possible to send all 600 down one wire, it’s the easiest way of implementing it.

If each person chose only 20 different channels to watch, the overall viewership would be the same, but the per-channel viewership would fall greatly. So each channel would have to charge more. You’d end up paying the same you do now, for just your 20 channels. This is all fairly simple economics.

The biggest channel owners are usually paid by the cable / satellite network according to their viewing figures. Smaller channels usually get nothing from your subscription, and have to get by with advertising revenue.

Greenaum says:


Much content is produced now by independent companies, who sell their programmes to the network, who collate them into channels and sell them to you. What’s going to happen in the future, is the middle, obsolete, bit, disappears.

You’ll just buy the programmes you want direct from the producers.

Possibly through middle-man aggregating sites, that take some of the management and financial responsibility away from very small channels, like Youtube does when it pays some of it’s contributors. It’s likely each person will have their own “bookmark” list of the stuff they like, independent of their TV, with new programs appearing on it as they’re produced.

This is already happening now. Since we no longer need enormous transmitters to get TV shows to our houses, TV channels are gonna go the way of horse-buggy manufacturers.

ECA (profile) says:


At $1 per channel..and you watch your 20..
thats MORE then paying $50 for 200.
Then I watch what I want..
And you are right..Viewership WOULD fall off. AS the cartoon channel wouldnt be PAID FOR, by all the adults that DONT WATCH cartoons.

You have this Strange meaning for FREE..
IT AINT FREE, if Im paying $30 more for something I AINT WATCHING..
Its stupid for ESPN to be getting paid for 50% of the USA that Probably AINT watching most of the channel..And considering it ILLEGAL to tape/copy/transcribe ANY of the sports on ESPN…you cant even time shift it, while yo are working.

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