As MPAA Insists TV Piracy Is So Harmful, Breaking Bad Creator Explains How Piracy Helped
from the but-of-course dept
At this point, it’s amazing how tone deaf the MPAA remains about the impact of people downloading TV shows. Just a few days ago, the MPAA posted a silly blog post arguing that people getting copies of The Walking Dead from unauthorized sources demonstrated how “content theft is a complex problem… that needs to be taken seriously.” Except, a day or so later, the creator of AMC’s other super popular show (now concluded) Breaking Bad, Vince Gilligan, explained how piracy really helped the show build its base and become so popular:
“[It] led to a lot of people watching the series who otherwise would not have.”
Of course, at this point, this shouldn’t be surprising. Folks behind Game of Thrones have more or less said the same thing. Of course, they also try to hedge their claims. Gilligan, for example, followed up his statement above with the following:
“The downside is a lot of folks who worked on the show would have made more money, myself included, if all those downloads had been legal.”
Except, that’s wrong. Or, rather, it’s fantasy-world. If people hadn’t pirated it, Breaking Bad would have had a much smaller audience, and likely a much shorter run. Recent interviews with the writing staff suggested they expected the show to be cancelled many times throughout the run. If it wasn’t getting more and more viewers, it seems likely that it would have been canceled much earlier, and Gilligan’s reputation and brand wouldn’t be as wonderful as it is currently. It seems quite likely that it would have resulted in him making less money both from Breaking Bad itself and from future projects, where he’ll now be able to command a much larger paycheck, given this success.
The MPAA is right that it’s “complex,” but the constant drumbeat that it’s a problem that needs to be fixed seems to ignore the reality that those who have embraced much more widespread distribution and the benefits it provides, have found that it’s not necessarily a problem at all. It’s only a problem for those who fail to capitalize on it (and, we should note, that “failing to capitalize on new opportunities” is sort of a trademark of the MPAA).