Wil Wheaton Discusses TV, Cord-Cutting, Piracy… And Trying Desperately To Make Sure Fans Can Watch His Show

from the still-being-awesome dept

Look, we already know that Wil Wheaton is awesome (and I don’t just say that because he’s admitted to being a big Techdirt fan). He has consistently been awesome to fans, building up true connections with those fans by being more open, human and awesome, as can be seen in just about every story we’ve had about him. As you hopefully already know, Wheaton has a new TV show, the Wil Wheaton Project on Syfy. Ever since he announced the program, he made it clear that while it was out of his control, he would do his damnedest to make sure the show was available online.

The show is now two weeks in, and Wheaton has put up a fascinating blog post about “ratings, cord-cutters, and torrents” in which he notes that the ratings of the second episode were down a bit, and he’s trying not to let it get him down. However, he then realizes that the first episode was available (in an authorized fashion) online, while the second episode is not. So he checks out the Pirate Bay, and sees much greater interest in the second episode. Because duh.

Now, here’s something interesting that I’m probably going to get yelled at by the network goons for sharing, but it’s important and relevant. A lot of people have told me that I haven’t been able to watch our second episode online. I understand that if they try to watch it at Syfy.com, and they don’t have a cable or satellite provider, they can’t see it. I understand that it isn’t even on Hulu like our first episode was, and the show isn’t on Hulu+ at all.

With that in mind, look at this, from about an hour ago, from The Pirate Bay:

Last week, our first episode had a total of about 800 seeders and about half as many leechers. Math is hard, but I’m going to estimate over 2300 seeders and almost as many leechers, for our second episode alone. That’s pretty huge growth and interest from people who probably want to watch our show, but can’t, because they’re cord cutters, or they’re in a country that doesn’t carry the show. Yes, I know there are people who want everything for free and won’t pay for anything, but I don’t count them as “lost” viewers, because they were never going to be scored by advertisers or the network, anyway.

Rather than do what many less awesome folks might do (which is freak out or even scold people about it), he pulled a Louis CK, and basically just addressed people honestly.

Our show costs a lot of money to make. It’s possible to make our show because Syfy licenses it from us, and then sells advertising on the show to cover their investment. If everything goes according to plan, it’s profitable. If it’s profitable, we get to keep making more episodes. The best way to help us be profitable, then, is to watch the show on Syfy when it airs during the week. I don’t fully understand the realities and nuances of licensing and all that, but I do know that the world is rapidly changing, and a lot of people don’t want to watch TV live. I know that lots of people don’t want cable because they can’t afford it, or because they hate cable companies. I know that a lot of those people would gladly pay for Amazon on demand, an iTunes subscription, whatever Google Play does, or watch some ads on Hulu or Hulu+. I’m doing everything I can to let the people who make those deals know this, but I’m a very small voice in a very loud room. If you want to help make that voice louder, you can write a polite email to Syfy and let them know that you want to watch the show in a way that supports us.


Before I go, I just want to reiterate that I want you to watch our show, and I want you to like our show so much that you keep watching it. I’m trying my best to make it easy for you to watch our show in a way that helps us pay for it, so we can keep making more of it. I know for some of you it’s easier to just fire up a torrent client and go to down, and I’m sympathetic to that. But I’ll ask all of you, please, if you can watch the show in a way that counts for our network and our advertisers, please do.

And, as we’ve seen time and time again, people want to support the artists they love and the artists that respect them back. This is Wheaton being perfectly respectful, and totally open about the situation. Hopefully the folks at Syfy get that — and figure out a way to get the show online in an authorized and convenient manner soon.

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Comments on “Wil Wheaton Discusses TV, Cord-Cutting, Piracy… And Trying Desperately To Make Sure Fans Can Watch His Show”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The torrent counting is an approximation, includes redownloads, some aborted/corrupted downloads, doesn’t guarantee a “watch-blip”, the online audience is less “specific” than the TV-audience etc. Those things makes ad companies weary and if they are going to pay for this at all, it would be at a significantly discounted price.

Besides, “official” doesn’t mean anything on P2P and time of release depends on when people expects it to be there – 2 hours early is not gonna catch that many more cats – just as this specific case is about the “people who didn’t catch the show live”.

Your idea is commendable, but the distributer needs a lot more control of the platform to get the data needed to satisfy advertisement agencies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Hey maybe its just us, but the problem of missing the first few episodes and not wanting to start watching part-way in is chronic for our household. We have forgone all of the ad watching for several entire series that we didn’t bother to watch because of no good way to see the beginning episodes and that doesn’t do the advertisers any good at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It’s not an “official” torrent they need, it’s an “official” tracker. Why not seed a version with some adds directly from their website with their own tracker. The pirate copies will exist regardless of there being a legitimate one, but if the legit one is easier, people will flock to it.

What most of these companies need to do is release it DRM free as MP4, and have a paid for tracker that only does their releases. Don’t bother with adds, just charge $X a month for access to the tracker.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

People being able to skip commercials would be an improvement for them over people definitely skipping commercials like they are now.

It’s why the various companies fighting so hard against offering their stuff online because someone might pirate it or strip the commercials out makes no freakin’ sense, they’re already doing that, but if people are provided with the real thing, from an official source, for a reasonable amount, I’m sure most people would be happy to switch.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

When your business model is targeted advertising, and the adverts are fixed, a world wide audience is undesirable, except via local T.V. channels, which pay for the privilege of showing the program. When your friends are world wide, it is desirable that programs are available world wide within a 24 your window, so you can talk about it. The TV people need to figure out how to deal with advertising when then have a world wide market, like how to insert regional ads into a stream, then they can stream worldwide.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Regional uptake on these ads varies. In Australia, it can get very frustrating watching some catch-up TV services… imagine the same 3 ads, every ad break, on every show, for weeks! Not so bad on the first show, but I wonder what the value is to the advertiser after I’ve seen the same ad for the hundredth time.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Step one to selling your product: Make it available to buy

I guess I’m not just seeing it, if they can make the first episode available online, just set up a system where people can pay to sign-up for a service that would allow them to watch the rest of the episodes as they come out and, for those that need to catch up, watch older episodes as well.

Make signing up reasonably easy, watching easy without too many hoops to jump through, and the price decent, and I’m sure they’d have a bunch of people that would be willing to pay for something like that.

But of course that makes too much sense, and would threaten the deals they already have with the handful of cable companies, so naturally something like the above would be considered nothing more than crazy talk, and never put in place. Gotta cling to the past in hopes you don’t get washed away by the future after all. /s

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Step one to selling your product: Make it available to buy

Pricing like music where its so cheap you just buy it even if you aren’t sure, would make peoples movie collections as large as their music collections and the profits would come just like the music industry has seen, from the mass numbers of purchases.

fairuse (profile) says:

Re: Step one to selling your product: Make it available to buy

The networks are slowly learning. The model of “enter your cable provider” allows the higher cost shows to spread risk across the network’s advertising sales. NOTE: I just made a hypothetical because nobody publicly talks about money. Putting a new show on Amazon or iTunes is another round of exclusive deals with the network having to throw more lawyers in. More dollars up in smoke.

Don’t think of no desire for online, which can occur, as a simple deal. Money goes to the Artist’s unit managing the show. The network then sells ads, collects Cable OnDemand $ and viewing stats. The live rating, replay, DVR viewing, ondemand viewing are the cold hard facts of making $ or losing money.

The “Deal” for Amazon Instant Video is a box nobody can see into except the buyer/seller. Also, distribution rights have to be thought out from the beginning (CBS Person of Interest got No online per Warner in 1st season; DVD sales.).

And it gets better, however, that’s your homework.
Headache starting…

ObLamerbinbiden says:

Who is Wil Wheaton?

That is rhetorical question. Please don’t answer it. I’m sure he/she/it is a nice person in an alien sort of way. Did anyone check his papers, place of birth, or if he has clean underwear in case of a hospital visit? The only answer I can find is google allows one to be forgotten, but it takes the money of the CIA, FBI, or Social Services if adopted to get an identity.

Whatever says:

oh look, he shot his own foot

This is one of those amazing moments where someone wakes up and realizes that the philosophy that the push is also at the same time hurting them. Wil is dealing with the basic fact that he owes his living to a cable network, while being one of those people who supports (directly or indirectly) the cut cable world.

It’s fun to watch him squirm. He understands very clearly that the downloaders do absolutely nothing to support him, and that unless the channel makes the videos available in a manner that makes some money, he will find himself at the end of the day out of a job.

The real trick of the future will be in finding ways to monetize content that doesn’t involve selling swag.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: oh look, he shot his own foot

Concluding that “downloaders do not support artists is patently false” holds true as soon as 1 in a million does so. It is therefore a bit of a NSA-esque wordgame.

The idea that pirates are pirates is patently false. It has been indicated at a non-ignorable level that there are several distinct reasons for pirating.

Lumping all downloaders together to create a one-liner is quite comparable to MPAAs dishonesty…

Karl (profile) says:

Re: oh look, he shot his own foot

The real trick of the future will be in finding ways to monetize content that doesn’t involve selling swag.

…which he has already done.

If you don’t know this already, Wheaton has an awesome show on Geek and Sundry called “TableTop.”

For the first two seasons, it was funded by YouTube/Google through their paid channels. But that funding dried up after the second season.

So, they launched an IndieGoGo campaign:

They initially asked for $500K to fund a shortened third season, with $750K funding a full season, and one million dollars funding a spin-off show.

By the time the campaign ended, they had raised nearly a million and a half dollars, over three times the original goal.

All of this from people who had never once paid for the show, who had only watched it on YouTube, and who simply wanted to see the next season happen.

In fact, I’ll bet dollars to donuts that the success of TableTop is a major reason why Wheaton got a show on the SyFy network in the first place.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: oh look, he shot his own foot

funded by YouTube/Google through their paid channels

The actual name of the program was the “YouTube Original Channel Initiative.” I meant that Google paid to produce the shows on the Geek and Sundry channel, not that users had to pay to view the channel.

Sorry if that caused confusion. Couldn’t remember the program’s name when I wrote the last comment.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: oh look, he shot his own foot

You’re assuming that people actually purchase products based on TV/Cable advertisements any more.

The reality is, and this scares the hell out of all the marketing companies etc is that advertisement in its current form is barely working anymore. people are becoming either too cynical or too inured by multiple ubiquitous advertising forums for the advertising to actually work anymore.

The solution? Buggered if I know

Whatever says:

Re: Re: oh look, he shot his own foot

Swag is a nice term for the things most people don’t really want or don’t really need. However, it is generally a more risk intensive model, and one that requires a certain amount of market follow through. It is significantly more difficult than selling ad space in a TV show or selling movie tickets, and the variation between success and failure is wide.

The question isn’t if you can sell swag, but if there is in fact a long term, reliable, durable market that can support all of the entertainment choices we want. It’s hard to imagine that it really works out. Swag generates huge income, but would it generate enough?

Oh, and the chinese made crap? Well, they produce double that and flood every market in the world with the stuff and don’t pay for the rights, sucking the money out of the system. If there is anything that is more easily pirated than music and movies, it’s image. If you can print it on a t-shirt and sell it, everyone else can too – and probably cheaper.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: oh look, he shot his own foot

For all the money they make on Star Wars merchandise, they should just give the movies to us for free. They are essentially commercials for all the toys. The more people that watch Star Wars, the more toys they sell.

i.e. George Lucas proved you can make a fortune on swag.

The trick is making swagable films, which is all Hollywood seems to be interested in these days. Comic book movies sell, but comic book swag sells even better.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Online TV

the ‘hold up’ (how appropriate), is that besides holding all us lowly end users up for exorbitant prices on crap teevee, Big Media also has its own internecine squabbles… after screwing us over as much as they can get away with (Plus just a little bit more !), they turn on each other to screw each other over…

ONE of the major playing cards in this ‘game’ among the Big Media oligarchy, is ‘sports’…
and particularly live broadcasts of the major sports…

i have no idea what the percentages are (apparently a LOT less among the younger set), but a LOT of people -including this formerly avid, now mild-medium sports fan- want live sports broadcasts at a minimum, and base their cable/satellite/etc teevee packages on that factoid…

like dune: he who controls the sports, controls the teevee universe…

JP Jones (profile) says:

Huh, imagine that. The first episode is available to watch legally, and a lot of people watch it legally. The second episode isn’t…and isn’t watched as much. Imagine that.

I’m suddenly very interested in this show. If I can watch it legally, I will…if not, I’ll probably watch it anyway. I understand the argument of “support the artists!” Totally get it. But here’s the thing; if you won’t sell me your product, I can’t buy it. If I can’t buy it, I can’t support it.

Here’s the problem that I (and a lot of people here on Techdirt) have. We aren’t going to buy stuff that’s worthless to us just to buy the stuff we do want. It’s sort of like saying “well, you want some new tires, and we want you to support us, so here is some new tires…but you can only buy them along with this new car.” You already have a car, you say, and it works perfectly fine. “Sorry! Pay for the whole car or nothing.”

Offer us the service we want at a reasonable price and we’ll buy it. Note that “reasonable prices” are set by what the consumer is willing to pay, not what the seller wants you to pay.

Note that this is directed to the cable companies, not Will Wheaton. Will Wheaton rocks.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

I have a question.
How much do the advertisers pay per eyeball on the show?
Is it just some magical made up number from Neilson Families or secret spying by Smart Tvs?
How do they count people who DVR, or catch it at a friends house?

Despite the snark, I’m actually curious.

Using advertising to support the shows is an age old pattern, that really no longer applies.

We have DVR’s, we have DVR’s that despite idiotic lawsuits offer commercial skipping. Instead of paying for a lawsuit that if you win will make your customers hate you more, could they have done some math and figured out how much they earn per person?

Let us say, that they earn 10 cents a head they can count.
So then why not offer the show via an online portal for 15 cents, as it aired. They earn the ad revenue, we can show x downloads and a portion of the payment (after paying for the portal).
Then could they offer the same show for 50 cents without any advertising in it?

Yes my numbers are contrived, but the theory is sound.
If they made it available for purchase at an attractive price, wouldn’t viewership go up earning them more?
If people weren’t spending $100+ a month for 6983 channels they never want to watch, would they then put that money to use to get what they really want?

And before they go insane, don’t tie the portal to some sort of idiotic DRM scheme. Consider that even if it makes it into the wild out of your control, you might get even more viewers as they decide the price is right and there is no reason to find an alternative way to get it. Yes some people will never pay you, so? You weren’t going to get that money ever anyways.

People will pay for what they like provided…
– the price is right
– they get to “own” what they paid for
– they get to decide the how, where, when of how they watch it
– you stop treating them like crap

I’d really love to see how many of these execs who talk about all the different “awesome” failed platforms they subject the customers to actually ever used them personally.
If they faced the same things their customers did, perhaps they would finally get why what they are doing isn’t going to work.

14,000,000 people pay you $1 for an episode… seems like a win for a 24 episode season.

vancedecker (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Most of the numbers involved have been TOTAL BS for years, however, this past decade the industry has been slowly, as the old morons die and/or retire, been realizing this because of the not so new ability to get actual numbers instead of fantasy Nielsen numbers.

90% of all marketing/sales presentation I dealt with at one of the primary studios in LA, were created by taking last years numbers and and just making shit up. The other 10% is from whoever created the original PowerPoint and had access to Nielsen etc.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You should read “Nielsens” explanations.


They are not very specific about their methods and since 2013 the online measurement program has been discontinued etc.

Also, be cautious about the specifics and realize where their interests lie. However they are pretty clear about the challenges as they hear about/see them.

If you read between the lines, they are basically saying that the networks are having trouble finding a suitable model online, but the excuses they use seems inevitably solvable (1/4th the price seems mostly a problem with the advertisement agencies work and depending on the conversion issues that cause those problems they can be reduced in severity. Low sales in online stores is a standardisation of distribution problem.).

It also smells like the networks really do not want to face reality. Advertisement is all about creating an appearance. Appearance for the networks come from Nielsens. If Nielsen cannot uphold the facade online, the advertisers will of course look at lowering the price…

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I think a single brave production company could risk it.
It is REALLY hard for an advertiser to look at cold hard facts.
We sold 5,000,000 copies of the standard episode with ads.
We sold 9,000,000 copies of the ad-free version.
You pay us 4 cents a viewer, while we like the 200,000 you are paying for this episode this other company has offered 6 cents. We can show you exactly what we are selling in real time, and yes some people can/will fast forward but perhaps you just need more interesting ads.

Perhaps a hybrid system where before you get your DL link you have to watch an ad. How much would an advertiser pay for a premium slot like that?

I think there will always be an avenue for advertising supported episodes, some people are cheap.
I don’t think this will gut the “plastic disc collectors” editions, but force them to offer better “extras” on them and maybe justify an extra buck on the price for the no freaking forced ads/content/upsells on the discs.

Of course the other portion that needs to happen here is they need to gut the current distribution & rights systems.
They can offer clear numbers, no magic accounting, we pay you X per episode sold. We price the content the same globally, we offer it everywhere at once, we cut you a check every 2 weeks. Our portal keeps selling the content forever, never going out of print, and the checks space out a bit more for older seasons but you can check the real numbers right here on your screen when you want.

Imagine actually using all of the “evil” technologies to be transparent to your partners & workers, streamline operations, end the death by 10000 microcents per region per copy, and cut your overhead raising profits without making your customers the enemy.

And they called me a freetard pirate…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I think the networks have a lot of advantage in the obscurity of the numbers TV usage. There are several values you just cannot reasonably measure and the measures used to cover those holes can be very advantageous in negotiations.

On the internet, almost everything can be measured to some degree and the costs per thousand viewers and its scaling for some of the ad companies is already somewhat deobscured. Now that the entertainment production has skyrocketed on the internet and the attention span of people with enough money has become a limiting factor, the shift to such a fiercely competitive market will seems like a significant downgrade if enough users cross from their other options to online (That is one of the assumptions people question!). I imagine the cpm used for TV has been extremely inflated for years and now the descend to half or a third of their values after an appropriate repurposing just doesn’t sound delicious at all (They probably do not count the added foreign viewership since the advertisement value towards them is negligible!). I think the problem is stock-ownership among the decission-makers and that they still believe they can squeeze more out of TV, radio and print than online distribution models. In a decade or two things will have to have changed a lot, but the horizon for future-proofing the business-model of a modern company is 5 to 10 years in the future. That is probably not enough to warrent as radical and sparsely documented changes as the ones proposed here. Especially not with the improved export conditions through forcing foreign companies to change through trade agreements. Unless a trade agreement screws over the other side more, it is not worth having!

Whatever says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Google has gotten very rich from acting like they have demystified things, while creating a perfect system for jacking rates to the sky.

The bid for position system is amazing, because there is almost always someone willing to overpay for customers. There is always someone with a dumb business model that says they will pay $5 to get a $1 customer, and make it up in volume. As a result, Google ads for most popular terms are incredibly expensive and dominates by a rotating cast of idiots blowing their seed and round A money looking for a market.

Better yet, Google’s system sucks 50% of the action out of the game right up front. They demystified the process in a way that assures that new suckers come in the door every minute, and their very accurate numbers are just bait for the fish.

Modern rating systems use various systems to determine what is being watched and listened to, where and when. Considering the size of the audience, it’s pretty impressive to have viewership numbers in the “overnights” that seem to pretty accurately reflect who watched what, and when.

So far it’s harder to monetize those people working off the grid for a bunch of reasons. One for sure is that most people who use Tivo, recorded, or downloaded shows are skipping the commercials. I don’t think anyone has found a way to extract any real value from these people, outside of product placements that got so blatant, that people tuned them out.

When too many of the people are enjoying the product without a viable business model to support them, the problems start. Nobody has come up with a really good answer for this yet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Monetization is a numbers game. Yes, Googles ad empire is slimy in their auctioning, and I wouldn’t say their numbers necessarily are as useful for the metrics advertisers want as they may seem to think! It is, however, less obscure than the business standard of pure backroom dealings!

Modern rating systems for TV are better than in the past, but the elephant in the room is that viewership-numbers aren’t even close to the end all value it has been cranked up to be for advertisers!

The problem with the cable cutting is that you have to provide a service as an alternative on their services. If you neglect several of the online markets as most media companies do, well, you are dooming people to find unfortunate solutions. Providing the solutions may have a smaller profit margin, but to some degree they will make gains on new segments and that is also worth taking into account. Not to mention: Distribution upkeep is very limited and the availability period is eternal theoretically.

Skipping commercials is a real problem, I agree, but we can easily get to a point where we make going to the toilet during an ad on TV piracy, so legally it doesn’t seem viable to combat it.
The Tivo-problem is cross-platform, but far more severe on traditional TV than other markets since countermeasures are more limited and harder to implement. Not actually sure how networks will handle that one in the long run!

I know several Youtubers and Twitchers are seeing adblockers as an inevitability and they are simply advertising not using it and seeing increased numbers as a service problem (mostly too many ads and inadequate arms race from the service). Instead of building a business model based on these services, it may be worth it to simply see it as a feedback on the service and discourage the use of it through inconveniencing/appeals.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“Considering the size of the audience, it’s pretty impressive to have viewership numbers in the “overnights” that seem to pretty accurately reflect who watched what, and when.”

I’m far from convinced that the numbers accurately reflect any such thing.

“One for sure is that most people who use Tivo, recorded, or downloaded shows are skipping the commercials.”

This is true. If I had to watch commercials, I wouldn’t watch the show at all. Same with product placement — “Bones” is a great example. The product placement was so obnoxious that I quickly stopped watching that show entirely.

“I don’t think anyone has found a way to extract any real value from these people”

Nobody has done this in a realistic way yet (outside of Netflix, I guess), but it would be very easy to extract value from me: charge me a reasonable amount of cash to watch. Perhaps the amount they’d get from ad revenues from me. I’d be happy to pay.

Most of the attempts to do this so far have been failures out of the gate for two reasons: the service completely sucked or I had to watch ads in addition to paying cash.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

this was many years ago, before nielsen had ‘set top’ boxes, etc…
i was a temporary nielsen ‘family’ (of a single guy) who was supposed to keep a ‘diary’ of my viewing for -as i recall- a month…
they gave you a little digest sized calendar, and you were supposed to write in every time you turned on the teevee, who -if anyone- was watching (and their gender, age, etc) for what time frame, what channel, what show, blah blah blah…
you know how long that lasted ? less than a week, before i would forget, or just didn’t want to bother… then, when it came time to send it back, i just sat down and filled in a bunch of the diary to reflect what i would like to have watched, NOT necessarily what i actually watched…

and another bogus nielsen number was born…

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Show me where they offer episodes, without insane special players, rules, platforms, for download for $1 and I’ll show you where money is being made.

Show me where they offer a simple inexpensive alternative that consumers can chose. Welcome to competition, you can compete with free… if you can remember you need to get off your ass and compete rather than lay on the laurels of the 50’s era of television.

The current model of pay us for the platform, now pay for each episode, now leave it in our cloud and watch it when we say you can… yes it contributes to infringement.

Some people may never pay, this is true. But if they made their offering more attractive and EASY for consumers they can get revenue another way… see the example of the ad supported stream that isn’t 97 minutes long for a 28 minute episode and 69 minutes of commercials.

It’s really easy to naysay, but I suggest you offer a better idea rather than sit there claiming it won’t work.
Flight, Electricity, Moving Pictures, Sound Recordings, Printing Presses… they all had people like you ready to bellyache about how it would never work… do you need a few more examples to help you understand how wrong you are?

Look a minimum of snark from me, how refreshing.
Oh… and go fuck yourself.
Mr. Wheaton says don’t be a dick, I can’t live up to that goal.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I was heavily involved in TV and Radio commercial pricing for years (I recently left that industry).

There are a lot of cost-per-point models for advertising pricing in Television. Although arguably very unreliable, the Nielsen ratings are the standard for the industry. They are based on samples taken in different demographics throughout the country. The samples are taken essentially rhough a box that keeps track of what people are watching (people selected by Nielsen and have agreed to this). There are also some surveys that they take.

It is not a great way of tracking TV usage, but people don’t seem to want their smart TV’s to track it for them, so it is basically the best they currently have.

The model is flawed and could be greatly improved upon with the current technology, but Nielsen has not been able to get networks to buy into new ways of doing it. I am sure because they are afraid of changing business models and certainly because the big networks don’t want to face anything that indicates that their audience is not the largest and most important.

As far as embedding commercials into legal torrents and mp4’s available on network websites – I can tell you one of the majors has been looking into this very seriously. The problem is they get stuck with the commercials in the file and you end up with crazy legal arguments from the commerical actors as well as no way to change out the ads when you want to re-sell the program.

I am still convinced that the best thing a big network could do right now is to give their cable deals the finger, partner with Amazon, and get an amazon streaming player with their network channel streaming on it live, with commercials based on customer Amazon usage and a giant “Buy Me” button on the remote.

Anonymous Coward says:

The best way to help us be profitable, then, is to watch the show on Syfy when it airs during the week.

From what I know, only the Nielsen devices count viewership. Yes? So, me watching (or not watching) the show on that network *shudders* does absolutely nothing for, or against, the sustainability of the program. It’s like ABC encouraging me to “Watch it live.”

vancedecker (profile) says:

Like Tosh.O for Nerds

Less penises and gay jokes, and more Sci-fi/Fantasy babble. I was pleasantly surprised, and will probably keep it on as background noise.

In contrast to the teaser previews, he does NOT seem like an asshole at all. (I’ve always liked Wil’s work, but wasn’t familiar with his personal attributes. I’m not big on celebrity worship, unlike the rest of you slave

andypandy says:

my problem and their problem...

I am not familiar with wheatons show , i have not seen any clips or advertising for it, i am in the UK.

If this show had to show up on the top 25 shows on my local torrent site i might be interested in downloading it, but there is so much content out there right now it is lost in the amazing shows i do watch.

I do not have loads of money to buy every show i like , in fact i don’t have enough to buy anything other than kids shows if i wanted to, as the kids come first…

I love GOT just as most people do and would love to support them but there is no way for me to do so unless they are on the bbc channels on my tv where i can pvr them and watch when i want.Sadly i cannot transfer them to any of my other devices that i watch content on when i either go out or am in bed.

So i tor them all and store them for when i want to watch them, sadly not this show as i don’t see it very often and there is so much more to download as said above.

I at the moment download every week about 10 different shows maybe more, but i download these as i can easily transfer them on other devices, even if they are on the bbc, same for all the kids stuff i download, my internet connection is used by the kids to watch shows from youtube mainly. But there are shows they love which i download and install so there are no problems watching them if we go out to the caravan for the weekend.

I would love to pay a little but i am paying my tv license and believe that is enough investment into the entertainment industry at the moment.

What i would not mind would be having a donate button in a show showing up on the screen which i could click to donate for a specific episode. Damn i would be tempted to use the donate button many times during a show like GOT. I would most definitely have thrown a few pounds at GOT when they showed the red wedding.(have not watched any of the latest episodes as i want to watch them all in o0ne sitting.

Damn even if they had a 5 minute break in the middle of each episode so i could make a coffee or go to the loo or whatever would be acceptable if i could skip it.

I refuse to register and pay numerous accounts on netflix verizon , itunes ,Amazon, hulu, and all the others just to be able to watch what i want when i want and even then not or be able to download the shows, damn again even the bbc iplayer allows you to download shows, sadly they have drm but 30 days storage and 7 days to watch once you have started watching is not too bad and is moving in the right direction, I pay for this ability with my TV license fee which should be abolished and so that i could use that money to purchase the rights to download all content they produce without restrictions. or they could do as above and insert advertising.

All in all i am not against paying for content, but not on so many different websites and not a huge amount , damn if i wanted to access all the content i watch i would be paying almost ?100 A MONTH WHICH IS NOT POSSIBLE FOR ME TO DO.

I want to pay for content but i refuse to pay hundreds a month for something that has advertising in it or that has drm or any other restrictions. there are months where i don’t watch more than 1 or two shows and only 1 or two episodes, why am i or should i pay ?100 for that.

Now i am sure there are many ways hey could assist me and the millions of others that want content but they refuse to even consider us and so i continue downloading from torrent sites until they do.

Sorry for the long post but even with this i cannot write all of the frustrations i have and the simple solutions they should at least be trying.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: my problem and their problem...

you would have had to go on at still greater length to catalog the litany of valid points against Big Media and their predatory, extortionist actions…
and that is just the what the average joe like yourself runs into in attempting to ‘legally’ view current media: we pay exorbitant fees for temporary license to view 90% crap; we are restricted in so many ways that ONLY legal buyers are encumbered, while pirates have nicer, free-er versions; and THEN we get pilloried for making and end-run around their artificial restrictions…

a handful of dedicated amateurs make BETTER versions of THEIR products, and they sic the police state on you…
why don’t they try -i don’t know- COMPETING ! ! !

i heard tell once, that used to be the American way…
now, its just hit-them-over-the-head-and-take-their-shit thuggishness…

PeterScott (profile) says:

Cost a lot of money to make?

I like Wil Wheaton, I love him on TBBT, and his writings on Nerd stuff.

But this show was pretty bad. It’s him standing in front of a green screen for the whole show (cheaper than a real studio with a desk/chair), with one bad bad static computer graphic as his background. Content is covering SciFi with really bad humor layered on top.

It is really, quite bad.

Sorry Wil.

rasz_pl (user link) says:

EVERY SINGLE Cable box has return channel nowadays, and reports precisely what you watch/DVR. They know which keys you press on a remote, when you mute commercials, when you change channels, your preferences, your sleeping/work patterns.

This capability is one of the reasons cable companies fought so hard against cable card standard. Cable card didnt provision for return channel.

Cable companies know exactly, down to a single household by name, who watches what. This is their bread and butter, this is where the money comes from advertisements.

Anonymous Coward says:

Barriers to entry

As an American oddity, someone who’s never had a cable TV account, I know I’m not the target market.

But what baffles me most is why the big networks make it so hard for someone with a casual interest in a show to get “hooked”. While I hadn’t watched broadcast in a decade, outside of PBS or a random ball game, this year I had much more time and tried to watch 3 shows regularly (Agents of Shield, the Blacklist, and Believe). You can’t really build a weekly habit, because the shows “weekly schedule” is anything but. Re-runs and “special events” spread 20 episodes over 40 weeks, and on any given night, it’s not obvious if you’re going to get new content or not, without chasing down a third party scheduling guide.

And god forbid you miss an episode. All 3 of these shows had “streaming”, but unless you could prove a cable subscription, you couldn’t stream a missed episode until 8 days after broadcast. Utterly useless to get “caught up” on a show, unless the missed episode happened to be followed by a rerun.

I was briefly tempted to buy a PVR to record shows, but I just don’t watch enough to justify it. However if I did, I’d PVR everything and skip the commercials.

It seems that the networks have built their economics around cable and families that watch 2 or 3 hours of TV every night. For everyone else, the system is user-hostile and effectively designed to push people into solutions that undercut TV revenue. Fantasyland stupid.

Anonymous Coward says:

I quit watching TV a long time ago over stupid programming, expensive PPV, and friggin’ commercials. Today I don’t own a TV and I don’t want one.

Pleading for eyeballs seems rather stupid given the limited access to the ‘offical’ methods. I’m not willing to pay the ‘vig’ demanded. They can continue to increase rates just as fast as they wish. Here’s one that won’t be paying them.

Most of the crap on TV is just that, crap. Not even a good time waster.

madasahatter (profile) says:

Business model

Wiil understands the conventional movie/tv/video model must change to accommodate what potential viewers are doing. Producers and distributors must understand some do not watch cable tv, do not have the package that includes the channel they are on, want to stream it from the Internet, and some would buy a copy (download or physical). Put versions in each channel at the time of first release/airing and most torrenting disappears.

I happened to see his show (on SyFy channel) and enjoyed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: commercials

And then we can argue about what “skipping” means in this context. 😛

The difference is to a large degree driven by reputation:

If people wait commercials out a few might have braved through and watched them. Those are gone in mechanical skipping!
The real question is if those skipping wouldn’t have avoided the commercials anyway? I guess the value in the uncertainty of how many actually watch the commercials is a good bargain for the networks!

JBDragon says:

I’m a cable cutter and watch most of my TV using a Antenna and a couple duel HD tuners allowing me to record up to 4 shows at once and watch one already recorded, or record 3 shows and watch one LIVE, etc. Using Media Center on my PC and a Xbox 360 at each TV as extenders. It’s great, flexible, can watch in one room and resume in another. Can watch on all my HDTV’s at once from that 1 PC everything is recorded on.

I got tired with paying for TV with most of the channels I didn’t watch and that included the Most expensive ESPN and other sports channels I could care less about. If you want SyFy you have to get one of the higher more expensive packages. What a joke.

So a few shows I get on Usenet Automatically, and watch with PLEX. I don’t have to do anything. The first show of his I got a SD version and it took like 3 days before I had a copy. Later that week the HD version downloaded. The second show I got the same day and in HD. So things do seem to be picking up!!!!

I like the show. I do get his Humor. If it could get into more places LEGALLY, like I get a season pass of “The Walking Dead” from AMC from Amazon. The Episodes are released on Monday after their Air the night before on Sunday. It’s also commercial free, so it’s not a bad deal. I support a show I like and it’s not delayed for a week or more. We need more of this. Move with the times.

I’m a fan of Wil Wheaton. I hope the show turns into a big hit for him. I’ve like him on the “Big Bang Theory”. I thought he was just fine on STTNG also. Instead of turning into another Child Star that just couldn’t make the transition. Or one that just got on Drugs and Alcohol and out partying every night. I’ve never heard of any of that Negative stuff like you do with so many others. The show is new. I hope it’s given a chance to grow. Find out what really works, and what doesn’t so much.

billy says:

You chose the distributor

Hi Wil,

The first mistake you made was choosing SyFy to finance and distribute your show. Finance and distribution should never be tied together. The distribution services they offer are not what your customer’s demand, and are actually an affront to many of those customer’s ideals. Their distribution model is also outdated and hasn’t been effective for 10 years. Best of luck with your next project!


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