Cable Walled Garden TV Plans To Include Too Many Ads

from the of-course-they'd-screw-it-up... dept

We've already been incredibly skeptical of the plans by certain cable companies to get TV networks to limit their content such that it can only be accessed online if you have a cable TV subscription. The whole thing is based on setting up artificial barriers and artificial scarcity to hold back the inevitable. Such plans never do well. They piss off users and drive them to alternatives. And, of course, you just knew that the likes of Comcast and Time Warner Cable would like screw up the execution too. Many folks (myself included) have been surprised at how well (for the most part) Hulu executed, but just leave it to big cable companies not to learn from Hulu's success.

Reports are coming out claiming that when the shows are put online for this "TV Everywhere" program they'll include the full slate of ads seen during the regular TV version. Studies have shown that this is a bad, bad idea. Having so many commercials -- especially on a platform (the internet) with so many other options, simply drives people away. Hulu learned very quickly to limit the number of ads to just a few -- and it's discovered that (1) people actually pay attention to them and (2) they can charge higher rates. One more sign that this TV Everywhere program is a disaster in the making.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 4:22am

    Right. Before I comment, let me consult my TechDirt Crystal Ball. It says... It says... It says... I should be "Honing Wit". Damn, I'm screwed: I thought Mike liked wit. Well, I usually agree with everything Mike Says, but, he's an evil genius who believes everything is going to hell in a handbag.

    A Handbag which matches your Palm Pré, available at Bag Borrow or Steal The Premier handbag rental place on the internet.


    I tried to hone my wit. Happy?

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 4:57am

    Right. Seems Mike is not in control anymore. I feel bad for that. As such, it seems that it's time for TechDirt 4.0 Anyone have a good domain name we should register?

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 4:59am

    We could pull Mike away.

    I am sure of it.

     

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  4.  
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    P, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 5:17am

    here you go

    thought I'd make your 3 posts look like a dialogue.

     

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  5.  
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    R. Miles (profile), Jul 17th, 2009 @ 5:20am

    Irony at its best.

    As I sit here and read this article, I can't help but laugh at the irony as Techdirt remodels itself to inject ads within its article listing.

    Luckily, AdBlock saves the day.

    Explain to me why ads are even necessary on this site when it's been stated they're not needed.

    To give an example that websites can charge more for fewer ads doesn't take away the fact people just don't like them. They're forced to watch them, just as we're now forced to see them listed within the articles.

    Yes, businesses need to make money. I get that. But in all this talk about finding new business models, I find it interesting the ad model is being propped up more than any other model.

    It's bad enough cable charges us for stations carrying ads, and this walled content with more ads isn't going to go over well with consumers. In a recent article I read, 20% of cable subscribers are no longer watching "standard" television, using the internet instead.

    20%. Those are quite a few eyeballs, so it doesn't surprise me cable is simply taking the same model and applying it to the online world.

    Sure, there are alternatives, but in time, even these will start to push more ads. The only way to get content ad-free (note they're not the same thing here) is to pirate it.

    So, Mike, tell us again how content and ads are the same thing while this article clearly indicates they're not.

    I've said it once before, and this time you should listen, they are not the same thing to the consumer.

    Had they been, you wouldn't have placed the "Now a word from our sponsors" text to specifically distinguish them.

    Semantics doesn't work in the entertainment world. Content isn't an ad.

    Because ads pay for content. When does content ever pay for an ad?

    Techdirt shouldn't be surprised at this news of the cable industry, yet they seem to be.

    How odd is that?

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 5:21am

    Lots of noise today

    Uh, where's the comments.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 5:24am

    Re: here you go

    Good, most of them had a nasty "you're comment is under moderation" flavor to them.

    Which was new, and perhaps from your "big meeting" you had.

    Nice.

    Nice.

    Nice.



    I'm done.

     

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  8.  
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    inc (profile), Jul 17th, 2009 @ 5:36am

    If they are going to make the content in a walled garden then it should be ad free. Why are people paying upwards of $150 a month to get bombarded by ads. I can understand ads on publicly available sites. It wouldn't take long for someone to setup a VPN to watch this content remotely.

    Basically this should be ad free while you are on the cable network and ad supported off their network. They need to make this so easy for the consumer it makes setting up a private web server with self downloaded content a hassle in comparison.

    This is why Hulu would have probably beat tv-links.co.uk if it were still online. Give people a legal way to reach this stuff easily.

     

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  9.  
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    duane (profile), Jul 17th, 2009 @ 5:45am

    Re: Irony at its best.

    Actually what has been said here is that pretty much everything is content. And good ads are viewed as content. Lots of us are not watching the Super Bowl for the football.

    Also, you kind of lost your point when you said "Had they been, you wouldn't have placed the "Now a word from our sponsors" text to specifically distinguish them." That's why magazines label things as advertising section, because in some cases, you can't tell the difference. That's not necessarily a good thing, but it is the truth.

    And your last point doesn't even make sense. An ad is content. Hell, I'd say a fair portion of crap on youtube is funny commercials, music videos, etc. That stuff is all ads, but ta-da, it is also content.

    The difference here, the actual point of this post, is that we seek out those ads. Putting ads where we don't like them is not going to benefit you.

     

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  10.  
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    Designerfx (profile), Jul 17th, 2009 @ 6:36am

    ads online are grossly less effective

    Not only is this a bad idea but it's totally going to water down the effectiveness of the ads. You are dead on that Hulu cut them real short, and Hulu's are what is currently acceptable to society (and that will probably drift down over the years too).

    It's bad enough companies suck up by trying to get their brands snuck into tv shows and movies, we don't need it shoved down our throats more by reinforcing tv-style advertising from the 50's.

    It's just a bad exec call as usual. We seem to get a lot of those in the last 25 years.

     

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  11.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 17th, 2009 @ 7:00am

    My monopoly has been broken

    Okay, usually I'm the one that fills an interesting article with inane and senseless comments, so wtf is going on in this thread?

     

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  12.  
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    CleverName, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 7:12am

    Walled Gardens work well

    Just ask AOL

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 7:28am

    Re: My monopoly has been broken

    No you're not, Tegis.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 7:38am

    Re: Irony at its best.

    "It's bad enough cable charges us for stations carrying ads, and this walled content with more ads isn't going to go over well with consumers. In a recent article I read, 20% of cable subscribers are no longer watching "standard" television, using the internet instead.

    20%. Those are quite a few eyeballs, so it doesn't surprise me cable is simply taking the same model and applying it to the online world."

    People hate the model, they charge us a fortune for cable and then they stick us with a bunch of commercials. The fact is that the rich and the powerful make more than enough money without the need to exploit us. The evil model only survives because these special interest groups lobby the government to prevent anyone from competing in the market by disallowing anyone else to use the existing lines or to build new lines (despite the fact that the existing infrastructure was mostly government funded). They are disallowing the free market of competition to enter the market so they get to stick us with unfairly high prices and tons of adds. It's not that things can't be better, it's not that the free market can't afford to provide better content at a cheaper price with fewer ads, it's that the monopolies in place have lobbied for laws that benefit only them and harm everyone else and people aren't standing up to this nonsense.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 7:40am

    Re: Irony at its best.

    "Those are quite a few eyeballs, so it doesn't surprise me cable is simply taking the same model and applying it to the online world."

    Yeah, they're applying the model of force your lack of competition on the masses and keep on lobbying the government to restrict competition. It's EVIL and we need to stand up against it.

     

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  16.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 17th, 2009 @ 7:44am

    Re: Re: My monopoly has been broken

    ?

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 7:54am

    Welcome to the wonderful world of Masnick, the "do as I say, not do as I do" world.

    In the last 60 days, Techdirt has added more and more ads onto the site, while not increasing content. Iin fact, the numbers of posts per day is down, likely because some of the student "experts" are on summer break after their first year in the MBA program.

    Then we get a post like this, and Mike doesn't seem to be struck by the irony that he is calling out the cable companies for putting more ads on their products, just as his own site is larding up with all sorts of extra ad spaces.

    FREE! indeed.

     

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  18.  
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    Esahc (profile), Jul 17th, 2009 @ 8:06am

    I wish I new what adds you all are talking about?

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 8:08am

    Techdirt has ads?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 8:09am

    Here is an example of the lack of competition

    "As debate over the massive economic stimulus bill continues, the trade group representing US mobile operators has weighed in, with its head, former-NFL-star-turned-congressman-turned-shill Steve Largent, saying that unless open-access rules are removed from the broadband section of the bill"

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090127/1909363549.shtml

    Everyone SHOULD be allowed to compete. Why should the government fund lines and then give monopolies to special interest groups to use those lines? THAT'S NONSENSE, it benefits no one but those special interest groups. It's exactly why our cable is too expensive and all we get is commercials. Everyone should have access to cable lines, the government funded them, or anyone should be allowed to build new lines. It's the lack of competition and the lobbying efforts by the status quo that's screwing everyone up and WE NEED TO STAND UP AGAINST THIS!!!! If we don't the internet will turn into the same nonsense that our current cable system has turned into. We need to force more competition in cable and phone service and braodband so we can get more bandwidth for cheaper. We should allow ANYONE to use the existing infrastructure to provide broadband and cable services, not just rich and powerful special interest groups that lobby the government for laws that benefit no one but themselves.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 8:21am

    Re:

    And this content cost you how much? Free indeed.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 8:23am

    Re:

    another relevant article

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20040324/1028202_F.shtml

    Though I can't find the specific article that talks about how the existing infrastructure is government funded yet special interest groups, like AT&T and Time Warner, are granted monopolies.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 8:42am

    I am so very close to going back to over the air TV and telling cable to suck my grease encrusted lug-NUTS.

    It's comCRAPtastic!

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 8:46am

    Re: Irony at its best.

    Mike's posing this like they make more money online than they do on TV... but they don't. They don't even make a fraction of that amount. CPM online might be $60 a spot, but a one hour show has only 5-8 spots. On television, they have 33-40 spots. The CPM per show online even at 8 spots is then only $480 at most. For TV to keep up, they only need a CPM of $14.55... and they do that easily.

    But don't worry, Scifi Channel's player displays an ad on the bottom of the screen for the whole duration of the show, and it's was bright red.

    As for your blasting of Mike, he finds everything "troubling". He claims that his day job is advising people/companies on how to do business in the digital world, but he also claims he's not a consultant. His post frequency has only been going up, and now that there are more ads, I suspect he's not "advising" so much.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 8:46am

    Re:

    I'm not sure that this is exactly the article I was looking for but here are more relevant links.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20060106/1217210_F.shtml

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-135 78_3-10129795-38.html

    http://www.teletruth.org/docs/Californiabroadbandscandal.pdf

    So basically we have a system where the government funds infrastructure and then grants exclusive monopolies to special interest groups. That's NONSENSE and that's exactly why cable is too expensive and we get nothing but commercials.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 8:50am

    Re:

    "I'm pretending to be smart by pointing out hypocrisy, but in fact I have no idea what I'm talking about."

    Program A offers Content C.
    Program B offers Content C.
    Program A has 2x the annoyances of Program B.
    Program A wonders why everyone uses Program B.

    Want to know what Mike's point is? If a site offered the same content as Techdirt with less annoyances, you'd go there instead.

    But, since you come here to point and laugh at Mike, he can put up as many ads as he likes since no one else can offer the Mike attraction.

    Cable companies, on the other hand, offer the same content, so naturally the one with less annoyances will have the most users.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 8:51am

    Re: Re:

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 9:04am

    Re: Re: Irony at its best.

    "and now that there are more ads, I suspect he's not "advising" so much."

    I haven't noticed more adds. But I suppose if you just make things up you can make your point. But even if there are more adds, so what? At least they're not bothering me and I can go to competitors. That is, assuming that anyone can provide blogs and bandwidth without government restrictions on competition. If there is such restrictions (and there are) then that lack of competition is the problem and it's exactly that government granted lack of competition that needs to be addressed. The government has no business telling us we can't build infrastructure and granting monopolies on the existing infrastructure. If I want to put a Cat 6 line between my house and my neighbors with a router and route it everywhere and neighbors want to do the same thing so we can all set up networks (including wireless networks) and everyone wants to participate and we want to start our own Internet or link it to the existing Internet we should be allowed to without having to worry about the stupid government creating dumb restrictions that makes such a process expensive and difficult. The Internet is simply a bunch of routers, once the infrastructure is in place we can share use bandwidth at the cost of the electricity. People can buy routers from the store relatively cheap and the wiring is cheap as well. So we should be allowed to develop infrastructures and link it to the existing infrastructures and use our PUBLICLY FUNDED satellites in space to send and receive data back and forth without worrying about the stupid government creating artificial scarcity for the sake of special interest groups.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 9:08am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yet another article about lobbying efforts to create artificial scarcity and a lack of competition.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090422/2236584615.shtml

    So it's not that taxpayers are unwilling to fund infrastructure (all it is is a bunch of wires and routers that, once in place, are easy and relatively cheap to use and much of it is ALREADY tax funded) it's that lobbying efforts have done a lot to restrict competition. We need to resist these lobbying efforts.

     

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  30.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 17th, 2009 @ 9:09am

    Re: Re: Irony at its best.

    "Mike's posing this like they make more money online than they do on TV... but they don't. They don't even make a fraction of that amount. CPM online might be $60 a spot, but a one hour show has only 5-8 spots. On television, they have 33-40 spots. The CPM per show online even at 8 spots is then only $480 at most. For TV to keep up, they only need a CPM of $14.55... and they do that easily."

    I'm a little fuzzy on the way this works, since my TV watching is very limited, but I wonder if we are forgetting an important part of the math.

    By that I mean that your 33-40 spots on TV exist over one hour, whereas those 5-8 spots on the online show aren't limited by a timeframe. The question is how are those ads billed? Are they a cost per spot run charge, like a timeslot on regular TV? If they are, then the online TV provider might actually be generating more revenue due to repeated views. If it's a single charge without regard to number of clicks/views, then it'd be less.

    I'd be interested to get a look at one of the Hulu advertising contracts.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 9:10am

    Re: Re:

    "Cable companies, on the other hand, offer the same content, so naturally the one with less annoyances will have the most users."

    The problem is that cable companies lobby to restrict competition and we need to fight against this.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 9:10am

    There are ads on this site? I haven't seen an ad in ages...how can you browse the interweb without ABP.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 9:21am

    Re: Re:

    "...and we get nothing but commercials."

    and commercials on the top/bottom of the screen WHILE the show is playing.....

    OH OH, THEN the commercials that Slide/fade in and out/BLOCK stuff on the show that is currently PLAYING!

    soon, They will shrink the screen and have ads playing all around the damn border while your show is on. I personally will not wait that long.

    looks at his watch.

    Patrick

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 10:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Irony at its best.

    ? straw man much? when did i criticize a free market?

    i was questioning the validity of an opinion of a guy who writes the words "troubling" or a contextual synonym of it (alarming, disaster, worrying) in every single article. and with his massive post frequency, he's basically a full time commenter.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Irony at its best.

    "? straw man much? when did i criticize a free market? "

    Never said you did.

    "i was questioning the validity of an opinion of a guy who writes the words "troubling" or a contextual synonym of it (alarming, disaster, worrying) in every single article."

    I find a lot of things troubling so I tend to agree with him.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 11:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Irony at its best.

    Also, part of the point I was making is that part of the reason T.V. can get away with so many adds and with charging customers so much for cable and charging people who want advertisement time so much is because of the complete lack of competition. Of course, thanks to the Internet, that's changing now, but hopefully lobbying efforts by special interest groups won't ruin it. People try to look at how much cable charges and they indirectly argue "because cable charges that much anything that charges less must somehow be unsustainable." This is a nonsense argument, part of the reason cable gets away with charging so much is because they spend so much money on lobbying efforts (money they can spend on lowering prices and providing a better service which just demonstrates the fact that they can be sustained at a lower price with better service). Even if someone does make more on television doesn't mean that current Internet models are unsustainable. It could simply mean that a lack of competition, due to lobbying efforts, in the cable realm is responsible. Sure the Internet might be cheaper for consumers but how is that a bad thing?

    When you say something like "Mike's posing this like they make more money online than they do on TV" you're almost arguing that because cable T.V is so expensive there is something wrong with someone else providing a better service at a cheaper price. So what if T.V makes more money than online, why even bring that up? Is there something wrong with not exploiting customers for every dollar that you can by lobbying the government? Is there something wrong with providing customers with value at a decent price? Why bring it up unless you are insinuating that there is something wrong with it. And if you are insinuating that then you are implying that it should be stopped. In other words, you don't like what the free market provides which might mean you are in favor of the government ruining everything for consumers.

     

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  37.  
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    John85851 (profile), Jul 17th, 2009 @ 12:18pm

    More ads = less content?

    Think about the TV-show model for the past 50 years... in those years, more ads have created less content. Compare the length of today's shows to shows made 20 years ago, 30 years ago, etc.
    In the 1970's, shows like Gilligan's Island would have a 2-minute theme song and be 20 minutes long (for example; I don't know the actual length). Today's sitcoms don't have a theme song (since that's another 1 to 2 minutes for commercials), the opening credits run over the first scene, and the "half hour show" is probably only 16-18 minutes long without commercials. The typical "hour long show" is usually just over 40 minutes... so a full THIRD of the hour is commercials!

    TV stations like TBS add more commercials so there's not even enough time for a show's end-credits: the credits run at the bottom of the screen during the next show's opening scene!
    Okay, sure, opening and ending credits may not be "content", but they're still trying to cut back on content in favor of more ads.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 1:13pm

    Re:

    some people actually bother to turn off adblock before they point and laugh at mike.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2009 @ 8:25pm

    Good let it fail

    When did the site get a new ranting mostly incoherent troll? oh well...

    The best thing for viewers is if this walled garden of the cable companies isn't a success. If it did well, cable and content are so intertwined that they'd kill any other on-line venues they could in favor of keeping cable subscribers captive. I'm not thrilled with the limits on Hulu due to content providers' insistence, but it is better than it being tied to a cable subscription.

    So if they load it this new offering down with so many commercials that it is hated, and the # of commercials on broadcast TV is plenty to inspire hate, that's great!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2009 @ 11:43am

    I'm pretty lenient when it comes to ads. They're what allows me to visit whatever site I'm at for free, right? I don't mind having them at the sides of the screen or whatever, but when they start covering up the content and I can't make them go away, or when I'm trying to watch something online and am forced to sit through several minutes of commercials instead of, say, 30 seconds, I get angry and leave. I'll find what I'm looking for somewhere else.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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