Did Showtime Benefit By Giving Away Free Content?

from the apparently dept

Here is yet another example of how "free" can co-exist with paid content, even when the content is basically identical.

Recently, Showtime made the season premiers of their hit shows DEXTER and CALIFORNICATION on YouTube for anyone to watch for free.  So, did this gut their numbers when the shows aired on their subscription-only, kind of expensive if you ask me, premium cable network?

Both Dexter and Californication scored some huge opening numbers last Sunday with Dexter setting a new opening record for the cable network.

More than 1.5 million sets of eyeballs tuned to the season four opener for Dexter and 821,000 stayed to watch the opener for Californication. That's 3 million single eyeballs for Dexter and more than 1.6 million for Californication.

Guess not.

Crossposted from MyMediaMusings



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2009 @ 7:13pm

    Yah but that doesn't count as evidence since I don't want it to :P

     

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  2.  
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    Ilfar, Oct 2nd, 2009 @ 8:48pm

    SINGLE eyeballs?

    I am never watching anything on a network that counts my eyeballs singularly... I'm not a donor till I'm dead! o.o'

     

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  3.  
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    DS, Oct 3rd, 2009 @ 5:47am

    Too bad HBO never did this with Lucky Louie.

     

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  4.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Oct 3rd, 2009 @ 9:38am

    Stream more shows!

    Living in Canada, I have no legal option for streaming shows, and I must admit I track down infringing sources pretty regularly. I have no desire to buy cable because there are very few shows I truly enjoy watching, and though I sometimes buy DVDs, it's extremely frustrating to me since I use my computer for all my media consumption, and I see no reason to involve a bunch of legacy discs in that process.

    So I guess I "steal" shows (chuckle). Except... I would happily watch commercials during all the shows I watch, if someone wanted to put them there. I hate digging through TV link sites looking for a stream that hasn't been DMCA'd and isn't slow as hell - so much so that I would probably put up with the full 8:22 minute ratio of commercials if it meant I could get all my shows reliably from a couple of legal sources.

    Of course, some places try, but they make no effort to give me a good user experience. On the CTV website shows are broken up into tiny parts, with a single commercial in between each. Now, I could cope with this - but then, it exits fullscreen mode at every single break. I know it's just one simple backend switch to make their player stay in fullscreen so I don't have to get up 6 times during a 40 minute show, but they won't bother to flip it, because they apparently have no interest in actually attracting me as a customer.

    So I guess what I'm saying is, until Hulu works in Canada, I'm probably going to stream the new Office every Thursday night, and I'm not going to feel guilty about it.

     

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  5.  
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    lux (profile), Oct 3rd, 2009 @ 10:54am

    Just one question....

    That's 3 million single eyeballs for Dexter and more than 1.6 million for Californication.

    What's the statistical point of single eyeballs? :p

     

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  6.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Oct 3rd, 2009 @ 11:21am

    Re: Just one question....

    None, it's just colourful writing. The relevant numbers are impressive nonetheless.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2009 @ 1:47pm

    Oh God, more Masnick hypocrisy...

    I love how you're so quick to shoot down any opposition with "Correlation does not imply causation" and then completely ignore it with your own posts. Nice work on giving yourself a politician's out by making the headline a question, though. That way you can imply whatever you want and then when someone calls you on your bullshit you can just shrug and say you were asking the community for their opinion and didn't mean to imply anything. Clever.


    More than 1.5 million sets of eyeballs tuned to the season four opener for Dexter

    What ISN'T mentioned is that Dexter's season three finale ALSO had "more than 1.5 million sets of eyeballs tuned in".

    What ISN'T mentioned is that Californication was moved to follow Dexter hoping for carry over viewership which they received in spades.

    What ISN'T mentioned is that DirectTV has been running a Showtime promotion meant to directly coincide with the Dexter and Califnornication premieres.

    What ISN'T mentioned is that the Dexter Season DVD's have been outselling all other TV DVDs by a wide, wide, margin.


    But suuuuuuuuuure, it was Youtube. It's the power of free! You're absolutely right...

     

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  8.  
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    Alex, Oct 3rd, 2009 @ 2:15pm

    Lucky Louie

    Lucky Louie was awesome!! He's coming out with a new show on FX early next year.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2009 @ 3:59pm

    Re:

    I know you may not be a moron, but I'm having a little trouble looking past your inability to know who wrote a post.

     

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  10.  
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    Haywood, Oct 3rd, 2009 @ 4:43pm

    Get a bluetooth remote and mouse

    That has made my media center PC more friendly than a DVD player.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2009 @ 11:56pm

    Re: Re:

    agreed

     

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  12.  
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    ChadBroChill (profile), Oct 4th, 2009 @ 12:32am

    Re:

    Wait, who wrote this? I'm pretty sure Mike didn't change his name to Dave, unless i am mistaken.

    Oh, and you missed the whole point of the post. Idiot. He is saying that offering an online option did not reduce viewers of the traditional medium.

    LTR noob.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2009 @ 10:53am

    Look at all the Masnick apologists! How cute.

    Whether he wrote it or not is inconsequential. He put it up on his blog without additional comment. I think it's safe to say he vouches for it.

    Oh, and you missed the whole point of the post. Idiot. He is saying that offering an online option did not reduce viewers of the traditional medium.

    Maybe you should read the TITLE of the post again. Idiot.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2009 @ 3:47pm

    Re:

    Decent effort at trying to apologize for your own stupidity. Still needs some work though.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2009 @ 11:15pm

    You're not making any sense. You have neglected to explain why this posting is beyond reproach simply because it wasn't authored here. You have neglected to explain why Masnick can get away with blathering on and on about correlation and causality and then completely ignore it when it suits him. You have, in fact, explained nothing. You come off like a TechDirt shill who would be willing to eat anything your master served you, no matter how ridiculous or hypocritical.

    Gratz on being a sheep!

     

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  16.  
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    1DandyTroll, Oct 5th, 2009 @ 5:17am

    TrollByDayTrollByNightTrollInSight

    'You have neglected to explain why this posting is beyond reproach simply because it wasn't authored here. You have neglected to explain why Masnick can get away with blathering on and on about correlation and causality and then completely ignore it when it suits him.'

    Well actually, he did. The actual posting wasn't criticized, online an imagined understanding of the text, i.e. not the point, and to top it of the wrong author is criticized.

    Then comes trying-to-save-face-time, by actually showing a lack of understanding about causality and correlation.


    Who wrote the text is very clear.

    The point of the text is pretty clear, even the head line.

    And the only assumption one can make of what Mr Masnick vouch for, is that the author follows the basic guidelines and rules to get published on this here site.

     

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  17.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Oct 5th, 2009 @ 7:12am

    Dexter

    Bickering caused by a misunderstanding AC aside, I will just say that I love the show Dexter.
    I do not subscribe to Showtime due to too few shows that I like being aired there (and movies can come from Many places). However, I have bought every single season on release date since season 2 (and I bought season one that same day, only cause for delay was I did not know about the show until then). I still download the seasons as soon as they are done so I can watch them all in a row. Its too addicted with this show to watch it not in a row.
    This is easily my second favorite live action series, but it still trails behind Firefly.

    Oh wait.
    I forgot, I am not supposed to admit that I buy the DVDs because I download. I still support the downfall of all major copyright organizations though to be replaced by better more efficient systems. This show is just too good to pass up.

     

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  18.  
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    kyle clements (profile), Oct 5th, 2009 @ 7:51am

    is it just me, or has the number of Trolls on TechDirt gone up since the whole Lilly Allen thing?

    Content was made available for free, and non-free TV viewership was not harmed because of it.
    Whether you agree with Mike's views on free content or not, it doesn't matter. Your opinion of Mike does not magically change the facts that in this case; sales were not harmed. It is also irrelevant, since 'Dave' wrote this article, not mike.

    Please, Trolls, go back to slashdot, where you can be modded down appropriately.

    I am another Canadian who regularly watches unauthorized content. Hulu does not work in Canada, and all the legitimate video sources are horrible, difficult to navigate, slow, low-quality, and sometimes require plug-ins that are not compatible with linux. *curses people who use silverlight*

    Its frustrating to go to a show's website, navigate their unique and unintuitive interface, then, upon finding the content and waiting for it to load, be told that as a Canadian, I have to watch it on a different website, so I go through the whole process a second time, just to watch a postal-stamp sized window that gives me about 5 seconds of video before stopping and buffering. Or, I can download it and watch it without hassle, or catch it on YouTube before the take-down requests are sent out.

    Its nice to see some networks using a familiar service like YouTube, rather than re-inventing the wheel (poorly) to distribute free content to viewers.

     

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  19.  
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    Ben Matthews, Oct 5th, 2009 @ 8:15am

    The drama about this post

    Though completely overblown, the "troll" has a point, even though it was put across in a very crude manner. I think the lean toward saying that Showtime "benefitted" from putting the clips on youtube is not valid for the same numbers that our "troll" posted, and even more so because we do not know what the show would have done if they weren't on youtube.

    The fact we can all agree on is that providing some content for free will most likely earn new viewers. This will obviously mean potentially LESS viewers of the same content; if you show the premiere for free, most likely their will be viewers who will not go out of their way to watch it again despite being loyal to the show. The benefit comes from hopefully an increase of overall viewer ship in episodes further down the road, and new showtime subscriptions. Therefore, measuring the success of the free clips via viewership of the free content on a paid medium is not really valid. I would be more interested to see the net change in show viewership in later episodes and showtime subscriptions. I think thats where we will see the proof that it works, and that it does provide a benefit. If those numbers don't show the expected increase, we have to be open to the idea that maybe it's not working.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 5th, 2009 @ 9:23am

    I love how you groupies with your ripped panties and smeared lipstick fanaticism are STILL refusing to acknowledge the title of the post which CLEARLY insinuates that Showtime has BENEFITED from the youtube premiers without any evidence to back that up.

    Content was made available for free, and non-free TV viewership was not harmed because of it.

    Do you really think that fact is indicative of anything in the grander scheme of things? What exactly do you believe you're arguing here? Please paint for me the scenario you envision in which someone already subscribed to Showtime decides that they would prefer to watch a low resolution, CENSORED (another oddly omitted fact) version on youtube instead...the viewership being harmed was never a fear anyone had with this. You might as well be proclaiming that it didn't harm a rare species of Lemur in Madagascar.

    Your opinion of Mike does not magically change the facts that in this case; sales were not harmed.

    Nor does my opinion of Mike magically change the facts that in this case, a rare species of lemurs did not go extinct. Obviously, one can now safely conclude that youtube has BENEFITED lemurs.

    It is also irrelevant, since 'Dave' wrote this article, not mike.

    It's not irrelevant when you consider the title of the article is presupposing that correlation implies causation and that it's posted on TechDirt which seems to pride itself on never missing a chance to repeat the opposite mantra. That's called "hypocrisy", Kyle. If nothing else I'm glad I could help you learn a new word today.

     

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  21.  
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    Simon, Oct 5th, 2009 @ 12:37pm

    they also made the episodes available through Netflix's instant streaming

     

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  22.  
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    Rekrul, Oct 6th, 2009 @ 3:04pm

    Who wants to watch a censored copy of either show?

     

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