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.

Filed Under: access, cord cutting, file sharing, piracy, the wil wheaton project, tv, wil wheaton
Companies: syfy


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  1. identicon
    andypandy, 7 Jun 2014 @ 2:46am

    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.

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