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ABC Affiliates Grapple With TV-Show Downloads

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 9 years ago | from the in-for-a-penny dept.

Media (Apple) 480

Carl Bialik writes "By making an episode of 'Lost' available for download last week just half a day after it aired, for a $1.99 charge, 'Apple may have helped open a Pandora's box for the media business,' the Wall Street Journal reports. The president of the association representing ABC's affiliate stations sent a letter to the president of ABC, reading in part, 'It is both disappointing and unsettling that ABC would embark on a new -- and competitive -- network program distribution partnership without the fundamental courtesy of consultation' with its affiliates. While the extent of Apple's TV downloads is limited, the Journal parses the potential impact: 'if downloading episodes over the Internet proves popular, analysts believe Apple will get permission to offer shows with better-fidelity pictures. Any success Apple has won't go unnoticed by other online media powerhouses with expanding video initiatives like Yahoo Inc., Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp., which could all help extend TV downloading to more viewers.'"

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Choice (5, Insightful)

BWJones (18351) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813200)

Thank you Apple! Once again this company (along with ABC this time) has the stones to step up and offer a service that is a market primed to explode. The iTMS has proven to be a good long tail [thelongtail.com] business model for the distribution of music, offering popular and otherwise out of print or hard to find (Indie) tracks that are simply unavailable in the large retail outlets. I have not watched much TV in the past while, but having the iTMS model of distribution for TV shows that are out of syndication or are otherwise hard to obtain would be a tremendous boon. And if Ted Turner would get on the ball, all sorts of older movies could also be made available via this model, that would increase revenues over what they are making by the current limited access to the media. Documentaries, "foreign" (to the US) films, and indie films could make it truly big by talking to Apple. Sundance Channel and TCM, you are the big guys in this market......So, are you paying attention? And for you TIVOheads out there, in essence, if this propagates to the rest of the industry, this will be a centralized TIVO allowing you to pick and choose without having to take the time to program, and like the article said, this could make the ala carte system moot. Who knows, this could even open up the option of letting us pay for content that is without commercials or get it for "free" if we agree to watch the commercials. It's could simply be our choice.

P.S., Ted, thanks for the buffalo ranching, but there is more money to be made still in media. Don't give up.

Re:Choice (0, Flamebait)

Peyna (14792) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813290)

offer a service that is a market primed to explode.

You mean, paying for something that I can receive for free with a TV and an antenna?

Give me something I can't already get for free; then you might be offering something worthwhile.

Re:Choice (5, Insightful)

D'Sphitz (699604) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813316)

Yeah I know what you mean, why buy CD's or MP3's when we have radios...

Thank you Apple! (5, Insightful)

SectoidRandom (87023) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813302)

Yes, Thank you Apple! Finnally someone has done what the consumers have been screaming for for years! So many nay-sayers look at the iPod Video and say it is some gimmick, but what they dont realise is exactly this pandoras box being opened!

The day when I can download my latest episodes of SG1 or my girlfriends O.C for $1.99 rather than wait 6-9months for it to come on TV in the UK is the day that I stop using eMule!

Thank you Apple you found the only way to stop priacy.

Re:Thank you Apple! (1, Troll)

Pxtl (151020) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813408)

iPod video may still prove to be a gimmick. That's not for certian. However, iTMS videos/movies/TV is a dead-obvious kick-ass product, and I doubt anybody argued that point.

But yeah, you're kicking that strawman's ass. Give 'im hell!

Re:Choice (4, Insightful)

Douglas Simmons (628988) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813311)

Choice? Stones? Everywhere I look, I see those white headphones. Everybody has one, and because people get it working when they pop that CD in their machine, they are quite inclined to use the iTunes service as that's laid out seemlessly. They dominate one market, mp3 players, and with that leverage they have dominated the online music market (don't tell me iTunes has 90% because it's just that good). Reminds me a little about how the DoJ was a bit concerned when Microsoft made it a little too seemless to go from their OS functions to web browsing.

I'm a fan of Apple (just bought some shares too), but am I the only one who thinks that Apple's threat lurking in the far dark future might be antitrust litigation? I only see them grabbing more marketshare of the devices, of the online music business, not to mention that they just created another market with this portable device video clip downloading. It's clear they're only going uphill and accelerating too, but even though Apple's been that underdog company to Microsoft, the engine that could, they're not immune from the government.

Re:Choice (5, Funny)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813394)

Silence! Apple can do no wrong!

Sheesh, next thing ya know he'll be badmouthing Google.

Re:Choice (4, Insightful)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813378)

I couldn't agree more, and kudos to ABC for being one of the first TV media companies to break ranks and try and embrace the inevitable future as well. Now if Apple can get other studios onboard and also flatten the staggered global release schedule for new series (which is completely pointless on a digital distribution network) then media nirvana can take a step closer. What on *earth* have the execs at the affiliates being doing the past few years that they've missed the fact that the music business in is absolute turmoil over digital distribution? They can hardly claim that they were so busy producing Reality and Car-Crash TV shows that they didn't realise the inevitability that they were next and Hollywood is going to follow.

Feh, who am I kidding. That's exactly what they are going to do, all the while frantically trying to buy legislation to protect their business model, no matter how shortsighted and dumb it makes them look.

Re:Choice (3, Insightful)

SangoDaze (78611) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813481)

I agree, bravo Apple. I don't have a TV since I live in a rural area and could never justify the cost of cable or a dish. I would definitely pay $2 to download a show that I heard people talking about at work though, or even better, a sports event. In my case the network is accessing a customer that they never would have been able to reach before which cannot be bad for their bottom line.

to quote Dave Letterman: What is WRONG with you? (3, Insightful)

yagu (721525) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813201)

Sometimes I want to pull my hair out!

Exactly how is this bad for the affiliate stations? For a nano second I can't imagine this didn't help these affiliates. How much you wanna bet the viewership was up for the episode of Lost following the announcement of the video iPod? Peoples' normal reactions would be along the lines of:

  • What is so special about Lost that Apple actually singled it out as one of the shows downloadable to their new device? (and, when is it on so I can watch it, too?)
  • Oh yeah, Lost! Kind of forgot about that show. I think maybe I'll watch it again.
  • (and for the consumers "stolen" from the affiliates): I so thoroughly enjoyed watching Lost on my iPod, I really need to sit down with the family and watch it on a real system.

I don't think any of the above are off-the-scale guesses of peoples' reactions and I think the viewership because of the video iPod could actually increase!

But, let's assume the death star, end-of-the-universe scenario the affiliates and others see this as. They see this as a threat rather than an extension. So, if it is true, boo-hoo!

Thank goodness the lobbyists and power brokers circling the wagons today for the hapless industry wasn't present in the late 19th and early 20th century to protect the horse and buggy industry in the same way... We'd have no cars today (since that would have threatened the established travel industry).

(So, for the record, does anyone know what the comparison was for Lost pre- vs. post-video iPod announcement? I don't really care, but it'd be interesting to know.)

Re:to quote Dave Letterman: What is WRONG with you (4, Funny)

gnu-sucks (561404) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813234)

You are correct for the moment, but once this catches on, people will realize it is a better, more enjoyable method of entertainment.

Forget tivo. This is it.

As far as I'm concerned, the modern day affiliate station is a simple load-balancing device.

The funeral for tivo will be held tomorrow evening, 2100 hours, at 1, infinity loop, Cupertino, CA.

Affiliate stations: BE AFRAID :D

Re:to quote Dave Letterman: What is WRONG with you (1)

evw (172810) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813343)

I think you're right that this is the beginning of the end. The affiliates should be nervous and perhaps a little cranky since they were left of the negotiations. But in the short term the grandparent post is right: all the free press could do nothing but help the affiliates.

As of today, the TV (by which I mean broadcast, cable, satellite) plus TiVo (how can anyone live without TiVo?!) is a much nicer distribution system. But that's only because of the details. My family watches enough TV that it's cheaper for us to pay a flat rate DirecTV bill than to pay a la carte $1.99/show.

I spent $20 the first day it was available to download a few episodes just to try it out. My overall take: quality was not so hot: 320x240 resolution. An hour commercial free (~40 minutes) is about 200 MB for a bit rate of 660 kbps. DirecTV gives you about 1GB/hour or 2.2 Mbps. However when I played it back full screen on my laptop it wasn't terrible.

After a few years of polishing it could be a reasonable way to watch TV *IF* the prices drop or they offer volume/flat rate pricing, subscriptions w/ background download, etc. etc.

Re:to quote Dave Letterman: What is WRONG with you (1)

Pxtl (151020) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813417)

Broadband + torrents + multicasting could make TV-on-demand-over-IP a reality. At the minimum, downloading tomorrow evening's programming tonight should be feasible soon. But right now, it takes an evening to fetch an episode over BT most of the time, and few servers can handle the full load of a TV ep, so I don't think the technology is quite there for 100% replacement for a normal couch-potato.

fuckaduck. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13813241)

fuck. a. duck.

Re:to quote Dave Letterman: What is WRONG with you (3, Funny)

MacDork (560499) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813333)

Thank goodness the lobbyists and power brokers circling the wagons today for the hapless industry wasn't present in the late 19th and early 20th century to protect the horse and buggy industry in the same way... We'd have no cars today (since that would have threatened the established travel industry).

Lobbyists are not a new invention. It appears the term was coined in the early 19th century. [alldc.org] It's a shame really. If they were a recent invention, someone would have patented the business method and then we would at least be free of them for about 20 years ;-)

Re:to quote Dave Letterman: What is WRONG with you (5, Insightful)

smallpaul (65919) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813334)

That particular episode of Lost is irrelevant in the big picture. The issue is whether the network is going to undercut its affiliates by building an alternate distribution model.

Actually, no... (1)

periol (767926) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813425)

The issue is whether the network is going to undercut its affiliates by building an alternate distribution model.

The network is clearly going to undercut its affiliates by building an alternate distribution model. In fact - this *is* an alternate distribution model. The issue is whether or not the affiliates will get any of the money from online distribution.

The answer is obviously going to be no.

culture in a can (1)

sharrestom (531929) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813336)

Be popular in the lunchroom as you show last night's latest crapola on the small screen so everybody can participate! Still, I bought one, it's shipped and I wouldn't mind downloading uppity fare, documentaries, indies, cartoons and animations, and Science Fiction, but I draw the network line at Arrested Development. This will create a demand for high quality programs that can't get an audience without a proper slot, or need more time to develop an audience. Think of this a a bandwidth amplifier that lets everybody watch whatever programs they want, when they want, and a PVR (without multiple simultaneous channel recording) surely can't do that. This is a win-win for everybody, as now we get to vote with our pocketbook.

Re:to quote Dave Letterman: What is WRONG with you (2, Insightful)

crazdgamer (846581) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813359)

Networks are freaking out over this because it has the possibility of messing with the status-quo.

The business model is that shows are only available as a television broadcast or DVD purchase. Sure, you have Tivo, but that's still television.

Now, you're taking the content of television and putting it onto a new medium: the digital medium. Networks are going to throw up rad flags, thinking "WE'RE GOING TO LOSE MONEY! FUCK!"

Then again, digital content is a hot-topic issue (see: illegal use of P2P apps). This is a natural extension of that paranoia.

Re:to quote Dave Letterman: What is WRONG with you (1)

rho (6063) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813470)

TV stations still have a very valuable asset--that chunk of the EM that says "we can reach X-thousand people who have $40 worth of ICs". They'll have to re-tool their game plan to take advantage of it. Local news and local advertising is still a big winner. You can't beat catching up on local events in 30 minutes with a video iPod. Churches, schools, city/county events can all be televised live, and still leave time for syndicated programming for those without video iPods or TiVos.

The local TV affiliate that starts a REAL educational show--not this happy horseshit Teletubby crap--with guest lecturers and subjects geared towards adults (who have MONEY, duh), will make a killing.

Re:to quote Dave Letterman: What is WRONG with you (2, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813392)

How much you wanna bet the viewership was up for the episode of Lost following the announcement of the video iPod?
What support do you have for this theory? To the affiliates this is maybe a small short-term increase (based on general Lost hype) in exchange for a very real threat of medium-term losses and long-term annihilation.

The affiliates should be scared, because today's TV mechanism is silly and out of date. The very idea of a "channel" is meaningless. And the advertisers are paying approx. $1/per hour to the stations for my time. $1 per hour! At that rate I will gladly outbid the advertisers to reclaim my time. And unlike bittorrent and unrestricted PVR's, legal downloads probably won't have the law working against them. Be afraid, affiliates, be very afraid.

Re:to quote Dave Letterman: What is WRONG with you (2)

Snuffub (173401) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813397)

I dont see how your reasoning holds for the long run. Yes they probably got a boost from the extra press, but in the long run that's not going to keep happening. That's not to say it couldnt help the networks. But the help will come from new viewers who download a few episodes then decide that they like it well enough to watch it with better quality a day earlier than it's available online.

You characterized the affiliates as whiners but you have to remember that they've signed long term contracts with ABC to distribute it's media at a time when they were the only game in town. Now ABC blindsided them with this new competition. Companies are inevitably going to be hurt by shifts in distribution models but I think it's reasonable for ABC to at least give the affiliates a heads up. That's the price you pay for a Steve Jobs style launch I guess.

Re:to quote Dave Letterman: What is WRONG with you (2, Interesting)

ipoverscsi (523760) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813441)

The problem is ad revenue. Advertisers pay ABC to produce the show and ABC affiliates receive funding during such programming because more eyes are watching it. If popular programmes are being downloaded from the Internet, this may not hurt ABC per se, but this certainly cuts into affiliate revenues.

You have to remember, there are many people making money on the current television distribution system, from the people who make the programs to the guys who carry the video to the broadcast booth, all the way down to the local TV stations that get syndication revenues (which is why old popular TV shows are not already available for download).

As usual, the answer to the question is 'follow the money'.

Re:to quote Dave Letterman: What is WRONG with you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13813442)

You forgot one:
  * Why bother turning on my TV when I can download it to my iPod? For quality? BAH, I say, BAH!!!

Re:to quote Dave Letterman: What is WRONG with you (2, Insightful)

Matt Perry (793115) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813464)

Exactly how is this bad for the affiliate stations?
TV stations make money by showing ads. TV stations that sign up to be an affiliate for a network do so for the purpose of having access to the network content that the networks produce so that they can draw in viewers. A hot show can draw in a lot of local viewers which means that more money can be charged for ad slots during those shows. Less people watching their station during a show means that they might not be able to charge as much money for ads for that time slot.

What's happening here is that the affiliates are seeing the writing on the wall. Downloads of shows aren't going to make a dent for a while but they could. If a significant amount of the viewership starts watching their TV shows via Apple's downloads then that is that many less people watching it on the air and seeing ads. TV stations know this as do the advertisers. Advertisers will not be willing to pay as much for those ad slots because there's less on-air viewership for that show at that time on that station.

The networks are going to make money either way as they are playing both ends against the middle. They make money from the affiliate licenses as well as from downloads from Apple. TV stations are just going to have to cope. This isn't going to go away. They'll have to find another way to keep their local viewership up.

Translation from Weasel follows: (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13813205)

"It is unsettling that ABC has chosen to act as an independent agent in a free market, rather than subjecting its decisions to cartel politics. ABC's rash action opens up an incredible Pandora's box; once we start provide the customers with what they want at prices they are willing to pay, who knows where THAT dangerous path might end?"

Re:Translation from Weasel follows: (5, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813495)

ABC has chosen to act as an independent agent in a free market, rather than subjecting its decisions to cartel politics.

Don't for a moment think that affiliate demands on the network are all one-sided. Maintaining affiliate status means a station has to comply with all kinds of rules set by the network too.

ABC is not simply acting as an independent agent, they are, in some sense, unilaterally re-writing their contracts with their affiliates. I would be damn pissed too if one of my clients decided that they could get away with rewriting our contract, in their favor, with no negotiation.

I agree that the net has changed things and it is high-fucking-time the television industry started to catch up, but don't go thinking ABC or even Apple is the white hat in this episode of the drama - its a lot more complex than that.

....oooooooooor (4, Funny)

cyberbob2010 (312049) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813210)

I could still just download it via bittorrent for free.....

Re:....oooooooooor (2, Insightful)

jomas1 (696853) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813235)

" I could still just download it via bittorrent for free..... "

Once upon a time when bittorent was new I'd agree with you. I the Bablyon 5 Pilot Movie in 15 minutes back then. Today it would probably take me 20 hours to download. What Apple is attempting could still fill a niche because I'm not waiting a 20 hours to watch something I want to see on a whim.

Re:....oooooooooor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13813263)

Based on the video download speeds I've experienced from the iTMS site, this isn't something you'd want to do on a whim either.

Re:....oooooooooor (1)

bfizzle (836992) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813420)

Not anything too difficult for Apple to fix. All they need is enough companies like ABC to buy in or ever better production companies to cut broadcast companies out of the loop. Once that happens anyone including Apple will be able to either distribute the content in other ways or start hooking up servers to some fatty pipes.

Re:....oooooooooor (1)

reg (5428) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813478)

Once upon a time when bittorent was new I'd agree with you.

I wonder how many iTunes installs there are out there, and how hard it would be to build a P2P network ala Bittorrent with them... The technology is fairly stable. Apple are happy using OSS. And with some careful application of DRM they could happily share blocks. And they always have a nice big tracker and seed site?

Regards,
-Jeremy

Re:....oooooooooor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13813493)

I don't know where you're attemping to download from, but i usually get the latest lost episode of bit torrent within an hour of being released. I live in the UK so it's the only way i can even watch the show without waiting 6 months.

Re:....oooooooooor (2, Informative)

Adult film producer (866485) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813513)

Guess you're not on the right torrent sites... public trackers like mininova/suprnova/etc are as slow as you described but there are plenty of ratio'ed/private sites that tv shows/movies can be downloaded from very quickly. Last night I grabbed episode 8 of Rome in under 15 minutes, maxed out my connection at 500KB/sec. Try signing up for bitmetv.org or filelist.org or something like that, if they're accepting new users.

Re:....oooooooooor (1, Informative)

Hyperlink Processor (923293) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813405)

...And get better quality.

It's called capitalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13813212)

You snooze, you lose. No one said your competitors had to tell you when they're going to... you know... compete!

New Business Model (5, Insightful)

NotMyNickName (922171) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813214)

Business models change over time. Companies can either attempt to adjust their business models to take advantage of those changes or try to fight those changes (RIAA). If the TV companies were smart and downloading shows of the internet proves to be the "wave of the future" they need to find a way to take advantage of that instead of trying to stop it.

Re:New Business Model (2, Insightful)

fullon604 (895424) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813341)

This reminds me of Ayn Rand's "We The Living" in which the protagonist (re)discovers electricity and is hounded out of town by the candle-manufacturing industrialists who claim that his invention will put them out of business. The network affiliates can go suck lemons if they think people should adhere to an old model for the sake of tradition.

Ding Dong . . . (2, Interesting)

ndansmith (582590) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813218)

. . . broadcast TV is dead. Or is this another Wolf-cry like VHS destroying the theater business or catalogs (or the internet) closing every mall in America?

Re:Ding Dong . . . (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813245)

I wouldn't go so far as to say it's dead. In fact, I would say it might even grow. However, it's rental companies such as Blockbuster Video that will feel the impact of this new market!

Blockbuster et al... (1)

reg (5428) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813454)

And Blockbuster, despite being really evil in most of their policies, are not making a big noise about P2P - why? Because they're not losing business... Common sense says that they would be the ones with the most to lose if the market for 2nd, 3rd, etc. viewings goes to downloaded shows. Maybe they've just got their heads in the sand - they missed the internet boat to Netflix - or maybe they've noticed that in the absence of compeling content on TV/in theatres, that they're still raking in the money...

Regards,
-Jeremy

Re:Ding Dong . . . (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813381)

broadcast TV is dead. Or is this another Wolf-cry like VHS destroying the theater business or catalogs (or the internet) closing every mall in America?

I can actually see this killing, or at least severly hurting, the local affiliates. Unlike VHS and the internet, this type of selling is very close to the original way of doing business.

VHS didn't do much as it took months for the movie to come out on VHS after theatres. Additionaly, some people want to see movies on an 80 foot screen versus their TV. Home theatre systems and HD are changing some of this, but it is expensive and slow.

The internet is more of a replacement for mail order catalogs than brick and mortar stores. People still like going to a physical place when they need something NOW or when they want to try something one. Can you imagine someone buying clothes/perfume online without trying it out is some way first? If a piece of computer equipment like my keyboard breaks, I want it fixed quickly and goto the store to buy a new one, I don't want to have to wait for a new one to come in the mail.

(The following assumes that the shows are downloaded in a TV/DVD/Good Quality equivalent form)
However, this one is very close to the original form of transmision. You pay $2 and download it online. Then you can output to a TV or Monitor (My monitor is 20" in sits near a 19" TV) giving an equivalent viewing expierience. Broadcast TVs only leg up (for now) is that it is paid for by comercials versus itunes $2. If they start putting in comercials that can't be skiped (like TV) or can pay for it entirely with product placement and make the downloads free broadcast TV is at a disadvantage due to me having to arrange my schedule around when the show is broadcast.

If I were an affiliate, I would be affraid, very affraid of this happening. The only way for affiliates to survive is if the studios keep charging for the shows and keep the price high enough that most people would rather watch it live than pay for it. Either that, or we will see them going back to their business model from the 60's(?) where most shows were created localy and did not come from the networks. If the networks start to do this for all the shows, the current business model for the affiliates is dead.

Advertisement Woes (5, Interesting)

digid (259751) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813227)

Advertising, in my opinion, is a huge reason behind the controversy. The traditional distribution model allows media outlets to force consumers to have interrupted commercial sessions. With a single point of exit media outlets can statistically figure out how much viewership they have and set appropriate advertising rates. Now that ABC has broken the mold its causes much concern among affiliates on the future of advertising rates and whether they can still drive as much revenue. Of course I'm just speculating.

Most of national advertising rates fluctuate as they are based off of current Nielsen ratings which samples viewing habits year round. However local advertising rates are set for a yearly basis based off the TV audience during a specific period 4 times a year(Sweeps Week). With a smaller audience watching TV through this traditional method local affiliates lose a huge chunk of ad revenue.

Re:Advertisement Woes (1)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813364)

Of course I'm just speculating.

You are absolutely correct.

The TV ad game is a constant push-me-pull-you between the agencies and the networks. The advertisers are all, "You expect me to pay WHAT for a :30 spot?" and the nets are all, "Look we have the stats that prove that this show consistently delivers the precise demographic of single-testicled malt-liquor drinking Asian males between the ages of 24 and 32 with annual incomes over $250K that your product positively SCREAMS out for, dude!"

Given another outlet for distribution, the advertisers are given the opportunity to counter that, sure, that may be, but OUR STATS show that 20-something one-balled Japanese-Americans are ALSO huge iPod users and early-adopter gadget freaks and so will probably be downloading the show, now that it's available, so we'll only advertise on the tube if you drop your spot rate by 18% and throw in some hookers and Knick tickets.

Doesn't matter if everybody or nobody is downloading; just the fact that there is a legitimate alternate venue is enough to make the ad guys turn the screws, and screw they will UNTIL some genuine research can be done re exactly who is downloading what and when, and whether or not the cannibilization is real or just perceived.

Boo Freakin' Hoo... (5, Insightful)

Jace of Fuse! (72042) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813228)

They can stop crying and start getting ready for it. If they don't fill the demand, someone will. As soon as I can have a high speed internet connection without the help of either the local cable company or telephone company then I'll be free of both.

At that point, any content I can't get online, I simply will do without. Sell me entertainment online, or sell me nothing. It makes no difference to me. There's plenty of free and legal clips of amusement here and there at least as worthwhile as the junk they air on TV anyway.

Besides, I find reading books and doing technical reading online is a better use of my time than watching television in the first place.

Itunes for linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13813239)

But the question is can I use this magic Itunes on my box here to view TV shows?
No. Guess I'll have to stick with good old BitTorrent. I wouldn't actually mind paying for it, it's just that I am not allowed to..

hah wtf! (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813249)

it's comments like this that betray these media companys for the blood sucking parasites they really are. a comparable example would be dell asking walmart if it's ok for them to sell a new low budget computer, just in case they might be under cutting walmart and hurting their business.

it's incredable these people haven't be investigated for anti competitive behaviour yet.

Re:hah wtf! (1)

mabinogi (74033) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813516)

No, it's like IBM, or HP or some other computer maker that normally sells their PCs through stores like Wallmart or department stores, and has a business relationship with them, and agreements and stuff, suddenly deciding to undercut them by selling direct. The stores _would_ be pissed off, and they'd be right to be.

It's happened before, and usually the response of the store is "well screw you then, we just won't stock your stuff" Because the last thing they want is to be nothing but a big ad for someone else's business (customer walks around department store - sees an IBM computer, thinks "that looks pretty good, I think I'll buy one - but I won't do it here, I'll go home and order one direct from IBM, it's cheaper")

How dare they! (4, Funny)

Onan (25162) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813253)

What was ABC thinking, doing something as offensive and inexcusable as making content available to consumers in a more convenient yet still-lucrative form? Absolutely unforgivable!

Really, this seems like a very self-regulating situation. If consumers enjoy and respond to this offering, then both content producers and consumers have a great new option, and neither one of them owes previous distribution channels a damn thing. If people don't care for the new format, then existing distribution channels continue to maintain their position and profits.

Obviously this has a strong chance of being a bad deal for advertising-driven distribution in the long term. But even if it is, the notion that content producers had any obligation to avoid it out of mere politeness is absurd.

I wonder when we'll see FedEx and UPS complaining that offering software for download--rather than shipping CDs--was a very rude thing for the software industry to begin doing without so much as a by-your-leave.

I wasn't already... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13813254)

Jeez, it's not like I wasn't doing this before...Ever heard of usenet or even bit torrent? Come on. I swear to god, young people just need to take over the world...Otherwise it should be mandatory for old people to hang out with internet saavy people for more than an hour a day. Let's level the playing field already.

Tivo now solving a problem that ceases to exist (5, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813262)

People love Tivos. But if you look at why, it's simply because it takes a broadcast show and turns it into real digital media that you can do the normal things digital media allows, like scnaning or random access.

It makes no sense any longer for people to do ANYTHING but download shows and access the contents as they please, when they please. That's what Apple is opening up to the mass market for current TV, and what people will most naturally except. Fighting this migration is a loosing battle.

I really feel like as cool as Tivo is, it's trapped between a rock and a hard place. The rock are media companies that are unsure about people being able to record anything. The hard place is when people discover they like random media so much, they'd rather just download everything and use it that way. Apple is taking over the space Tivo could have if they'd started looking at a downloadable TV market.

Re:Tivo now solving a problem that ceases to exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13813467)

"It makes no sense any longer for people to do ANYTHING but download shows and access the contents as they please, when they please."

Depends on who you area and what you have. Right now, economics still is in play. You are trading lower resolution and cost for convenience.

TV in *some* forms is very convenient, esp. news. Turn the set on, tune to channel, watch, leave it on in the background, etc. TV is not convenient for episodes, "we're showing it once unless you want to watch reruns where we start off the show in the middle of the season so you're screwed if you miss an episode or we change our times capriciously", etc.

I watch regularly Prison Break, Law & Order SVU, L&O (original), CSI, Nip/Tuck, Over There, Everwood and about 4 hours of Cartoon Network on Saturday night. Arguably, the anime on CN should be out in our region on DVD prior to airing but that typically is not the case, but let's say for argument they get a clue and do so, so we won't add those 4 hours in.

I use a Hauppauge PVR250 and 350 to tune in when I'm busy or miss an episode (usually, this never happens, except for Cartoon Network since they are horrible (but much less so) about announcing changes in their schedule). My PVR allows me to watch more TV, but usually it's the networks that screw up if I miss an episode. If I'm on the go, I have DVD+RWs which I burn directly to, and considering I can change the bitrate and sample off a cluster OR burn directly (I record at a stupid 12mbit/CBR for simplicity, so 1 show per disk), I pop that into any cheapo portable DVD player (under $150 these days).

Still, that makes 7 hours a week of standard episodic TV watching at minimum (I also watch reruns and movies on SpikeTV, the new Battlestar Galactica but that's not airing new stuff right now, etc.). $2 a pop means $14 a week, 4.5 weeks a month rounded to 4, that's already $56 for that limited selection.

Equipment costs (PVR plus portable DVD player and disks versus video ipod) roughly works out to about the same these days.

Where I am, I also watch BBC international news M-F, CNN and CNBC off and on (usually in the background), and occasionally PBS and History channel stuff.

My cable bill for TV is around $45 a month including taxes and fees. This is standard extended Comcast cable TV, no HBO, pay-per-view, digital, etc. In fact, the reason I don't have more is because I don't like the lack of open standards on Comcast digital cable from what limited material I've come across about it; I don't like having to use their tuner or box (I think cable boxes, albeit digital, is a huge step backwards, otherwise I'd be shelling out $75 a month).

So for me, $2 an episode is a fair price, but it's more expensive than regular cable TV for me.

Now I'm "Lost"..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13813267)

I don't get it. What's the guy complaining about? Not that I'd buy a TV show to watch on a puny little screen, but I believe it's a step in the right direction.

He even says that Apple-NBC's move would initiate other tech giants to provide their own services which "could all help extend TV downloading to more viewers." Is that a bad thing? Now the "find new ways to advertise" part is what I don't like. :)

Sweet jesus (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13813273)

SIXTY PERCENT OF INTERNET TRAFFIC IS TORRENTS. A LOT OF THAT IS "STOLEN" TELEVISION.

And now ABC does a smart thing and bolsters their brand name shows WHILE providing a fat no-strings-attached revenue stream, and the affiliates are pissed?

SIXTY PERCENT OF INTERNET TRAFFIC IS TORRENTS, OF PRICE $FREE. Take your share of the unearned dollar and go sulk in the corner. Jeez.

Quality (4, Interesting)

afaik_ianal (918433) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813281)

When I originally read about this, I wondered what the quality would be like. A brief googling suggests that the files are about 150-200MB, which seems like the quality should be better than I was expecting.

Does anyone have any first hand experience with the downloaded episodes? How is the quality on a pc or tv screen?

Pretty good (2, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813303)

The resolution is not that high but the bitrate is pretty good... I would say it looks better than VHS, perhaps not quite as good as a digital satellite connection airing the original. I bought the first episode of Lost just to try it out (and see if I really want to buy the DVD set), and it's more than watchable to me.

I really look forward to when they start offering pay-per-download HDTV shows.

Re:Quality (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813402)

I asked this the other day, here is the start of the thread.
http://apple.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=165283&c id=13790943 [slashdot.org]
Brief summary, they are using a VHS equivalent resolution, but a bit rate that is a bit low. Doesn't look good when full screened/put on a TV. (Note, Program for playback [Quick Time] may just have a crapy scaling function that needs improvement.)

Television for the masses... FINALLY... (2, Insightful)

Nerd Systems (912027) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813284)

It looks like slowly but surely, we are getting to see the future of entertainment in this country... no more being forced to sit through annoying commercials, but just being able to watch what we really want... It would be worth it to me, to pay a small price each month, to not have to see commercials ever, and just watch the content only... Not to mention, if we could just click and choose what we wanted to watch, that would be far better, then being stuck with the static content we have now... Imagine the possibilities... I can not wait :)

this Pandora's box can be closed (2, Insightful)

MMHere (145618) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813289)

With enough money paid to the right powerful people, big rich corporations like ClearChannel will pay someone to solve the issue of closing this supposedly "uncloseable" Pandora's box.

Re:this Pandora's box can be closed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13813376)

Right, esp if it affects advertising models that might also affect consumer manufactuing models. - A lot is at stake.

Re:this Pandora's box can be closed (1)

DaveCar (189300) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813428)

With enough money paid to the right powerful people, big rich corporations like ClearChannel will pay someone to solve the issue of closing this supposedly "uncloseable" Pandora's box.

You haven't met Pandora! Thighs like ratchets!

Why do the Affiliates even care? (1)

rosewood (99925) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813293)

Okay, I get the fact that they feel slighted because ABC didn't tell them they were doing this.

However, why the hell would the Affiliates even care? They still get the first airing of the show and thats the important airing. After that, their add buys are so crazy low anyways, what does it matter if I can get it for $1.99 online? If the Affiliates really want to do something, they should learn and start making things like local news casts available online for say $.50 or free with 2-3 min of comercials in there.

Re:Why do the Affiliates even care? (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813504)

However, why the hell would the Affiliates even care?

Because it takes away viewers and through that, they don't get as much advertising dollars, their sole source of revenew. They also don't like the network competing with them. Similar to why many fast food resturants would not but pepsi as it helped their competitors (Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC) while they were still directly owned by Pepsi. There are similar examples in other markets. Car dealers would not like it if FORD/GM/Honda/Toyota/Mercedes/Volkswagon started selling directly from them bypassing the dealerships entirely, especially if they undercut the dealers.

They still get the first airing of the show and thats the important airing.

Only so long as the networks decide to do this and charge a fee, among other things. Wait until the networks start releasing them same day, with comercials (that can't be skiped easily) for free or without comercials for a small fee. All of this is of course assuming at least as good of a quality as you get off your regular TV.

Affiliates really want to do something, they should learn and start making things like local news casts available online for say $.50 or free with 2-3 min of comercials in there.

This won't pay for their current operations or many other things. They don't want to compete with their own network. With this, their current business model is dead at the hands of the network. Expect some affiliates to leave for other networks if ABC keeps this up.

PVR to Ipod (1, Insightful)

dduardo (592868) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813296)

Why pay $1.99 per episode when you can just take the video you saved using Mythtv and download it to your ipod. You could even take out the commercials if you like.

I could see Tivo making out well if they made it easy for ipod video users to sync to their PVR.

Re:PVR to Ipod (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13813368)

Your time is obviously not worth very much to you.

Re:PVR to Ipod (1)

benow (671946) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813501)

It would take longer to find and download than trim the commercials.

Re:PVR to Ipod (5, Insightful)

andygrace (564210) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813377)

Why pay $1.99 per episode when you can just take the video you saved using Mythtv and download it to your ipod.

Because for many consumers it is simply too hard to set up the computer to record the show, edit out the commercials, compress it in a suitable format and copy it across to the player. Then there is even a subset of geeks like me that can easily do it but just couldn't be bothered.

It's TV after all; a bit of entertainment after a hard day at work. I just want to watch the show, not muck around with recordings, having to preview it by editing out commercials first etc. For $2 - I'll pay that!

With the same logic, why spend up to $5 at Starbucks to buy a coffee when I could just buy some beans, grind them myself, brew, froth the milk, and serve for next to nothing?

There will always be smart people like yourself willing to go the extra mile to save a buck, but the majority simply don't care.

Re:PVR to Ipod (1)

siliconjunkie (413706) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813384)

Why pay $1.99 per episode when you can just take the video you saved using Mythtv and download it to your ipod.

The same reason why people buy cola in cans as opposed to installing a dedicated soda fountain in their kitchen.

Re:PVR to Ipod (1)

dduardo (592868) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813514)

Sure most people just want to click-download-play, but if someone made it easy to take their pvr recordings and allow them to download it to their ipod video, i'm sure they would go for it. That's why I mention the Tivo bit.

If your cheap and have the know how, you could easily setup a mythtv linux box that has a nightly cron job that uses mencoder to convert the video already recorded to a lower resolution . Mpeg2 @ 320x240 or whatever you want.

If you leet and have a DSP background you could create a program to automatically strip out the commercials by analyzing the audio/video stream. Maybe their is software that already does this.

convenient (1)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813298)

I don't watch much TV; most weeks it's less than 2 hrs. I enjoy Battlestar Galactica but shuffling my week around the TV schedule (or even shuffling it around time to be at home to watch a recorded version) is not convenient. If I could catch it on an iPod or laptop then I'd watch it... and I like the show enough that I'd fork out $2 per episode. Sounds like Apple has a solution for me.

Re:convenient (1)

Taliesan999 (305690) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813473)

I heartily agree.

I currently download about 8 shows via bitorrent that I would happily pay for ($2 AUD would seem fair). The problem for me is I don't have a hope in hell of catching shows like Battlestar Galactica or even Stargate on TV. The Australian networks shuffle things around so much that I've quit even bothering trying to catch things anymore. Even mainstream shows like CSI or NCIS are regularly shuffled around. Add to that their habit of showing repeats during school holidays or whenever they deem it to be a non ratings period (in the middle of showing a current season) and you have no idea how difficult it is to catch even 50% of the shows.

Australia doesn't have TIVO and building your own MythTV box requires you to find a decent feed for TV schedules.

I'd much rather pay the price and download what I want to watch and watch it when I want to watch it. Preferably from some media box that will let me keep and play the files whenever I want and back them up. That's all I ask.

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13813306)

This just in: Buggy Whip manufacturer comes out against the combustion-engine.

no brainer (1)

tehwebguy (860335) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813307)

maybe they should embrace it and try to get on with abc, rather than try to chastise them for it. every industry that has a strong foothold tris to fight innovation to some extent. after a certain point they either decide to run with it and prosper, or the fight it forever and die.

Well at least they don't have to worry about Bill! (1, Funny)

scotty1024 (584849) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813318)

Bill has recently proven he can't negotiate a deal with the Media giants for content. Poor Bill, spent all that money developing DRM for them and when the time came to cash in? They treated him like the "help" and wouldn't even let him dine at the table. :-)

Re:Well at least they don't have to worry about Bi (1)

3770 (560838) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813488)

In addition, the media giants picked another format for High Definition DVD than what Bill chose for his XBox 360.

Microsoft is incredibly rich. But people have realized that Microsoft isn't untouchable. The problems with Vista, the notion that Google is snubbing Microsoft time after another. And how exactly do you compete with an operating system that is free? And many others.

This gives other companies the balls to stand up against them. Or, I should say, this is my theory.

Mr. Dinosaur meet Mr. Meteor (4, Interesting)

voss (52565) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813321)

Network affiliates are the roadkill of the information superhighway.
Once broadband reaches 25mbps there is no reason for a separate tv connection.
The tv networks will become what UPN has already a dumping ground for
tv viewers who are Old and poor.

The networks however have a saving grace, they can still outcompete
itunes. People will happily accept commercials in their tv programs
if they get the programs for FREE...history has already proven this.

There is no technical reason people cant simply download their favorite
programs and watch them with commericals for free or commerical free
for an additional fee.

This would actually free up networks ro produce programs audiences wanted
instead of programs affiliates wanted...programs that could be targeted
to niche audiences rather than lowest common denominator.

content quality vs. distribution mechanism (3, Interesting)

MMHere (145618) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813327)

When will pervasive broadband, peer-to-peer sharing, and availability of downloadable digital media start to improve the quality of the media/content that is available, not just the delivery mechanism via which that content gets to me?

"Lost?" Come on. I don't even watch that stuff on TV let alone waste bits from my broadband connection to download it...

Produce something worth watching and I'll go back to watching TV.

Re:content quality vs. distribution mechanism (1, Troll)

prockcore (543967) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813489)

"Lost?" Come on. I don't even watch that stuff on TV let alone waste bits from my broadband connection to download it...

Produce something worth watching and I'll go back to watching TV.


23 million people watched last week's episode of Lost. The networks could give a shit about you. They know that you'd complain about the quality of TV regardless of what was on.

In defense of syndicates... (1)

DECS (891519) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813328)

If you read the comment, it sounds like syndicates aren't complaining about iTMS selling TV as much as ABC doing deals that don't include them.

The reason syndicates weren't involved was because the deal was supposed to be secret "Apple Event" news.

Still, the syndicates run their business as customers beholden to the interests of a channel of programming, something like dealerships for a car company. (That's also as far as that analogy works.)

Sure, free publicity for the shows they are broadcasting is a win for syndicates, but nobody likes to delegate their life and death decisions away to third parties, particularly if they don't share the same interests.

--
www.roughlydrafted.com : todays slowdown brought to you by digg.com

I know that feeling... (5, Funny)

Josh Coalson (538042) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813356)

'It is both disappointing and unsettling that ABC would embark on a new -- and competitive -- network program distribution partnership without the fundamental courtesy of consultation' with its affiliates.

dude, you've just been dumped for somebody hotter.

Oh the horror (2, Interesting)

multiplexo (27356) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813360)

Local TV affiliates, which are incredibly profitable businesses that manage to satisfy their public service obligations by airing local TV news shows that have become so idiotic that they are impossible to parody any more and the occasional PSA telling you "Don't suspect a friend, turn him in." might lose out on part of their revenue stream. "Waaaahhhh, we're big media, consumers owe us a living.". Call 1-976-CRY-BABY (279-2229), it's two bucks a minute, but you can whine about that too.

Here's a wacky idea, rather than just rebroadcasting network crap, why don't local affiliates actually produce quality programming of their own that they could sell on the iTunes video service. Believe it or not they used to do this sort of thing back in the day. Oh wait, that would require them to work, which is much harder than sitting on your ass and making a lot of money by squatting on publicly owned airwaves.

Re:Oh the horror (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813416)

You're almost completely right. The rest of the equation you're talking about is the local advertising these guys sell over network product. That's what this fight is really about. If Apple (or anybody else) sells (god forbid - commercial free) content outright for $1.99, then that's (about) $1.99 that doesn't get sold as local ad revenues, and doesn't end up in the pockets of the local affiliates - hence their problem with this scheme.

If local affiliates produced their own quality content (I'm thinking the likes of WGBH, Boston) then they would have something independant of the networks to sell, but, as you say, that would require work (ewwww!!).

"If downloading episodes over the Internet..." (2, Insightful)

Hamster Lover (558288) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813361)

Quote: If downloading episodes over the Internet proves popular...

Uh, what do they mean if? It's already exceedingly popular on BitTorrent and the like, just not sanctioned by the media companies until now (OK, the BBC is doing it but not many others). The genie is already out of this bottle and yet another industry wants to bury it's head in the sand. They have to realize that people, including myself, are willing to pay money to see shows we've missed or cannot get in our area. Where's a capitalist when you need one? Steve Jobs yet again has pulled off a marvelous coup and now the affliates, Hollywood, SAG and anyone else who didn't have the forsight to start this on there own want a piece.

Re:"If downloading episodes over the Internet..." (2, Insightful)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813444)

I think it's that "our area" that is the major driving force behind the popularity of BitTorrent TV downloads, especially when you look at the global scope. I download US TV episodes all the time since I'm in the UK and the chances of me avoiding all spoilers for the 18 months or so it takes US shows to get to over the pond is pretty much nil, if they make it at all. I still watch the UK airings for the higher video quality, and I still buy the DVDs for some of the shows, so the studios most definitely are not out of pocket. I have absolutely no illusions that a court would see things that way of course, which is why this is precisely the kind of service that I've been waiting for since iTMS first arrived. But you watch; you just *know* that the studio execs are going to try and keep the staggered global release schedule in place for some reason, despite the fact that digital distribution makes it completely redundant.

I would buy TV shows (1)

ThoreauHD (213527) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813369)

Cable costs 60 to 100 per month. Channels I'd like to watch out of 120 end up hovering at around 3. Of those 3 channels, I can only say I like 4 shows. But I don't get to pick and choose to watch what I want when I want.

Unlike everything else on this planet, I have to wait until some timeslot asshat allows me to see what I'm paying for at his convenience. I don't have time to sit around and plan my life around some work of fiction and advertisements. Entertainment is supposed to entertain. I don't like going to the movies at 6 fucking AM in the morning because it is not entertaining at 6 fucking AM in the morning.

So, what do I do? I don't watch TV at all. I haven't watched TV for about 5 years now. The shows I want to see- like stargate or babylon 5 or whichever- I download for nothing. And it takes time to do this. I would pay 1.50 per show to download and watch it. If I buy the DVD boxed set, it comes out to 2 bucks a show. All things being equal, I'll pay for that convenience of getting it when I want and how I want. Just like ATM machine's at 1.50 a pop.

The market has changed around you TV people. You know this. Now be an American and capitalize on it. The days of consumers sitting around waiting on you are fucking over. Deal or die you got damn idiots.

Re:I would buy TV shows (2, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813459)

Cable costs 60 to 100 per month. Channels I'd like to watch out of 120 end up hovering at around 3.

Where in the world are you buying your cable TV from? Or is this one of those classic Slashdot price exaggerations like "CD's cost $20" when they really cost $12 from any large retailer? (Even the grossly overpriced music stores in the mall charge $18 or so for a CD)

I've never seen basic cable cost over $40 per month, and digital satellite companies have plans starting at $30 per month. I'm all for "sticking it to the man", but exaggerating prices at every opportunity doesn't make us sound like a reasonable group.

Communication Studies 101 (2, Insightful)

sbjordal (654330) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813393)

Question: What is the point of Broadcast TV?
Answer: To show quality shows that everyone can enjoy.

errrrrr

WRONG

An affiliate broadcast TV station has one goal: To create revenue for the stockholders. This is done through advertising. Lost/Cosby show/Nighstalker/Full house whatever the show is has one purpose: Attract viewers so they can watch more advertising.

To think that consumers can get content from broadcast TV without commercials and advertising will for sure cause a stirr when the reason affiliates exist is to make money.

commercials (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13813409)

But will the downloads have commercials? I won't pay to download commercials. Not when I can record the shows I like on my PC based DVR (Sage) and watch when I get around to them. And skip the commercials with one button.

iTorrent? (4, Interesting)

3770 (560838) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813415)

This is slightly more technical, but I've been wondering about if they are going to offer up a torrent style iTunes client. This could be a tremendeous boon for for instance podcasts, and video podcasts in general. Maybe only for free content but still.

Sure, many wouldn't be able to figure out how to open up their firewall, but enough people would, that it would make a tremendous difference for some poor podcaster. It will likely let them cut their provider bill in half. Or they could reach 10 times as many people for the same cost. They could even make sure that all their friends have seeds before they release the podcast, that way they don't even really need a server provider (not of the type where you need to know how many GB per month you are allowed).

This would also be a tremendous benefit for Apple since being on iTunes definitely would be the shiznat for all the podcasters because now it also has a very direct benefit for them.

Also, if they did the torrent thing then they would get some serious Google type respect from geeks. Apple would be credited for making decentralized file sharing mainstream.

I can't even think of a down side. Can someone slap me out of this?

How about the quality? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13813421)

Allow me to be the first one to say (this minute at least): I sure as hell hope for the TV serie industry their downloadable material is at least better than the pirated versions. As a fan of Lost living in a country where Season 2 doesn't air, I have practically three choices:

* I wait an hour after the US airing and download a generic 350 MB HDTV-rip of the show. DVD quality. No ads.
* I wait two hours after the US airing and download the much better 700 MB HR HDTV-rip with surround sound. Better than DVD-quality. No ads.
* I log onto my non-existing iTunes account on an iTunes-network I am not allowed on and for $2 dollars download.. What exacly? Some kind of quicktime version?

Oh well, they will probably never try and do it right, because then they can't say this new distribution system didn't work.

A bigger mess than music... (3, Interesting)

nunchux (869574) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813426)

The record labels are horrible beasts, but at least we know where we stand with them-- they own a song outright and have ultimate say as to what can be done and what the price should be. Television shows, on the other hand, are based on many complicated deals that extend far into the the future-- and they have to be, because there are a lot of people (and companies) involved in a production who all want their share of potential revenue. It's not all about the first run ad dollars.

"Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" are Touchstone productions, so Disney has a lot more control over their distribution. That's not always or even often the case-- many times a network works with a separate production company, and if it's an older show someone else may have the rights to syndication. Which basically means the contracts for many programs, especially those "in the vault", are going to have to be renegotiated before a network can make them available for download, and some won't be available at all. It also means $2 downloads may not end up being the standard.

I wouldn't be surprised if the guilds got involved, too. Actors, writers, and directors are due royalties from syndication and DVD compilations. Are they going to get a cut of that $2? Their contracts most likely specified terms for residuals from reruns, but what's their cut of an iTunes download? This will be addressed in every contract from today forward, but what about the ones in place now (and the ones from a decade ago?)

On the bright side, what I've noticed on Apple's marketing is that they keep slipping in references to "video podcasts"-- which at the moment barely exist. This could mean iTunes could branch into a new distribution channel for indie programs, like how Netflix is having some success as the sole distributor of certain movies.) It could be both the "bush leagues" for aspiring shows, or the place where shows with a fan base but who can't get the numbers to stay on the air (like Futurama or Freaks and Geeks) could end up.

Re:A bigger mess than music... (2, Informative)

shmlco (594907) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813492)

"I wouldn't be surprised if the guilds got involved, too."

Too late... Unions seek video iPod residuals [yahoo.com]

I can't believe this... (2, Interesting)

Koil (786141) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813445)

1) Lead
2) Follow
3) Get the hell out of the way

Interesting pricing structures.... (2, Interesting)

FreakyControl (751781) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813457)

I just find it funny that it costs at least 0.99 USD to purchase a three-and-a-half minute song, but only 1.99 USD to download an episode of a TV show, which has cast and crew to pay, filming, sets, etc. Combine this with the fact that the RIAA wants even more money for a single track...pretty amazing.

I suppose compared to purchasing a box set of a show that may cost up to 60 USD, at least TV episode downloading seems to offer some sort of significant price break from purchasing the actual high-quality non-DRM'd media from a store (new or used), and provides the a la carte option. The only question that I have regarding the a la carte option for TV shows is, wouldn't there be a much greater demand to own an entire season of a show than there would be to own an entire CD? After all, on a CD it's not as if Track 11 of an album doesn't make sense if you didn't listen to Track 9 or 10.

Cable forced to get rid of package deals? (1)

teutonic_leech (596265) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813461)

If Apple is able to assemble enough top-notch TV programming for iTunes, it could prove vexing to cable operators like Comcast. In the past, cable operators have faced pressure by politicians and consumer groups to offer individual channels "a la carte," rather than forcing all subscribers to pay for large packages of programming that most don't watch in their entirety.

Oh yeah, baby - paypack is a bitch!!!

Fine for established shows but... (2, Insightful)

niall2 (192734) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813472)

what do you do to allow people to discover new programs? I think many popular shows start off in bad time slots and are either upgraded or dropped but are given a chanse. I know many shows I loved I stumbled on and would not do so at $2 a pop. Do execs offer some new shows for free until the catch on and then tack on the extra cost onto future episodes? As there is no garuntee of advertising time sales for the inital run of some new shows, which get some viewers out of the novelty, will we see less risks being taken with the 12th season of what sells today or would a show like Firefly be more popular as its profitability could be directly estimated (all the /. Nielson families please stand up)?

NFL and Apple (1)

richman555 (675100) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813484)

Now I wish the NFL & Apple would partner up to download games. It still would be better to have real time like direct TV, but I would download the game after it is over, just so I can see my favorite team play. I hope the NFL reads slashdot!

Yeah... (1)

Kickboy12 (913888) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813491)

What's sad is when other companies such as Google release TV-Related technologies in the future, people will claim they are copying Apple. When, in fact, TV downloads is something people have been talking and gossiping about all year. The fact that Apple did it first is cool, but you can expect this to just be a small step in the downloadable media craize of '06

Well, there goes the HDTV logjam! (1)

Asprin (545477) | more than 9 years ago | (#13813511)


The last I remember, the affiliates didn't want to broadcast in HD because there wasn't any market yet, and customers didn't want to buy HD rigs because there wasn't anything to watch. Well, even though the HDTV market was moving slowly, now there's an incentive for the affiliates to get their act together.

ABC's affiliates will all probably be broadcasting all HD by the end of the week.
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