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[P]
What's a Downloaded Episode Worth?

By MrAndrews in Media
Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 10:43:27 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)
Internet

Over the last few days I've been collecting information about what people would shell out for a pay-per-episode (not pay-per-view) series. Compared to four years ago when I last pondered this question, people seem much more willing to spend a little to get good entertainment, which in itself is a massive shift of opinion. But in the process of gathering this data, I think I may have discovered that you can only ever charge $1 for anything online, no matter how much it costs to make...


After receiving over 2,000 answers (as of March 7... currently about 3,000) to my survey, the numbers are starting to even out to a fairly steady set of percentages. A bit of an analysis follows...

The Results
We were looking at how much you would pay for a 60-minute episode of an online series (see the business plan for more details). The possible choices were $2.00, $1.75, $1.50, $1.25, $1.15, $0.99 or "less than $0.99". Those numbers were also presented with what would be the total cost for a full 26-episode season of the show. First, the raw-raw data:
$2.00 ($52.00 per season): 523 votes, 26%
$1.75 ($45.50 per season): 60 votes, 3%
$1.50 ($39.00 per season): 241 votes, 12%
$1.25 ($32.50 per season): 382 votes, 19%
$1.15 ($29.90 per season): 262 votes, 13%
$0.99 ($25.74 per season): 281 votes, 14%
less than $0.99: 262 votes, 13%

Analysis Part I
The most striking thing is that $2.00 is a popular answer. I can't tell if this is because the original thread where we first discussed pricing mentioned $2 as an option (these results don't include people that voted in the survey I attached to that thread). It could be a question of "the principle of the thing", or maybe 26% of you just think a TV show is really worth $2. However, given some of the emails I got, I would guess that $2 would not only be a turn-off for majority of the audience, it would also make them react by trying to "free" the episodes (re-distribute the "subscription" versions broadly to make a point).

There were 262 people that said they wouldn't even pay a dollar for an episode, which I (possibly mistakenly) interpret to mean they'd just prefer to "acquire" their TV. While the gut reaction by those 13% may seem to be chest-thumping by a fanatical minority, it should be noted that in this kind of game, if you piss off any segment of this poll, they'll likely join the "less than $0.99" crowd and virtually boycott you. If we were selling Britney Spears that wouldn't matter much, but the initial audience for this type of venture is geeky, so messing with geek ideals is a dangerous game.

There were 281 people that said $0.99, which isn't such a big deal until you consider that a 3-minute song from iTunes sells for the same price. So from this we can either assume that people don't appreciate the amount of work that goes into a 60-minute episode as compared to a song, or that in the end, the "value" of a digital work doesn't matter: the price will gravitate towards $1. Or that music is over-priced at the moment. More on this later.

By these numbers, if you were trying to balance potential revenue with maximizing audience, you would want to price yourself someplace around $1.15. That would give you 73% audience acceptance, but hopefully still enough money to produce your show. But let's check that math a bit, shall we?


Scenario Run
Let's take those numbers, and see what they'd do. Let's assume that our 60-minute episode costs $300,000 to make (there was some debate about that number which I'll talk about later). So we have to make at least that much to break even. And if we wanted to make a second episode we'd need double that, just to be safe. We're gonna have to inflate the potential audience base to 500,000 (but how you reach that many people that would be passionately interested in your show is an exercise left to the reader).

So let's step through this one segment at a time. If you price your episodes at $0.99 each, you reach 435,000 people. That'll get you $430,650, which definitely covers the first episode, but it means it has to be a kick-ass episode or you'll never get enough cash together to make a second. So we can consider this a half-victory.
If you price yourself at $1.15, you've lost 14% of your audience, and you only reach 365,000 people. They get you $419,750 which is... uh oh... less than $0.99. Well hell, this doesn't make any sense. Of course, there's a chance your show'll be so kick-ass that you'll convert some of those $0.99-ers to $1.15-ers, but that's beyond the scope of this survey.
If you price yourself at $1.25, you lose another 13% and reach 300,000 people. That brings in $375,000, or our lowest take yet. We're also treading dangerously close to our production costs now, which could be a problem if your team isn't wonderfully disciplined.
Jumping to $1.50, we lose another 19%, and end up with 205,000 viewers, and $307,500. That's essentially game over from a producer's point of view, because you're too close to the production costs to risk starting out.
At $1.75, we have 145,000 viewers bringing in $253,750, and we'd have to return the money to everyone before we start because it wouldn't be possible to complete the episode.
At $2.00, we have 130,000 viewers, $260,000 (yay!) but still not enough to make the episode. Game over.

So when you look at it like this, $0.99 seems like the best idea. Which is... interesting.


WTF?
Okay, so maybe Steve Jobs was right about the price. Maybe people are just naturally able to part with $0.99 for anything online. But he was talking about music, and we're talking about a 60-minute show. It's not easy making a good 60-minute show. It can take hours upon hours to even just write that much. So what's going on? Is music over-priced? Is TV undervalued?

It could be the Long Tail at work. If you consider that there are 800,000 or so subscribers to Slashdot (where the discussion started), but that they represent maybe only 10% of the total sci-fi-loving population of the web, that means you have a potential pool of 8 million geeks out there just waiting to be sold to. If we look at it like that, at $0.99 you've hit 6.9 million geeks, and earned $6,890,400 for the first episode. Which would translate to a $6,590,400 profit, or about 21 more episodes. Just about a full season off one episode.

Granted, that's just a silly number to work from. 8 million geeks indeed. But the idea of the long tail suggests that while you might find 3 million fans of Enterprise in the U.S. (with access to the right channels, and I assume don't just Tivo it for later), you would find many more fans worldwide, and be able to access them all through the web. So a small audience in America is actually a hint at a larger audience around the globe. So maybe 8 million geeks isn't so strange after all. So if you can convince even half of them to buy into your show, you'd be looking at far more money than you'd need to make an episode anyway.

So perhaps the trick of selling media on the web is not that you can just get your regularly-priced product into the hands of people more easily, it's that you can turn just about any digital product into one of those little horoscope scroll things you see at checkout counters that you buy as you're waiting for your turn. Cause they sell well. I think. I've never bought one, but there's always like just one left, so I assume they sell like hotcakes. Hmm. Perhaps not the best analogy. Anyway, maybe the point of $0.99 is not that the show is worth that, and not that the song is worth that, but that people will part with $0.99 so readily you make up for any losses in volume.


Quality Is Key
One recurring theme in all this is that quality is key. You can't put crap out there, no matter how great the system, and expect people to buy it. People will only buy something worth buying. This ties into the question of volume, and the question of future episodes. If you release something like Futurama on the web for $0.99/episode, you'll get your $6 million every time, no question. That's a damn good show. The quality will keep the audience large, lively and willing to spend more. But let's say you had last season's Alias out there instead... well, that's not quite the same can of worms, and you'll probably have many people, mid-season, stop paying because they felt like direction was lacking.

The thing is: if $0.99 is your starting point, how do you deal with differing levels of quality? If Futurama is worth $0.99, what is a bad episode of Alias going to cost? $0.75? If it's that, you'll have to increase your audience to compensate (which doesn't seem likely since it's a bad episode). But if you keep it at $0.99, the audience will feel like they're being ripped off if certain episodes don't meet their standards. In this system there is an implied level of quality that the producers of content must meet or exceed to stay in business. You're only as good as your last episode, and that becomes even more severe in a pay-as-you-go scenario.


Final Note
This is all aimed at geeks. At the moment, torrents are beyond the reach of the average person. The concept of online purchasing of intangible goods is beyond the reach of most users. Trusting normal people to not just erase the episodes they'd downloaded (and then likely call up and complain) is... well... silly. Which is why the first real tests of this idea have to be things like RvB and other sci-fi programming. We have to be the trailblazers for this new market, because the bubblegum audience won't "get" it until we've smoothed out the bumps.

The survey numbers indicate that people are willing to pay for high-quality entertainment. I think part of this is the notion that the entertainment they sponsor is entertainment they directly want to see, and will almost feel a action/reaction dynamic going on between themselves and the creative producers. There are still dozens (hundreds, even) of things to work out to make something like this actually work, but perhaps for the first time, we are looking at a situation where the concept of broadcasting can be changed again. And if we play our cards right, maybe we can dictate how it turns out.

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Poll
How much would you pay for a 60-minute downloadable episode?
o $2.00 ($52.00/season) 18%
o $1.75 ($45.50/season) 2%
o $1.50 ($39.00/season) 10%
o $1.25 ($32.50/season) 6%
o $1.15 ($29.90/season) 8%
o $0.99 ($25.74/season) 26%
o less than $0.99 26%

Votes: 82
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Slashdot
o pay-per-ep isode
o survey
o Also by MrAndrews


Display: Sort:
What's a Downloaded Episode Worth? | 230 comments (219 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
music vs. t.v. (2.83 / 6) (#1)
by yamla on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 01:41:23 PM EST

Music may well cost substantially less to create, but don't forget that I'm likely to listen to a good song over and over again, while I may view a t.v. episode once or, if really good, three or four times over.

t.v. vs. music prices (3.00 / 2) (#2)
by MrAndrews on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 02:00:24 PM EST

Interesting point. I guess there's a basic disconnect between the cost of creating media and the perceived value, then. It takes far fewer people and far less time to record a song than it does to make a typical TV show, but you're right, I rarely watch any episode more than once. But then what does that mean? Should TV production costs have to come down? What do we pay for when we buy digital goods, I guess is the question.

[ Parent ]
I dunno... (3.00 / 2) (#8)
by JahToasted on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 03:15:24 PM EST

It takes far fewer people and far less time to record a song than it does to make a typical TV show

Taking a tone-deaf teenage girl who's only talent is dancing like a stripper while lip syncing and making her the most popular recording "artist" in the world does take a lot of money and a lot of people. First you gotta make a few music videos, each costing over a mil a peice. then you gotta bribe all the radio stations to play her songs (well that part is pretty easy now that they're all owned by a single company). And don't forget about the compulsory reality show. And the tour with huge special effects (the idiots aren't damn fool enough to pay $40+ for tickets to see a stripper, you gotta have pretty lights too). And then you have to factor in the risks that you might end up with an Ashlee Simpson, who even the simpletons realise she has zero talent.

Yeah producing music doesn't take as much effort as producing a TV show. But getting the consumers to swallow shit takes a lot of money.
______
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]

depends on the artist (3.00 / 2) (#63)
by Delirium on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 08:51:51 AM EST

Not all CDs are belted out in a matter of hours. The last Nine Inch Nails album, for example, was 2-3 years of full-time work, and was still sold for ~$15.

[ Parent ]
level of effort (3.00 / 2) (#94)
by MrAndrews on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 11:53:09 AM EST

That's true, but I would argue that they knew their work would sell for $15 and make the conscious decision to take 3 years to make it, so their $/hour return is their own doing.  Then again, that let themselves take 3 years to make it shows that they really care about what they're doing, which is good for their art.

If the price of a CD is $15 (or the price of an episode is $0.99), you as the artist have to decide if you're going to try and do a quickie or really work at it, and live with the consequences one way or another.

But the base amount of time to make an episode is still typically more work hours than for a song, on average.

[ Parent ]

well, yeah, because it's not just about business (3.00 / 2) (#100)
by Delirium on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 12:06:29 PM EST

Much good art isn't produced by people on the basis of it being a good return on investment for time put in, but on the basis of having something to say and wanting to say it. That's why there are so many starving artists who still make art. =D

[ Parent ]
Price points are your friend (2.66 / 3) (#3)
by SocratesGhost on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 02:43:12 PM EST

If you notice, they usually don't sell individual episodes on DVD's. They sell seasons. By bundling this way, you diminish returns for the successful episodes but you get more purchases for weaker episodes and you'll consequently get more money from a single individual. Look at it this way, would you prefer to make $.99 from a person who bought a good first episode but wouldn't buy the bad second one? Or would you rather get $1.50 for two?

Assuming that $1 is your baseline, I think people recognize the value of getting a second at a reduced price. Just something to think about.

-Soc
I drank what?


bundling seasons (2.00 / 2) (#5)
by MrAndrews on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 02:57:13 PM EST

It's true.  Some of the emails I got about this whole deal said that they were interested in paying $35 for a season (still less than most DVD sets), and almost avoided the idea of a per-episode purchase.  I think the perception is key in this: if you say "$26 for a season!  That's just $0.99 per episode!", somehow it seems like a great deal.  But yeah, the danger in this is that you have to make every episode stunning, or you'll lose your revenue for the next one.  Selling seasons gives you a little more freedom, creatively-speaking.

[ Parent ]
as much as (2.50 / 2) (#11)
by Altus on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 03:54:35 PM EST


bundling is a great idea for this distribution model, you always need to have  a cheep leader to get people interested.

im not going to drop 20 bucks on your season, but I might drop $.99 on an episode to see if your series is any good.

infact... I would propose that you should make your pilot episode free.  a loss leader to get people sucked in.

just a few random thoughts.

"In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women..." -H. Simpson
[ Parent ]

pilots etc (2.00 / 2) (#12)
by MrAndrews on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 04:02:38 PM EST

there's definitely something to be figured out before a series starts.  If you had someone like Joss Whedon announcing a new series where you could buy a season for $26, I'd think his reputation alone would get a giant flood of subscriptions.  But for newbies, you'd have to almost follow the typical network process of creating a pilot, getting an audience's trust, and working from there.

It's not a fully-developed plan yet... there are definitely variations on the theme... but the fundamentals are looking interesting...

[ Parent ]

I think its a very good idea (2.50 / 2) (#15)
by Altus on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 04:38:45 PM EST


frankly, I think it is only a matter of time until someone does it.

your certainly right about star power bringing in an audience that still applies... but even a Joss Whedon fan such as myself might want to watch a couple of episodes at a per-episode fee rather than jumping in and buying a season.

of course there is also no reason to stick to standard seasons if these shows are only being distributed over the web.  I suspect  you would see a rise in the number of mini-series or half season shows that are developed under this kind of a model.  After a while the concept of a season might not make that much sense anymore...

 

"In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women..." -H. Simpson
[ Parent ]

Why sell it at all? (2.66 / 3) (#9)
by rusty on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 03:30:57 PM EST

People don't like to pay for anything. They also claim that they hate advertising, but in this claim they lie like dogs. People, or at least the vast majority of people, like advertising a lot better than they like shelling out cash.

The economics of media, even in the age of nearly-free distribution, are such that advertising will probably always be the primary economic engine behind the creation and distribution of content. Did your study include anything about how the numbers stack up if you give away the episodes and insert ads in them?

____
Not the real rusty

advertising results (2.66 / 3) (#10)
by MrAndrews on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 03:47:40 PM EST

I did a survey about this a little over a year ago about advertising vs pay-per-download, and you're right, I think they lie.  Given the choice between the two, most people chose "pay" instead of "advertising".  But given emails I've received during both these surveys, I would say that a lot of internet-savvy folks prefer advertising because they know they can usually strip out the ads.

I had always been quite keen on advertising as opposed to paying for eps, but lately with iTunes working the way it is, I think that people actually ARE willing to pay for content, if it's content they like.  Of course, this limits your audience... but it might still work.  Maybe you could also release the free version with ads integrated, just to make money off both sides...?

[ Parent ]

but... (2.00 / 3) (#14)
by werner on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 04:23:07 PM EST

a few minutes of ads in the middle of a tv episode is expected and acceptable. you can't put ads in the middle of songs. people would go ape-shit.

[ Parent ]
An experiment (2.50 / 2) (#27)
by rusty on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 07:01:15 PM EST

It would be a worthwhile experiment to put up some sort of content in two versions, one for $0.99 ad-free, and one for free with some ads in it, and just count downloads. That would strike me as a much more accurate set of data. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
ha! (2.00 / 2) (#39)
by MrAndrews on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 07:30:13 PM EST

When i have such numbers, you can bet I'll be posting 'em here so y'all can deduce the deeper meaning with me.

[ Parent ]
i dunno (none / 0) (#163)
by CodeWright on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 12:07:30 PM EST

i paid for like 5 years subscription to k5 mostly to avoid ads...

--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Haha rusty called you dumb for paying for k5 (none / 1) (#192)
by communistpoet on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 01:13:32 PM EST

[en tea]

We must become better men to make a better world.
[ Parent ]
rusty can kiss my ass! (none / 0) (#198)
by CodeWright on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 06:59:02 PM EST

where did he call me dumb?

i can't be bothered to go look for it...

--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
depends on the people (3.00 / 2) (#61)
by Delirium on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 08:44:49 AM EST

I think, for example, that SomethingAwful's forumsgoers really do prefer its pay model to a dump-ads-all-over-the-site model. Or at least, 53,000+ people didn't mind shelling out $10 for an account, and many of those another $10 for a "platinum" account, another $10 for access to searchable archives of old posts, etc., etc.

One thing is that I think the internet community prefers you give away some stuff for free first, to make sure that you really aren't full of shit when you say you have something worth paying for.

Depending on the nature of your audience and material, sometimes giving away the "content" for free and selling other stuff makes sense too. That's how Penny Arcade makes a living, for example.

[ Parent ]

Pyramid (2.00 / 2) (#108)
by gavri on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 03:05:49 PM EST

And will the advertisements be for other ad-supported free goodies?

Hey, I Know! Maybe the future will be one big never-ending pyramid scheme. The next Internet Bubble is "unburstable"!

--
Blog Of A Socially Well Adjusted Human Being

[ Parent ]

What's an episode worth? (2.83 / 6) (#13)
by circletimessquare on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 04:12:05 PM EST

$0, once eMule gets a hold of it

i'm sorry, but i will never buy digital media in my life ever again

i haven't bought a single CD since i fired up Napster in 1999

my formula for not being caught is two-fold:

  1. load your shared folder up with porn
  2. if you must download linkin park or evanescence, the kind of stuff the riaa is sniffing?:
a. stop all of your downloads except that song you want with the most sources and the best connections.
b. suck it down in under a minute.
c. immediately get it out of your shared folder.
d. if you do it fast enough, all the porn suckers you have cultivated will flood out and anyone trying to get that drop of water pop song in your sea of masking porn.
e. and the riaa only goes after those who make pop songs available, not those who download it.

and speaking of pop songs?

i have the BEST solution for beating the riaa on that subject matter:

i embrace world music, i let my mind wander

currently, i'm into filipino music (i live in new york city)

the thing to do is is to expand your musical interests to things beyond the usual pop crap, and you are also therefore using the new file sharing technology to its greatest benefit: connecting with resources that otherwise would be beyond your grasp in the pre-internet universe

embrace world music, screw the pop crap, and you win two ways:

  1. you won't be on the riaa's radar
  2. you'll grow new brain cells as you develop an awareness of a world beyond your nation's borders, of music beyond your stupid local pop music industry
there really is a lot of good stuff out there that isn't the usual robbie williams or christina aguilera or kylie minogue crap

free your mind and give the bastards who want to market you sugar water the finger in the process

and for those of you with a holier-than-thou attitude about me ripping off poor third world musicians?

if it weren't for the filesharing networks, I WOULD NEVER BE EXPOSED TO THE ARTIST I AM LISTENING TO IN THE FIRST PLACE

solve that quandry and get back to me with your holier than thou attitude


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

or you can just go on scandinavian servers (2.50 / 2) (#22)
by LilDebbie on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 05:57:01 PM EST

riaa/mpaa has no jurisdiction there and furthermore get banned by an army of pro-piracy moderators.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
you talkin' the pirate bay ;-) (2.33 / 3) (#29)
by circletimessquare on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 07:06:54 PM EST

this shit is hilarious

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
hilarious!!!!! (2.66 / 3) (#31)
by circletimessquare on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 07:10:19 PM EST

http://static.thepiratebay.org/dreamworks_response.txt

As you may or may not be aware, Sweden is not a state in the United States
of America. Sweden is a country in northern Europe.
Unless you figured it out by now, US law does not apply here.
For your information, no Swedish law is being violated.

Please be assured that any further contact with us, regardless of medium,
will result in
a) a suit being filed for harassment
b) a formal complaint lodged with the bar of your legal counsel, for
sending frivolous legal threats.

It is the opinion of us and our lawyers that you are fucking morons, and
that you should please go sodomize yourself with retractable batons.

Please also note that your e-mail and letter will be published in full on
http://www.thepiratebay.org.

Go fuck yourself.

Polite as usual,
anakata


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!! (2.00 / 2) (#32)
by circletimessquare on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 07:14:24 PM EST

http://static.thepiratebay.org/ea_response.txt

From anakata_anakata.hack.se Mon Sep 13 07:20:31 2004
Date: Mon, 13 Sep 2004 07:19:36 -0100 (GMT)
From: anakata
To: Piracy - Online <Piracy-Online@ea.com>
Subject: Re: Copyright Infringement

On Tue, 14 Sep 2004, Piracy - Online wrote:

> September 14, 2004
>
> SENT VIA E-MAIL
>
> Fredrik Neij
> PRQ
> Box 1206
> Stockholm, Sweden  11479
>
>
>         Re:    Electronic Arts Trademark and Copyright
> Infringement Notice
>
>
> Dear Mr. Neij:
>
> It has been brought to the attention of Electronic Arts Inc. ("EA") that
> the website http://www.piratebay.org with the IP addresses of
> 217.75.120.115, 217.75.120.116, 217.75.120.118 is conducting
> unauthorized activities with respect to EA's copyrighted software, The
> Sims 2.  The aforementioned website is offering and distributing
> bittorrent seeds for an unauthorized downloadable version of this EA
> game.
>
> The infringing material may be found at:
>
> http://www.piratebay.org/download.php/3238103/Sims%202.torrent
>
> http://www.piratebay.org/download.php/3238222/The_Sims2_AlcoholClone-CLO
> NEGAME_Full.Release_%28exclusive_for_trackerwww.prq.to%29.torrent
>

Hello and thank you for contacting us. We have shut down the website in
question.

Oh wait, just kidding. We haven't, since the site in question is fully
legal. Unlike certain other countries, such as the one you're in, we have
sane copyright laws here. But we also have polar bears roaming the
streets and attacking people :-(.

> This unauthorized activity with respect to the distribution of EA's
> software products constitutes infringement of EA's intellectual property
> rights. EA enforces its intellectual property rights very aggressively
> by using every legal option available.

Please don't sue us right now, our lawyer is passed out in an alley from
too much moonshine, so please atleast wait until he's found and doesn't
have a huge hangover...

>
> As you are listed as the registrant for this website, EA demands that
> you immediately and permanently disable access to the aforementioned
> bittorrent seeds for The Sims 2 and any in the future.

You're free to demand anything you want. So are we. We demand that you
cease and desist sending letters like this, since they're frivolous and
meaningless. Where should I send the bill for the consumed diskspace and
bandwidth?

> Thank you for your cooperation.  If you have any questions concerning
> this matter, please contact us via e-mail at:
> piracy-online@ea.com.
>
>
> Regards,
>
> EA Law - IP Enforcement
> Electronic Arts Inc.
> piracy-online@ea.com <mailto:piracy2@ea.com>

Thank you for your entertainment. As with all other threats, we will
publish this one on http://static.thepiratebay.org/legal/

//anakata

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Won't work. (none / 0) (#162)
by ksandstr on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 11:51:50 AM EST

Smokescreen tactics like these only appear to work because your window of exposure is very small. Having piles upon piles of porn listed in your "shared folder" (CTS is a windows user? SHOCKER) is just another drop in the ocean of bandwidth that lies between the L1 and L2 caches employed in the nark company's servers. Same as "well I run about 15 bullshit IRC connections to random servers so that the monitors won't pick my real terrorist planning" -- connection tracking is so simple these days; why, even a lowly 386 can do it!

Apart from this minor detail concerning your technical hubris, IAWTP: if it weren't for the libraries' vast music collections and teh internets, I'd still be listening to radio and nothing else.

Fin.
[ Parent ]

i use windows (none / 0) (#197)
by circletimessquare on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 06:34:39 PM EST

so sorry for that, you fucking linux snob

did you know that eMule is an open source app?

does that count for anything you fucking moron?

and it DOES work:

if i suck a song down in seconds and remove it from my shared folder immediately, and meanwhile their are 100s of porn seeking dorks in my queue and sucking porn from me, that song will never get listed or downloaded by anyone

it's watertight

and it's not even asocial: i'm serving porn, and people want that, no i'm masking my behavior from the riaa while still being a responsible member of the P2P community

so fuck off: for a linux snob you're pretty stupid on the technology and the culture


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

valuable tv (2.50 / 4) (#17)
by fourseven on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 05:06:39 PM EST

hm. one of my roommates watches tv shows. it sits there in front of the tv, and makes wheezing noises occasionally interrupted by yelps of delight. i don't quite get where the enjoyment comes in (i tried watching together with it) as these shows seem so basic and transparent. i guess if you're into getting emotional reactions out of fictional situations and characters, go nuts..

maybe if the financial encouragement for the producers of this audiovisual pulp came from the recipients instead of advertisers, eventually the quality would pick up. but then again, can't put too much hope into people who like this stuff in the first place...

which audience though? (2.66 / 3) (#18)
by MrAndrews on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 05:15:01 PM EST

That's the interesting part, though.  You suggest that you wouldn't find any kind of fiction appealing, but let's say for argument's sake that you found Halo 2 enjoyable.  Chances are a lot of other people thought it was, too.  So a producer comes along and makes a show targeted at Halo 2 fans... more than that, they're not trying to bow down to advertisers, not concerned with the FCC and indecency fines... they're making the show for the people that like the show.  It's nichecasting, basically.  Appeal to your segment, and don't worry about anything else.  As long as you keep the fans happy, you're still in business.

[ Parent ]
product placement and sponsors (2.00 / 2) (#19)
by adimovk5 on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 05:28:19 PM EST

You might be able to increase your revenue by convincing advertisers to pay for product placement in your episodes. Another possibility is to have someone sponsor your programs.

NO (none / 1) (#28)
by evilmeow on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 07:01:58 PM EST

No and no.

If you calculate the above business plan with some real numbers and consider the facts that I mentioned in my top count, you will easily come to the conclusion that Internet distribution is more than enough income to cover any expenses. One of the most important points of this opportunity is to kick the fucking advertisers in the nuts. They don't have a right to advertise, only a privilege which is hereby denied to them by everyone. I don't want to see ads. If there's anyone who does voluntarily, they have a problem that's called stupidity.

"[O]ne thing is certain: people are certifiably historically myopic"

[ Parent ]
I had a thought about this. (2.66 / 3) (#21)
by kitten on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 05:44:18 PM EST

I thought about this a little when they cancelled Firefly, and now when they're cancelling Enterprise.

The problem, as I see it, is that TV networks are still stuck in the space age, using Neilson ratings and so forth, and they haven't caught on to the fact that things like Tivo and the internet are completely destroying their old system (not that it was ever all that accurate to begin with).

Particularly when you're talking about shows like these two, which are geared towards a young, tech-saavy crowd, you've got two problems: First, young people aren't sticking around at home to watch TV. They've got night jobs, or classes, or bars to go to and skirts to chase. They're the segment most likely to tape (or Tivo) a show and come back to it later. You rely numbers that only record eyeballs on the screen at the time of airing, and your ratings will be horrible -- but that doesn't mean people aren't watching your show.

This crowd is also likely to download episodes. Legal or not, there it is. The Enterprise torrent trackers are slammed with thousands of downloaders every time a new episode comes out -- and there are dozens and dozens of trackers. These numbers are big. These numbers aren't being recorded by the networks.

Some might argue that the networks don't care about downloaders. If these young punks are just going to strip out the commercials, then who cares how many of them are watching?

Well, it's called the future, TV execs, so get used to it. The old distribution model is anitquated, and is rapidly becoming obsolete. Why not offer downloads on websites, complete with commercials, perhaps using some sort of propietary player so the commercials have to be viewed?

This is where I think your proposal fails -- you mistakenly assume the TV networks are interested in the shows. They aren't. The shows are merely a vehicle to sell the actual product, which is your eyeballs, to the customer, which is the advertisers. Your plan could potential let a show break even, but it would require a complete revamping of The System which has been in place for fiftysome years now, and no one will do it. There's more money in advertising than in pay-for-view anyway.


mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
ah yes, but... (2.50 / 2) (#24)
by MrAndrews on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 06:16:10 PM EST

I don't actually see this as a model for the networks, I see it as a model for the producers directly.  It's a bit muddier with Enterprise since it's a Paramount thing, but let's look at Firefly or say something JMS would be making... instead of pitching to a network, where they'd look at previous experience, previous ratings, market potential etc., they would pitch to their core audience.  If the audience bites, they'll be able to make the show they want.  

Based on personal experience, the creators of a show never make as much as the network does in advertising, and so if you could connect to big enough niche audience worldwide with your own little show, you could probably earn more that way than you'd ever see going through UPN, NBC or the like.

This is not a replacement for the networks.  They do broadcasting.  At the moment this is only good for subset of audiences, and probably tech-savvy ones at that.  This is a system for the people who are currently ignored.  But there's still lots of money to be made in that arena, advertising or no.

[ Parent ]

YEah but (2.50 / 2) (#25)
by kitten on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 06:40:42 PM EST

The money has to come from somewhere initially. These viewers would have to pay up front, financing several episodes or maybe a whole season, before anyone would commit to filming it. I doubt people would do this for new shows they've never seen, and it's also unlikely they'd do it even for shows that have a ready-made fanbase like Enterprise.

The way it works now, someone can pitch a show, and the studio or network can front the money, gambling that they'll receive a return. If they don't, sucks for them, but their pockets are deep. They can afford to take risks.

How are you going to get your audience to pay for a show you haven't even made yet?
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
not the full picture (2.66 / 3) (#35)
by MrAndrews on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 07:21:35 PM EST

True, this is not the whole picture.  Networks often serve as the kickstart that gets new projects rolling, but that's not always the case.  Sometimes you have to have a pretty well-developed mini-pilot of your own to make an impression (as would be the case with sci-fi in particular).  And in that case, you might as well shop it to your target audience directly, rather than trying to sell an executive on the idea.

Total side note: I tried to sell a show to what I thought was a very specialized network that would appreciate the subject matter.  They told me very bluntly that NOBODY likes sci-fi, NOBODY likes animation, and NOBODY will watch either even if you paid them.  They didn't even look at the pitch, they just disregarded the idea based on genre.  I would have to say they're wrong about that, and back in the day all I could do was think I was wronged.  But under this kind of business structure, you might (MIGHT) stand a chance of doing something about it.

But yes, there still is the issue of how you get off the ground.  But I find that's not as hard as you'd think, if you work hard enough.

[ Parent ]

Dont think anybody has even 1/100 of picture... (2.66 / 3) (#55)
by The Amazing Idiot on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 12:24:59 AM EST

---Total side note: I tried to sell a show to what I thought was a very specialized network that would appreciate the subject matter.

---They told me very bluntly that NOBODY likes sci-fi, NOBODY likes animation, and NOBODY will watch either even if you paid them.

You know.. I'm looking at the SCI-FI.com's website listing sto see what's on for the week. Let me go over what they consider "Sci Fi".

Mansquito: Mosquito+Man = 'killin machine'
Rebirth of Mothra 2
10.5 : Some corny earthquake scare show
Alien Apoclypse: Astronauts come back to Earth to find it enslaved by... ALIENS!!
Trucks: murderous self-driving trucks.

Craptastic. Absolute trash. And you can include the "Earthsea" crap-for-screen that even the author, Ursula Le Guin panned.

---They didn't even look at the pitch, they just disregarded the idea based on genre.

When you mentioned Sci Fi, they thought of those "Critter of the Week" b-movies, reject slasher films, and 80's garbage movies. When I think of real Sci-Fi, I think of the books that I've read. I think of Egan's books, Asimov's books, the many Hugo winners published in the small sci-fi short story books, Gibson's books on dystopian future, Dan Simmon's super-futuristic sci fi books, and more so.

Instead, of the wonderful flavor of the books, you end up with crap shows like Johnny Mnemonic (Neuromancer: Wiliam Gibson), Starship Troopers (Robert Heinlein), and other mutliated works.

---I would have to say they're wrong about that, and back in the day all I could do was think I was wronged.  But under this kind of business structure, you might (MIGHT) stand a chance of doing something about it.

If you really understood the "business structure", you'd realize there's no hope for the industry. There's more kickbacks in the Movies and Music than there is in the government of China. It's a horrible state of affairs, in which the Internet is chewing them from all sides, until they slowly wither and die. They're in that stage now where they've been smoking that pack-a-day for too long and its catching up with them..

Let me end with a quotes. Tell me who this person is and what work they refference...

"She found Christopher Little in 1995, in the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook (the UK equivalent of Literary Market Place). He was the second agent to see her book -- the first had sent it back "virtually by return of post," with a form letter. In the year that followed, three publishers declined the book on the grounds that it was too long for children."

(Publishers Weekly, December 21, 1998)

Any clue? This is J.K Rowlins and her trying to sell rights of that no-name book.. Harry Potter. Still, there's a big story about her too.. jest is she was on welfare while trying to sell this book.

Yeah. This industry is sad..

[ Parent ]

Well, I think you're wrong (2.50 / 2) (#34)
by cdguru on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 07:20:38 PM EST

There are a number of factors here. First, I suspect some "studio accounting" at the $300,000 per episode level. Then, you have the gatekeepers for production facilities and all along the route to getting anything made - they are going to want to be paid. Finally, you misunderstand how much money is involved and where it is going.

Can you run a production company and pay a staff to produce a show on $4 million a year - 13 episodes at $300,000 each? Probably not. Even at $8 million it is probably somewhat of a stretch. Could it be done? Maybe, but the shoestring nature of the operation would show through.

Next, with the "gatekeepers" we have folks that are making $500,000 a year just to push people away so the really lucrative stuff can get all the attention. Where does this money come from? Ads. A single ad for a cable-only operation can run easily $20,000 for 30 seconds. Check out the 4-5 minutes of ads each break and total this up for a single show. For your average 38-minute cable hour-long show you have 22 minute or 44 30-second slots to sell. Even at a low rate this is going to be nearly $500,000 per episode. Per showing. Per outlet. So, you run it four times on two different services and rake in $4 million per episode. Of course, this gross gets split up between the cable "network", the studio and the production company, with the production company getting the least of anyone. But don't think for a minute that the studio would back creating the show to start with if they weren't compensated heavily.

Without the ad revenue "juice", the studio exec's aren't going to want to do anything and it will be left to the "gatekeepers" to just hang up the phone.

I would compare it to the drug trade. There is so much money in the system that it is addictive and nobody has the courage to just turn off the tap. Change? It is probably possible, but if it means reducing the amount of money flowing in the system it isn't going to happen.

[ Parent ]

indeed (3.00 / 2) (#37)
by MrAndrews on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 07:26:53 PM EST

I definitely see your point there.  While there are other routes rather than the biggest of the big production companies, you're definitely going to run into problems trying to get yourself in any doors without major backing.

My $300,000 actually comes from an actual 60-minute (not 44, as would be typical... no TV frees you from those restraints) production budget for an _animated_ episode.  Making an ep of Enterprise apparently costs a helluva lot more.  That would likely have to take some major innovation to pull off.

Perhaps this is a more specialized situation than I first thought.  Or maybe it'll just take time to knock the system into position so this can be more widespread.  Not really sure...

[ Parent ]

ka-ching! (2.00 / 2) (#43)
by clover_kicker on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 08:59:55 PM EST

> Can you run a production company and pay a staff to produce a show on
> $4 million a year - 13 episodes at $300,000 each?

You can't make "Enterprise" on that budget, but you could definitely make "Trailer Park Boys" and maybe even "Dr Who".
--
I am the very model of a K5 personality.
I intersperse obscenity with tedious banality.

[ Parent ]

Proprietary player?! (3.00 / 2) (#129)
by EvilSporkMan on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 07:09:31 PM EST

Perhaps I missed your point, but I was offended as soon as I saw the phrase "proprietary player". Excuse me, I'll view your content however I please with whatever player I choose, since I paid for it. You can, however, hit me with targeted, inobtrusive (text) ads during the download of my content, and if you actually manage to inform me of something I want to spend money on AND did not know about before (unlikely in my mind) I won't mind at all. My problem with advertising is that it fails to satisfy the condition of providing new information about something that is below my cost threshold.

[ Parent ]
I guess my point was (none / 0) (#203)
by kitten on Sat Mar 12, 2005 at 04:13:48 PM EST

I couldn't think of a good way to offer the video to downloaders without making it such that it could only be viewed in a certain player -- else what would stop your intrepid geeks from paying for it once, downloading it, stripping out all the commercials, and then sending it to all their friends and posting it on torrent trackers? We'd be right back where we started.

Your text-ad idea might be one way, but I think it would fail based on the notion that even at broadband speeds, these things would take quite a while to download. Most people would just start the download before going to bed and let it run overnight, missing all the oh-so-precious ads, and we can't have that.

Something's gotta give, though. The current distribution model hasn't changed much since the inception of television, and while the rest of the world's methods of data exchange have evolved, it has stood still.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
Let's see. (2.85 / 7) (#26)
by evilmeow on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 06:55:48 PM EST

First thing is the most obvious. Ignore the trolls. There are [and will be more] people who will argue that "as long as they can get it for free" they will keep "pirating" it. Now, here's some reality.

1. People aren't "pirating" the shows because they are sleazy, cheap indecent motherfuckers. People "pirate" shows (as much as they "pirate" any other "intellectual property") for the following reason: availability.

TV networks = only available in US and some European countries. Everyone else has to download their rips. Lost market.

Internet = available everywhere. In US, Belgium, Japan, Israel and Malta on the same fucking day.

TV networks = available on schedule, too early or too late at night, tied into TV networks policy, with gaps prolonged to YEARS between exposure in different countries, and exclusively during the season. Lost market.

Internet = instantly and as often as can be technically achieved, available permanently. At any time of day and night.

Case in point: I download the following shows (and will do so as long as I know I can get away with it until I get them the way I want, and when I won't be, I will probably donate money and skill to development of the technology that will let me):

Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, Deep Space Nine, Enterprise, 24, First Wave, Dark Angel, La Femme Nikita, Battlestar Galactica, Johnny Zero, Boston Legal, CSI: NY, CSI: Miami, The Practice, NYPD Blue, L&O: Trial By Jury and many others. Yeah guess what? LOST MARKET.

Reason: I don't own a TV, I am not interested in owning a TV, the country where I live in only has first two seasons of 24 (and Buffy which I detest) sold on DVD in two stores in the whole country and I don't have (and don't care to have) an international credit card to order from Amazon. As a customer in the age of technology, I get to say what I want, how I want it, when I want it, and how much I'm willing to pay for it. If anyone disagrees they can go to hell, I'll have what I want anyway. Corporations are my bitches and I vote with my wallet.

Conclusion: Internet distribution is superior to TV exposure. Consider discarding the viewer numbers you know about and triple them. Out of hundreds of million of Internet-enabled homes, how many do you think will purchase something they like for $2?

Someone who wanted to buy shit from you but didn't because you failed to offer it to them means you're a shitty businessman. If that someone got it from your competitor for free, you're a fucking horrible one.

2. What's better, paying $2 for high-quality, advertisement-free, legal content that can be downloaded at any time, conveniently, and at high speed, or low quality ripped, broken and sometimes full of ads illegal series? High quality commercial distribution is superior to illegal low quality "free" distribution at the risk of prosecution.

Case in point: evilmeow will pay $2/episode, for a traditional 24 episode season that's just $50. I know I will be able to watch the stuff I love whenever I please, how much I please, I will be able to keep it, and I won't get sued for it.

Conclusion: Commercial distribution on the Internet is superior to "piracy", and people don't appreciate it today simply because no one is doing it yet. There's no need for TV anymore. When the show producers will figure out where's the money at, there will be no need for pirates. They'll all turn into legit distribution networks - there'll be money for them in it too.

3. Internet distribution is practically zero-cost. You don't have to ship DVDs, you don't have to sign contracts, you don't have to do practically anything beside actually filming the show and putting it online. For a bunch of shows, you need a box or two colocated in a DC somewhere for $300/month. Website, sales, a torrent tracker and minimal seeds. I do believe that the best TV shows are a little bit more expensive than $300,000 per episode, so this sort of fixes itself. Leave the prices as is (by the way, a typical TV show is 45 minutes, not one hour - the rest of time is the TV networks scamming you with advertising)

Overall conclusion? Selling TV shows on the Internet is huge benefit for all relevant parties: me and those who make my shows. TV networks, TV's advertisers, DVD stores, cable companies are not relevant parties. They're parasites who only got away with their bottom feeding as the technology that busts their balls never before exposed them for the fraud they are because it didn't exist yet.

And, +1FP the moment it goes to vote

"[O]ne thing is certain: people are certifiably historically myopic"

Maybe (none / 1) (#36)
by cdguru on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 07:26:26 PM EST

But I think you are missing one key element: censorship. It turns out that the way a TV show is produced in Canada for a US market is ready to be broadcast in the US.

Unfortunately, it is not ready to be broadcast in the UK because it doesn't fit their laws. So, the show has to be edited to remove objectionable content. This adds the delays you are talking about.

Same thing with Singapore. Nice show, but you have to cut it here, here and HERE. Until these scenes are removed, it can't be shown in any form - broadcast, cable, satellite, whatever.

The Internet distribution model bypasses all of this and makes it impossible for places to enforce their own standards. What does this mean? It means that Internet distribution has to either follow the most restrictive set of requirements possible (e.g., no women without headscarves) or it can't be distributed (legally) that way.

Can this be changed? Not until we're all living in the same Islamic Calphate and all the laws are the same everywhere.

[ Parent ]

Exactly (none / 0) (#186)
by evilmeow on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 07:09:27 AM EST

The Internet distribution model bypasses all of this and makes it impossible for places to enforce their own standards.

Which is ultimately a good thing. Which is why it should be legal and I would even go as far as saying that anyone who thinks that censorship is a way to go should lose their privilege to elect or be elected.

"[O]ne thing is certain: people are certifiably historically myopic"

[ Parent ]
Agreed (none / 1) (#38)
by trezor on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 07:28:45 PM EST

But BTW totally off-topic. I'd like to see you start a diary, if you're going to stop ranting in #linux. The world needs more good, enjoyable & unstoppable rants about anything & everything.


--
Richard Dean Anderson porn? - Now spread the news

[ Parent ]
pirated TV eps are good quality (2.50 / 2) (#50)
by Cat Huggles on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 11:15:07 PM EST

Check out btefnet.com.

As for using torrents to distribute sold content, this is a bad idea. You're basically asking people to upload as a part of the price. No, you really need to have dedicated upload servers so that users don't need to upload back.

[ Parent ]

really? (3.00 / 2) (#52)
by MrAndrews on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 11:28:45 PM EST

I mean this with complete sincerity... do you really think people would object to having to use torrents to get the files?  I'm not sure about the costs of hosting massive video files anymore, but back in the day when we hosted just a minute-long trailer it cost us tens of thousands of dollars to serve out over a short period of time.  Granted, compression techniques have improved a lot since then, but we're talking about HD-quality files...

So again, with complete sincerity and curiosity: does anyone else feel that having to use torrents to access the files is a bad thing, given the potential pricing?

[ Parent ]

ahem (none / 1) (#53)
by Cat Huggles on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 11:42:03 PM EST

"Dear NetVideoCompany, it seems that your service no longer works for me. Something about a ban."

"Dear Customer, you have to upload a quantity roughly equal to that which you download."

"Dear NetVideoCompany, fuck that."

[ Parent ]

You bought those two seasons of 24, right? (2.66 / 3) (#58)
by Anonymous Howards End on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 07:23:04 AM EST

I mean, given the opportunity, you put your money where your sanctimonious mouth is, right?
--
God is shorthand for "I don't know".
[ Parent ]
I intend to, actually (2.50 / 2) (#67)
by evilmeow on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 09:15:14 AM EST

As soon as I can be bothered to actually CROSS HALF THE FUCKING COUNTRY to pick it up.
"[O]ne thing is certain: people are certifiably historically myopic"

[ Parent ]
Let me put it this way (none / 1) (#181)
by Anonymous Howards End on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 05:16:46 AM EST

If I brought a DVD round to your house, placed it in your hand, asked you for the money - and yes, I have change - I strongly suspect that you'd still find a reason why it's nobler to steal it online.
--
God is shorthand for "I don't know".
[ Parent ]
Nope (none / 0) (#185)
by evilmeow on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 06:23:31 AM EST

I'd happily buy both seasons. I really loved the first (it was way more intense than the third and fourth) and I haven't seen the second. Even though the price tags on both bundles are somewhat ridiculous.
"[O]ne thing is certain: people are certifiably historically myopic"

[ Parent ]
You're an arse (1.66 / 6) (#64)
by starsky on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 09:01:47 AM EST

Right, you steal shows because you don't have a credit card to buy them. Well I steal cars because I don't have the money to buy them. People don't steal (pirate, whatever, lexicon-nazis) stuff because of 'availability', they do it because they *can*. The same snotrag who wouldn't dare steal a DVD from a store will download the same thing off the web because they know they won't get caught. Feel free to steal, but stop trying to justify that you're someone how right-on for doing it, you thieving cunts.

[ Parent ]
Also (1.50 / 4) (#65)
by starsky on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 09:06:02 AM EST

I don't have a fucking drive to keep a car on, and I don't fucking want one, so whenever I need a car I just steal one and leave it anywhere.

[ Parent ]
if you could do that, sure (1.66 / 3) (#82)
by Delirium on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 10:01:51 AM EST

If there was a way you could get a car without paying a car company, but without taking away someone else's car, that'd be fine with me. Like, if there was some way of instantly copying cars for free, I wouldn't mind if you copied my car and drove the copy.

[ Parent ]
Of course you would (2.33 / 3) (#83)
by starsky on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 10:10:28 AM EST

Just like if you released a one-hit wonder pop record that got a billion downloads but sold 0 copies you'd be ecstatic.

[ Parent ]
it's possible to still make money (2.00 / 4) (#84)
by Delirium on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 10:31:59 AM EST

You can make money on the tour and physical merchandise, for example. The "give away the content and sell other stuff" business model, like that used by Penny Arcade.

[ Parent ]
err, wrong link (none / 1) (#85)
by Delirium on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 10:32:52 AM EST

Penny Arcade.

[ Parent ]
That may (2.00 / 3) (#86)
by starsky on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 10:34:31 AM EST

be but that doesn't mean everyone should be forced to follow that model by thieving web-ites.

[ Parent ]
I asked you a question (1.50 / 2) (#118)
by evilmeow on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 04:04:23 PM EST

Is every single piece of software on every computer you use daily legal and properly purchased?
"[O]ne thing is certain: people are certifiably historically myopic"

[ Parent ]
Whether it is or not (none / 0) (#188)
by starsky on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 07:49:41 AM EST

is irrelevant. If it is not, I am as much a thieving swine as you, if it is, I am not. The difference between me and you is I acknowledge that if I download music off the internet or install non-licensed software I am stealing it and not striking some blow for world nerd rights.

[ Parent ]
how does it feel to make no sense whatsoever? (2.66 / 3) (#66)
by Delirium on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 09:07:37 AM EST

The difference is that one is removing a physical item from someone else's possession (removing a DVD from the store means they no longer have it, and thus must purchase a new one to replace it), whereas the other is violating copyright but not stealing anyone's property.

As for whether it's justified or not, that's a separate matter, but it's clearly a separate issue. Or do you think borrowing a movie from the library for free is stealing too?

[ Parent ]

Look (1.25 / 4) (#70)
by starsky on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 09:19:51 AM EST

I specifically said ignore that. If a DVD is 10 bucks, stealing that DVD costs the shop 10 bucks. Downloading that DVD instead of buying it costs that shop 10 bucks. You thieving interweb-mongs are just as bad as real-world thieves who say 'well if I steal a car it's replaced on insurance so the person doesn't lose anything'. Person starts with car, is stolen, ends up with new car, where is the theft?

[ Parent ]
no, it doesn't (2.66 / 3) (#73)
by Delirium on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 09:42:37 AM EST

Stealing a DVD from a shop costs the shop whatever it paid in wholesale, plus whatever cost it'll incur in reordering it. Downloading something from the internet does not cause any damages.

Both cases result in lost potential sales, which is a separate issue, and should be treated separately.

[ Parent ]

We (1.66 / 3) (#76)
by starsky on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 09:49:50 AM EST

are not going to agree on this, but to take it to its end-point, if the author of the work gets 29 cents for someone buying their work, by stealing / pirating / whatever it you are depriving them of 29 cents. In my view that is theft, you are free to disagree.

But are wrong.

[ Parent ]

hmm (2.66 / 3) (#79)
by Delirium on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 09:56:55 AM EST

I agree in some cases, but I don't think it's always true. For example, I've "pirated" on the order of tens of thousands of mp3s (I listen to a lot of music), valued at around ~$40,000. Even if I were to put my entire disposable income into purchasing CDs, I wouldn't be able to buy all of these, so there's no meaningful way in which you can say that I'm really depriving the music industry of $40,000, because I simply don't have $40,000.

Or, when I was in high school, I pirated Photoshop. There's no real way you could argue that I was depriving Adobe of $600, because I didn't have $600. If I hadn't pirated Photoshop, I would've just gone without it. (Which is what I do now, using The GIMP instead.)

[ Parent ]

I agree.. and I disagree (none / 0) (#196)
by geekmug on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 04:21:18 PM EST

This mentality is the one which I have been using for years in response to people asking how I felt about theiving data. Many things I have stolen (and yes, I believe it to be stealing), I would sooner not buy than be without.

With that said though, it is easy to say the same thing about every purchasable piece of data. "I'd pay for it, if I had to, but I don't." That's a dangerous moral path to get headed down.

I believe you when you say that you couldn't afford the $40k worth of mp3s you have. But, I am almost certain you could afford some of them and you simply chose to not pay for them because "I don't have to." And, I would go so far to say that there is probably at least one mp3 that you have that you even thought "I would buy this if I had to." So, you have indeed robbed someone of some amount of money despite your best efforts to say you haven't.

-- Why reinvent the square wheel?
[ Parent ]
Here's what you don't understand: (none / 0) (#209)
by evilmeow on Sun Mar 13, 2005 at 06:55:19 AM EST

It is that people who have to resort to "pirating" an $10 content are likely to not have had paid in the first place, because either:
  • They can't afford it (being sixteen year olds with no jobs)
  • They're assholes ("I'm proud to be a peeh-ray-tee!")
  • The stuff is really mediocre and may be a good way to pass time but not good enough to pay ten bucks for it (case in point: "Cellular" with Kim Bassinger; I rented it from the library and I paid money for this shitty movie. Had I bothered to download and preview it, I wouldn't have had to spend time and money on it)

Your "potential sale is a done sale alright" idea fails the reality check and so does your "thieving webmongers" ad hominem pseudo-argument. Now, is your Windows and all the software you run properly licensed?

"[O]ne thing is certain: people are certifiably historically myopic"

[ Parent ]
And (1.33 / 3) (#71)
by starsky on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 09:22:00 AM EST

your analogy is fucking lame. Of course it is fucking stealing. If a library charges $2 for a movie, and you take it for free then return it, you have deprived them of $2. If you disagree with this, give me your car, and I'll give it you back in 40 years. Furthermore, they cannot profit from lending it from anyone else since you have stolen physical property, entirely contradicting your initial post, and proving yourself a fuckwit.

[ Parent ]
have you ever used a library? (2.75 / 4) (#74)
by Delirium on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 09:44:17 AM EST

Libraries don't charge anything for movies; they lend them out for free. This is the entire point of municipal libraries—to let people in their communities freely borrow books, movies, and music.

So, is borrowing a movie from the library and watching it for free "stealing" from the movie studio, since I've seen their film without paying for it?

[ Parent ]

Ah (2.00 / 2) (#75)
by starsky on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 09:48:02 AM EST

That is not what the libraries do here. But to counter your point, it isn't stealing since the makers of the movie will have given the library the right to lend it. They have NOT given anyone the right to copy it off the web (ok, they have to some people but you know what I mean).

[ Parent ]
they didn't have a choice (2.75 / 4) (#77)
by Delirium on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 09:53:05 AM EST

Libraries can lend it whether the movie producers want to allow them to or not. They'd very much like to stop that sort of thing, along with making it illegal to sell used DVDs, but they don't have the authority to do so. If libraries commonly had larger selections, and more people used them, I bet the movie studios would start agitating to ban the lending of DVDs.

In terms of effect on the creators, I don't see much difference between watching it free from one source or watching it free from another.

[ Parent ]

If as (none / 1) (#78)
by starsky on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 09:55:27 AM EST

you say they don't have the right to lend it, then it is stealing. Although to the n'th lesser degree because only say 365 people a year can steal the movie as opposed to 60 million in a day with the internet. Which is probably why it is cost-effective for them to target internet piracy and not library lending.

[ Parent ]
they do have the right (none / 1) (#80)
by Delirium on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 09:58:23 AM EST

They do have the right to lend it, but that right is given by law, not the content creator. Basically, if it was up to the Hollywood studios, libraries lending DVDs would be illegal, but the law says otherwise.

[ Parent ]
This must (none / 1) (#81)
by starsky on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 10:01:24 AM EST

end now since I am currently stealing from my employers by bumming around on the web instead of working. But they get paid whether or not I bum around on the web so am I actually stealing at all???? **confused** :P

[ Parent ]
Minor nit (none / 1) (#165)
by cpt kangarooski on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 01:33:59 PM EST

Actually the law does not give libraries the right to lend things. Rather, they already have that right, and the law does not allow copyright holders to interfere with it.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]
I think the trick in this situation (1.50 / 2) (#121)
by SocratesGhost on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 04:53:09 PM EST

is to treat the right to copy as a form of property. It's an artificial property but then again so are stock certificates.

Treating it this way leads to a clear case of theft: copyright owners are having their property borrowed without permission.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
but there's no copying going on (none / 1) (#126)
by Delirium on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 05:43:51 PM EST

If it's only the right to copy that's a form of property, then lending out an extant copy isn't theft, because no copying is going on.

[ Parent ]
in the library model, yes (2.33 / 3) (#128)
by SocratesGhost on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 06:14:47 PM EST

but that's where your analogy fails, doesn't it? As I understand it, your argument is that watching via BitTorrent is akin to going to the library. But the library is in the business of freely giving out properties that it legally owns. The library never purchased or possessed the respective right. Consequently, delegating to oneself the right to copy is a "borrowing/stealing" from the person who actually did possess those rights. The owner is being denied an actual thing: the right to say, "No, I don't want to make a copy for you."

Let's go back to your original statement a while ago and do some substitution and hopefully an absurdity will appear:
    The difference is that one is removing a physical item from someone else's possession (removing a DVD from the store means they no longer have it, and thus must purchase a new one to replace it), whereas the other is destroying someone's exclusive property violating copyright but not stealing anyone's property.
Like you said, there are differences, of course. Actual property can be replaced but these rights cannot, so maybe a more appropriate comparison would be to destroying a family heirloom. In some ways, this makes copyright violations worse than theft. But my comparison is apt in other ways, because we can sell, transfer, donate, and inherit these rights.

Your focus is on the content and your viewing it but that's not really the issue. Look at it this way: you have a right to free speech. What would you do if I took away that right? Well, content owners have an exclusive right to copy [a particular thing]. Illegal downloads of material consequently are thefts of that person's right. You seeing or possessing the content is only tangentially related, just as the things you ought to freely speek are tangentially related to my stealing that right of free speech from you.

I think I've finally come upon an understanding by which I can think of copyright infringement as actual theft now.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
oh, that (none / 1) (#131)
by Delirium on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 07:49:53 PM EST

I was arguing against the view that copyright infringement is theft due to the fact that you're getting for free something that you otherwise would've had to pay for, and you're therefore depriving the content creator of the profits from that lost sale. My argument was that this is exactly what happens with libraries—everyone who uses a library is getting content for free. The used book/DVD/CD market is similar—multiple people serially use a single copy, and the creator only gets paid once.

In fact, from that perspective, copying is only different from lending in its effect on the creator in the case where multiple people would want to use the material simultaneously. Otherwise, whether it's a physical DVD or an ethereal AVI getting passed around serially, with each person watching once and then getting rid of it, it seems like a sort of pedantic distinction.

I think the "one person, one payment" model is really what the publishers want, but have been unable to enact, despite considerable effort. They did try to ban sale of used books quite a while ago through licensing agreements on the title page, but were struck down by the Supreme Court's "first sale" doctrine. They're still trying to slap similar-in-spirit EULAs onto software.

Both approaches seem somewhat like rough approximations to what's really desired though. What the law really seems intended to do (according to the Constitution, anyway) is promote content creation. The copyright approach essentially gives the creator a profit based on the maximum number of copies people simultaneously want. If everyone wants to see it once and only once, there'll be a large used market, and only a fraction of the people who see it will ever pay the author. If a lot of people want to keep it, many more people will pay the author.

Is that a good model? In some ways I think so, because it rewards people not only in proportion to how many people want their stuff, but how many people want to keep their stuff. But in other ways it can degenerate into basically nobody buying something. In the obviously-unrealistic limit case, if everyone on the entire planet wants to see [X] once, but doesn't care at all when, then the entire world demand can be satisfied with a single copy, perpetually sold on eBay after each person is done with it. In a more realistic situation, the vast majority of the US demand for e.g. a DVD can be satisfied by Netflix and Blockbuster Online each getting a couple hundred copies.

So is paying per person a good model? I don't think so either, because it really has the feel of big brotherishness. If I bought a book, shouldn't I be able to sell it? Etc.

[ Parent ]

fair enough (2.50 / 2) (#132)
by SocratesGhost on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 08:27:53 PM EST

Incidentally, you may be interested in something called peerflix.com. It's basically the model that you're talking about.

I agree with your notion that we've created a pedantic distinction because of copyrights. Any artificially created constructions come with these but in this case it's one that is eminently relevant. The content that is most often traded is the stuff that people do want at the same moment. This is why BitTorrent works reliably for new material but you'll need to look around more to get Casablanca. So, it is obviously not the case that people are only watching once and then passing it around and it's even more important to note that people ought not to be trusted to have integrity in this manner. This is a free rider problem writ very large.

Even without this distinction, this pedantry creates important artifacts. We want the unrestricted right to free speech, but then we redefine speech to indicate different classes of speech that receive varying degrees of protection. Suddenly, this very simple notion develops these byzantine artifacts.

Copyright is no different. When it was created, it was an elegant solution to a problem. Think about it: instead of regulating books, they regulated who could make the books and this guaranteed that content creators would get paid for their work. The constraint was easy to monitor and even easier to enforce and with few exceptions it worked very well until the modern age.

But we should have anticipated the break down of this system long ago in various patent cases: Eli Whitney, for example, received almost nothing for his patent of the cotton gin. It was a simple enough device that anyone who saw it could reproduce it easily enough at home. In this case, protecting his patent became unenforceable. He ended up making very little money on an invention that radically changed Southern agriculture and history.

This parallels the current situation only now it's a bad system for everyone. Content creators hate it because they cannot afford to protect their content and are better off selling their rights away. Content owners hate it because of the expense and animosity of enforcement. Content purchasers hate it because of arbitrary rules of management.

I think we're both dissatisfied but coming from different directions. Hopefully, this is a sign of a better solution on the way.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
That is incorrect (none / 0) (#166)
by cpt kangarooski on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 01:39:00 PM EST

Firstly, copyright is not a right to do anything; it is a right to prevent others from doing things. Just having a copyright confers no right on the copyright holder to do things with the copyrighted work. Similarly, when the copyright expires, the former copyright holder, as well as the rest of the world, gets to do things, since all that happened was that an exclusionary power evaporated.

Secondly, while we could conceive of copyright as property if we really wanted to, it's extremely difficult to imagine a situation where it could be stolen. Rather, ignoring the copyright holder's exclusion from certain activities is an infringement of the copyright holder's exclusive right. In this sense, it is much more like a trespass to land (which hardly steals the land) than like theft (which would require that the copyright holder lose the copyright against the world, rather than just having one guy ignoring it).

We use similar language with rights all the time. E.g. if the government tries to censor someone, they infringe on their right of free speech.

Basically, your conclusion is incorrect.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

of course it has problems (none / 0) (#169)
by SocratesGhost on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 03:01:06 PM EST

My intent was not really to create an actual notion of rights as property, more to create an analogy as my follow up comment to Delirium should have demonstrated.

Instead, my intent was to put emphasis on the rights themselves and not the content distributed by those rights. In this way, I think we agree and really this was my point: to put emphasis on the rights violation and reduce emphasis on what happens to the movie/book/DVD.

Still, I think making a hard case either way (that rights are property or that they are not) would lead to quibbling. We use terms such as steal as in "he stole someone's life" to mean kill and no one takes it so literally as to mean that the thief is acquiring more life for himself or that life is akin to property either. It seems that only in the nerd world is metaphor verboten.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Might want to distinguish there (none / 0) (#174)
by cpt kangarooski on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 05:22:30 PM EST

Just to remind you, there's three things involved.
  1. A creative work
  2. Tangible copies in which the work is fixed
  3. Copyrights pertaining to the work
It seems that only in the nerd world is metaphor verboten.

I wouldn't know. Pretty much every time I've seen people talking about theft with regards to copyrights, they were not using it metaphorically. They really meant it.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

Wouldn't you feel robbed? (none / 0) (#175)
by SocratesGhost on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 05:45:26 PM EST

If your rights were taken away, wouldn't you feel robbed? Since there is an economic element to this right, they can even point to a dollar amount (however imprecisely) by which they feel they've been cheated. More than almost any other infringement, this is closer in impact to a bankheist than if we were to prevent their free practice of religion. Without realizing it, they're tapping into a common metaphor so I think we can excuse them if they don't treat it merely as analogy. I take it in the same vein of analogy as saying "Bush attacked Iraq" even though he never personally picked up a rifle or launched a mortar.

I understand what you mean by those three distinctions, but I'm not exactly sure what this means in the course of what we're talking about. I'm actually somewhat ambivalent about the issue but I'd be interested in hearing a lawyer's take on it.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
They're not being taken away (none / 0) (#176)
by cpt kangarooski on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 06:36:51 PM EST

Remember, the rights apply to the world. One guy ignoring them doesn't impair my rights as to the world. And I have legal remedies against the one guy that make it clear that I still have my rights against him, and now I'm enforcing them.

There's no loss, particularly since a taking would imply that the infringer gets the rights, and could sue other people. Your whole position is really pretty ridiculous. Just treat it as it is; you don't have to shoehorn it into some other category just to elicit a visceral response related to it.

As for the general idea of charging for downloads, I don't think it'll take, and I don't think it'd be popular when you can just get cable and then pick all you like from it.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

ok, then. (none / 0) (#177)
by SocratesGhost on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 07:19:33 PM EST

I'm not particularly in love with my analogy and I was never trying to make a legal case for it, I was just trying to return focus to the actual crime (the act of copying) and not merely the fact that someone has the music or book which is a product of the act.

As you describe it, it seems that the law is sorely lacking in effective remedy. The law is very effective when a violation is an exception to norms but now the opposite is true: the violation is the norm. If we accept the recording industry numbers, five times the number of copies sold were distributed for free. It's bedlam out there and the copyright holders will never get full compensation for many reasons--either there won't be an adequate papertrail or the staggering number of lawsuits would paralyze the industry as it sues more people than actually purchased the recordings. How long can such an industry last that has to be so hostile just to remain viable? I don't particularly blame them as the law grants them this hostility but this tells me that there is something about the law that's not working optimally to everyone's advantage.

It will be interesting to see these numbers now that we have things like iTunes and the revamped Napster, but I suspect that the black market (can we even call it market?) for music will still be greater than the legit one. We're back in the old Napster days when it comes to movies now; several of my friends haven't even rented a video in about a year but have a nice library of recent flicks. A few years from now, if 5 times the number of DVDs are copied for free, how many Americans will be outlaws? Is this really the best system possible?

Granted, I haven't thought a lot about this but it just seems very inadequate nowadays.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Norms (none / 1) (#180)
by cpt kangarooski on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 04:59:03 AM EST

Well, the interesting thing is that people's behavior generally hasn't changed at all. It's just that the law has expanded, and made things illegal that formerly were legal or at least were universally ignored.

It's kind of like how if traffic cops could instantly ticket people if they sped by even 1mph, and could detect everyone doing it, we'd discover that everyone does, and that the law is not all that reflective of people's norms.

Frankly I think the best solution is to abolish copyright with regards to individual natural persons acting noncommercially. Then they can do whatever they feel like, and the issue of enforcement ends up going to commercial activity and non-natural persons, both of which are easier to find, and more likely to be able to pay damages besides.

It's more important to me that the law correspond to people's normal behavior unless there's a really good reason for doing otherwise. When it dosn't, there will be lots of lawlessness, which tends to spread into disrespect for good laws. Using the law to change people's norms through heavy enforcement should only be done in extreme cases. It failed in Prohibition, and those laws gave us powerful organized crime groups and abusive law enforcement. It worked for civil rights legislation, but it was very hard getting there. Copyright is not important in the grand scheme of things; it's like prohibition, and we're better off not taking it so seriously.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

You don't get it (2.33 / 3) (#69)
by evilmeow on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 09:17:59 AM EST

I don't need a justification. I don't feel guilty for what I do. I think that the time where companies were allowed to get away with bullshit is gone, the technology that prevents them from doing so is here. They're still in denial about it, but I don't see why would -I- care about their well being if they are too stupid to care for it themselves.

Oh I am so sorry! They want to protect the revenue? They want to still be in the position of a middleman where you dont actually have to do anything and enjoy both free income and power over people? Well fuck you DVD stores, and fuck you TV networks.

"[O]ne thing is certain: people are certifiably historically myopic"

[ Parent ]
That (1.00 / 3) (#72)
by starsky on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 09:24:01 AM EST

makes you a common thief. I didn't ask you to justify yourself, you're a thieving cunt, and I hope one day some lowlife thieving real-world cunt says 'fuck you interweb-mong' and sticks a knife in your guts whilst robbing you. After all, why do they need to justify themselves, they don't think it is wrong to kill people and steal from them.

[ Parent ]
stabitty stabitty (2.00 / 2) (#89)
by clover_kicker on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 11:28:11 AM EST

> I hope one day some lowlife thieving real-world cunt says 'fuck you
> interweb-mong' and sticks a knife in your guts whilst robbing you.

Are you having a bad day, or do you always over-react like this?
--
I am the very model of a K5 personality.
I intersperse obscenity with tedious banality.

[ Parent ]

x (1.50 / 2) (#97)
by starsky on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 11:57:31 AM EST

:)

[ Parent ]
Do I really have to personally go over this with? (2.33 / 3) (#102)
by evilmeow on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 01:01:53 PM EST

Do I really have to personally go over this with everyone?

Here's how it goes down. Possession of something you own is a right. Being able to sell a copy of something you made is a privilege and not a right. It is your burden, as a recording label, a DVD store, or an independent show producer, to make sure that I am offered the product on conditions that I - the consumer - dictate. You get to tell me how and when to buy shit when and only when I'm fairly desperate and I don't have a choice. Today, I do have a choice. As a consumer, I am telling you that under the condition X - the condition that is nothing less than reasonable - I will be willing to pay you money for something you make that I've been getting for free. If you don't agree, I'm sorry. You're stupid.

Lemme recap that again. It is your right to make TV shows and record songs. It is a privilege to receive compensation for them from me. I am denying you that privilege unless you comply with my terms. The technical reason I am able to do that - P2P networks - is irrelevant, because I should be able to do that anyway. The only thing you should be able to do about it is changing your terms to match my demands. For you there should be no difference if I'm "pirating" the show or simply skip over it as if it never existed. Did you think that there's some sort of legal minimum quota of sales that the people are required to fulfill once you come out with a product? No? Why then pray tell should anyone be coerced to pay for anything they can get for free?

Here's an analogy for you. You're getting a cold call from a furniture store offering you a $120 kitchen table. You politely say that you're not interested unless they're willing to sell it to you for $30, because you already have a kitchen table. The store owner sues you. Are you getting it yet?

A potential sale is not a sale. Any sale is a potential sale until the moment you get hard cash into your hairy, sweaty arms. You can't steal a potential sale. You can steal a car but that means you're depriving someone who had a right to have that car from their property. When you download a "pirated" show, you're not depriving anyone of their property. You're depriving them of your money. If the reason you're doing it is because they failed to offer it to you then it's actually them who deprived themselves of your money. As long as being compensated for a product is a privilege and not a right (which is always) it's the people who sell shit that are fucking themselves over. It's not you fucking them over.

The better world would be a world where people who want to earn exceedinly huge profits are bitches of those who can award them with ones.

Now. Is your copy of Windows and all software installed on your desktop properly licensed and paid for?

"[O]ne thing is certain: people are certifiably historically myopic"

[ Parent ]
to extend a bit (3.00 / 2) (#104)
by MrAndrews on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 01:16:24 PM EST

The thing is like this: the people who make content are like street performers, out to entertain and make money.  You don't HAVE to give them money, and really, they have to make the show good enough that people will.  They can't go yelling at passers-by "hey!  you owe me money cause i saw you peeking!", and they can't hand out tickets to people that watch but don't pay.  BUT at the same time, people who watch for 10 minutes, have change in their pockets and don't pay... they're not being good citizens either.

The problem with the music/movie/tv industry right now is that the performers are trying to force pedestrians to pay for glimpses, the pedestrians are sick of being attacked for walking down the street, and neither side is being very cordial to the other.

If online media purchasing is going to work, it's got to work on the assumption that the audience is not made up of criminals, but that the performers deserve some kind of compensation for entertaining you.  Not because it's a right (in either direction), but because it's civil behaviour.

[ Parent ]

I like that analogy. (2.66 / 3) (#111)
by DavidTC on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 03:15:18 PM EST

As a copyright holder, it is their responsiblity to get the same content to me.

This isn't like any other business. They've been granted a monopoly. Withholding the product from people by using their monopoly powers is not ethical. I don't care if it's legal, it's not ethical. It shouldn't be legal. (As an aside, for music, it's not legal. There are mandatory licenses.)

When I miss the newest Alias, I would love to download it with ads. There's a worldwide network set up, called Usenet, that would allow them to distribute it to almost anyone for a nominal fee. There's bittorrent, where they can use a very small amount of bandwidth. (And, remember, we're talking about shows that cost like a million dollars an episode to just make.)

Instead, people are forced to encode it and distribute it for free. (If they can do it for free, it's rather obvious it can't cost that much.) Viewers are forced to visit seedy sites and are called criminals because they can't afford a DVR.

I don't see anything the slightest bit unethical about what I'm doing.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

"digital age" revenue models (none / 1) (#112)
by Delirium on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 03:17:32 PM EST

You described one of the revenue models that I think makes sense in the "digital age"—a gift economy of sorts, where people pay you because they think you deserve payment for the services you provided, whether such payment is legally required or not. An even more coercive-but-still-a-choice analogy than street performers might be to tipping in a restaurant or bar (in cultures like the United States where doing so is customary)—you don't have to leave any tip at all, legally speaking, but it is pretty much expected that you will unless for some reason the service was absolutely terrible (analogy: you watched the whole show waiting for it to get better, but it was utter garbage through and through).

Another model that I think makes sense is playing on the fact that people like tangible things, and many tangible things are difficult for people to make themselves (or in some cases impossible). A bunch of webcomics make nearly all their money on selling tshirts and mugs and so on, and a lot of music groups make a substantial proportion of their money on merchandise and touring. Some, mostly niche, music groups have begun trying to make their albums themselves worth buying for some reason other than merely acquiring a copy of the music, which they know you can do for free. This might include nice packaging (digipacks with fold-out artwork and whatnot), in some cases special high-priced limited-edition versions with handmade artwork and so on, or in some cases something as simple as having people who bought the album get first chance at buying tickets on the next tour, as a way of rewarding your customers.

An intriguing approach that combines the two is the "sponsor us to make our next album" approach that both Einstürzende Neubauten and Current 93 are trying on. They say they'd like the creative control that comes from self-financing as opposed to signing to a label, so ask their fans to help support their recording by pre-ordering the album at a somewhat inflated price. In return, they'll be the first to hear it, get a special limited-edition physical copy of it, and in some cases other goodies. Neubauten is asking €35 (~$40-45), and gives you access to members-only website as part of the package. Current 93 is asking £50 (~$95), and gives you some to-be-determined "extra", as well as a personal thanks in the album's liner notes.

I think the latter approaches are the most interesting to me, personally. They combine essentially asking you for a donation with some recognition of your donation. Basically, people are getting something for their money, but probably are paying more than the something is "really" worth, so it's partly a donation. Kind of like art-museum membership or something.

[ Parent ]

It's a right not a privelege. (none / 0) (#147)
by The Voice of Reason on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 07:35:24 AM EST

Possession of something you own is a right. Being able to sell a copy of something you made is a privilege and not a right.

Actually, it's not. You might have heard of this thing called 'copyright law'. It gives the content owners complete rights and controls over the distribution and sales of said content. Copyright law isn't something new, it's been around for a long time, I'm surprised you haven't heard of it.

You are the worst troll in history.

[ Parent ]

no, it's a privilege (none / 0) (#149)
by Delirium on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 08:38:58 AM EST

Copyright law is a privilege granted by law, not a fundamental right. Certainly not a constitutional right, as the constitution plainly says it is optional for congress to pass a law enacting it.

[ Parent ]
The law is wrong (none / 0) (#164)
by evilmeow on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 01:31:46 PM EST

And that's why I'm breaking it.
"[O]ne thing is certain: people are certifiably historically myopic"

[ Parent ]
Wrong again (none / 0) (#158)
by starsky on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 10:28:35 AM EST

"Here's an analogy for you. You're getting a cold call from a furniture store offering you a $120 kitchen table. You politely say that you're not interested unless they're willing to sell it to you for $30, because you already have a kitchen table. The store owner sues you. Are you getting it yet?"

No, that is incorrect. If they turn down your request to buy the table for $30, that is fine.

If you request the table for $0, they say no, and you take it anyway, *that* is a better analogy for your behaviour. It is not your 'right' to download and view any media produced by someone without paying them any more than it is my 'right' to steal something physical from someone.

[ Parent ]

Uh (none / 0) (#167)
by evilmeow on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 01:41:11 PM EST

It doesn't even lay within a definition of being my right. It doesn't have to be (or not be) my right.

The only things involved in this whole situation are their privilege to sell stuff and my right to deny them that privilege. This is of course based on assertion that I am a decent person - and I like to think that I am.

See, the point of business is not making money like the western society inclines you to think, it's to provide a service. Wealth is a mere byproduct of the service that you provide, and not the other way around. When you record songs, film movies and write books (construct cars, fly airplanes, perform abortions or sell drugs) you are not doing anyone a favour. You are inevitably playing your part in the society, and for that you may or may not be rewarded with paper equivalents of gold. We're the society of egoists and introverts who'd rather do less and get paid more, but I figure it's about time someone actually thought how wrong it is. Everyone fighting for their own well being and competing with other congregations of people is the wolf pack mentality, and I am under a very strong impression that we've been out of the woods for quite some time now.

Or have we?

"[O]ne thing is certain: people are certifiably historically myopic"

[ Parent ]
NO (none / 0) (#189)
by starsky on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 07:52:58 AM EST

"The only things involved in this whole situation are their privilege to sell stuff and my right to deny them that privilege. This is of course based on assertion that I am a decent person - and I like to think that I am."

Yes, you have a right to deny them the priveledge to sell you stuff - you do not have to buy it. You do not have the right to take it for free.

You mgiht like this link:)

[ Parent ]

Availability? (none / 1) (#146)
by The Voice of Reason on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 07:26:22 AM EST

As far as availability goes, I think that more people have a TV than very high-speed, uncapped, reliable cheap Internet access. Your idea also has several other problems:
  1. Hardly anyone wants to watch TV on their computer.
  2. Hardly anyone has a sufficient Internet supply. Most people are on dial-up, the people with broadband have slow speeds and caps.
  3. Computers are unreliable. I've had TVs run for years and years with no problems. I'm lucky if a computer doesn't crash in a week. Sometimes they just stop working for seemingly no reason. Imagine watching your favourite show just for your TV application to segfault at the climax.
  4. Computers are slow. What happens when you're watching your favourite show and someone using the computer launches a high-processing program? Will the TV program stutter?
  5. Any content downloaded WILL be encumbered in DRM. Internet users are just too unethical and illegal to be trusted with non-encumbered copyrighted material.
  6. Your problems about scheduling can be fixed with Tivo.
  7. When the programme's on your own computer, people will just skip the adverts, cutting the funding.
  8. Internet distribution is not zero cost. There are massive bandwidth and server costs. Imagine how much it would cost for a setup that could handle 200 million people accessing it simultaneously.
  9. Your DVD sales dry up.
(by the way, a typical TV show is 45 minutes, not one hour - the rest of time is the TV networks scamming you with advertising)

You haven't watched the BBC have you?

[ Parent ]

I do? (none / 1) (#187)
by evilmeow on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 07:26:13 AM EST

Hardly anyone wants to watch TV on their computer.

I do. But I don't wanna watch TV. I want to watch things I want to watch, not what TV let's me see, and I want to watch it when I feel like it.

Hardly anyone has a sufficient Internet supply. Most people are on dial-up, the people with broadband have slow speeds and caps.

I do. A 1.5MBps DSL is more than enough.

Computers are unreliable.

Bullshit. I probably get more issues with my flatmate's DVD player which tends to hang up without any reason and has an interface that looks like a homeless bum on crack after having rolled in a pit of tar than I have with my machine. It's irrelevant anyway.

Computers are slow.

Bullshit, irrelevant.

Any content downloaded WILL be encumbered in DRM.

That's one of the points. This can only go on if it's not encumbered with DRM. At least not with DRM I can't crack.

Your problems about scheduling can be fixed with Tivo.

And cable TV subscription? And endless issues with Tivo policies? And actually buying a TV *and* Tivo *and* Tivo subscription? No. Why hack around the problem when it can be and should be solved fundamentally?

When the programme's on your own computer, people will just skip the adverts, cutting the funding.

Did you even read what I said above? The whole point is that I will only pay for things that don't contain what I don't want to see. I don't want to see ads. Ads are evil. What's the big fucking difference between the TV and internet downloads if I pay for both and have to see ads? This is not even an argument, because ads should have no place in what I watch.

Internet distribution is not zero cost. There are massive bandwidth and server costs. Imagine how much it would cost for a setup that could handle 200 million people accessing it simultaneously.

I don't think the commercial exposure will be even twice as grand as it is today over "pirate" networks. And people are coping with it. The Net is coping with it. Ever heard of Bittorrent? Exactly. And, for 200,000,000 paying you half a dollar per episode you'd become a damn fucking rich person overnight so I think you'd be more than capable of paying your bandwidth bills.

Your DVD sales dry up.

How's that a bad thing? I'd rather buy blanks and burn my own DVDs than letting some parasites do it for me en masse and sell it back to me three times a price. If someone goes down the sewer and their family is forced to pick up potatos in the city's backyard for a living I certainly don't have a hard feeling about it. Perhaps they shouldn't have been parasiting in the first place.

"[O]ne thing is certain: people are certifiably historically myopic"

[ Parent ]
Fucking moron. (none / 0) (#202)
by The Voice of Reason on Sat Mar 12, 2005 at 04:23:25 AM EST

Hardly anyone wants to watch TV on their computer.
I do.

Yes, but you're one fucking person. One. An insignificant number. For each one of you there are a million normal people. You were arguing that your solution would work for everyone, not just a minority of nerds.

I do. A 1.5MBps DSL is more than enough.

Hardly anyone has that. And the Internet isn't reliable. Good luck trying to watch an important even on TV when you've reached your cap or got cut off because your ISP decided you've violated the TOS for some stupid fucking thing.

Computers are unreliable.

Bullshit [...] It's irrelevant anyway.

You're the biggest fucking moron in the world. How can reliability not be an issue? TVs are fucking solid, they run for years without freezing up, or rebooting, or getting viruses, or pop-up windows, or screensavers suddenly coming up. Imagine a computer crashing during the world cup final...

And cable TV subscription?

You'd have to pay for the programmes anyway, either by subscription or by pay-per-view.

And endless issues with Tivo policies? And actually buying a TV and Tivo and Tivo subscription?

Except now you need: A TV, a computer, a monitor, a keyboard, mouse, fast Internet connection, modem, a shitload of driver and software CDs, desk, computer chair, and all the hassle that comes with running a computer, just to watch TV. I can tell you haven't thought your idea through AT ALL. What a fucking moron.

Ever heard of Bittorrent? Exactly. And, for 200,000,000 paying you half a dollar per episode you'd become a damn fucking rich person overnight so I think you'd be more than capable of paying your bandwidth bills.

Do you even know how bittorrent works? More hassle than needed for home-users just wanting to watch TV. Half a dollar per episode? You'd be lucky. That means if someone watches 5 hours TV in a night they'd be paying $5, or $35 a week. That's fucking outrageous. I knew you hadn't thought this through.

I'm fed up of worthless fucking trolls on this website.

[ Parent ]

Excellent (none / 0) (#207)
by C Montgomery Burns on Sun Mar 13, 2005 at 02:10:09 AM EST

You are a freaking moron.   Here is but one example from your post:

Hardly anyone has a sufficient Internet supply. Most people are on dial-up, the people with broadband have slow speeds and caps.

I do. A 1.5MBps DSL is more than enough.

Indeed!  That is impeccable logic!  Since you, one person, have such a line, other people's bandwidth problems just go away! Bravo!
--
ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD
Intelligent design
[ Parent ]

ROI on online shows. (none / 0) (#215)
by hbiki on Sun Mar 13, 2005 at 11:57:00 PM EST

You don't have to ship DVDs, you don't have to sign contracts, you don't have to do practically anything beside actually filming the show and putting it online.

.. and thats the cause of the problem. You have to find someone to put together the money to do a show - and it can't be just one show, there has to be SOME guarantee that for the peeps spending $2 an episode that it'll actually last. You'll have to do like 3-6 episodes. 6 will probably be enough to build an audience.

So 6 episodes at, say, $250,000 (to be on the low budget side) per episode. So, $3million.

So we need to find people wililng to invest $3million in something without a market and without and audience... in an unproven market. ... and for a new show, that market will ALWAYS been unproven. That will be very hard to do. At least with the TV networks, they'll get SOME income off the advertising to offset their production costs. With internet distribution that isn't going to happen. And how the hell are you going to market it? How much are you going to spend onmarketing? Where are you going to get that money from?

What about movies, I hear you ask, they raise $3million ++ for indies! Yes, that IS true, but the movie world is different from online TV distribution and the indies STILL rely on the TV-networks to buy the show to help pay for costs up front. Distributors buying off the script is very important for the indie world.

... and there's the problem. Its not the cost of distribution, its the completely unpredictable ROI on an online TV show - it scares away potential investors. Sure as hell I wouldn't put $3million in an online TV show.

That ROI will slowly become more predictable, but it will because online networks will be set up and operate like TV channels. You pay an online subscription to them and then download the shows you like. It will be video-on-demand  of pre-existing content that will start it. Once its seen as a valid distribution network it will happen.

... but don't think for a second that by downloading your favourite shows that you're doing ANYTHING for their creators. You're not giving them money and you're not giving them ratings. Without either of them, they will die. Your sanctimonious diatribe does not help them pay the rent.


---
I take all knowledge to be my province.
- Francis Bacon
biki.net/blog/
[ Parent ]

Payment (2.00 / 2) (#30)
by MMcP on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 07:07:46 PM EST

Hint:  People do not like the "small-death" stlye of paying for things.  They would much rather shell out $30/mo for shitty TV + ads rather then buying 15 quality shows a month.  

Don't ask me why this is.  

types of audiences (2.50 / 2) (#33)
by MrAndrews on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 07:16:07 PM EST

I would agree with you to a point: many consumers would rather pay for blanket TV and not worry about individual shows (which is why I think subscriptions almost seem like a good idea, because it plays to that notion)... but there seem to be at least (at last count) 4,000 people who WOULD buy it like this.  I'm not sure why, though.  Could be a case of making a point to the Powers That Be, or maybe they don't own TVs... and maybe the natural evolution of this is to release over the 'net first, then to DVD, and then to syndication on normal TV... it's still a lot of speculation...

[ Parent ]
Payment over the internet (1.50 / 2) (#44)
by BottleRocket on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 09:41:21 PM EST

Risky. I, for one, avoid it, because I'm also pirating my internet connection. I've heard about people who broadcast wireless so that they can monitor all the packets being transmitted through their base station.

I realize I'm getting off topic- the point is, who wants to broadcast their credit card numbers 26 times a season for a $.99 tv show? I think this is a great idea, but perhaps your suggestion of a subscription is better here. The user could get emails containing a link to where they can download their episode, and the bill would come in the mail.

$ . . . . . $ . . . . . $ . . . . . $
. ₩ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . *
$ . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $
Yes I do download [child pornography], but I don't keep it any longer than I need to, so it can yield insight as to how to find more. --MDC
$ . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $
. . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . *
. ₩ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
$ . . . . . $ . . . . . $ . . . . . $
$B R Σ III$

[ Parent ]

definitely things to try (2.00 / 2) (#47)
by MrAndrews on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 10:59:57 PM EST

The question of per-ep vs. subscription, or free vs purchased, or all sorts of little issues like that really need more thought.  The idea that you could say: "Each episode is just $1.25... or buy the whole season for $26!" is neat, but then the higher per-episode price may turn some people off.

I'm not sure how one would handle offline purchases... that almost instantly increases the complexity of the operation... but there are probably lots of good answers to these questions I just haven't thought of yet.

[ Parent ]

$ cost not the only factor from free->paid. (none / 0) (#214)
by aaronholmes on Sun Mar 13, 2005 at 11:28:37 PM EST

I have a credit card, but don't like using it unless I have to (for major online purchases and stuff) because it means that I'll actually have to go to the bank and pay it off eventually, and I don't like doing that. It's a hassle.

I don't particularly want to sign up for anything where they can nickel and dime me again and again for stuff.

Automatic resubscription models especially suck for this. It seems to work for Magazines, but with those you pay all at once and in advance. Otherwise it's pay (more) at the newsstand.

I could see myself throwing a buck at a TV show. I could even lose a buck in my couch, but at least for me, the hassle of signing up, the hassle of the actual payment arrangements, and the loss of privacy involved, combined with the fact that I have no good reason to trust the people providing the service conspires to keep me from signing up.

With torrents, on the other hand, I don't have any obligation other than an implied upload more than you download.

Paypal might solve some of these problems, at least once you've signed up - but I haven't done that yet. Too much of a hassle.

[ Parent ]

Series of shows.. (2.00 / 2) (#41)
by The Amazing Idiot on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 08:11:54 PM EST

Wow! we have a 26 ep season!

Episodes are only .99$ per show from 1-24.
Ep's 25 and 26 only 19.95$

Bla bla enter about pirating and such, but I can see nice discriminating pricing via region, ad structure, and what show it is and popularity levels of the show.

Or worse yet, every show will have some sort of corny cliff-hanger to "get" you to buy the next show. The worse ones will never end (as the current soap operas).

Down the road (2.66 / 3) (#42)
by MrAndrews on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 08:33:21 PM EST

Yeah, that's definitely what the future holds.  At the start, we'll be looking at producers doing whatever they can to get purchased,  but eventually the big network paradigm will creep into this and we'll be faced with overpriced, half-assed shows. But I don't see that happening for many, many years, and it doesn't mean it'll affect EVERYONE.  I hope.

[ Parent ]
Hmmmm (2.50 / 2) (#136)
by Maserati on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 10:51:22 PM EST

I'd have cheerfully paid $19.95 for episodes 12 & 13 of the new Battlestar Galactica. Based only on the miniseries I'd have paid $2.00 for the first episode and then bought the rest. And there I'd be, paying big for the last two episodes of the season. It'd be a nasty surprise though, unless you announced it in advance people would be furious.

I'm for the $2.00 price (or $1.99) by the way. Don't think of it as twice what a four-minute song costs, think of it as being a tenth of what a 2-hour movie on DVD costs.

--

For the wise a hint, for the fool a stick.
[ Parent ]

Almost forgot... (none / 1) (#137)
by Maserati on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 10:58:40 PM EST

If I've paid for a download there will be no limits on when or how often I can watch it. I will be able to burn a VCD or two. I will be able to play it on any device I own. It will never expire. I will not have to have an Internet connection to watch it once it has been downloaded. I must be able to make archival copies as I see fit.

When it comes to the details, I'm ok with the iTunes implementation.

--

For the wise a hint, for the fool a stick.
[ Parent ]

Erm, I wasnt arguing semantics of.... (none / 0) (#145)
by The Amazing Idiot on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 07:25:46 AM EST

Sharing or how much a show would go for.

What Im bringing out is the fact that if this was implemented, you'll have a series of shows go for cheap, and then the "series finale" will be exorbiantly high. The producers wont be required to tell how much the shows go for, so you'll have them that are priced nice and high for the last EP's.

Second, I wont buy ANY song or movie if it's got anti-copy, anti-play, or anti-ME 'things' in it. Either it's unencrypted no-region-code compressed files (OGM's, DVD images, MPG2's, xvid.. stuff like that) or I pirate. I just wont put up with anti-user activities. And no, I wont buy from Apple's music site. I can download unencumbered MP3s and FLACS from bittorrent and kazaa and misc napster servers.

The last problem I see is these companies will make episodic shows, with cliffhangers and plot holes for all. Quality will go out the window just to get the speal across to 'buy the next show'. The worst series will almost never end until it's cancelled, and will always have the 7 minute drop-off to get you hooked on the next show.

[ Parent ]

You said it: quality is key (2.00 / 2) (#45)
by Polverone on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 10:31:20 PM EST

I don't watch much TV, mostly because the stories/writing are too bad to make it worth my time. Animation can do more with less (see: the Simpsons) and good writing can make a show really shine (see: the Simpsons) regardless of visual quality. Like with music or any other creative enterprise, I'm not sure you can attract good writing talent just by offering enough money.

Is there a particular reason you chose 60 minutes as the length of an episode? I would guess that your price survey results wouldn't change that much if the episode length dropped to 30 minutes, but that's a lot less time you have to fill with quality material.

If we're talking about the visual appeal of moving pictures, I would easily pay $1.50-$2.00 for high quality copies of SIGGRAPH shorts that may run only 5 minutes. I realize that's a very high bar as far as visual excitement goes, but if you can find a way to make jaw-dropping animation, I would pay for even a handful of minutes.

If your shows are okay, but not spectacular, I would say that the length should be shorter. I might be able to justify watching 25 minutes of "okay" TV, but spending 60 minutes watching unspectacular stuff feels like too much of a waste. Of course, the worth of a show is very much in the eye of the viewer. I'd pay $40 for a season of Arrested Development, and pay $10 to avoid watching a season of Everybody Loves Raymond or Alias.
--
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.

length of episodes (none / 1) (#49)
by MrAndrews on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 11:12:11 PM EST

Probably the biggest flaw in my poll is that I said 60-minute episode.  I wanted to make sure people didn't think of 10-minute shorts or half-hour shows... otherwise the initial response to $2.00 might have made some people die on the spot.  The ideal is that since you're not making an episode for TV, you're not bound to keep the episodes within the confines of a 22 or 45-minute structure.  Commercial breaks are unecessary.  If the episode plays out at 41 minutes, then that's what it'll be.  If it turns out to be 72, then hey, that's what it took.

But the real problem is that THAT is hard to prove that to an audience.  I know some people would immediately frame this as "cents per minute of screen time", which would imply that a 30-minute show should be $0.50 instead of $1.  The artistic freedom it gives you brings along with it a subconscious need to be artistic LONGER, so the audience doesn't feel ripped off.

As for how to sustain the interest... purely regarding the shows I make... I started these things writing for 22 minute episodes, but found I was almost forced into a Saturday-Morning-Cartoon sorta formula to wrap things up on time.  Even with cliffhangers, it felt odd.  Once I stopped worrying about that restraint, the stories developed a better pace, and I think captured the essence of what we were doing.  I know that SIGGRAPH shorts are stunning, but in this series I'm doing now at least, we're making it far less than photorealistic... stylized, really, so that we can concentrate on the acting of the characters.  They emote more than you'd typically find in animation.  So given a certain amount of drama in any given episode, I find it's very easy to fill 40 minutes with compelling content.

Then again, that doesn't apply to every show, which is why as a general assessment of the business methodology, my poll gave a flawed impression.

[ Parent ]

I'm not sure this would work (2.50 / 2) (#46)
by godix on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 10:46:19 PM EST

as you have proposed it. People just don't like buying something repeatedly like that, even if it's a fairly minor charge. Add in that even the really popular sources of ORIGINAL media on the net don't get anywhere near 8 million visitors much less purchasers. Combine with the fact your targeted the very group of people who are the most active about removing content protection schemes and sharing on the internet. Toss in that you'd require, at least, $300,000 to even start. Stew and wait for it to start stinking like the .dot era corpses.

What I can see working is a variation of this. For something with an established fan base, Enterprise for example, you could probably get away with charging $75 for one years access to a site. That access would include one new episode every other week (26 episodes total) as well as lots of bonus features that really don't cost you much (screensavers, production stills, concept art, interviews, and all the other crap included as bonus material on DVDs). To attract those that aren't computer nerds offer to also make an easy to see link off the main page where someone can buy a DVD set of all episodes in a year for a flat $100 (or an extra $25 for already subscribed members). Play up the 'your support makes this happen, no commericals, no blood sucking hollywood types are involved, and we're nice enough to trust your honesty and haven't hired heartless lawyers to pester people' aspect to try and influence people to not distribute the episodes through P2P. Use webboards, frequent interviews, and plying the con circuit to build up a sense of community. As Rusty has proved, people will pony up for the community even if they get nothing in return. Given that first season Star Trek:TNG costs ~$150 and sells offering an entire season PLUS bonus PLUS the community feeling for $75 or $100 you might have a winner. As a bonus, people are less inclined to hurt a community they feel part of and are less including to hurt someone their precieve as not being sleezeballs so you'll influence more people to not share than the RIAA or MPAA have ever managed to. Now given this situation you'll need roughly 100,000 subscribers to break even. That's a fairly substantial number but it's still far easier to obtain than your 400,000 people at 99 cents.

For something without the fan base, build up one. Use low cost methods to just get your name out there then slowly switch to the above model when/if possible. Look at pretty much any successful online comic for ideas on how to build that base cheaply.


- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.

different models (2.50 / 2) (#51)
by MrAndrews on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 11:23:19 PM EST

>Play up the 'your support makes this happen, no commericals, no blood sucking hollywood types are involved, and we're nice enough to trust your honesty and haven't hired heartless lawyers to pester people' aspect

That is probably key to this.  The main demographic for such a venture (at least at first) would be the same people that crack DRM and re-distribute everywhere they can find.  One of the great questions in my mind is WHY people do that.  Something tells me it's because they're offended that there is DRM to begin with, that there is an attempt to keep them from doing what they're doing.  That at least seems to drive the crackers, although the downloaders themselves may just be in it for convenience.  So the question I always come back to is: if we released this without DRM, at high quality, just like that... would the geek demographic buy it?  Just to make a point?  Because we obviously DID trust their honesty?  Or because we "get it"?

The hard part is deciding what to do about subscriptions and prices and the like.  $75 per year for full access to special content would definitely be attractive to many people, but at least for me (being a cheap bastard like I am), it's too much for me to part with all at one time.  Granted, it's easier to raise the required money with a smaller user base like that, but it's possibly harder to get those people to subscribe.

Maybe something like a 3-tiered approach... $75 for a year with a lot of special features (production diaries, dailies etc), $26 for the subscriber episodes but no special features, or just a plain $.99 for an episode, one-off.

yeep.  Like someone said elsewhere here: best way to know is to try :)

[ Parent ]

Well, to address the question.. (none / 1) (#54)
by The Amazing Idiot on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 11:59:44 PM EST

---The main demographic for such a venture (at least at first) would be the same people that crack DRM and re-distribute everywhere they can find.  One of the great questions in my mind is WHY people do that.  Something tells me it's because they're offended that there is DRM to begin with, that there is an attempt to keep them from doing what they're doing.

First, when you buy Content, you wish to have control over how that content is stored, when you play it, and if you want that content to play on future players. In my opinion, controling legal issues through irreversible technological means is BAD.

---That at least seems to drive the crackers, although the downloaders themselves may just be in it for convenience.  So the question I always come back to is: if we released this without DRM, at high quality, just like that... would the geek demographic buy it?  Just to make a point?  Because we obviously DID trust their honesty?  Or because we "get it"?

Well, when it comes to downloading Honesty, look no further than Anime Fansubbing. There's a whole culture dedicated in copying FREELY CAPTURABLE radio waves in Japan, sending to translators, having hard or soft subs, and then distributing over BitTorrent. Im currently watching 2 series I like: Air and Monster.  

Monster is reminiscent to The Fugutive in the base plot, but expands to a whopping 72 shows. Due to the popularity of this show, it wil likely be licensed in the USA. When that happens, all the Honest Fansubbers will remove their torrent seeds and then link to where you can legitimately buy the DVD's.

You're never going to get rid of the people who exploit any system, no matter what it is. Instead, you can foster a system of TRUST in which people will want to support an effort, and effectively also havng those same people shame the freeloaders.

[ Parent ]

Im surprised that... (2.50 / 2) (#56)
by tonyenkiducx on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 06:23:25 AM EST

..there are not a lot of comments along the lines off "What about adverts?". I don't like adverts, but if I can get my TV cheap, I'll download my TV with episodes in it, and maybe get it a little cheaper. Like subsidised TV. You pay .99 for an advert riddled episode of "Worlds scariest animal attack crashes", but you have to pay 2 for a copy with a single ad, and maybe 2.50 for a copy with no adverts at all. Of course people could re-distribute the copies, but I think a lot of downloaders at the moment would rather buy them. Of course this raises another issue, DVDs.

I currently own quite a few box set of TV series, and you can generally buy a series of 20-25 episodes for about 50, or lower if you wait a bit. So why am I paying 30-40 for a lower quality internet version, that doesn't provide me with a hard copy? Time is the obvious reason, you put up with lower quality to watch things sooner, but if the shows producers are making the copies, they can be much higher quality. So that shoots all my arguments down. And lets not forget small time producers. People who make shows for small budgets and end up not selling them, even though they might appeal to some audience members. TV companies could sell those in a "lossless" environment on the web. No bad ratings, and no complaining ad companies, just profit for small time producers.

Tony.
I see a planet where love is foremost, where war is none existant. A planet of peace, and a planet of understanding. I see a planet called
Oops.. (3.00 / 2) (#101)
by tonyenkiducx on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 12:40:03 PM EST

I also forgot to mention that the adverts would be specifically targetted and obviously an exact number of viewings can be recorded. And that equals big money for most advertisers.

Tony.
I see a planet where love is foremost, where war is none existant. A planet of peace, and a planet of understanding. I see a planet called
[ Parent ]
that's very true (2.50 / 2) (#103)
by MrAndrews on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 01:04:42 PM EST

You wouldn't believe what TV-type advertisers will pay for video on the web if they can target specific markets and get concrete results in return.  When we did this in 2001, we had big-big-BIG advertisers paying almost six figures for 30 seconds of teeny weeny video real estate.  The thrill is that they thought (and this has probably changed since those days) that you can make more of an impression with a well-made video commercial than you can with a banner ad, but if you can track the commercials the same way, you're much better off.

Still, I'm not sure if I want to go back down that route, because answering to advertisers about every punch and kiss is a bit tiresome.

[ Parent ]

Well this is the good bit.. (none / 0) (#155)
by tonyenkiducx on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 09:54:24 AM EST

You dont have to be careful with your answers, because when they ask you "How many people have seen our advert?", you can give them a definate *minimum* number of watchers * a definate cost per advert. If you could say to an advertiser I will give you X guaranteed views for X /$ per view, they would wet their trousers because advertisers always, and I mean always, look at the figures for "dodgers" of an advert. This counts as a loss of target and is a minus on there figures.

There are currently only two markets where this happens. One being direct retail promotion, where advertisements are locked to products(Think happy meal), and Pay-Per-View TV, where you know who is watching, and when. Pay-Per-View is the same as what we are talking about with downloading TV, just a different delivery method, and Happy Meals have a big loss on unsold products and are a bit of a risk.

Tony.
I see a planet where love is foremost, where war is none existant. A planet of peace, and a planet of understanding. I see a planet called
[ Parent ]
Aggregation? (2.50 / 2) (#57)
by squigly on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 07:08:52 AM EST

Would we really want a per-episode pricing model?  Wouldn't the Disneyland model potentially work better?  

People may be willing to spend only $24 per show, but may be willing to spend $48 on 3 shows that they thought 2 were only worth $12 per season.  So you buy a season of the channel's output, and allow an unlimited numebr of repeat downloads.  

Ideally you want a per month price that offers people a certain number of new shows that have a perceived value greater than the monthly cost.  A method to see older episodes of a series that the viewer may have missed without allowing people to see a whole season just hy buying a month's subscription would probably be useful as well.

I respect the rights of authors and creators (2.66 / 3) (#59)
by Anonymous Howards End on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 07:32:51 AM EST

That's why I pay for their creations on the terms that they set, or I go without.

Treat others the way you'd want them to treat you, or don't complain when someone uses footage of you being mauled by a panda in a jillion dollar adversing campaign and doesn't pay you a red cent.  It's as simple as that.
--
God is shorthand for "I don't know".

see that's fucked (3.00 / 2) (#135)
by QuantumG on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 09:38:45 PM EST

If I buy the Buffy boxed set for season 4 and lend it to you to watch what the hell is wrong with that? I would be an absolute prick if I said "No, you can't borrow by Buffy box set, I respect the rights of authors and creators and believe you should pay for their creations on the terms they set or go without!" And frankly, if the creators of Buffy think I should tell you no then they are pricks.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
Yes, there's always a good excuse (none / 0) (#184)
by Anonymous Howards End on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 05:20:23 AM EST

I'd pay if I could afford it.
I might buy it after I've watched it.
I'd buy it if I didn't have to wait a couple of months.
I don't like that I can't skip the copyright notice at the start of the DVD.
I don't pay because they're pricks.

Tell me, are there any circumstances under which you would reward people for their work if you didn't absolutely have to?

--
God is shorthand for "I don't know".
[ Parent ]

I do all the time (none / 0) (#201)
by QuantumG on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 11:07:04 PM EST

but that's really not the point. I don't think restricting the actions of every single person on the planet is justified so we can watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
I have news for you, apparently (none / 0) (#205)
by Anonymous Howards End on Sat Mar 12, 2005 at 05:47:03 PM EST

That restriction is the reason why you can whack off to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Without it, without mandatory reward, where's the incentive to make content?

Go on, bring up tip jars.  That should be pretty funny.
--
CodeWright, you are one cowardly hypocritical motherfucker.
[ Parent ]

Yes (none / 0) (#210)
by evilmeow on Sun Mar 13, 2005 at 06:58:11 AM EST

Their work must not suck, and they should treat me like a customer, not like a criminal. Licking feet and waving the tail helps.

In general, I don't believe that authors should be able to "set the terms". To be more precise, they should be but they shouldn't have to. Whoever is in this for money produces shit anyway (case: Breastney Sperms), and the market system should be built to drown them, and not to encourage them.

"[O]ne thing is certain: people are certifiably historically myopic"

[ Parent ]
Copyright is immoral (none / 0) (#161)
by Eight Star on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 11:48:04 AM EST

I don't want others to treat me like I have rights I don't have, so I don't treat them that way.

No one owns a song. Period.

[ Parent ]

When would you like your panda? (none / 0) (#182)
by Anonymous Howards End on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 05:17:49 AM EST

Remember to scream and thrash, it makes for much better footage.
--
God is shorthand for "I don't know".
[ Parent ]
That seems odd (none / 1) (#168)
by cpt kangarooski on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 01:45:11 PM EST

So out of curiosity, how much have you been paying the estate of William Shakespeare when you, say, download one of his plays off of the net?

Personally, I think it's better for authors and creators to have no special rights other than those that the rest of the world sees fit to give them, in order to best serve the purposes the rest of the world has. Whether this makes authors and creators happy or not is quite irrelevant.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

What rights do the estate of Shakespeare have? (none / 0) (#183)
by Anonymous Howards End on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 05:18:22 AM EST

Can you identify the estate, or find any rights?
--
God is shorthand for "I don't know".
[ Parent ]
Why do you care? (none / 0) (#190)
by cpt kangarooski on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 09:16:29 AM EST

You said that you'd either use the works on the terms they set or go without.

The mere fact that they can't enforce their terms shouldn't stop you from either seeking them out and asking them how much you should pay to download public domain works to which they have a comparatively slight connection, or going without.

My point is that it's silly to take authors and inventors into consideration. Copyrights and patents are meant to serve the public, not authors or inventors. The system breaks down when people forget this and allow authors and inventors to get uppity.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

What rights do they have? (none / 0) (#204)
by Anonymous Howards End on Sat Mar 12, 2005 at 05:45:17 PM EST

Answer the motherfucking question, or go suck a donkey whang.
--
CodeWright, you are one cowardly hypocritical motherfucker.
[ Parent ]
So you're changing your story? (none / 0) (#206)
by cpt kangarooski on Sat Mar 12, 2005 at 10:31:12 PM EST

You said that you'd respect the wishes of creators.

Now you're only going to respect them when, and to the degree that they can enforce their wishes on you whether you respect them or not? Which presumably implies that the creators can go to hell when they can't stop you from doing what you want.

That's pretty different.

If you're going to act noble about respecting their wishes, it really only works when you're doing something voluntary.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

Chug that ass cock, chug it deep (none / 0) (#228)
by Anonymous Howards End on Fri Mar 18, 2005 at 11:26:40 AM EST

We are currently talking about the "estate" of Shakespeare, a topic that you brought up.  If you want to generalise now, then you'll have to say "please" while gurgling some mule jism.
--
CodeWright, you are one cowardly hypocritical motherfucker.
[ Parent ]
DVDs (3.00 / 2) (#60)
by r3m0t on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 08:29:19 AM EST

The total price for a season online ought to be very similar to that of buying the DVD set of that season. I would therefore have voted "less than $0.99".

pricing? (none / 1) (#91)
by MrAndrews on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 11:38:07 AM EST

I agree with you there.  Someone wrote to me last night and said that they think if you could price the downloads so a season comes out to about $10 less than a DVD set, then you could offer subscribers a box set for just $10 more (with extras etc included).  But then that raises the question: how much do you typically pay for a DVD box set?  I've seen them from $30-$150, but never less than $26, which is what your "less than $0.99" is implying... do I just have a really expensive Wal-Mart where I live?

[ Parent ]
I don't think... (none / 1) (#113)
by DavidTC on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 03:23:39 PM EST

...it should cost anything more than the DVDs.

I.e., this is being looked at backwards. Instead of buying the episodes, you're buying the DVDs as soon as they come out. Until then, you can download and watch the episodes.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

isn't his version actually more flexible? (none / 1) (#120)
by Delirium on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 04:32:18 PM EST

Unless I misread the original post, he was proposing pricing the digital downloads at around $10 less than the DVDs. Then when the DVD set comes out, you can either choose to pay the extra $10 and get the DVD set, or you can say that the downloaded episodes are enough for you, and you'd rather not get the DVD.

[ Parent ]
I know what he said. (none / 0) (#178)
by DavidTC on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 08:42:40 PM EST

I'm just saying, I think it's a bit backwards. Instead of selling the episodes for X money, they should just say:

We're making a season with X episodes. You can, at any time, purchase the DVDs of it. Until they are printed and shipped to you (And for a week afterwards.), you can get the episode for free online.

It's almost the same thing, but I think people are more likely to purchase it that way.

I don't think people would pay to 'rent' TV episodes, especially not of something that just aired, and downloading episodes to their computer is renting them unless the company is going to provide backups or extra storage or something.

Whereas there are plenty of shows I, personally, would purchase DVDs of in advance.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

hmm (none / 0) (#179)
by Delirium on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 12:52:43 AM EST

I suppose it depends on how you phrase it. I see his plan as being pretty much what you said, except that you only have to prepay ($cost - $10), and then you have a choice once the DVDs are available to either pay the last $10 and get your DVDs, or say "changed my mind, don't want the DVDs after all", in which case you don't get your ($cost - $10) back, but don't have to pay the last $10.

[ Parent ]
I disagree... (2.50 / 2) (#139)
by Alexey on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 12:33:34 AM EST

Episodes are available "now", and DVD is available only "later", when all episodes are out.

[ Parent ]
A few ways to fix it (2.60 / 5) (#62)
by ZorbaTHut on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 08:47:07 AM EST

(1) Stop calling them TV episodes. Everyone knows TV is free. Only a fool would pay for TV! Call them episodic movies. Or something else to indicate "hey, movies! Only they're not as long, but there's a hell of a lot more of them, and they're in a theme!" Everyone's used to paying for movies. I bet a lot of people would pay $2 for a cheap pressed DVD of the latest hour-long episode of their movie.

(2) Take hints from the comic book industry. The comic book industry has been producing things of this type for a long time. Sell single episodes every week or two for $3, sell 8 at a time later for $15. Everyone wins.

(3) Don't assume that every show will be able to keep the budget it currently has. Don't assume that every show will even be expensive. The instant you stop needing priceless airtime you open the door to amateurs, who can make a show for $5000 without sweating.

(4) Basically, stop saying "Hey! Let's reinvent TV as we know it! And as part of our reinvention, let's make very sure to keep it exactly the same as it always has been!"

right you are (2.50 / 2) (#93)
by MrAndrews on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 11:46:34 AM EST

that's a very good point.  TV is free, and movies are not (well, not exactly anyway).  Calling a movie series is clumsy, but I can definitely see there's a good term in there to help distance this from typical TV.  I talked to a producer last night about this and they latched onto the term "nichecasting"... but sometimes what you need is to come up with new terminology to make your one-step-sideways idea into something "revolutionary" (ahem)

The big change this system brings to making video-based entertainment is that it induces you to change your business model to be more streamlined (which I think is key to making it work) but also that it frees you to do more creative things because your audience is more appreciative of your ideas.

Right now with a project I'm working on, we're given basically "shares" in the show's profits if we exchange some of our regular fees.  It keeps the budget low, but given the potential returns for the show, it's a good gamble.  If even the lowliest animator can get a 1% share in their project, that's a great benefit to them.  So what I'm saying is that this idea kinda helps along other business structures, too.

[ Parent ]

Doesn't matter (2.00 / 2) (#98)
by mcgrew on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 12:01:01 PM EST

This idea is for stupid people with too much money anyway. Sure, I'd like to have the DVDs of all the Star Treks but I'll settle for the tapes I got off of the air, because the immorally stupid dunces who sell them think I'll pay $100 a season.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Content Creators have a MORAL OBLIGATION! (1.00 / 9) (#88)
by the ghost of rmg on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 11:12:28 AM EST

I'm sick of all you "let's pay for this, let's pay for that" people. Information does not want to be paid for, as we all know. It wants to be free and I, for one, intend to keep it that way!

These big shot hollywood directors making their millions and all the harlots they direct don't deserve any of my money. All they produce is easily reproducable garbage.

[9:15:07] rmghomeplanet:~/$ cp -R buffyseason3 buffyseason3-backup

That's all it takes! Replace the cp with an scp and you've copied it to a whole different machine~! Why the hell should anyone pay for something so EASY??

There is no way -- NO WAY -- I'm going to pay 35.99 USD for some lame assed, Xena-Warrior-Princess-with-hot-teenage-girls B movie quality production. No way, no how.

Maybe if these TV producers started making a decent product, I'd consider it. But with crap like Battlestar Galactica and Babylon 5, they're just saving me the trouble of putting together some styrofoam props and filming the damned thing myself. Boring plots, boring characters, and horrible acting. Next thing you know, public access is going to be on my ass for downloading their shit off KaZaa too!

Those Madison Avenue losers can just suck it up and deal. You make crap, I'm not gonna pay for it. Simple as that.


rmg: comments better than yours.

you aren't even trying! (2.00 / 2) (#92)
by juvenile delinquent seeking attention on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 11:41:51 AM EST

Don't you love us any more?

[ Parent ]
as the timestamps clearly show, (1.50 / 2) (#96)
by the ghost of rmg on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 11:56:30 AM EST

i spent two hours on that post. show a little gratitude.


rmg: comments better than yours.
[ Parent ]
So... (none / 1) (#114)
by DavidTC on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 03:25:20 PM EST

In one post, you trash, Buffy, Xena, Babylon 5, and Battlestar Galactica.

You need to come up with more subtle trolls. ;)

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

What are you talking about? (none / 1) (#115)
by the ghost of rmg on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 03:33:44 PM EST

They're my favorite shows! That's why I download them!


rmg: comments better than yours.
[ Parent ]
Differing Quality of Download (2.50 / 2) (#90)
by hardburn on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 11:31:25 AM EST

Why not extend the RvB model (low-quality is free, high-quality means putting down cash) to pay-per-episode?

  • $.99 - Low-resolution
  • $1.50 - Little above TV resolution
  • $2.00 - HDTV/DVD quality

I have no idea what it costs the RvB people to make an episode, but I don't imagine it's even a few thousand dollars. It's just a couple of guys with their X-Boxes.

The hard part would be pulling off some really high-budget shows, like Farscape (which pulled $2.2 million/episode in seasons 3 and 4).


----
while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


Different levels (2.50 / 2) (#99)
by MrAndrews on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 12:01:32 PM EST

I'm very keen on the idea of giving away SOME version of the show for free, if only to make it less likely that people will bother distributing the high-quality versions elsewhere.  So what I'd call lower-than-TV quality (good for watching on computer screens, but not TV res) would be free, the HD version would be $X, and both sets could upgrade to a DVD box set at the end of the season, paying the difference of what they've already invested.

The hard part really IS things like Farscape, but it just means that either Farscape can't be made under this model, or they have to figure out how to make it cheaper, or they have to find a really big user base... or... something else.

What I'm envisioning is something partway between RvB and Farscape... not bloody expensive (and done more efficiently to keep costs down), but not just Xboxes chugging away :)

[ Parent ]

Either way... (none / 1) (#142)
by Pxtl on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 01:43:58 AM EST

the prices that are suggested here are far too low for execs to take seriously.  I mean look - how much do they charge for a DVD boxed set of a TV series (one that is at least 1 season behind the TV release, if not more)?  What does that come out to per episode?

Now, iTunes gets you about 25% off.  We'll figure our episode downloading service is similar.

So, I'll go with Amazon.com's listing of the newest season of 6 feet under (which is $10 less than previous seasons).  $70.  Now, figure in the online distribution discoutn.  $52.5.  Divide by 13 episodes. $4 per episode.  That's more than it costs to rent each disc of the set and watch them that way.

Now, 6 feet under is a premium product, with longer episodes than conventional TV and generally much higher quality material.  So insert-your-show-here might cost a bit less, particularly if you don't care about getting the new episodes.  But, the point is clear: $2 that everyone hopes for is the bargain-basement minimum of what people would sell these for.  Sorry to burst your collective bubbles.

[ Parent ]

inserting favorite show (none / 0) (#150)
by Delirium on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 08:44:08 AM EST

Well, let's see... Simpsons season 5 ($32), other Simpsons ($37), Futurama ($37), Seinfeld ($29), etc.

If you take Seinfeld's $29 for 18 episodes as the "bargain-basement minimum", and factor in a 25% discount for online distribution, you're down to about $1.25 per episode.

[ Parent ]

How low can you go? (none / 0) (#231)
by pin0cchio on Sun May 08, 2005 at 02:05:45 AM EST

$.99 - Low-resolution

What kind of low resolution would that be? 160x120?


lj65
[ Parent ]
Compare: (2.33 / 3) (#95)
by mcgrew on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 11:56:28 AM EST

A first run movie in Springfield is $7. You get a giant, wall sized screen and teriffic sound.

Or I can get a TV show (also available for free over the air) that I play on my equipment, that is made and delivered at nearly zero cost, for how much?

What am I missing here? This sounds stupid to me. Twenty five cents sounds like an honest trade.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie

It's simple (none / 1) (#117)
by syukton on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 03:46:18 PM EST

When the consumer pays, there are no commercials. Just Un-interrupted television.


[ Parent ]
You're forgetting the most important part... (none / 0) (#199)
by jmcneill on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 09:51:21 PM EST

The best part about not watching episodes on broadcast TV is that you get content "on-demand". I purchased the Family Guy boxed sets when they were first released for over $130 CDN. Considering how often I've watched them, and I can choose which episodes to watch when I feel like it, it's well worth the money.
``Of course it runs NetBSD.''
[ Parent ]
Serious flaw in your methodology (3.00 / 4) (#107)
by ghjm on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 02:08:01 PM EST

This seems very obvious, and I haven't checked to see if anyone else has pointed it out, but:

If you are trying to estimate the demand curve facing TV content producers, you need to measure the whole thing, not merely the section that happens to fall between $1 and $2. If you want to minimize the number of choices, make them logarithmic: $0.10, $0.25, $0.50, $1.00, $2.00, $4.00, $10.00. If you don't see a "bell curve" shape then you've missed important sections of the data.

Economics predicts that in a competitive market, price tends to move towards the marginal cost of production. So, it doesn't matter how much a TV episode costs to produce; the price will be the true cost of distributing it through the Internet. I would guess that this is in the $0.25-cent range for music, and around $1.00 for movies (because they are larger).

Content monopolists attempt to inflate this price (which in turn means distributing less content) through various tactics such as the use of government force. Steve Jobs charging $1 per song is still an economically inflated price, but it undercuts the even-worse pricing models that were previously in effect.

The question is, can the monopolists maintain inflated pricing forever, or will market forces eventually drive prices towards marginal cost?

Estimating the demand curve is an excellent idea, you just need to stop limiting yourself to prices you think are "reasonable" - it biases your results. Your whole essay is skewed because of this. If you were to re-run the survey with a variety of prices, you would then be in a position to write a much more interesting article.

-Graham

depends on the size of the market (none / 1) (#109)
by Delirium on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 03:05:53 PM EST

Price won't tend towards the marginal cost in niche markets, because the initial capital outlays are significant in comparison to the expected market size. That is, if I have to spend $1m just to get the thing made, and only 10000 people are expected to be interested in it, I'm going to have to charge at least the marginal cost plus $100 per copy, or else just give up and not make it at all. Which, of course, is one of the reasons boutique/niche items cost more.

For small markets, cost of living to support the producers factors in as well, even in non-copyright-related domains. If I'm going to hire a small craftsman to make my stuff, for example, I can't pay merely the cost of the materials—I have to pay some amount equal to the cost of materials plus enough to support the craftsman's living expenses (proportional to how much of his/her time I use), or else he/she will find another line of work.

[ Parent ]

It will tend towards marginal full cost (3.00 / 2) (#116)
by ghjm on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 03:35:15 PM EST

Classic economics adds a fudge factor called "normal profit" to account for this. The marginal cost of production is taken to include a return on capital investments just sufficient to prevent resources from departing from the market. So you're right, it is not merely the cost of distribution.

Similarly, the full value to consumers includes hidden costs of the available alternatives, such as (in this case) not having to spend inordinate time on the search or worry about the quality of files downloaded from peer-to-peer services.

Given all of this, if the cost of physically transmitting a 4Mb MP3 is maybe a nickel, it might still be the case that the market-determined price is a dime or even a quarter.

But as the original article describes, setting the price to high destroys the revenue stream for production, just like setting it too low does.

-Graham

[ Parent ]

yeah, makes sense (none / 1) (#119)
by Delirium on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 04:30:22 PM EST

Part of this depends on just how elastic the market is though. In some niche markets (like some music subcultures), you have basically a dichotomy between rabid fans on the one hand, who will pay any reasonable price that doesn't feel like you're trying to rip them off, and people who don't care on the other hand, who wouldn't look at your stuff even if you were giving it away for free.

I have no idea how elastic the digital content purchasing market is. If iTunes lowered its prices from $0.99 to $0.75, would that draw in a significant number of new purchasers, or are most people who're willing to pay $0.75 also willing to pay $0.99?

[ Parent ]

New purchasers maybe not, but new purchases yes (3.00 / 2) (#122)
by ghjm on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 05:11:21 PM EST

How do people decide when to stop downloading songs from iTunes?

When they've spent enough money.

How much money is that?

It's different for everyone. And it depends on how much value is received in exchange.

If I can download one song for $0.99 or one song for $0.75, then the price is not the main motivation. But when I get on ITMS, I can easily find hundreds of songs that I'd like to have. I would definitely buy more of them if they cost less.

I don't know if I would wind up spending more or less total money at $0.75. I don't feel that $0.99 per song is the revenue optimizing point, though.

I think music downloads must necessarily have a very high price sensitivity. Sure, there are some rabid fans who would pay any imaginable price for, let's say, a previously unreleased Grateful Dead song. And there are other people who will not pay a nickel unless it's cheaper (in full cost terms) than stealing it. But the existence of these extremes does not imply a dichotomy: There are other people, probably the vast majority, who fall somewhere in between.

You expect to see price inelasticity where a fixed quantity of the goods are unavoidably necessary; e.g. the specific cost of ambulance services doesn't really enter into the equation if you're in a situation where you need to dial 911. Non-luxury food, clothing, shelter, etc. are goods with low price elasticity. Music downloads do not fall into this category: at $5 per track, nobody would buy any songs at all.

It would be interesting to survey ITMS users and ask the question: If Apple raised the price of each song to $1.49, would you stop or substantially reduce your use of ITMS? If the answer is mostly no, then music downloads are inelastic - but I would be very, very surprised if this were the case.

-Graham

[ Parent ]

I think I'm thinking of artists with less appeal (none / 1) (#125)
by Delirium on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 05:39:41 PM EST

I tend to listen to music that puts out releases with print runs on the order of hundreds, thousands, or—at the most—tens of thousands of copies. With this sort of thing, I think there is much more of a dichotomy. Edward Ka-Spel, for example, is selling a limited-edition 333-copy print run of his newest album in a double-LP format (of the old-fashioned vinyl variety). The current price seems to be $17 through middlepillar.com. Would he sell more of them at $15 or even $10? It's possible that lowering the price from the initial $30 to $17 has increased the market, but at some point anyone who's interested is already buying it, and I'd wager the vast majority of people would not even pay $5 for a 2-LP Edward Ka-Spel album, as most people haven't heard of him and don't own record players.

I don't think even in these cases demand is completely inelastic (I'll probably buy it at $17, but might not have had $30), but it might be inelastic enough to make it worth pricing things higher.

[ Parent ]

Agreed. [n/t] (none / 0) (#172)
by ghjm on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 03:59:25 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Out of curiousity (none / 0) (#208)
by evilmeow on Sun Mar 13, 2005 at 06:50:43 AM EST

Who or what is Edward Ka-Spel?
"[O]ne thing is certain: people are certifiably historically myopic"

[ Parent ]
musician (none / 0) (#213)
by Delirium on Sun Mar 13, 2005 at 04:35:03 PM EST

Wikipedia article. =]

[ Parent ]
skewed results (none / 1) (#110)
by MrAndrews on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 03:09:46 PM EST

Yeah, I was chopping off the options at around the point where people started getting angry in earlier conversations.  I said $3 once and the general response was death and carnage.  And I did kinda load the question by not putting defined numbers under $1, but at this stage of the game I was looking for a more refined price point than a general survey.  The thing I'm interested in is how just a 10 cent difference can push some people from being potential consumers to feeling forced to "acquire" digital media.

[ Parent ]
Re: Skewed results (none / 0) (#217)
by Br4nM4n on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 11:47:13 AM EST

   Maybe you were talking to the wrong audience.  TiVo messed up on me the other day - recording the first episode of Contender off of CNBC instead of the network time it showed (due to conflicts with another show) - it only caught the first hour of what I'm guessing was an hour-and-a-half episode.  After seeing the 2nd episode my wife and I were talking about what a bummer it was that we missed the first fight.  So I ended up downloading Bittorrent, getting the episode, burning it to DVD so we could see the last 1/3rd of it.  It took over a full day to accomplish that (99% unattended, but still).
   Upshot is I'm sending $5 off to the maker of Bittorrent as a thank you.  If I'm willing to go to all that trouble to see a piece of an episode I missed, getting the whole thing, in an easy way, for $3 is a no brainer.  Not as a subscription, mind you, but just to catch shows we missed, would be great.
   Kind of like the rental / DVD market for movies - an extra revenue stream, in addition to a commercialed showing on TV.  That would be the market to go after first - a supplement to TV, not a replacement.  After all, made-for-video movies came a lot later than rentals.

[ Parent ]
Why is the cost of producing something not part? (none / 0) (#193)
by deadsea on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 01:18:39 PM EST

It seems to me that the cost of producing something (as opposed to distributing it) should a huge factor in the price of online media.

First your estimates for how much it costs to distribute are very much inflated. Bandwidth and servers go for about $1/GB transfer nowdays. Even for very long songs that is less than $0.01 a song.

Second you speak of content monopolies, but now that there is no distribution monopoly, the barriers to entry are just the cost of production. If somebody could produce something for less and still make a profit, they will. Then the cost should come down to reflect the cost of production.

Currency conversion calculator

[ Parent ]

part of the problem (none / 0) (#194)
by MrAndrews on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 02:07:23 PM EST

The cost of distribution is important to the people distributing the files, only if those people aren't the producers.  The cost of production is, it appears, not a concern for most consumers.  That's what I find so interesting... no one seems to care HOW the content gets made, just so long as it does.  Some even expect that it SHOULD be made, but that no one needs to be paid for it.  There's definitely a disconnect there... the concern is for the things most internet-savvy people understand, like bandwidth costs and servers etc, but completely disregarding that a small-time actor needs to buy food at the end of the week.  

The trick for people making shows, movies, songs etc is to figure a way to make the content _at least_ pay for itself, either by lowering the price (and making it up in volume) or pushing advertising and DRM.  That's no easy task, because the way things work now, most people don't work steadily enough to NOT charge giant sums for the work they do... so a continuing series that keeps everyone busy (but with a lower per-episode take) might be a good solution.

Consumers today are empowered to not have to accept a price they don't like (in digital media), so the pressure is on creators to make their models understand that freedom.

Which is to say: the cost of producing will almost always be ignored by those who aren't producing, and producers need to understand that.

[ Parent ]

Different Pricing (none / 1) (#123)
by cronian on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 05:35:11 PM EST

As earlier comment suggested, selling different quality at different prices is one option. Another option is to lower the price after a week or so. If the episode is real popular, people might be willing to shell $5 for a single episode to see NOW, while others may prefer to wait a week and pay $2, or wait two weeks, and pay less.

The best way to do this would be to monitor demand, and lower the price when demand starts to let up. You could even a have a feature on the site, so people can get emailed when the price drops low enough.

Older episodes would be cheap/free, and would provide additional revenue or advertising for future shows, depending on how well the show the is. P2P can do good job advertising old shows, but once shows get popular everyone is going to want it immediately.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
I think that in this case, the money's to be had (none / 1) (#124)
by Sesquipundalian on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 05:37:53 PM EST

by those who think "outside the box". This is the providence of computers after all.

I'd like some sort of "all you can eat, billed by the month, don't pay for months you don't use" subscription service that gives me older high quality content. All the eppisodes of Happy Days, and every other show in it's era at 1024x768x30fps for $1 per month. Charge more for more recent content. Sort of like an apartment where you get your water bill thrown in with the monthly rent, but there are different floors and the flats on the nicer floors cost more.

Figure out how to live with people loading up on everything in a single month. Figure out how to make it so good that you don't care if your competitors take your content and give it away for free. Solve all of those problems (and their ilk) and I bet you could creat a whole new type of media empire.

But don't bother if you're just going to be another small time chizler. The world has seen quite enough of these lately.


Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
That might be tricky (none / 1) (#138)
by rmn on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 11:23:06 PM EST

Most shows (even shows originally shot on film) only exist as Beta / DigiBeta masters. That's 720x480 / 720x486 visible, for NTSC. Even shows shot on film are usually post-produced in SD (standard definition, see above), so if you wanted HD versions (1280x720 or 1980x1080) or better ("digital film", 4k), they would need to be remastered. That can be expensive.

[ Parent ]
Subscriptions (none / 0) (#195)
by tailchaser on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 02:25:53 PM EST

I'd like some sort of "all you can eat, billed by the month, don't pay for months you don't use" subscription service
The problem there is that subscription services love the months you don't use, since that time is free money for them. While a flat-fee system may be something we see soon, I wouldn't ever expect to see a plan where you don't get charged for unused time.

[ Parent ]
Pricing meathod (none / 1) (#127)
by student on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 05:57:00 PM EST

Why charge per episode?  Once the issue of TV schedules is removed, there is no need to keep your episodes around 45 minutes (not counting ads).  I think charging per minute of video dowloaded makes sense.  Per byte does not make sense because that would incourage companies to use poor compression.  Perhaps a "captions only" discount could be offered for those who speak forign languages, are deaf, or would rather read because the insulation between the basement they are in and their parent's bed room is poor.

I'm at a loss why most theaters seem to charge the same amount for three hours of Lord of the Rings as they charge for a short movie.  But their costs are more incremental per audiance, because they only clean between shows.

The idea of internet TV presents some problems:  If a season is already complete, and you start watching it, what if you can't stop?  Some TV addicts might never get up again, spurring obesity to new hights.


Simon's Rock College of Bard, a college for younger scholars.

It depends on how you ask the question. (3.00 / 3) (#130)
by Azmodan on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 07:11:07 PM EST

If you asked (before iTune) how are you ready to pay for a downloading a song :
  • $.05
  • $.25
  • $.50
  • $.75
  • $.99
The result would probably have been that you have to sell your songs at $.05

But if you just asked : are you ready to pay $1.99 to download an episode (with no ads) the answer would probably be yes, sure.

I think that you would just have to make the pilot available for free so people could shop for shows they like (a bit like zapping) and they would hapilly give you $1.99 to continue viewing the show.

General Thoughts (3.00 / 3) (#134)
by Surial on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 09:02:05 PM EST

Some things you can do to help:

 - loss leader your first 2 episodes, and make them really great, to get people hooked. Then, sell per-ep or per-season, or even better, offer both, and make the instant per-season a bit cheaper as a kickback.

 - Add advertisement to your videos. Probably 'live' (during, as small texts and such). Best option: make the people on the show pimp some goods. Watch I, Robot. A bunch of companies get pimped. No doubt that padded the payroll a bit...

 - Bank on addictive shows. In my personal opinion, '24' is horrible, piss poor drama that happends to keep people watching due to the extremely large 'we're so close to a conclusion so you'll have to wait until the next episode', combined with the fact that the viewer KNOWS the entire story line WILL be over with within a reasonable number of shows (at most, 23). 24 would be a great show to sell this way, I bet.

 - State, up-front, that money gained from the show will decide how long it runs. This will definitely cut large swaths in your video getting swapped around the internet (which, no matter how well you try to encrypt or what not, you'll never prevent from happening). Those who really like the show will probably cough up that buck-per-ep just to ensure it stays on the 'air'.

 - Possibly allow every buck spent to tie into a voting system, where money spent translates directly into votes. Let people vote on where you take the show. On one hand, it's creatively speaking difficult to write to the whims of the audience, but it might help convince some folk to shell out the buck-per-ep. It might cause nutcases to dump 200+ bucks as a 'donation' just for the voting rights. Such a system would work very well with a small but very fierce audience (firefly comes to mind).

Historic interesting occurrences:

 - Firefly FANS managed to scrape enough money together to buy a huge ad thanking the crew and begging fox to continue the show. The show was cancelled for various reasons, including a real crappy timeslot, a very very high production cost per ep, and not a large enough fanbase (though the fans the show did have, me amongst them, still tend to call it the best show -ever- to appear on television). Such shows might work; the fandom will plunk down the cash just to make sure the shows keep coming.

 - You WILL get leeched. It happends for plain old TV already, and it'll only get worse. HOWEVER, with offering an easy way to get a top quality feed for little money + various extras such as a knowledge that your money is going straight into more eps + possibly a 'vote' into the direction the series is going, the amount of leeching for an 'online' series versus an 'offline' series will likely be considerably less, simply because the alternatives offered are a lot better.

 - You can actually price discriminate quite easily with a pay-per-consumer system. Extras for your money come in the form of more vote rights and less advertisements or maybe better quality. A bottom-of-the-barrel 50c per ep is available. Shitty quality with lots of in-screen ads flying around annoying the heck out of you. 2 bucks for a large quality ad-free version.

 - There's no good reason why you can't combine the two models as we have them, right now. Sell straight to broadcasting companies, AND sell direct-to-consumer online. You won't even lose every dollar in areas where the broadcasting company runs the show (fandom, convenience, voting rights, and a shot at keeping a personal copy ready to watch anytime on your harddrive all are reasons to buy into an episode even if you can watch it 'for free' on TV.), and for the many places where show doesn't run, you're in. A lot of series are also 'picked up' from TV by someone: They watch it ones, find out they like it, watch some more, get hooked, and now have a serious craving to watch the earlier series they missed. Not everyone then goes out to buy a DVD. They don't always exist, they are usually extremely overpriced, and probably people wait until season 1 comes round again in a rerun. Now with the cheaper price + the utter convenience of a speedy high quality online download, the incentive to buy your way into the earlier eps goes down A LOT.

You can even satisfy requirements from broadcast companies to get 'first rights' on something by letting them air it first, then offering the stuff online later. That has a major downside though; geeks, fans, and other folk WILL download the stuff inllegally, and once you have obtained an illegal high quality copy there's less incentive to go out and pay for an official legal one later. Still, if some broadcast company offers you big bucks so they can say 'premiere', nobody's stopping you from taking it.

 You may be able to kick off this project for series that already made their money. A lot easier to buy into this as a producing company if the likely result is more money, and it's impossible to lose any money on the venture.

ie: I'd pay at least a buck per episode of Top Gear. I know the BBC makes it basically almost completely on government money, and it's even shown on BBC World sometimes (available free for anyone with a satellite dish, and also available by cable for no extra charge virtually everywhere). They also sell it (Apparently) as I've spotted Top Gear on various commercial TV channels, for example on Veronica in the Netherlands.

It's a successful show (judging by the number of years Top Gear has aired), money's already been made, it's being handed out practically for free to BBC World anyways, and no one turns down free bucks + the chance to spread the coverage of your own show. Chances are, provided you set up some neat software or promise to do such, BBC might agree to pay you 10% of the sales proceeds if you set it up for them.

Not to mention that a lot of public TV channels out there are already giving content away for free. The entire dutch public TV network makes all locally produced (dutch) content available completely free on the internet. The BBC might be looking to get in on that, but fear their resale chances get hurt too much as is. Dutch public television doesn't care; their resale value to other countries and other channels is near nill anyway as few people outside those who live in the Netherlands understand dutch.
--
"is a signature" is a signature.

Please! I Robot? (none / 0) (#144)
by Have A Nice Day on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 06:50:54 AM EST

The product placement in that almost made me vomit. I don't want ads in my films and tv thanks.

I'm one of those who would happily pay more to have no advertising at all, and if you start with product placement then you can't do that. Advertising sucks, if I am paying for tv shows directly, there's no need for advertisers is there?

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[ Parent ]
Of course there is! (none / 0) (#154)
by tonyenkiducx on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 09:43:43 AM EST

As shown in the figures of the main article the figures barely balance out, and I think the articles assesment of how much tv shows cost to make is more than a little inaccurate. The figures are the cost of making a TV show compaired to the exact amount of money made, which is so silly. There's the marketing costs, the server costs and the lets not forget the all important PROFIT, of which he seems to have completely forgotten. If this does happen then adverts are a given, unless you pay a premium rate for your TV shows.

There are also adverts between the shows to consider. They obviously wouldn't be in your downloaded copy, but this is potentially revenue that is lost by the network, and they will want to get that money back somewhere.

Tony.
I see a planet where love is foremost, where war is none existant. A planet of peace, and a planet of understanding. I see a planet called
[ Parent ]
Who said anything about networks? (none / 0) (#156)
by Have A Nice Day on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 10:18:38 AM EST

This is a model for the maker to distribute directly. The network shouldn't be having a slice as they provide no service. You need big infrastructure to get your shopw out to cable, satellite or terrestrial broadcast tv, you only need a PC and a fat pipe to distribute on the web.

I can see the use of a central site that coordinates the shows and takes a small cut in return for providing the hosting/bandwidth etc, but "networks" aren't needed in this model.

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[ Parent ]
Ok, slightly bad wording. (none / 0) (#157)
by tonyenkiducx on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 10:26:21 AM EST

But my point about making profit remains, and I dont think most TV shows would get made without the networks. They provide a lot of the funding to make shows, that's what pilots are for. I do like the idea of people making there own TV to distribute, but that can be done now. The idea of this is to get the networks to distribute there TV, not the independants.

Tony.
I see a planet where love is foremost, where war is none existant. A planet of peace, and a planet of understanding. I see a planet called
[ Parent ]
society being what it is... (none / 0) (#159)
by Have A Nice Day on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 11:02:16 AM EST

Networks will probably remain, initial investment is the tricky part for an independant and the networks could become more like record labels, financing the production and taking most of the profits.

For shows that were curtailed in their prime, though, you would just need to have fans buy an episode in advance of it being made, I'd gladly have done that in order to see another series of Angel, and to preserve the proper direction of the last series (rather than the crammed in cock-up of a rushed ending that we got). 3 bucks an episode? That would have been fine for me.

There are many costs the guy hasn't taken into account here, but TBH I think the only thing stopping independants doing this is the initial outlay and that no-one's tried it before.

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[ Parent ]
I want to believe.. (none / 0) (#160)
by tonyenkiducx on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 11:16:46 AM EST

I really do. There's some awesome shows that have been axed before their time, and I would happily pay 3($5.5) for an episode if it ment I could continue the story. Who wouldn't want to see the kids from Dungeons & Dragons make it home? ;)

Tony.
I see a planet where love is foremost, where war is none existant. A planet of peace, and a planet of understanding. I see a planet called
[ Parent ]
About Slashdot membership (none / 1) (#140)
by rodoke3 on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 12:53:45 AM EST

If you consider that there are 800,000 or so subscribers to Slashdot (where the discussion started), but that they represent maybe only 10% of the total sci-fi-loving population of the web
I wouldn't put too much stock in those numbers. For example my /. account (rodoke3, of course) hasn't been used in well over three years (excepting today when I logged in to see if it was still there) and I'm not sure if I ever posted under it.

I take umbrage with such statments and am induced to pull out archaic and over pompous words to refute such insipid vitriol. -- kerinsky


Your point being? (none / 0) (#143)
by Have A Nice Day on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 06:45:50 AM EST

You have one account, you could still read /. without logging in (I do, and have an unused account too), so I still count towards the number.

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[ Parent ]
but you forget the trolls (none / 0) (#148)
by Delirium on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 08:37:21 AM EST

I'm pretty sure troll dupe accounts account for 90% of the total.

[ Parent ]
Yeah sure, (none / 0) (#151)
by Have A Nice Day on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 08:50:24 AM EST

Probably there's a lot of troll dupes and a lot of dead accounts of people who don't read it any more. I just thought the original poster didn't have much of a point.

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[ Parent ]
overpriced music (none / 1) (#141)
by dilinger on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 01:22:39 AM EST

There were 281 people that said $0.99, which isn't such a big deal until you consider that a 3-minute song from iTunes sells for the same price. So from this we can either assume that people don't appreciate the amount of work that goes into a 60-minute episode as compared to a song, or that in the end, the "value" of a digital work doesn't matter: the price will gravitate towards $1. Or that music is over-priced at the moment. More on this later.

Consider what I pay for movies. I don't think too many people would disagree w/ the statement that movies tend to be higher quality than television shows. 1.5 hours of good acting, consistent plot, etc. Sure, there are crappy movies, just like there are crappy tv shows; but, the good ones tend to be way ahead of good tv shows.

Assume a typical 3 minute pop song; paying $0.99 for that means you pay about $0.33 per minute. I pay $10 to view a movie in a theatre. Assuming a typical 90 minute movie, that's about $0.11 per minute. If I buy the DVD (we'll ignore packaging costs, and assume I'm merely paying for the content) at $20, that's $0.22 per minute; *and* I can watch it over and over.

Why am I paying more for music, than for movies? Using movies as a base, I should be paying something like $0.33 (or less) for a one-time play of a song, or $0.66 (or less) for a permanent download of a song (about, oh, $7.92 for a typical 12 track album).


versatility (none / 0) (#153)
by coffee17 on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 09:23:21 AM EST

Sure, maybe you can watch a favorite movie while exercising in the house, or while doing housework. But can you watch a movie while coding? Can you watch a movie while you're on the phone? Can you watch a movie while you're talking with friends (note that I said talking, not "while sitting silent in the same room with)?

You can do all of that with music. Plus there's replayability. How many times have you watched your favorite movie? Ok, in Highschool I think I might have seen Princess Bride almost a hundred times, and some people might have that with the star wars series. But for the most part, it's had to watch a movie much more than 5-10 times even if you really love it.

But a CD or mp3? While you might not sit down to just listen to the cd and do nothing else much more than 5-10 times, I'll listen to the same track hundreds of times (so long as there's enough other music inbetween).

At least that's my justification for why music is that much higher priced than movies. But I wouldn't pay 0.99 to download a song. $0.10 seems to be a better price in my mind. And until the price goes down to there I either buy the physical cd for really great CD's (that I've already downloaded, but want better quality), record them off of satellite radio (analog recording via soundcard :/) or I just download them and play the lawsuit lottery :/


-coffee


[ Parent ]

CD's are worth more per minute than DVD's (none / 1) (#152)
by coffee17 on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 09:09:34 AM EST

Well, the answer is that I wouldn't be 0.99 cents for a song. Most cd's have about 14 songs, and depending on sales you can buy the raw CD for $10-18 have a physical backup, and I'll get to encode it to mp3 at whatever quality I want. Averaging the prices of 10-18 you get approximately $1 a song. For digitally downloaded music, for saving so much via midlemen and distribution I'd consider it a giant rip off to pay more than about $0.10 for a song.

If you compare $0.10 for a 3 minute song to 0.99 for a 20-22 minute show or 1.99 for a 40-44 minute show, the prices are approximately comparable.

Sure, it's cheaper and easier to produce music, but music is more versatile. I can use it in the background while I'm doing something else. I can't play a show in the background when I'm doing anything that requires concentration, as well suddenly the length comes up against a show, because to view the whole thing you must set aside a lot of time.

But compare the prices of physical media, a 40-70 minute CD will sell for about $14 (0.2-0.35 per minute) and a 90-130 minute DVD with tv shows will be about $22 (0.17-0.25 per minute). This shows that the market has already agreed that the content on DVD's, is worth less. Yes, despite the much higher production values, despite approximately 7 times more data on DVD's; dvd's just aren't worth as much.

Of course, that doesn't answer why people are willing to pay approximately the same price to download music as the buy the physical product; my guess would be that most of the people doing so are technically inept and would either not know how to rip and encode a cd/dvd or especially how to do it with good quality (consider P2P downloaded music, in the napster days, and still occaisionally today, one comes across mp3's with bleeps and skips from someone who ripped with a poor cdrom and without using cdparanoia). Additionally, some people might sample all the songs from a cd and just get the one's they want. (for example if I were buying Linkin Park's Meteora, they only have 2-4 songs which sound distinctive. I'd buy "Breaking the Habit" and flip a coin between "somewhere I belong" and "faint". That's $2 for all that would make it to my playlist instead of $14 so it could seem like a big win, if one doesn't consider that the price per track is still the same.

-coffee


Purchasing Music Online (none / 0) (#170)
by mtd on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 03:12:29 PM EST

Well, the main point would be you don't have to purchase the entire album, only one song. Thus I can buy 10 songs from different albums I really enjoy instead of purchasing one full album with half the songs being medicore at best. Also, it's much easier to click a mouse then goto the mall.

[ Parent ]
Very interesting analysis (none / 0) (#171)
by ghjm on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 03:57:50 PM EST

Cost per minute is an interesting way of looking at it.

DVDs don't all cost $22. Whenever I visit Best Buy, they have a rack of unwatchable DVDs for $5 each, then watchable-if-drunk for $10, then decent movies nobody wants for $15, then the good stuff for $20, then marquee titles for $25.

At the record store, the bargain bin is $3, old CDs with no particularly endearing qualities are $8, and current chart-topping CDs are $12.

So we get the following comparison, assuming DVDs are 120 minutes and CDs are 60:

Crap on DVD: $0.05/minute
Crap on CD: $0.05/minute

Halfway OK stuff on DVD: $0.12/minute
Halfway OK stuff on CD: $0.13/minute

Marquee content on DVD: $0.21/minute
Marquee content on CD: $0.20/minute

So apparently it doesn't make any difference if it's a minute of video or a minute of audio - a minute of good quality content is worth $0.20.

Apply this to iTunes: A three- to four-minute song should be worth $0.60 to $0.80, not far from the $0.99 price they actually charge. Perhaps someone will come along and undercut them (e.g., Wal-Mart, who charges $0.88/song). Also, the back catalog (e.e., the non-marquee songs) should be available at a lower price. I haven't noticed if this is actually happening yet.

So what about downloaded TV episodes? We're talking about cancelled sci-fi shows; if they were marquee content, they probably wouldn't have been cancelled. An episode of Farscape simply does not reflect the production values of a top-tier film production. However, if it were unwatchable, we wouldn't care that it was cancelled. So the content we're talking about is middle-tier, meaning $7.20 for a 60 minute episode.

Does this seem high?

Well, riddle me this: Suppose you were wandering around at your local Best Buy or Suncoast, and you happened to notice a DVD of new, previously unreleased Firefly episode. It costs $6.99 or maybe $7.99. Would you buy it? Would it seem like a good deal?

If it's a good deal in the store, why isn't it a good deal online? Answer - because if you buy it in a store, you don't have to spend the time and hassle of downloading it, burning it to DVD, etc., and because you also get attractive, branded packaging. (Imagine how crappy your DVD shelves would look if they had nothing but your own handwriting on the covers.)

Take all this away, and the "correct" online price might be around $4 - although by this reasoning the "correct" price for iTunes ought to be $0.49.

So what if we had "perfect" DRM? This would mean that you could only acquire the content by purchasing it, but once purchased, you would be able to use it the same way you use a CD or DVD, even including making unlimited copies for your own personal use. This is probably technically impossible, but as a thought experiment, suppose this existed.

And suppose Mutant Enemy had a web site, with ten new episodes of Firefly available. You can download them for $4.99/ea. But they don't exist on the peer-to-peer networks. The only way you can get a copy is to actually buy it. Would you? How many episodes would you buy?

Personally, I would bitch about the price, but I would buy all of them.

-Graham


[ Parent ]

vary the price over time (none / 0) (#200)
by stripes on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 10:58:57 PM EST

Well, riddle me this: Suppose you were wandering around at your local Best Buy or Suncoast, and you happened to notice a DVD of new, previously unreleased Firefly episode. It costs $6.99 or maybe $7.99. Would you buy it? Would it seem like a good deal?

I donno, probably not. Then again I pay about $50 a month for cable TV, and I only really watch about 4 shows a week, which is 16 shows a month, so I really ought to be willing to pony up a bit over $3 a show. Which is kind of interesting since I was thinking I would only really be willing to pay about $1 for most shows, but I'm already over that threshold (then again my wife also watches some stuff on cable which brings the cost per episode down...).

Anyway my idea for how to wring the most bucks out of a show is to charge based on hold old the episode is. Say $2 the first day it is out, $1.50 for the next 6 days, $1 for the next six months, and then send the price dipping towards whatever your distribution cost is on a long slow curve. Adjust the prices to taste as long as people don't have to wait "too long" for the price they are comfy with they will still buy it, and as long as the wait isn't "too short" they will probably buy up towards the maximum price they would have been willing to get it at.

Sure some people will wait, but other people talk about TV with their friends and they don't really want to be the one to say "oh, I haven't seen that yet, can we talk about something else?" (as in "oh, it's on my TiVo to watch this weekend, can we talk about..."), so there will be some peer presure to be the "big spender" (or at least not the tightwad).

And suppose Mutant Enemy had a web site, with ten new episodes of Firefly available. You can download them for $4.99/ea. But they don't exist on the peer-to-peer networks. The only way you can get a copy is to actually buy it. Would you? How many episodes would you buy?

Right now, zero. I bought the DVD already and it has one (two?) never aired episodes, but I haven't had time to watch it in the yearish I've had it, so I won't likely pay for more Firefly I'm already not watching :-)

Of corse that is a little different from the "we are selling a show on the internet, and if enough people pay us we'll make more". Then there is more pressure to watch what is there now to see if I like it enough to watch the rest in the hopes that they make more. If it is just 10 episodes sitting there that will never become 11 let along 40 no matter what I do, then no, I'm not buying any. Not until the whim strikes me at least.

Now what I want to know is how much advertisers tend to pay per viewer. It can't be all that much after all HBO makes 4 or more original series and they can't be getting too much per viewer since the HBO packages are only in the $5 range on satellite (not sure what they are on cable, I didn't bother to get it).

[ Parent ]

Problem with Reasoning (none / 0) (#191)
by brunes69 on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 12:25:36 PM EST

Well, the answer is that I wouldn't be 0.99 cents for a song. Most cd's have about 14 songs, and depending on sales you can buy the raw CD for $10-18 have a physical backup...

If you compare $0.10 for a 3 minute song to 0.99 for a 20-22 minute show or 1.99 for a 40-44 minute show, the prices are approximately comparable.

There is a major problem with your reasoning here - records are sold by singles. A record company will drive the vast majority of sales of an album by one or two songs alone.

When the album is available online, the majority of the puplace will not bother buying the other tracks. So for them, the $0.99 for one song is a much better deal than paying $10 for a CD, of which you only wanted one song.

---There is no Spoon---
[ Parent ]

Individual episodes vs a subscription (none / 0) (#173)
by dhplank on Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 04:19:07 PM EST

Personally, I wouldn't pay anything to download an individual episode of an online series. I think I'm pretty typical in this respect, but perhaps I'm wrong.

I prefer the subscription model or if you prefer the smorgasbord model. For example, I currently have a subscription to a satellite tv service which gives me a few hundred stations to choose from and costs about 30 euros ($40) per month. This is already more than I need.

Nevertheless, I also occasionally rent DVDs (say 10 per year) of recent movies for about 2 euros ($3) a shot.

I'd consider going to a different subscription service (cable, satellite, ADSL, etc.) if it were better or cheaper, but I can't see any reason to pay for individual episodes of a online series that I'd only watch once anyways.

I'd consider downloading recent movies to watch once if the price were comparable to renting a dvd, but only if no hassle were involved. (Has to be as easy as sticking the dvd in the dvd player and pressing play to watch the movie.)

Can't see much sense in buying DVDs either. I have bought a dozen or so, but for the most part I only watch a show once, so why buy it? Renting is the way to go.

Finally, like most people, I tend to only watch movies that someone has recommended (a friend, a review in a magazine, etc.). I imagine this would be the hardest part for the small producer: making a name for him or herself.

Your survey was skewed (none / 0) (#211)
by Armada on Sun Mar 13, 2005 at 11:49:51 AM EST

Whenever you have a survey and the majority pick one of the "extremes" it means your choices are wrong. Your wording is also wrong. Use the following:

"What is the most you would pay for an episode of your favorite show online?"

  1. $10.00 or more
  2. $7.50
  3. $5.00
  4. $2.50
  5. $1.00 or less
My guess is that per episode, the $3.00 mark might be what you should shoot for.

The key word in the question is "most". iTunes makes up in quantity with a .99/song charge. People will download songs that they really don't want but might somewhat interest them, and won't feel cheated if they didn't like them.

Just an idea. Charge $2.50 and see if people go for it. You have to keep in mind that in the music industry, there is nothing equivalent to "renting" as there is in the DVD market. That's part of the drop in cost expectation.

And actually, I'd even go so far as to argue that a 30 minute episode might only be worth the same as a $.99 song. Why? Because for a song you are paying for the artist (or whoever's) time in coming up with something insightful and appealing. About as much time goes into that as a writer's 30 minute episode.

Now, the actors get paid too, but they are usually on contract, and the actual cost per episode is nothing. You make about 20-25 episodes per season, and they churn them out all within 6 months. Artists make about 10-15 songs, and it takes them at least a year to do. Sometimes years. Some bands, like Weezer, go like 5 years without a new album and only make like 8 songs.

Just food for thought.

Soapcity.com already uses this model (none / 0) (#212)
by starbreeze on Sun Mar 13, 2005 at 03:11:29 PM EST

Sadly, I don't frequent this site often anymore, and I missed the original survey. Not many geeks watch Soap Operas, so I thought I would point out that soapcity.com uses this business model. You can subscribe for $9.99 per soap opera per month and download episodes every day. Or you can download individual episodes for $1.99 apiece. (They often showed 'classic' episodes you could download seperately from your subscription.)

These episodes are licensed to be viewed for 30 days, after which, they expire. It uses the WMP DRM, so I would have to be booted into Windows. (Some people might object to this).

This worked out well when I lived with people and didn't have a VCR or much control over the television. I have a TiVo now and I no longer subscribe.

You have no idea how much I wished other studios used this model when I travel overseas for extended periods of time. I can download my TiVo files to my desktop (thanks to Home Media) across my home network, re-encode them while I'm RDPd, and scp them to my laptop, but that takes an unnecessarily long amount of time.

Did I mention that I'm a systems engineer for one of the leading DRM/anti-p2p companies? Yeah, so I have a few... moral issues with downloading television episodes, and it kills me.

~~~~~~~~~
"There's something strangely musical about noise." ~Trent Reznor

OT Question (none / 0) (#216)
by acceleriter on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 12:37:00 AM EST

Did I mention that I'm a systems engineer for one of the leading DRM/anti-p2p companies?

How can you bring yourself to work for one of those black helicopter outfits?

[ Parent ]

Re: (none / 0) (#219)
by starbreeze on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 05:01:44 PM EST

Because we're not as evil as everyone thinks we are. We don't serve people with lawsuits and we don't keep any identifying information about anyone on the p2p networks.

However, my employment was not the center of the comment. I was merely pointing out that I am all for this sort of business model.

~~~~~~~~~
"There's something strangely musical about noise." ~Trent Reznor
[ Parent ]

Fair enough. (none / 0) (#221)
by acceleriter on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 08:13:20 PM EST

Thanks for the reply--when I hear "Anti P2P company," I think of Cyveillance, BayTSP, or the like. If it's not one of them, I guess it could at least be a lesser degree of evil, and it is a job.

[ Parent ]
I tried paying for downloaded programmes: no luck (none / 0) (#218)
by azeemazhar on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 01:18:20 PM EST

Last year I wrote to HBO offering them $5 each for an episode of the Sopranos and SATC. I also wrote to the sci-fi channel offering then $10 for the Battlestar Galactica mini-series. Neither channel acknowledged my mail--and I did chase up.

wow (none / 0) (#220)
by starbreeze on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 05:03:10 PM EST

I'm surprised that you got no response. I used their webform and got a non-form answer reply from the last question I asked. I was concerned about the rumors I had heard about their blocking TiVo from saving HBO programming, or auto-deleting.

~~~~~~~~~
"There's something strangely musical about noise." ~Trent Reznor
[ Parent ]

Constructive Comment! (none / 0) (#222)
by bjlhct on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 10:08:44 PM EST

How are people going to pay for this? Not everybody uses Paypal, and Paypal is a ripoff. Nobody is going to want to mail you a dollar for every episode, and you don't want to open a bunch of envelopes.

You have 2 serious payment options. Both involve starting out by organizing everybody who's planning on producing such shows. Then, either you create a form where people can enter their credit card number and be billed to their credit card every time they download an episode produced by an organization member, or you then affiliate with ISPs, giving them as low a % as you can negotiate, and have downloads of content show up on people's internet bill.

Where are you going to get the money to start this? It takes SEVERAL episodes to get an audience going. Are you a professional? Are you serious about doing this? Or are you just a wanker? IF you are a successful professional in the TV industry, then you can talk about getting a loan from a bank for this kind of project. Networks won't accept the distro model. VCs? VCs want control and ALL the profit.

If you can't get a loan or don't want to, but you do have some actual credibility, you might be able to convince cynical long-time actors who still believe that there is a future in this industry to act, review scripts, and fund, in return for a sizeable portion of the profits. Sorta like VCs, but their help is likely to actually be helpful and they're doing it partially because they hate the networks like you do.

*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism

This has been done... (none / 0) (#224)
by starbreeze on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 03:12:55 PM EST

Did you not read my comment? Soapcity.com already uses this model. There is clearly a market for this. They use a subscription model, but you can subscribe and then buy individual episodes. Perhaps you are being a bit harsh here.

~~~~~~~~~
"There's something strangely musical about noise." ~Trent Reznor
[ Parent ]

good (1.12 / 8) (#223)
by ginozhu on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 05:11:42 AM EST

ҳ վ վά վƹ vi ci googleƹ ¡ ÷ Բ в ӹ Ʋ Ⱥ װе ҩе ϲ ѯ Ʊ ߵ ֹ ı ձ ͱ ̱ ƶ ģ ģ ѹģ ģ ̼ ܷ ʹ ѹ ŷ ҵ ¯ ë չʾ ֯е ѹ Ӵ ʳƷе ˮ豸 עܻ װ peĤ mba emba pmp ccie ccna Ӣѵ ѵ erp crm scm ͻϵ Ӧ г Ʊ ƱԤ ϳ ʵ ȵż ¶ȼ ѹ ѹ ѹ ̵ ŷ ֻ ñ ͷ ͷ ܵ ±ص ޺ Ƶ Դ豸 л ޻ ҵ ɫĸ ޻ ϱĤ Ϳ Ӽ ˮ ϳ ճ ʳƷӼ ߻ Ʒ Ʒ 칫˾ Ʒ ϴ ϴ ҵ ʼDZ ʼDZ ߶ 칫Ҿ Ҿװ װ깫˾ Ь׻ Ȼ Ϳ ˮͿ ש ذ ϵذ ذ Խ Ȳ ͱƷ Ƶ cpu Ӳ ups ͶӰ 洢豸 · վ Ʒ յ д¥ չ˾ ѧ ǩ֤ ˾ע ֽͭ ֽ ǩֽ ֽ豸 ͨѶ vpn ӵ绰 ŵ绰 gps 绰Ʒ ˮͷ ұ豸 ְ ְ Ʒ ͨʾ · ǽ Ƶת ¼һ ̨ƾ ż

So basically. (none / 0) (#225)
by Craevenwulfe on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 05:50:13 PM EST

You want to make TV's coin operated. I have absolutely no comprehension why you want to go to all the hassle of setting up a seperate financial action for each tv series you watch. A: If i watch 5 series, i have to set up 5 finance payments. B: Why do i pay to watch something if i don't even know if i'll like it. C: What's the odds that i extremely limit my viewing habits based upon the fact i'm not willing to pay out for something new. The last time i had to pay to watch an individual programme was in Gran Canaria and it was porn.

Well not exactly (none / 0) (#226)
by MrAndrews on Thu Mar 17, 2005 at 01:18:48 AM EST

You want to make TV's coin operated.
You jest, but wouldn't that be cool? Tho I use all my quarters for Coke right now, so I'd have to make a lifestyle change somewhere... hmm...

A: If i watch 5 series, i have to set up 5 finance payments.
True, but if there were 5 series that you wanted to watch on the web, I would guess that there were maybe 20 series that were available (and that's assuming you have very VERY flexible taste), in which case I would think some sort of centralized "network" sort of system would emerge where you'd pay $10/month for all you could eat, or whatever. This particular idea is more about the starting stages of that concept, where there will be a few indie productions that try it out... after that's proven, things'll change to compensate for the problems you're seeing.

B: Why do i pay to watch something if i don't even know if i'll like it.
It's not covered in this writeup, but my own personal concept of this is that you can download the episodes and see if you like them FIRST, and then pay if you did. And then maybe get a season pass if you REALLY liked it. But allowing for you to get involved in stages. Which may be where the above-mentioned network idea falls down, except if a certain network only accepted really high-quality shows, in which case... yeah...

C: What's the odds that i extremely limit my viewing habits based upon the fact i'm not willing to pay out for something new.
Bad odds. I wouldn't suggest you should limit your viewing habits like that. If you're not enthralled by the shows you watch, but watch them anyway, you probably have other issues (I hear Halo 2 is fun). If you ARE enthralled by them, and you know you directly influence their survival, then paying $0.99 for an episode doesn't seem like such a bad idea. I give $0.75 to Coke every afternoon, and I don't even really worry about their survival.

I would guess by your reaction that you'd be a "less than $0.99" person, and in a way I haven't directly addressed... you're looking down the road and not wanting to play the game because it would be viciously expensive. And that's true. If all good shows were available like this, then it would be stupidly expensive for someone to watch as much TV as some tend to these days. So you'd have to have a structure similar to NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox or other networks footing bills and lowering costs to make it more affordable. I don't know that that'll help anyone, but it'd probably be a necessary evil down the road. But down the road. I am more interested in this: if [your absolute favorite show] were only available as a download on a website, what would you pay for it? And then answer the same question if it were just your middle-of-the-road-i-watch-it-cause-it's-on-and-fun show.

The last time i had to pay to watch an individual programme was in Gran Canaria and it was porn.
If I put porn in my show, would you pay for it, too? :)

On an unrelated note: sorry to all I haven't replied to. I've had a stupidly productive week and a half, but I have no intellectual power left to reply. I hope to update my site with a few more brainstorms over the next few days to address them, though. Thanks!

[ Parent ]
How much i'd pay (none / 0) (#227)
by Craevenwulfe on Thu Mar 17, 2005 at 12:38:43 PM EST

I would guess by your reaction that you'd be a "less than $0.99" person

Well, no. I pay 5 for the cinema, 3 for a video. If you treat your tv in the same way then i'd pay those rarer prices. If TV is tv as it is now, then i pay my 120/year and get a wide range of viewing, experimental and bland.

If all good shows were available like this, then it would be stupidly expensive for someone to watch as much TV as some tend to these days.

You said above that you wouldn't restrict the range of viewing you have because you would get an "access all areas" style of pass. That is just what television is. Or are you saying you pay enough cash to the channel that it doesn't require to show adverts? Is that the whole aim of your ideal here? To end adverts?

So you'd have to have a structure similar to NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox or other networks footing bills and lowering costs to make it more affordable.

Not only is it cheaper but it opens you up to a far wider range of choice. People tend to buy the same soft drink every day because it's what they like. They like it so why waste money on something new. If however you force that someone can only drink a certain type of juice one day, they might discover they love it.

I don't know that that'll help anyone, but it'd probably be a necessary evil down the road. But down the road. I am more interested in this: if [your absolute favorite show] were only available as a download on a website, what would you pay for it? And then answer the same question if it were just your middle-of-the-road-i-watch-it-cause-it's-on-and-fun show.

Nothing, because i'd be annoyed at the mercenary bastards trying to skank me for cash. If their product was worthwhile, there would be people paying them to air it so i could watch it for free. I don't buy DVD's of tv programmes because i can watch them on TV.

I'd rather pay a fixed rate and take the highs and the lows. If the highs and lows are too much in the low, i stop paying. I want my entertainment to be hassle free.

[ Parent ]
Perfect! (none / 0) (#229)
by mbmccabe on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 07:04:34 AM EST

So within this kind of system, subscribing to a season of a high-quality show like Enterprise or Battlestar Galactica would cost around the same price as I might pay for a subscribe to a better magazine like Fortune or Business Week.  Both sustaining well in excess of 1 million subscribers world wide.   BW claims four times that amount on their website.  (I'm sure the comparison to TV shows only goes so far.)

$50/[year|season] or so - in our survey -  seems like a reasonable number to me!

UPN need only ask me for the money and show me the URL.  :-)

Seems reasonable that the producers of such a show could have at least 1 million paying customers worldwide. That assumption translates to $50 million per season going back to the producers. (These guys say that Battlestar Galactica has been pulling in audiences of 3 million.)

These guys say that Enterprise costs around US$2 million or so per episode to film.  That's $52 million per season (or year).  I don't see why they'd cease, under this model, making additional money from selling advertising on the free, normal-quality version, as well as brand merchandising, DVD sales, etc.  Considering this season of Enterprise was cut to cost only $1.6 million per episode ($41.6 million/season), it seems like this should be a pretty safe system for them to make money.

P.S.  Yes, I'm extrapolating well beyond the scope of the article's survey.  So what?

P.P.S.  An observation about the survey numbers...  The price charged can have a surprising impact on buying habits directly as the old Taco Bell story reminds us.  Supposedly they had trouble selling Tacos at the beginning because people figured they must be crap since they only cost $0.10.  When TB raised the price (and nothing else), people's attitude toward their tacos changed!  In other words, it's possible that $5/episode might be even more favorable than $2 in another survey.

P.P.P.S. It should be fairly simple for the sitcoms and other "lesser" shows to hit the lower price points (if necessary) due to lower production costs.

Less than $0.99... (none / 0) (#230)
by mbmccabe on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 04:14:20 PM EST

There were 262 people that said they wouldn't even pay a dollar for an episode, which I (possibly mistakenly) interpret to mean they'd just prefer to "acquire" their TV

Some other likely interpretations:


  1. "I don't watch TV"
  2. "I would never pay out of pocket for something that's available 100% subsidized on TV"
  3. "My TIVO is fine, thanks."

There's no option more logical for these people than <$0.99.

Maybe next survey, including a "None of the above" option would be a simple way to clarify this <$0.99 group?

Micro Transactions (none / 0) (#232)
by JohnBC on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 04:04:26 AM EST

Throw a few pennies for an impulse item at the convenience store, download a ringtone on your phone and have it show up on your bill or watch a PPV on your TV and it's on your cable bill. How does ANYONE propose to make a micropayment. Not everyone has a credit card or one that works internationally. To make any idea like this work, no matter how superb the DRM, the content or the fan base, making micro pay per use payments/collections, that's the 64 billion dollar question.

What's a Downloaded Episode Worth? | 230 comments (219 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
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