Musings on Everything

I muse, therefore I write.

On Television

So who actually watches TV on TV anymore? I can’t remember the last time I turned on the TV for the purpose of watching an actual TV show. To begin with, I watch less TV than the “average American”, and whatever paltry needs I have for television, I can easily get it in 480p streaming video from the comfort of my web browser using Hulu. I recommend everybody get an account there; it’s got just about every TV show that you can think of (that currently airs, of course). The internet is a great place to get video content legally, now that the networks have decided that locking people in to TV is a rather bad idea. South Park Studios is, of course, streaming South Park episodes. Comedy Central puts most of its content up on Hulu. Oh, what else? I can watch everything from House to the Onion News Network to Miami Vice (not that I’d ever want to) from the comfort of my computer chair. Hell, I can even watch movies like Men in Black and Gattaca (remeber that?). Yes, Hulu is definitely a very good site.

Which brings me to my main point. Why did the networks try so hard to stop others from uploading video content to the internet? And why do they still try to control how people consume content (think iTunes’ DRM that automatically expires TV shows you have downloaded after a few days)? It makes no sense. OK, so they need to make money somehow. I get that. Go ahead, nobody’s stopping you. As far as I see, the main reason that there is so much rampant piracy of TV shows is twofold:

  1. People simply needed a way to watch TV shows on their computer, or be able to take a TV show with them. After all, it’s far simpler to just plug in an external hard drive and show your buddy that cool bit of Heroes from last night’s episode than to wait until they air it again.
    1. But then, they may not ever do that, meaning you’ll have to buy their DVD box set of the season in order to show your buddy that clip, which the two of you may well have forgotten about by that point, meaning that the network ends up losing money from your lost sale.
  2. People also need a certain measure of flexibility in their content. You can’t lock in your audience to your proprietary media player that they have to install on top of the perfectly fine Windows Media Player they’ve already got. That’s just stupid and annoying on your part.
    1. So they may not ever watch your episode. After all, not everybody has a TiVo or DVR. Like me.

So now, the networks have come farther than anybody thought they would regarding point number 1. Hell, they even have their own media portal. That’s frigging awesome. But they aren’t really coming up on to point number 2. If you want high-quality HD content on your hard drive, well, you’d be out of luck if you were looking to get it by legal means. So that leaves the Pirate Bay and Mininova. Again, the networks aren’t really understading the nature of the vaccuum, methinks. They probably thinking, “Well, what more do you want? We already put the show up on the web for you, what more do you want from us?”

Well, I’ll tell you. Is it really that hard to wrap your minds around the idea that maybe, just maybe, there are people who have computers connected to their TVs instead of cable boxes? Is that so hard to understand? And, an even bigger maybe, maybe they all have HDTVs connected to computers, and so want their HD content in 1080p? Is that so tough? Well, I suppose for the networks, it is. Stupid bunch of old fogies in suits arguing over whether Aruba is better than Hawaii (it so is). Get some work done.


Written by Sri

January 12, 2009 at 9:47 PM

Posted in Musings

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