Friday, August 28, 2009

BBC News: File-sharers' TV tastes revealed

The BBC have a story based on some download statistics for TV & film that makes interesting reading. If the TV network executives read this and think "threat" rather than "opportunity" they are missing a trick. What if they uploaded the torrent themselves simultaneously with transmission including the adverts? Nobody is going to bother with an illegal version if this one is available immediately and is of high quality. Only a hardcore pirate would bother with an ad-free version because this would lag slightly behind the official version in terms of time to release, but crucially the number of seeds, and hence the download speed, would be significantly lower.

Yes people could zap through the ads, but that is no different to "TIVO" on broadcast anyway and only a schmuck watches things live these days anyway. If only 2% of people sat through the ads, that is still 1 million people you don't have today in a demographic you would normally struggle to reach.

There is a secret power in "global" as well. Advertisers talk about "playground repeats", which is when slogans and jingles are repeated in the school yard. If your adverts start to permeate the global culture a synergy emerges where the phrases and concepts become a lingua franca in online conversations.

Infrastructure requirements: a laptop, a big disk, and a decent uplink; not bad if you want to reach more than 50 million people worldwide. If it really takes off you could even do away with that expensive array of radio towers.

A halfway solution is no good. Custom players, region and DRM locking, proprietary standards, etc... will always be a niche play against the power of free. Open it up and let the community build the software and hardware to support it. Stick to what you know: making TV shows.

I don't pretend that this is a good solution for films, but it is perfect for TV.


Jonathan Thorpe said...

Hi Rupert,

You might be interested in this programme I heard last night on Radio4 (I know, showing my age!). It's the 'In Business' programme where a bunch of 'old media' types lament the passing of print media in the wake of 'new media'. There were some pretty interesting things discussed, mostly around the 'old media' types having no clue as how to create a business model around 'new media' to generate the commercial value they enjoyed with popular print and TV.

I think your idea has much merit, and content producers are going to have to work out how to monitize the consumption of their content globally, or lose out to the file sharers.

Having said that they might just take a leaf out of the music companies' book and decide to prosecute the consumers of their product(!!!)

Rupert said...

Hi Jon,

Great to here from you. It's been a while!

I think you highlight an interesting issue. New business models come from the outsiders not the encumbants, but where can the two camps collaborate in the current litigious climate?

Some of the online remix stuff the BBC is doing has been quite interesting in that respect. Throwing out the concept of a "show" and letting people put together public assets in new and different ways.