Abandon All Fear

What nobody else seems to be saying…

[Paradigms] Profits… Follow Up to the Last Post

Posted by Lex Fear on September 25, 2008

This is a follow up to my last post (Hearts and Minds).

“But how will anyone make a profit if intellectual property is made free?” I hear you cry.

Simple.

Outside of the BBC, advertising seems to suit most TV and radio networks, even as they move more of their media onto the internet, there is still room for product placements and advertising between shows/performances. Merchandising and hard-copy materials work well too. After all, where do radio stations get all their songs from? Do you think the record industry makes them purchase every single song individually*? No they get free samplers sent to them – would you believe it – to promote the artist?

The MAFIAA missed a trick with P2P, it could have been a huge profit making machine, instead they reacted like Luddites confronted with a mobile phone – they tried to smash it. The problem is they didn’t realise that what they were dealing with was effectively an Uber-Hydra – each time the MAFIAA close down a p2p outfit – they spawn so many more new ones.

The recent release of Heroes Season 3: Villains has broken records on BitTorrent downloads (yup, I have seen it 😀 ) – 92% downloaded from outside the US. The reason for this is obviously the delayed release of most good things that come out of the US.

But is there any need for the delay? I suspect, without researching, it has something to do with other countries networks gaging reception of a show in the States before deciding to bid and purchase it for their network – but is there any reason to do this for tried and tested shows like Heroes? Is there any need for it in the digital age where the rest of the world can access US websites and sneak peek info before it’s even released in the States?

It’s a tired old cliche but it must be said again and again until The Power(less) That Be sit up and take notice. The media industry is still trying to make an old business model fit into a new mould that just wont take it – like putting old wine into new wineskins, a square peg into a round hole.

I noticed the BBC is advertising Heroes Season 3 now. Bravo! Was it that Season 2 was so short, or is it fear of losing the market to filesharers? After all, if the show is available over BitTorrent, ad free and released just a few hours after it airs in the States, what is the point of even running the series on TV anymore?

As the world increasingly turns to the net, and as filesharing gains more followers and more social acceptance, media companies based not-in-the States are going to find it harder and harder to drive a profit. And sod it if I’m going to purchase Sky just so I can watch Lost.

So what can media companies do? Well, the BBC is OK for now, no-one should give a rats-ass about the BBC because they basically tax the British public and will suffer no loss from advertising revenue. For every other network on the planet, here’s a few ideas:

  • Release US shows as soon as possible, don’t wait for scheduling, get them on air
  • Embrace the web. Enable people to log on and catch up or download online (that means us Freetards too)! Link to US network counterparts and create more content.
  • Stop releasing Season Box Sets as Part 1 (12 episodes) and Part 2 (12 episodes). The British public are not that gullible (are they?)!
  • Embrace P2P. There is a reason leaked pilots find their way onto BitTorrent.

Ask yourself this. What if your network was to sell advertising on their own BitTorrent tracker? What if TV networks were to ‘leak’ the episodes about to air on BitTorrent, wrapped in and advertisement bundle? One ad at the beginning of the recording, one in the middle, one at the end? Sure people might repackage it without the ads, but if you get that episode onto a BitTorrent tracker first, it will already have the largest download and seeding! Most people are not going to bother repackaging it, or trying to find one that doesn’t have advertising, since all they want to do is watch the show- they would put up with one or two ads.

Selling advertising content on TV Shows released through BitTorrent would be simple, effective and easy to track. Simply calculate revenues by the number of downloads and you have your profit, as well as subsidising revenues lost from the traditional TV presentation.

I can’t actually believe that no mainstream content provider has actually worked this out yet! When they do, the MAFIAA will be all but dead in the water, and the friendship between media companies and consumers will once again be restored.

As it happens I use BitTorrent but when a show is a good as Lost or Heroes I buy the box sets, especially for the extras. It’s nice to own a hardcopy of something, and I like to get my monies worth. So here’s to the creators of these fine TV shows, let’s hope they see the light and a way to make both money and friends through filesharing!

*I’m well aware that radio stations need to purchase a license to play but this is something rather different to individual copyright enforcement.

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