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Every other week it seems like there's an article about the death of the music industry, or the death of newspapers, or the death of television. Nothing lasts forever, and that's especially true when talking about forms of media delivery. Once there were music shops like Tower Records, and video stores like Blockbuster. But as tapes went to discs, and discs went to streaming downloads, things have changed. Not only have things changed in the way material is procured and watched, but there's also implications for the distribution models of TV series, news and political ads. Next month the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., et al. v. Aereo, Inc. The case has huge implications for the future of television and how it's delivered to consumers. But no matter which direction the decision goes, it's also indicative of the ways consumption of media has changed, and what it might mean for the future of television.

Back in 1976, Congress included a "Transmit Clause" when they updated the Copyright Act. Without getting too deep into the legalese, the Transmit Clause was aimed at cable and satellite companies, and made the rebroadcast of "free," over the air antenna signals copyright infringement. Because of that clause, cable and satellite companies must license the content through negotiating and paying retransmission consent fees. However, there's a bit of a loophole in the Copyright Act of 1976. The law prohibits public displays of the material "at any place where a substantial number of persons" may be watching or listening, but it allows for private performances between "social acquaintances." Hence the reason why lawyers for Fox don't show up at your Super Bowl party to serve you with a lawsuit for gathering your friends together to watch the game. And the reason you can DVR a program and "time shift" watching it, or use a VCR to tape a broadcast and share it with a friend or someone you know.

Aereo, a startup backed by media mogul Barry Diller, has royally pissed off all of the broadcast networks (and their big studio, content provider owners) by attempting to use those exceptions to copyright law for subscription based, time-shifted streams of network television on internet connected devices. To do that, Aereo leases each subscriber within a given service area their own personal dime-sized antennae to either view live television or record programs to a cloud based "DVR." Since the company claims their actions are legal private viewership, because it's an individual antenna for every subscriber, and an individual copy of the content for each user, Aereo pays no retransmission consent fees. Those fees comprise a significant chunk of broadcaster revenue. CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, in one of his more diva-ish moments, threatened to take CBS off the air as a broadcast network if Aereo should win this case. In the same vein, both the National Football League and Major League Baseball have said they will consider removing their games from network television if Aereo should receive a favorable outcome.

Continue below the fold for more.

I'll leave it to Adam B and others to analyze the legal merits of the case when the time comes, but I thought it was a good jumping off point for looking at the changes that might be coming in the future. What's happening with Aereo and the networks touches on a lot of the market forces that have driven media innovations over the past 30 years. In short, choices have increased as consumers demand the ability to watch what they want, when they want, on whatever device they want.

It's not like it was 20 years ago, when if you wanted to see a particular television episode again or that you may have missed, you had to hope to catch it in a rerun. Hell it's not even like it was 10 years ago, when you had to buy the DVD box set or catch the episode in syndication.

The Network Decay that occurs when chasing the 18-49 demo.
  • Cable and Network Losses: The fragmentation of television has been an issue for a while, as network after network chases the 18 to 49-year old advertising demo. Since the early 1980s, the broadcast networks have seen their audience decline, and shift to other outlets. A lot of shows that were cancelled as "busts" in the past would be certified hits in the present landscape where NBC and ABC are lucky if they can get five million people to tune in for one of their series. It's not unusual for AMC's The Walking Dead or a reality show on MTV to beat all of the broadcast offerings on a given night. However, in recent years, cable television has experienced declines. Cable bills have been increasing at around an annual five percent clip during a time of national economic downturn, with the cable companies justifying the rate hikes by complaining about increased licensing fees (like the retransmission fees discussed above) and the loss of subscribers to streaming services. According to at least one study, by 2015 the average cable bill will be $123 and may soar to $200 by 2020. If families have to cut back on expenditures, HBO and Showtime might be the first things to go. If people are losing their homes, they're also losing their cable subscription. So as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon's streaming services have grown, the question has become whether believing the broadcast and cable TV model is sustainable has reached the point of being the equivalent of thinking dial-up services like AOL were going to be relevant forever? And, oddly enough, Time-Warner has experience with investing in both cable television and AOL.
  • The British Model versus the American Model: One thing that's been fairly apparent with the rise of cable dramas over the past 15 years has been how much the American network television model is detrimental to good storytelling. TV series on American networks are based around each season being 20+ episodes, with most of the meat in character story arcs happening during the season premier, sweeps periods (i.e. weeks where the Nielsen ratings are being measured and that advertisers pay particular attention to), and the season finale. The episodes in the weeks in-between those periods are usually filled with fluff and padding to stretch out the show over a season, leading to unevenness in quality. A lot of good shows burn through stories that may have worked much better under different circumstances where they weren't compacted to fit as background b-story. In contrast, the British model for television series is based on a limited, specific number of episodes that are sufficient to tell the story in a given season. Of course, the BBC can do that because they're supported by TV licenses instead of advertisers. But if you look at the most critically acclaimed American television dramas over the past decade or so (i.e. Breaking Bad, The Wire, Mad Men, The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, etc.), they're on cable television where they can have limited seasons (around 10 episodes), similar to the Brit's model.
Most binge viewers (or 56 percent) prefer to do it on their own, alone, with 98% doing so at home. The rest is done while on vacation (16 percent) or traveling on an airplane (13 percent).
  • Binging v. Serialization: About two years ago, the creator of HBO's The Wire, David Simon, gave an interview where he objected to the idea of reviewing The Wire on an episode by episode basis. His argument was the stories for The Wire were season long arcs, and that each episode was like a chapter in a book. And no one reviews a book chapter by chapter. By and large, people seem to prefer the flexibility of Netflix's model for releasing TV series, where you can watch the material whenever and however you want, and it's all available at one time. And there's some evidence that TV series have benefited from streaming availability allowing viewers to "catch up" through binge watching. However, there are some publicists that see deficiencies in it. With a week to week rollout of a show on television, you can build momentum and excitement through word of mouth about the show over time. So the media is talking about it when it premieres, after each episode, and when the finale airs. Shows like Breaking Bad and recently True Detective benefited from that dynamic, where fans would take to Twitter and other forums to analyze what happened in each episode, and offer their theories for what would happen next. With Netflix's distribution model, you get most of that media coverage and buzz in the week of the premiere, and then it fades. For example, Amazon Prime has tried to split the difference with the release of their shows. Amazon releases multiple episodes when the series premiers, and then staggers the remaining episodes on a week to week basis.

From Spencer Kornhaber's interview with Beau Willimon, the creator of Netflix's House of Cards, at The Atlantic:
Willimon: I think that you might see more innovation in what’s possible in terms of form in the years to come. It’s certainly something I’d like to experiment with.

I don’t know how much longer the idea of a “season” will be something that we feel like we need to adhere to in television. Even the idea of an episode. I think with streaming, you might have shows in the future where you have three or four hours released. And then three months later you’ll get another couple hours. And then nine months later you might get six more hours. I mean, do all of those constitute a season, or do you sort of dispense with the notion of seasons altogether?

I’ve toyed with the idea for a show that doesn’t have episodes at all. That would simply be one eight-hour stream for a season, and the viewer decides when they want to pause, if at all. That definitely could affect the writing of a show. But we’re in an in-between period now,where we have traditional broadcast networks on one end of the spectrum and streaming on the other, meaning that shows kind of have to be able to live in both worlds.

  • Does An "a-la-carte" System Make Things Worse?: I'm guessing everyone that's reading this sentence, and has cable television, would probably prefer it if they could somehow not pay for Fox News Channel to watch MSNBC, ESPN, TNT or Bravo. As the thinking goes, if I never watch QVC or MTV, why should I have to pay for it as part of my cable/satellite package? Cable channels are bundled together in the current system, where the costs of ABC Family and The Travel Channel are supported in part by the demand for ESPN and other popular channels. Senator John McCain has been pushing a bill to allow consumers to pick and choose the channels on an a-la-carte basis. However, many analysts believe that it would only make consumers' cable bills worse, as well as limit the revenue that content providers have to create new shows. The production costs for critically acclaimed shows like Mad Men, which has never had a huge audience, can be justified by the bundled cable subscriptions that include AMC, even though the revenue is coming from people who may have never watched a second of AMC. If you un-bundle the channels, the weaker networks will likely die off, and the popular networks will demand more for their material. So instead of getting 500 channels for $100, you'll get 30 channels for $90. And since costs are no longer spread across the bundled package, many of the best cable shows would no longer be able to justify their production budgets, and cease to exist. This is also what would happen if the broadcast and cable system of television totally collapsed tomorrow. If every network became an "app" on smart TVs, Apple TV, Xboxs, PlayStations, or Roku boxes, the same cost/revenue dynamics would be at work, and consumers would probably pay more for less.
Netflix has more subscribers than any U.S. cable or satellite provider, as well as more domestic subscribers than HBO.
  • The Limits of Streaming: The streaming services are still in their infancy, and a lot of what people like about them is based on the services being supplements instead of true competitors to networks and cable channels. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime are largely dependent on the preexisting system for content and distribution. The reason Netflix and Hulu can offer the movies and TV shows they can is because it pays licensing fees for those shows, which have already been created and supported by the fees and revenue associated with network and cable television. And with their original offerings like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, Netflix is still dependent on the cable/phone companies for broadband service. Netflix eats up 32 percent of the downstream traffic in North America, and just made a deal with Comcast for faster service. Also, if I want to watch HBO Go or ESPN on my Xbox or iPad, I can because it's based on my DirecTV subscription and the bundled fees and licensing of the preexisting system. If you throw that system out the window, you get back to what was touched on in the preceding bullet-point, in that there's no way it can operate in the same way without having to pay more.
  • The Future of News and Political Ads: Newspapers and news magazines have struggled to survive, and the idea of the nightly network news broadcast being the center of a day's news cycle has shifted to 24-hour cycle of cable news and online blogs. Research claims that younger people “graze” on news stories online throughout the day, rather than tune in for broadcasts at scheduled times. If TV-based news shifts to be more like the internet, then some of the same dynamics of internet-based news are likely to take hold. News info will likely come down to 140 character or less Twitter-like updates, further fragmentation of the audience among ideological lines, news producers trying to find viral moments that may or may not be "news," and the ability to pick and choose which segments you want to watch and learn more about rather than sitting through an entire broadcast and theoretically being "informed" about everything going on in the world. Also, if television moves away from its current broadcast model, the effect on political advertising is an interesting issue to consider. Even though every campaign wants a lot of money to drown their opponent in ads, there's considerable debate over how effective those ads actually are. But the streaming services claim they can target and reach voters much more effectively than the TV networks. According to one study, almost one-third of television viewers in 2012 battleground states were not watching scheduled television, and relied on DVRs, TiVo, Apple TV, Roku and services like Hulu. Political campaigns, like President Obama's, ran zip code based ads on Hulu, for shows popular within certain demographics, because of data that indicated 70 to 80 percent of Hulu users cast a ballot in both the 2008 and 2010 elections. Political ads are running on Pandora as well, since Pandora claims it can predict with "75-80 percent accuracy" how an individual will vote based on age, location and music preference.
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Comment Preferences

  •  I really really really am hoping (28+ / 0-)

    that the recent trend in cable towards smaller series (and even on noncable channels) is a sign of things to come. Cable increasing their prices is simply nonsustainable. It's already at the point where most people would rather wait till it hits hulu or netflex or amazon than pay a hundred dollars to watch less then 5% of the channels you are 'buying'.

    Between these 2 factors I'm hopeful for American TV and if not well there's always nexflix I suppose.

    Der Weg ist das Ziel

    by duhban on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:07:20 PM PDT

    •  But cable subscribers are subsidising Netflix.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IreGyre, TrueBlueMajority

      ...and other services like it.  I thought that was the most interesting part of the article and something I had never considered.  I have only Netflix for TV and have always felt a little smug and self-satisfied (if I'm being totally honest) that I only paid $9 a month for TV content when many I know pay $75 or more.  "Why don't they just do what I do?", I wondered.

      But as this points out, many of the shows I watch on Netflix only exist because millions of people are paying that $75 a month so that a channel like SyFy can afford to make a show like Eureka or Farscape (or, they could afford to make them while they were being produced, same difference).  

      If everyone gives up on cable and goes to Netflix, then what will happen to the more "fringe" networks?  I'm sure many here wouldn't bemoan the loss of many of the channels that might not make the cut (MTV, TLC, NFL Network, etc.)  But could SyFy support themselves with just subscriptions from viewers?  Could Animal Planet or NatGeo?  Maybe.  But certainly not all of them.  And without content providers creating shows for them to lease, what would Netflix stream?

      •  Netflix and Amazon (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        duhban, TrueBlueMajority

        are getting into the business of generating their own content (House of Cards being an early example). But that is not going to replace the pool of cable shows they draw on, anytime soon.

      •  More crowd sourced productions in part anyway (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        duhban

        people paying for episodes to be produced... and maybe get credits for viewing other shows... become part of an advanced audience of "patrons" who effectively share access with others who help crowd fund a show or series or mini series.

        Netflix will have to charge more to cover its own production costs as it ramps up to get more new original content as content from traditional sources dries up or dissappears... and others will become rivals to Netflix with a similar delivery and charging model.

        Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

        by IreGyre on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 07:49:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think this is a facinating possibility. . . (0+ / 0-)

          My wife is a fan of Veronica Mars, and I thought the kickstarter to raise funds for the movie was an interesting setup, but I wonder how sustainable it was.  I think many of the actors agreed to appear in the movie without any money upfront, instead getting a portion of the sales.  

          When the movie came out my wife and I bought it rather than rent it not because we really love the series (though we both enjoy it) but more to help support this innovative new method of movie-making.

          The movie was pretty good too!

      •  Channels will go away (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        duhban

        Basically it will be more like movies or music  than TV - instead of paying for 24/7 coverage focused around some niche (the current cable format) you will pay for specific content.

        Sports is the best example. In an a la carte world - what good is ESPN? What benefit is there from having a middle man to agregate and brad content - at least if you are a major league - just do it yourself.

        •  Because then you'll have to hire (0+ / 0-)

          all the behind the camera talent as well as the players in front of it. No league will want to do that . . .

          "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

          by bryduck on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 02:21:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  this is true to an extent (0+ / 0-)

        but at the same time Netflex still has to pay for those shows as well. I am not sure what will happen but I do know that like the music industry the cable and movie industry is fighting a losing battle with the current model.

        Take CBS for instance it's been over a decade and their online presence is still pathetic and will probably always be pathetic.

        Der Weg ist das Ziel

        by duhban on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 08:35:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You misunderstand the content business model (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Shovelbum

        Shovelbum,

        I appreciate your concern for fairly compensating those who are creating compelling content. I used to be one of those creative people and am advising a couple startups taking advantage of the the change.

        The model of cable that has emerged is advertising based, not cable subscriber based.

        ESPN was demanding roughly 25% of every subscriber dollar, even when subscribers did not get ESPN.

        This is changing.

        With so little money left for "basic cable" content this became a battle for "slotting fees" like you see played out in the supermarket beverage aisle. Did you ever wonder why you walk down the 75 foot long soda aisle and one side is all Pepsi distributed products and the other side all Coke, and hidden in a corner are a few bottles of a local company? The big chains literally auction off shelf space to the highest bidder with up front fees for slot on the shelf: aka "slotting fees."  Small companies have to buy their way in, but at a cost that is unprofitable.

        Cable evolved the same way.

        OK, what's this have to do with content?  There is soooooo much money paid up front for slotting fees, channel fees, distribution fees, percentages, etc. that the amount of money that actually makes it down to the creatives is de minimis.

        By going to Netflix my friends are going to make far more money by controlling their own content, much as musicians are doing better with web distribution vs the A&R model of vinyl.

        Don't think the big distributors and all those in the distribution food chain getting a percentage for not being creative are taking this lying down. Take a meeting in Hollywood and "monetization" is the second topic of discussion after stroking egos.

        One last item:  Mark Burnett has found several ways to monetize his "reality" shows and NOT share revenue with the networks or other distribution parties.  He gets in-show product placement slotting fees (why would any healthy person compete for a can of Coke and a Dorito?). He gets product placement with promotional fees. He even gets stock warrants for companies promoted in his shows (e.g. Everlast boxing equipment) for The Contender.

        •  Very interesting! But more questions. . . . (0+ / 0-)

          Thanks so much for responding.  You have a lot of information about this!

          So, to clarify, what you're saying is that in the post-network world we'll see more shows being produced and then licensed directly, like the old first-run syndicated shows of the 80's (one famous example being Star Trek TNG)?

          I think that would be a very interesting setup.  A production company like Paramount makes a new show and they directly license it to Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime etc?  

          I just wonder if that will still allow for niche-market shows to thrive.  I don't think any other network could get away with making a show like Farscape (intricate plots and Jim Henson puppets in space!).  Or Eureka (a niche sci-fi show with a huge proportion minority cast).  Heck, when a network tried something fairly similar, Firefly, it famously got canned very quickly.  

          Taking your music analogy further (and something I know a bit about from personal experience) while big-name artists still do fine in the digital distribution setup, really small-potatoes musicians don't make any real money on digital sales and rely on digital distribution to boost their ability to fill a venue for live performance.  I'm just worried how that would work for small-scale companies with a high-quality product (good writing, good concept) but with only small market potential.

      •  The SyFy Channel... (0+ / 0-)

        is not a great or the best example. The reason is that from what I understand (not having or being able to afford the honor of subsidizing it)...they are rarely running anything anyone would call SciFi. Don't think Ghost Hunters or Pro Wrestling would be the most shining examples of what they show. Believe History is the same way. I love Ice Road Truckers...but does it make it something worthwhile historically or is it the same as the rest of the BS they call reality shows?

        Maybe...letting these channels die might not be that bad of an idea.

  •  Lets take a moment: (24+ / 0-)

    Free market and innovation are supposed to the heart of American Business.
    All I get out of this article is the established corporations are trying to drown the baby, which is neither "free market" or innovation.

    So lets take moment and think about where we as citizens and end users fit into this bullshit.

    I would tell you the only word in the English language that has all the vowels in order but, that would be facetious.

    by roninkai on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:07:25 PM PDT

    •  Every time I call it a business you call it a game (0+ / 0-)
      "Free market and innovation are supposed to the heart of American Business."
      I'm a serial founder and I can assure you than quote is disinformation designed to lull the gullible into complacency.
  •  One of these days, I will write a diary (21+ / 0-)

    about the history of television from the Nipkow Disk to today. Television has captivated us from the very first "geeks" to big business.

    I think I'll write it tomorrow.

    Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

    by commonmass on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:11:51 PM PDT

  •  hasn't it already collapsed (9+ / 0-)

    so that those who control bandwidth /content distribution as you eloquently point out (have always been) the new monopolies: providers rather than broadcasters

    {aka the dissertation proposal before its time}

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

    by annieli on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:14:08 PM PDT

    •  owning satellites or their access (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, Words In Action

      or a satellite-killing platform (see railguns) as well as other infrastructure element owners are part of the domination of the bandwidth property in this context are spectral and temporal dependent on the spatial and temporal control of the wireline and wireless network terrains

      (also part of the dissertation proposal before its time}

      Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

      by annieli on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:55:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Can someone (0+ / 0-)

        rewrite this in English?

        or a satellite-killing platform (see railguns) as well as other infrastructure element owners are part of the domination of the bandwidth property in this context are spectral and temporal dependent on the spatial and temporal control of the wireline and wireless network terrains

        Citing the Bible as proof of God is like citing comic books to prove the existence of Superman. (h/t to Stevie Ray Fromstein @ TheHolyAtheist.com)

        by rdbaker43 on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 05:12:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  MLB is still OTA? (10+ / 0-)

    You could have fooled me.  I live in the Atlanta area, and cut the cord a couple few years back.  The same time frame, the Braves tv deal switched to all of their games to cable - not a single game broadcast over Atlanta airwaves (outside of some special network broadcast).

    You put up an antenna, you get to watch ad supported tv for free.  Networks execs are sad because now cable subscribers who pay exorbitant rates to watch ad supported tv are finding ways to get their own personnel antenna without paying a cable company and an antenna fee?  I have no sympathy.  

  •  is there really a good reason (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thanatokephaloides, Odysseus

    why tv networks cant just forget tvs and do internet version?

    why do we need the tv again?

    •  Broadband limits for one (0+ / 0-)

      When a cable company broadcasts 1000 channels it sends them out once. All 500 people in your neighborhood are getting the same feed.

      When they send out on demand, they obviously send each feed out individually. Even if you are all watching the same show, its not the same feed.

      SO you need presumably alot more bandwidth - at least during Peak viewing hours.

      Thats probably a diminishing concern or most suburban and urban Americans these days - but or people in rural areas, broadband is nowhere near developed enough to deliver streaming HD video  - alot of these people don't even have cable.

  •  developing technology is also a factor (8+ / 0-)

    The cost of producing television is coming down fast, and it is now completely possible that someone can create a good television program on their own using their own computer and cameras.  

    Just as once-upon-a-time it took expensive recording studios and engineers to create a good sounding recording, the world is now filled with indy-bands.   We are starting to see indy-movie-producers who can create compelling tv all by themselves.

    Have you noticed that every single Hollywood movie now has complicated CGI effects and lots of extras?  That's because ONLY Hollywood can make those movies.  Everything else can be made by any talented group of backyard-movie producers.  If you attend any film festival you'll know what I mean.

    The music-business has cratered.  People are still making music, but they are not making any money from it.  Just a few high-powered musical acts with great connections to advertisers who can support them, and a whole bunch of legacy formerly famous people who are still trading off of their "brand".

    I think it will take a long time, but tv is headed in that direction.

    •  The Orient (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thanatokephaloides

      China and India have post production houses doing CGI.
      Or look at Iron Sky, which was a crowd funded indie with CGI.

      In Closing: if space Nazi's on the moon can do it anybody can.

      I would tell you the only word in the English language that has all the vowels in order but, that would be facetious.

      by roninkai on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:27:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  TV never was that expensive to produce. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      duhban

      a tv film set was never that more complicated then
      a stage set.  Add some more lights and some spots
      for cameras.

      add in the declining costs for cameras, and mixers,
      and now it's really Pro-Am.

      •  yeah... with Admin and ad selling dominating (0+ / 0-)

        the shows cost more and more money but they had to support the top heavy corporate encumbrance and feed its profit needs... with the shows serving the sponsors or the excuse to have people stuck watching the ads that generated all the income...

        Be nice to jettison all that top heavy leech component... and the corporate profit stream siphoning... at least for a while until somehow the distributed crowd sourced programming and funding gets gamed into a new middleman profit diverting apparatus... as it will. It will be via new mechanisms...

        there are always choke points or potential bottlenecks that enterprising "innovators" can locate or cultivate and evolve to be a toll gate that allegedly "adds value" but which in reality is just another way to take advantage of a weak point in a process/delivery/payment/idea transfer flow and make people pay more one way or the other via a new formula.

        Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

        by IreGyre on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 08:02:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, I've found BitTorrent (0+ / 0-)

          makes a good virtual DVR for over the air broadcast shows. The kind strangers that start the upload even remove the commercial breaks for me! I stay away from anything not broadcast, since getting cease and desist emails from the USA Network. Time shifting for purely personal use is not going to get me in trouble, though IANAL :)

  •  The recently launched WWE Network (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thanatokephaloides, duhban

    Is something worth keeping track of.

  •  What we really need is decoupling internet and (5+ / 0-)

    cable delivery, then the cable industry would die a quicker  death (and their lowest service ratings every year).  As you touch upon in the a la carte part, most of us subsidize everyone elses viewing, and this is most apparent in bundles. Just price out internet only options, they always end up very close in price to bundles once the short term specials run out. And they throttle high streaming use. I lived without cable, greatest 2 years of my life, the only reason I have it now is I moved and it was literally 9 dollars more to add to my internet than internet only would have cost me.

    Not to mention that if I pay  for a service, I should be able to enjoy said service whenever I please.

  •  Ancient Chinese Parable (4+ / 0-)

    the Punch line being

    "I shall pay for the smell of your food with the sight of my money"

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:28:29 PM PDT

    •  actually that's from Carlos Bulosan (6+ / 0-)

      He was a Philippine born essayist and humorist who wrote many stories of his childhood. In My Father Goes to Court, he recounts the tale of the poor family and the rich family and the wonderful scents of the rich family's cooking. (Bulosan's family was poor.) The rich man sues the poor man for enjoying the pleasure of the scent of their good cooking. in court, the poor father agrees to pay and collects coins from all of his friends present and offers them to the rich man to smell.

      A quick search indicates that there is a movie version of this story on Youtube. I have no idea how good it is. The original story was quite charming.

      P.S. That "ancient Chinese" whatever is rarely what it seems. That's the usual citation for "A picture is worth a thousand words." That was actually Frederick Barnard, an advertising man, back in 1921.

  •  Why isn't this just a cloud-based DVR? Period. (4+ / 0-)

    It "retransmits" to the person who could have recorded it on his own DVR. (It doesn't retransmit to anyone else, does it?) And then I could play it on my computer like I'd put a DVD into it ... why would the nature of the device on which I ultimately play it make any difference?

    What am I missing?

    2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:28:55 PM PDT

    •  The subscribers to the service... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      petral

      Presumably do not have access to a good variety of OTA stations.  Presumably, NYC is saturated with them, and these banks of antenna pick them all up.  Consider if you live an area that doesn't get good reception, that you can pay the cable company tons of money for an "HD" package, or you can pay this company for your own personal antenna that picks up the HD signals broadcast for free (somewhat inconveniently, and incidentally, hundreds of miles from where you live).  The DVR service is just a bonus to the legal loophole - the real nub is that personal antenna.  You've got to have your own antenna in order to have the legal right to get the service.

      •  Gotcha. THAT puts it in the realm of CATV, (0+ / 0-)

        ... the old Community Antenna Television.

        It was CATV, a tall antenna (to serve people who couldn't get good off-the-air signals in cities where buildings blocked or rural areas outside the reach of TV stations) that started all this by retransmitting broadcast signals to its subscribers.

        Sounds to me like the new guy on the block is just another distribution system, a mini version of the Dish (satellite) Network, which also pays those fees.

        2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

        by TRPChicago on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 05:35:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  alas, "Paleo-World" was one of my favorite shows (9+ / 0-)

    That was back when you could actually learn things on The Learning Channel.

    Sadly, those days are now gone. Nearly everything on TV (broadcast or cable) now is crap. Even the "science" is space aliens and Bigfoot. I cut the cord last year, and instead now watch BBC documentaries on YouTube.

    I also hated the trend to serialize shows and make every season a single long drawn-out episode.

    Pandora claims it can predict with "75-80 percent accuracy" how an individual will vote based on age, location and music preference
    So how DOES a 53-year old heavy metal fan in Tampa Bay, Florida vote . . . . ?

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:31:06 PM PDT

    •  Pandora would predict that I'm a Tea Partier (5+ / 0-)

      I'm a 24-year-old resident of Westville, Illinois (population roughly 2,750 and located in a conservative part of the state), and I tend to listen to mostly country music (particularly older country music such as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, etc.).

      Obviously, I'm not a Tea Partier, and I absolutely despise the Tea Party. However, I'm probably the best example of how Pandora probably couldn't predict my political leanings correctly.

    •  historical tv (7+ / 0-)
      Sadly, those days are now gone. Nearly everything on TV (broadcast or cable) now is crap. Even the "science" is space aliens and Bigfoot.
      DO. NOT. get me started on history TV via cable!

      Just a small taste:

      "Pawn Stars, Ice Road Truckers, Swamp People, and space alien crap are NOT history!!"
          -- thanatokephaloides

      "It's high time (and then some) that we put an end to the exceptionalistic nonsense floating around in our culture and face the fact that either the economy works for all, or it doesn't work AT all." -- Sean McCullough (DailyKos user thanatokephaloides)

      by thanatokephaloides on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:59:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Reruns only for me (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      duhban, Calamity Jean, Ohkwai
      I also hated the trend to serialize shows and make every season a single long drawn-out episode.
      I have given up on watching first runs of those long drawn out series because I got burned too many times by the networks. You watch a whole season or two and suddenly the series is cancelled, with nothing to wrap it up, explain the mysteries, reveal who the real killers were, or whatever.

      Now I wait for them to actually conclude the whole thing, then I can catch it in syndication (with DirecTV I can program it to record all episodes so I don't miss any). At least I know I won't be left hanging and wondering.

      And yes, the science and history channels that have devolved to searching for Jesus' authentic foreskin, or investigating if the Mayan calendar was developed with help of extraterrestrials, are just sad empty husks of what they used to be.

      •  Someday people will add more eps or wrap show (0+ / 0-)

        So the abruptly cancelled series will have a chance to complete the "5 year mission" so to speak...

        ALL films and shows will be far more editable than they already are not... computer aided photoshopping.....call it videoshop with AI... you can cast yourself or anyone else real or imagined... recast with other movie stars or amalgams... in any existing film or show from anytime in history and seamlessly merge it in so that it looks original and storylines can be improved... scenes reshot added or altered... and based on preproduction and or drafts... story sketches and unshot scripts etc... the missing next season can be reconstructed as it might have been... fan books... and other more official spinoff books could be filmed too...

        but it will take some time for that to be the norm.

        Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

        by IreGyre on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 08:09:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Very carefully. :-) (0+ / 0-)

      If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

      by edg on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 08:30:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Since I'm not a consumer, although businessmen (6+ / 0-)

    'they drink my wine,' but a citizen, the economic viability of the networks, broadcast or cable matters not a bit to me.

    What is interesting is the concentration of ownerships. If cable and 'broadcast' go the way of the dodo, will we still have five or six corporations deciding what is news; what is entertainment; what the public wants?

    For all the 'I don't do tv/radio/papers' claims from people the fact remains that the Info/Entertainment Cartel drives almost everything we see and hear, not only about political narratives, but in setting cultural norms.

    ***
    I do wonder how many people clicked on the Aereo link before reading the article.


    Real fixes, outside the coffin fixes, ain't ever pragmatic says Political Conventional Wisdoom.

    by Jim P on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:38:16 PM PDT

  •  has Netflix improved any recently? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thanatokephaloides

    I signed up years ago for the streaming service, only to find that in just a few weeks I watched everything they had that I wanted to see, and they hardly ever got any new stuff after that. I canceled. They still send me "we want you back !!" emails.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:48:55 PM PDT

    •  It depends on how much TV you watch. (0+ / 0-)

      I have Netflix, Amazon Prime, and OTA. Most of the time that's enough, but in periods of prolonged idleness, I'm still force to rent a movie.
         If you just want to catch a occasional (old) movie once in a while, Netflix is good enough.
         Of course their binge series are a real selling point as well.

    •  Only for TV shows. (0+ / 0-)

      They (apparently) can only afford to license a handful of the biggest blockbusters--and massive bombs--but not the bulk of Hollywood productions, at least.

      "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

      by bryduck on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 02:27:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  another cable cutter here (4+ / 0-)

    We're on iTunes and Amazon for our fix, but an awful lot of things are only out on DVD or VHS tape. Moving to streaming means that the content providers can once again take stuff out of circulation, so I'm keeping my region free DVD player and ancient VHS player handy. (I have an old LaserDisk player, but that was for various technical documents.)

    •  Me as well (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      duhban, petral

      I can get 16 broadcast channels, including the commercial networks and 2 PBS stations, a fairly decent movie channel, 3 'retro' channels, and Ion, which shows Leverage and Law & Order, CI, 3 times a week, and some nifty Canadian cooking and remodeling shows.  I also have Netflix streaming and discs.  I can watch as much or as little as I want and the cost is $15.98 per month for the Netflix.  I'm not including a block of 5 Christian broadcasting channels, because I never watch them.

  •  The new season model sounds horrible. (0+ / 0-)

    I hated how Battlestar Galactica did seasons 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5...  I felt like I was always waiting between those half seasons, and not enough happened. Same with the Walking Dead. One episode left, and they've done jack shit.

    It's really starting to bore me and I just don't feel like wasting my time. I'll probably watch a whole lot less TV in the future, and I'm not sad about that.

    •  I think that's a problem with the writers (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Norm in Chicago

      The Walking Dead suffers from bad writing propped up by practical effects. A short season could result in a better show if the writers were actually any good. As it is, you get lots of slow and rather stupid behavior from the characters as well as  some pretty bad acting.

  •  I strongly disagree with your a-la-carte bashing. (7+ / 0-)

    That tired old logic has been trotted out time and again with nothing to support it but opinion. In the old days, music used to be bundled in to an "album" wherein 2 or 3 good songs were to be found among 9 or 10 mediocre or bad songs. Then Apple discovered that people would pay 99 cents for an individual song.

    The same is true for TV. Why should I pay to support QVC (fer christssake, it's an INFORMERCIAL!!!) just so I can obtain HGTV? That's insane.

    I think McCain is on the right track. I'd be willing to pay 99 cents or even $1.49 per month to get the 15 or so channels I regularly watch. They can keep the other 85 junk channels from my bundle.

    If you want ESPN, so be it, you can buy it. I don't want to support your sports fix or your reality TV fix or your shopping network fix.

    It's time TV moved into the 21st century.

    If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

    by edg on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 08:36:12 PM PDT

    •  Strongly agree with you... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      And I will further note that the diary's a-la-carte bashing is pretty much just rehashed industry talking points that are used to justify the current business model.

      Anyone who thinks that business model exists for the benefit of viewers is naïve.  Bottom line is that the current bundled model of programming is the one that most effectively extracts large numbers of dollars from viewers and spreads those dollars efficiently between the distribution services, networks, studios, and sports leagues.

      In the absence of bundling, what we would likely see is a massive drop in the amount of money paid for rights to sporting events and for off-network reruns.  That this would result in the viewer paying almost as much to get much less is purely speculation, with nothing to back it up.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 09:42:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Economic supply and demand backs it up. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bryduck

        The above poster states they would be willing to pay 1-1.50 per channel for about 15 channels. Well, so would everyone else.

        With that model, what is keeping other less popular channels alive? So they go away. Now say we are down to 30 or so (or even 50) channels instead of 200. What does a diminished supply side lead to? Less competition and higher prices.

        I'm no expert on the barriers to entry for a new cable network right now, but I know that without a massive advertising campaign, a new network wouldn't stand a chance with a la carte to get to a sustainable level of operation. People overall are set in their choices and need a huge reason to add another cost to their life - even if it is just a dollar or 2 a month.

        Is the current system good and sustainable? No. But thinking a la carte is the end all be all is ignoring all the angles.

        There is no "path" to choose. The path is what is behind you that led you to today. What lies in front of you is not a fork in the road - a choice of paths to take, but rather an empty field for you to blaze your own direction.

        by cbabob on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 08:25:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Um, no... (0+ / 0-)
          Now say we are down to 30 or so (or even 50) channels instead of 200. What does a diminished supply side lead to? Less competition and higher prices.
          In this instance, it does not.  For one thing, there is little competition now, since those multitude of channels are owned by very few companies.  There is also currently no price competition, since the end customer is not able to "vote" through their choices on whether to support specific channels at a given price point.

          Finally, the premise that fewer channels means a reduced supply is faulty -- unlike most consumer products, my choice to buy a particular channel does not reduce the availability of that channel to other buyers.  Also, if a particular channel goes away, viewers won't automatically flock to buy the remaining available channels -- to give an example, if Cartoon Network goes off the air, I'm not likely to replace it with TruTV.

          By your reasoning, cable TV should have been more expensive when it was a 20 channel service than it is today.  Needless to say, that wasn't the case.

          Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

          by TexasTom on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 10:32:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There is a big difference between (0+ / 0-)

            the "rules" for when a business is in its infancy and when it has matured. We are now looking at a mature biz with already-defined or calculated regulations, costs, licensing agreements, and revenue streams.

            "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

            by bryduck on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 02:31:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  So what? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              TexasTom

              I care nothing for the already-defined revenue stream of a cable company. If they can't support alacarte delivery, let them go bankrupt and be replaced by others who can.

              If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

              by edg on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 03:23:16 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  My point was that (0+ / 0-)

                the economics of the situation is different depending on when in the "lifecycle" the biz is in. At what point do "we" declare all legally binding contracts, for example, null and void?
                Oh, yeah, I'm also not talking about the cable companies, may they burn in hell, but the TV channels.

                "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

                by bryduck on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 03:43:30 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  What legally binding contracts? (0+ / 0-)

                  I'm not following.

                  The TV channels themselves have a new medium they're just beginning to exploit: Internet delivery. That's why the cable companies are fighting tooth and nail against Net Neutrality. Within a couple of years there will be no need for traditional cable or satellite. Unless the corporations can buy enough Congressmen to their side.

                  If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

                  by edg on Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 12:20:10 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Between the production (0+ / 0-)

                    companies, the networks, the advertisers, the casts and the crews, and any other entities who make or spend money on/for shows to exist . . .

                    "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

                    by bryduck on Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 12:50:52 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  No, but when the channel is no longer economically (0+ / 0-)

            viable, then the channel will no longer be available to buy.

            How many scifi subscribers will it take for them to survive at $1.49 a subscription? I'm picking on a fairly popular but still very niche channel that would upset a fair number of people if it faded away. Taking that into account, would you not expect scifi watchers to be willing to pay more?

            What about channels that offer the same type of programming? Why have any more than 2? If there are 10 now, you don't think some would wither away? And to the victors go the spoils?

            And comparing the startup 20 channel cable systems of the 80's and what is available now is ridiculous. People back then were used to paying $0.00 for watching TV, and it was a major hurdle to get them to even consider paying (!!) to watch TV. Now it is the first thing people schedule when they move.

            My parents wouldn't even consider it until 1990 - when our local cable brought on WGN (so they could watch the Cubs on TV).

            On a different tack entirely, I would imagine that people who say they want only 15 channels now would start complaining when "there's nothing on TV" and actually "need" to expand their channel selection.

            I would also like an example anywhere in the non-hypothetical world where a la carte pricing means it ends up cheaper for the end consumer. It sure isn't the case in dining, unless you only get the main meal.

            A la carte always means things are priced higher individually than when ordered with a group of things.

            There is no "path" to choose. The path is what is behind you that led you to today. What lies in front of you is not a fork in the road - a choice of paths to take, but rather an empty field for you to blaze your own direction.

            by cbabob on Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 06:16:54 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  You're forgetting some angles. (0+ / 0-)

          The main revenue stream for channels is advertising. Subscription fees help defray distribution costs of the cable or satellite carrier but have little bearing on the profitability of the channel provider.

          Besides, your favorite 15 channels are likely different than mine, so between us we support 30 channels. My neighbor watches channels you and I don't watch. With 330 millions Americans, it is trivial to support thousands of channels.

          I would say you are the one ignoring all the angles.

          If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

          by edg on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 03:21:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  So between us, all 30 survive? (0+ / 0-)

            No, I can almost guarantee that they won't. Diluted support for channels will increase the price they need to charge to stay viable.

            If these channels' distribution costs have little bearing on their profitability, then why are they negotiating higher fees from the cable companies?

            If ESPN charges $3/month or AMC charges $1.50 now, do you really think that these prices will hold constant in a la carte? They will find their price point to maximize their income. Advertising also will change, because so many watch these shows without seeing ads.

            Anyways, channels as they exist now will probably go by the wayside anyways, as the new model based on the "on demand" preferences builds even more strong.

            There is no "path" to choose. The path is what is behind you that led you to today. What lies in front of you is not a fork in the road - a choice of paths to take, but rather an empty field for you to blaze your own direction.

            by cbabob on Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 05:59:01 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Where are there no ads on cable or satellite? (0+ / 0-)

              Do you mean people who DVR and skip the commercials? That happens to broadcast TV, too.

              If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

              by edg on Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 12:16:11 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  so like music? not so good then (0+ / 0-)

      Smaller selling artists could sell albums and that helped make it possible for them to stay signed to do more albums... and the big stars sold so many that it helped the label have more funding to risk investing in new acts...

      But that model has withered... and there is a gulf between old big acts with declining physical sales that can go on revival tours... and niche bands can link up old fans and new via the net... and survive on direct sales and some live shows... but while net has revived a lot of variety it is small potatoes... The main swamp of musical tastes and or business has become a monoculture of hip hop/rap and boy or girl acts of the moment worse than it ever was....

      More and more people are just not paying for music any longer... even downloads of a la carte are dropping... no albums, no singles no downloads and fast shrinking CD sales too.

      And that is the way video is going... TV, DVDs Blu Ray... Theatre first... then what? cable and satellite audiences down... do they retain at least some with first run post theatre showing? pirating and streaming will cut into that  even more... the whole business model is evaporating...

      And the Alien/bigfoot/bible spinoff / reality show cheap nonsense on documentary channels and cheap shovel ware series filler wasteland will only spread... the lowest common denominator will win....

      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

      by IreGyre on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 08:52:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Technology has been killing the Big 3 bit... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    duhban

    ...by bit. Video casettes, and DVDs. Watch a time-shifted show, or get a whole series on DVDs. Like old comedies? They've dug out and pressed the first 16 episodes of I'm Dickens, he's Fenster! Maybe they'll get around to the latter 16 someday. Meanwhile there's sets of many other old TV shows available, as well as movies.

     UHF channels making inroads into their OTA viewers. Latino channels, local programming, some ethnic, and rerun operations like ME-TV.

    Cable and satellite TV. Better signals to get the UHF stations.

    Then the topper: switching to digital. Only they didn't figure on the signals not going the distance any more.

    When I was a wee lad, I noticed that out in the country, people had big steerable antennas on towers for their TV reception. You can't do that with digital, so they switched first to analog, then digital satellite service.

    If you're lucky in the city, you may have cable, or even better, FIOS.

    The broadcast model is a leftover of the old radio networks.

    If they can't give us something we want to watch, well...

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 08:51:25 PM PDT

  •  dude, if i could choose, (6+ / 0-)

    i'd only be buying Al Jazeera international,
    France 24,  BBC, Weather News,
    AMC, SyFy, HBO and Showtime.

    Even if i paid $10/month for HBO and Showtime and
    $5/month for the others it'd still be cheaper then
    a bundle

    •  Ahh, but how do you know what (0+ / 0-)

      you'd have to pay for any of those? None of us do, but logic dictates that there would arise some sort of market model--one where demand and price operate to determine which channels survive, and how much each viewer pays. The problem then becomes, how does the production company of a show on a marginal channel get its money to pay its talent when the only venue releasing/broadcasting it doesn't get any money until after production has been completed to attract an audience?

      "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

      by bryduck on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 02:37:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  netflix is like $10/month, Am-Prime not more (0+ / 0-)

        and if you look at original content,
        it's about $100K/show if you don't have any high dollar talent,
        just crew and talking heads.

        Take a look at daytime TV all that crap is cheap,
        and it's why reality shows are popular, just cheap to turn out.

        Scripted dramas run more, 500K or more,  but,
        it's risking Say $7 million per series.
        if you have some subscribers, you need about a million
        subscribers, it's not a big deal.

        http://voices.yahoo.com/...

        •  It is *now.* (0+ / 0-)

          We're talking about a very different future environment, where there are, possibly, no deep pockets to absorb any losses whatsoever. One "miss" and your channel is gone, probably.

          "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

          by bryduck on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 03:46:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Part of the competition... (0+ / 0-)

    Places like this. Can't watch TV and hang out doing this kind of thing at the same time.

    Actually, I can, but it's YouTube TV that I watch. Can pause at will, watch what I want when I want.

    I can be active here and passive with TV at the same time.

    The United States for All Americans

    by TakeSake on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 09:29:18 PM PDT

  •  I cut the cable (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, Odysseus

    today. I only watched MSNBC occasionally, but  lately even that was not worth the hour or two of my time it consumed.
    I can watch worthwhile segments online the next day.
    For breaking news I get alerts on my phone. Bye bye cable bill.

    •  my cellphone goes next (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, IreGyre

      as soon as my contract ends. I already tell everyone I know "don't call me, email me instead". I used to check emails on my phone; now I check it on my tablet instead (I can usually get a free wifi signal no matter where I go, from a nearby McDonalds or whatever).

      About the only thing I really use my phone for anymore is to see what time it is.

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 09:50:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm advising a new series (0+ / 0-)

    with novel content and business model that wouldn't be possible on broadcast or cable television.

    Streaming video, a technology we tried to pioneer circa 1991, has finally arrived.

  •  At first... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, Odysseus

    we had TV with a few commercials.

    Then the TV got more commercials.

    PAY TV was offered...

    PAY TV turned into Cablevision with NO commercials.

    Then Cablevision got a few commercials.

    Then Cablevision/AntennaTV got more commercials.

    I pulled the plug several lines UP...

    I don't even like to go to the movies. And even over the air TV is kinda worthless...

    I'll go back to reading books... Starting with the Illiad... and going outwards and forwards...

    Ski roo.

    Ugh. --UB.

    Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

    by unclebucky on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 11:14:56 PM PDT

    •  they have ads at the movies too (0+ / 0-)

      i remember the first time I saw an ad at the movies.  now there are almost as many product ads as movie previews.

      previews are also ads, of course, but I don't mind them as much as I mind ads for products like cell phones or wine or television shows

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 08:51:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The change is inevitible. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ

    In fact, I believe at some point cable/satellite as we know it will either die or be drastically different than what it is today. I recently dumped my provider and built an HTPC to watch TV, play music and games on.

    At first I thought I'd miss it and it did take a little getting used to but right before I canceled I was shelling out $150 a month to see a bunch of infomercials, QVC, Alaska outdoor crap, and all kinds of stuff I didn't care about.

    With this, I watch what I want, when I want and for a mere fraction of the price. The only thing I miss is when a show comes on that I like on a premium channel (like Boardwalk Empire), I have to wait a few months to purchase it on Amazon BUT...It's also rumored that some of the premium channels want to start selling online access to their programming.

  •  I notice you don't put sports into any of your (0+ / 0-)

    equations, I can't believe that if I were allowed to drop sports it wouldn't lower my bill.

  •  we're considering cutting the cable (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    petral, Words In Action

    there's only a handful of shows I watch, and 2 are on PBS anyway. I did buy an antenna.

    Problem is we have Frontier DSL, and they're awful. During the only hours we'd have to watch television their bandwidth is often so poor it makes streaming intolerable. So then what do we do? We live in a small town where the only social activities are church-related and I'd never join a church, ever. Switch to the equally awful Comcast?

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

    by terrypinder on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 05:03:14 AM PDT

  •  also i love the serialization (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action

    i'm not sure how people in the 80s and 90s tolerated the continuity errors in their shows.

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

    by terrypinder on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 05:04:01 AM PDT

  •  Ars Technica expresses my opinion (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action

    "Ludicrous metaphysics produce sensible policy result."

    It's impossible to encapsulate this any better.

    -7.75 -4.67

    "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

    There are no Christians in foxholes.

    by Odysseus on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 07:00:35 AM PDT

  •  No broadcast = no more "Big Bang Theory" for me! (0+ / 0-)

    DANG!

    Fight them to the end, until the children of the poor eat better than the dogs of the rich.

    by raincrow on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 07:53:11 AM PDT

  •  if? (0+ / 0-)

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 08:41:28 AM PDT

    •  best part about internet shows (0+ / 0-)

      they can be any length.  movies do not have to be cut to fit a two hour slot.  serialized TV shows can have a 75 minute episode one week and a 63 minute episode the next and a 57 minute episode the next and a 94 minute episode the next.

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 08:53:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great article and many issues/problems. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ

    I think the biggest problem of all, though, is this idea that those companies that are currently making countless millions in profits due to the existing "controlled" structure, that their profits are sacrosanct.  This is a problem with all corporations any time ANY sort of discussion about changes to any system arise.  

    Honestly, the reality is that like it or not, those profits are not untouchable and they can either accept that at lower their profit expectations, or they will continue bleeding subscribers.  We can't worry about their profits in terms of any discussion of change because their profits were built on an old model they controlled and people are no longer supporting the way they used to.   So I would argue companies making certain amounts of money, or subsidizing other chanels, is a completely artificial system anyway.  It exists because it exists, not because people want it that way or deliberately support that system.  They just didn't have a choice before.  Now they do.

    I really liked your comments on streaming, a la carte, and especially seasons.  The whole "season" issue of 20+ episodes is ridiculous I think.  Especially if your intent it a show that tells a story.  It is next to impossible to make a quality show, that will go indefinitely, and must be written to certain time constraints, commercial breaks, ratings periods, etc.  Only sitcoms really pull this off because the story is secondary to the gags.  Most sitcoms that do try to be more story-based don't last too long.

    The whole 20+ episode season is also built around the arbitrary 100 episodes before syndication.  If you force 20 episode seasons you can syndicate in 4 or 5 years and really make money.  A show that is only 10 episodes per season is going to have a much tougher time getting synicated even though that 100 number is completely made up.  Also, are the shows that are successful in synidaction even story based at all?  I don't think so.  They are mainly shows you can easily turn on when needed and turn off.  So even syndication seems to encourage fluff more than story or innovative content.

    The best shows in recent memory, which you touched on, are shows that are willing to say "enough is enough" and have a specific end point in mind.  That way, even if they have filler episodes, the main story can progress as planned.   THe biggest problem for Lost, back in the day, is they were making the first few seasons with a vague ending in mind but no actual end date...so they had to keep finding ways to drag the story on which results in plot holes and other story problems that only end up upsetting fans.

    And regarind a la carte, I'm not convinced yet that people will be paying the same amount for less channels.  I think they will be paying more for channel (maybe way more if smaller specialty chanels will survive on their own) but maybe there is a sustainable market for that.  We don't know at this point.  Maybe people really want and are willing to support some of those smaller channels are willing to pay, while maybe the bigger chanels that think they can charge more will get dropped because people suddenly don't find value in the price.  

    We pay what we pay for cable because of the bundling and the idea of "value".  Break that up and maybe the bigger channels will seem less valuable because those special interest chanels aren't there any more.

    My final comment is that maybe, just maybe, tv is getting too unsustainable anyway.  TV shows are getting ridiculously expensive with no guarantee it is improving ratings or profitability.  It is becoming like movie studios spending hundreds of millions for a big blockbuster with no guarantee it will succeed.  The difference being that at least a movie has that magical $60 million opening they can hope for.  An expensive TV show has nothing to fall back on if the viewers disappear after a couple eps.  It just gets cancelled.  

    Maybe all our TV shows should have drastic budget cuts.  I doubt many shows in other countries are as high budget and maybe that is ultimately what makes them better.  Having to do more with less means you need to focus more on the writing and quality instead of big celebrities or expensive CGI.  Instead, this race to have more and more expensive shows to attract viewers doesn't seem to be going anywhere.  Shows are getting cancelled more than ever, it seems to me, and cancelled much quicker too.  Like after an episode or two.  No more "finding an audience" is tolerated.  It is hit big right away or not at all.

  •  Big Media tied to old revenue streams & Models (0+ / 0-)

    they have been very successful gathering more and more of the existing delivery modes under their control or ownership... but the more profit driven for the benefit of top heavy corporate and investor demands... the less flexible and adaptable they become... They just cannot let go of the older successful game plans... technology changes...
    Kodak and Fuji plus all the analog photography companies... cameras and film etc... have had a rocky time trying to adapt without letting go of the previous basis for their business soon enough... mild evolution does not survive an extinction event...

    Likely the huge media corporations will flail a bit but they will try to find ways to monetize or install toll booths in the newer delivery and content creation means and sources... but they may be like huge breweries who suddenly had to deal with the micro brew phenomenon... but they have an easy time of it... their model still survives... and they can imitate some of the craft brew phenomenon to draw off some of the consumer base for that... but they cannot get back onto a one brew to rule them all monopoly... or one whiskey behind all the different labels sort of scam... that cat is out of the bag... people want real choice... well some people anyway...

    Maybe a happy creative and value truce or balance will be achieved with the big boys skimming off the cream of the multiplying indie productions that crowd source or fund via YouTube or sell to a fee streaming site... and we will still get variety, creative stuff and maybe better value without monopolists standing in between consumers and most content...

    Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

    by IreGyre on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 09:07:16 AM PDT

  •  No cable here (0+ / 0-)

    First of all, it's not available, nor has it been in anyplace I've lived in the last 20 years.
    I don't have satellite because I never thought any TV was worth the money.
    My TV is a movie screen. I watch movies almost exclusively and that's fine with me. I lost my appetite for episodic television years ago.
    I know I'm not alone.
    No doubt, the traditional network model is dead and soon to be buried. I think the a la carte model is most likely to win out because with money being ever tighter, no one wants to pay for something they don't use, and no one wants to be tied to someone else's schedule.
    Just as with music and books, it's going to be harder for individual producers to make money, but I really don't see it turning out any other way.

    •  You are absolutely missing out (0+ / 0-)

      on some of the best drama and comedy writing, directing, and acting in the history of the media by denying yourself access to the television shows of the exact time period which you mentioned. I would go as far as to say that TV--instead of the cinema--is where people are going to see the best entertainment these days.
      But, as they say, ymmv . . .

      "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

      by bryduck on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 02:45:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't miss TV at all. (0+ / 0-)

    I can stream the occasional bbc documentary on the computer, and otherwise, I'm pretty much about the book.

    When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

    by Alexandra Lynch on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 09:37:34 AM PDT

  •  Too many liberals are so eat up with Apple (0+ / 0-)

    that they don't see the worm........Comcast

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