Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I Have A Question

Here's something I just thought of while I was writing my previous post.

What if a large media company, such as Fox, ABC, NBC, or any number of other such media outlets made their shows freely available for download through a torrent network of their own? What if the quality of those downloads was exceptional, full HD, broadcast quality? What if the only catch was that the show you downloaded had ads embedded, either as banners similar to how networks currently advertise what's coming up next, or as a more standard "ad break" format?

Would you use the official site, or stick to the current ones?

The Obvious Pros:
The network gets advertising revenue, but you have to put up with ads. Except, the shows you download now usually have a ton of ad banners during them anyway from when they were ripped.
You have a guaranteed quality, know exactly what you're getting, and have no fear of an attached virus.
Worldwide simultaneous distribution.

The Obvious Cons:
Advertising would have to be regionalised. Don't know the details of this, or how difficult that would be to do.
It would kind of remove the revenue from selling shows to regional stations, such as our own RTÉ.

Of course, there are millions of variables and details to be worked out. The biggest and first that springs to mind is would the network stagger releases across geographical locales, so that Europe gets the show a month or even a week later? This would still be an incentive to go to the alternative torrent sites. But just as a straight-forward, worldwide release, no nonsense rather than the inclusion of revenue producing advertising, what do you think? Would it work?

Personally, I'd go for the official site. Advertising doesn't bother me. That said, given the choice, I'd certainly prefer banner ads over ad breaks. Happily, in this hypothetical system, banner ads would be better, as you could just fast-forward an ad break but you won't skip a chunk of an episode just to ignore a banner at the base of the screen. As I said before, I currently see numerous banners in the shows I watch. This would just be a way for the network that paid for the show to benefit from it!


Cian said...

Unencrypted download is a bit of a stretch, streaming and DRM are going to be big parts of our lives for at least the next 3-5 years.

Right now we're seeing content providers warming up to streaming in a big way, they've already accepted the idea of downloading drm'd video but customers aren't thrilled about that, customers seem to prefer subscription and ad sponsored content (though potentially just because the drm'd video selection is a little limited). Web apps like Hulu, iPlayer and Netflix are sort of the fore runners but you'll see _much_ more of that sort of thing.

The only way you'll get high quality downloaded video to watch indefinately is with DRM, but distributers (like broadcasters and content vendors) don't want DRM because it's expensive to implement and maintain. So that brings us back to streaming. Obviously customers like downloaded content because they have more control over how and when they consume it, but if you have high quality internet connections and powerful mobile devices then you can approximate that sort of freedom with streaming.

Anonymous said...

I kind of agree with Cian. Sreaming is the way it's going to go.

I know from my own experience watching South Park I preferred to use the official website rather than download torrents, even though the official website could have short interstitial ads.

Streaming is much more immediate and on-demand than torrenting. It also feels nice to know you're not breaking the law.

As network infrastructure improves, streaming is going to become more and more practical too.

Of course now the bastards have locked Ireland out of southparkstudios.com so it'll be back to the torrents for me.