Entertainment revolution

This rant has been brewing for a while, and I’ve finally got chance to write down my thoughts on a matter that rather annoys me, and that is TV shows, or more to the point, the current method for watching them. It isn’t just limited to TV either, films come under the same category, although to a lesser degree.

The Problem

So, what is my problem with all this? Easy, I was paying Sky TV about £50 a month, to watch maybe 10 hours of shows each week. The rest of the time that I was watching TV was spent browsing through the program guide or watching re-runs of old shows. The whole TV industry is another one, similar to the music industry, that is stuck in an old way of thinking. When TV first came about, it was required for a central agency to broadcast the shows on a fixed schedule, there was no other way to get the information out to the viewers.

Cable and satellite came along later, but still it was required to broadcast from a central point. Now we have high speed internet going to the majority of the population, but rather than make it easier for us, its added a new layer of complexity to it. Yes, you can use Netflix, or Love Film, or iTunes to buy your TV shows and stream them to your TV, but to ensure that you get all the shows you want, you will have to subscribe to all the providers out there, which can start to cost a lot, not to mention the usage caps that ISPs put on their broadband packages.

This also doesn’t take into account initial air dates of shows, with the UK generally getting shows months after they first air in the USA. I signed up for Netflix to give it a try, and whilst it has a large catalogue of programs to watch, the latest series of shows don’t show.

The Solution?

What can we do about this? Well, I am by no means an expert (this is just a rant after all) and only have a rough idea of how things work in the industry, but surely there is a better way to distribute a TV show? A big broadcasting infrastructure is no longer needed, so why do we still have the middle man of broadcasters? Much like some musicians are doing, how about a TV studio puts their latest series up on the internet to buy and download? With technologies such as Bit Torrent, then the actual technical requirements would be rather low. I believe this would give quite a few benefits such as:

  • Direct payment to the studios will mean a bigger share of profits
  • No more guessing on the popularity of a show. If people like it, they will be buying it.
  • The people pay for the shows they want to watch, so hopefully things like X Factor will not  be on our screens. Who’d actually pay for it?
  • You can watch the episodes when you want. Big new series? Watch it when it first comes out and join in the discussions about it. Late to hear about a show? Catch up at your pleasure.

Of course there are a few drawbacks. Initial funding for a series would need to be found somewhere, which is where the current media corporations come in, and the networks have a lot of resources behind them that a small studio may not have access to, including sound stages and filming equipment. I would be very happy to spend the £50 a month on TV shows that I like, hopefully giving them a lot bigger portion of my money then they are currently getting.

For example, if I watch 10 hours of TV a week, then I’d just pay £1.25/hour for the actual TV I watch. Of course, the show would probably make the first couple of episodes free to get interest going, and perhaps offer the entire series for a bulk price, or even a discount on the DVD release. Free to air TV stations in the UK aren’t too bad, with various catch up methods, but none of these offer true freedom and each station has a different program required to watch them.

Current Experiments

This isn’t a new idea either, Sanctuary started as a budget web series which then got picked up by a network. YouTube is full of interesting regular shows (and cats) such as The Guild, Tabletop, Cocktails with Stan Lee, and is also now running ‘channels’ for collections of shows including Geek and Sundry, and the Nerdist Channel. I am finding myself watching more and more YouTube shows thanks to being able to see them on the main screen.

So, perhaps this is all just wishful thinking, after all the music industry is still trying to resist the change, but perhaps like the music industry it can be subverted by smaller outfits. We’ll just have to wait and see.


3 Replies to “Entertainment revolution”

  1. I listen to podcasts from the Nerdist and watched a few episodes of Sanctuary on dvd from my local library. Couldn’t get into it. Maybe it got better later. I think the way we watch TV is changing rapidly and the networks who make the shows can’t keep up. I don’t have Netflix yet. I know, way behind, but I get stuff for free at the library and I can rent dvd’s locally for 75 cents for 2 nights. When I run out of things to watch, I will get Netflix. Oh, by the way, I watched Series 5 of Dr. Who. Good stuff. Waiting for series 6 to show up at the dvd rental place. Also, watched Torchwood: Children of Earth. That was a rough ride. May haunt me forever. I fast forwarded through some of the disaster scenes without dialogue. Kept a stiff upper lip until the last scene when Capt. Jack left; completely lost it there. Oh by the way, I’m in Paris at a convention called “Welcome to Sunnydale.” It is what it is. Run very well, but doesn’t hold a candle to Starfury. Doesn’t help that I don’t speak French. Had a group photo with Nick, Clare and James and a photo with just Nick and James today. Had a nice conversation with Clare since no one was in line behind me. She loves Starfury.

    1. I’m more talking about new series really I guess, where you might want to watch an episode, then discuss it with the other people who are watching it at the same time. I only signed up to Netflix for the free trial, and doubt I’m going to extend it. I rarely watch films, and when I do I want the latest ones, which I can stream in HD on my PS3 or Google TV. All this being said, I want to watch less TV and do more productive stuff, but its not working like that at the moment! 🙂

      We had Children of Earth recorded, and started watching the first episode quite late in the day, just before bed. We finished the series as the sun was coming up… just couldn’t say no to another episode! 🙂

      Yeah, the fans and the guests tend to love Starfury. Sean runs a good ship! I guess not speaking the lingo doesn’t help much. I’m just counting the says until Midnight, can’t wait to see everyone again.

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