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.


Facebook and privacy

Ok, I’m getting sick of everyone complaining about the lack of privacy on Facebook. Yesterday was Quit Facebook Day, a day set assign for people to quit en mass in protest of the changing privacy rules.

Let us get this straight, you’ve uploaded or entered personal details about yourself onto a web site that offers no guarantees and charges no money, and you’re surprised when you find they can’t be trusted. You may as well put a poster in your window containing your NI number, date of birth, phone number, mother’s maiden name, etc. Having said that, most of those details are available surprisingly easily, for very little money.

Privacy is not the responsibility of Facebook.

If you don’t want information about yourself possibly leaking out, don’t upload it to a web site. The only information that you should put on sites such as Facebook is the information that you don’t mind being publicly known. Don’t put your deepest feelings up there unless you are willing to let total strangers know about them. Don’t upload the picture of you having an indiscretion with someone other than your significant other, and be surprised when they find out. Don’t moan about the bad decision your boss made today and then be shocked when you’re hauled into a disciplinary meeting tomorrow! Remember that it is becoming more common for recruiters to search for you online before interviews, or for that lass you met last night to check you out on facebook before ringing you back.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use social networking sites, or upload your photos to Flickr, you just need to realise where you are putting this information. These aren’t government agencies such as the DVLA that you need to trust, these are corporations that are out to make money and should be treated as such.

There is a lot of information about myself available on the internet, but there is nothing that I am bothered about people seeing. More to the point, there is very little that can’t be found out by other means. Google me and you’ll find a fair bit, most of which points to the fact that I’m a bit of a geek! Shocker! I use Facebook a lot, its a useful communication tool for keeping up with close friends and old friends alike. Yes, there are parts I don’t like, but they can mostly be hidden. Yes, I do have my contact details on there, but most people have them anyway. If all privacy was turned off from Facebook it would be annoying, but hardly a catastrophic calamity.

In the end, what is needed is something that is drastically lacking on the Internet. Common Sense!