Television does the internet
November 18, 2007
I’ve long been an advocate for distributing TV over the internet. There are those that say there’s already a perfectly good medium for TV, it’s called “television”, and there’s no need to bother with this pesky new medium.
They’re morons and we should not bother ourselves with them any longer.
OK, that’s a bit harsh. What they’re talking about (as far as I can tell) is that watching TV on a computer is not a good experience and I’ll agree to that. They also seem to be people who, for the most part, don’t actually watch TV so they don’t see the point to downloading TV shows online.
That’s cool – it would be boring if we were all the same. But I do like TV. I spend a lot of time with my TV and I don’t like watching TV on my computer (small screen, annoying chair) either. So I don’t. I burn it to disk/download it to a thumbdrive/ wireless connect it to the back of my big screen plasma TV (well, I would if I had one).
The point about TV on the internet is not that I can watch it on a poky screen, it’s that I can watch any episode of any given TV show whenever I fell like it, rather than waiting for a TV network I can pick up to air it. With ads. And with edits. When it suits them. Y’know, later.
Case in point, TVNZ‘s decision to break The Sopranos with four episodes of the penultimate series left to screen. Why? Who cares. I don’t, and I wasn’t alone in being outraged by this. So I voted with my mouse and watched them online.
A word about watching TV online – it used to be tricky with all those P2P file sharing apps to download and torrents to seed and so on. Not any more. First, who can be bothered and second, the ISPs are all busy blocking/shaping/throttling the ports that P2P run on.
Joox, on the other hand, does not use different software. It’s a highly illegal website that simply points visitors to illegally downloaded TV and movies. This is bad.
It’s also good, because it means I can simply stream the show I want, save it as a DIVX file and watch it with any free DIVX player I like. Because it’s just a website, it transmits data back and forth over the usual ports so suspicious ISPs can’t do much about it.
I have downloaded and watched the latest series of Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica, and will no doubt get the new Bionic Woman (just for old time’s sake), Life on Mars series two (why wait) as well as The Professionals and The Sweeney (I was too young to watch it first time round). I’d do the same with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series if I could find it and, here’s the catch, I’d pay for it as well because frankly I think all these shows are worth watching and keeping and I can’t be arsed waiting for TVNZ or Prime or TV3 to get its act together, realise the AC Neilsen set-top box system of ratings for viewership numbers is fatally flawed and start branching out beyond games shows/cooking shows/reality shows/”blockbuster movies” we all saw years ago and the news.
Today I see this story in the New York Times and thought, “Almost, but no. Still getting it wrong.”
I don’t want to watch a show in eight minute segments on my PC via MySpace. I want to watch a full-length episode delivered to me by whatever means I want and watched from my over-stuffed recliner in the lounge.
Top Gear has around half a billion viewers worldwide. If everyone one paid a dollar an episode … well, let’s just say Clarkson could buy the Isle of Man and possible the Isle of Dogs as well and turn them both into his own personal race tracks.
Top Gear is an established brand that would not only survive but, I think, flourish in an online-only world.
The other end of the spectrum is Firefly, the show that Fox (bastards) cancelled after half a series because they didn’t get it. Joss Whedon went on to make a movie instead of season two but frankly I’d rather he’d gone online and made the shows to air via the ether. I’d have paid, and so would enough people (I believe) to have made it worthwhile. I’d even have bought the DVDs as well, because there’s something visceral about holding an entire series in your hands.
So, early days yet, but one thing’s for sure: the network’s hold over the viewer has gone the way of the dinosaur (much like the video shop). However, just like the dinosaur (and the video shop) network TV stumbles on, convinced it’s still alive and vital and completely oblivious to the fact that its head has been cut off.