A 'channel' pass for TV series via the Internet

By    John Garner on  Thursday, April 6, 2006
Summary: I recently wrote an article (in French) about wanting to take a look at a new Channel 4 series in the UK called the "IT crowd". I was thinking 'wow this is great', the TV channels have finally understood that they can make money from distributing content over the Internet with maybe having adverts in […]

I recently wrote an article (in French) about wanting to take a look at a new Channel 4 series in the UK called the "IT crowd". I was thinking 'wow this is great', the TV channels have finally understood that they can make money from distributing content over the Internet with maybe having adverts in the streamed content. This was all supposition since I hadn't yet got round to having a look.
So anyway, I do a search for IT crowd not seeing it on the first page of channel4.com and get a whole list of shows with crowd in the name, must be a buzz word with the channel 4 production teams.
I get to the home page of the series and see a list of the episodes. There's a message that says : "CTRL+ALT+DELETE your TV and watch the IT Crowd online!". I click on a link to the latest episode and I get the message : "We're sorry, but users outside the UK cannot access The IT Crowd".

I also got an ad saying "Your opinion counts, please take this survey". I was naively thinking "oh that's great" I can give them my opinion about not being able to see the show abroad. However the survey had nothing to do with Channel 4.

It seems to me that this is, yet again, an example of the same reaction that the music industry had to MP3 or from a wider perspective to digital music. I already discussed how the will to restrict users so much on what they could do with music and what format it could be in was a really bad move from the music industry. Rather than looking at innovating ways to provide different distribution solutions they spent it on taking people to court which didn't get them much sympathy either. A bit of a Public Relations disaster...

I feel that TV channels may be approaching this issue, for some, in a more interesting way ex: the series Lost can be downloaded via iTunes. However, none seem to be thinking OK let's innovate and take the problem head on, let's find an innovative way of providing the content our traditional users like. Looking at how we can distribute it on the Internet. I mean, in the case above, if channel 4 had given me a message saying "For copyright reasons this content is viewable for 1 or 2 Euros" then I would have most probably said OK.

I also think that an issue with TV shows, is that most people as opposed to songs, won't be watching it say twenty times in a week. There is a great Canadian show called ReGenesis that I really do enjoy watching and although it is not intellectually challenging it is nicely written and the actors are good to very good. However once I have watched it, well I may watch it in two or three years time, but most probably not before then. So what would the pricing be for series ? On this blog an episode of the series Lost is described as costing 2 dollars, has no commercials, with a good quality and also on the same page it looks as if they have cleverly come up with the idea of a 'season pass' !
I'm wondering if it came from Jasonbainbridge.com since he seems to have asked for this before it was implemented 😉 Jason also in another post gives details on the format which seems to be high quality but at a low resolution : 320*240 and looks OK in full screen mode !

You can see how this whole 'hot series' on iTunes happened since iTunes is hot stuff at the moment. But how will things play out, since at the end of the day, people are going to be connecting to iTunes instead of ABC if this is a trend setter.
Maybe the guys at ABC are just playing along at the moment and haven't really thought it through !? But it is also a point, that the real pulling effect is the series itself 'Lost' and the people that own/produce it. You see the name all over the web regardless of the language, country etc. Say 'Lost' to Frenchmen (or women :)) and many will recognise it as the name of a series, say ABC and they'll probably be clueless or think you're talking about learning the alphabet...

It's true that if you have the money you can create a name for yourself but I get the distinct impression that the brand is shifting and in the case of Lost, you'll remember iTunes and Lost. And between being able to say "The channel that brought you..." as opposed to being the distribution channel people remember like iTunes, well, instinctive brand awareness/association is better.

I'm sure quite a few people would be prepared to accept adverts for a channel pass of say 20 dollars / euros a month even if in Europe there is far less advertising than in the US. I was astonished by how much there was and when it appeared during a trip to New-York ! So hopefully like Jason was heard by iTunes maybe some of TV channels could grant me the pleasure of a channel pass to see their series, regardless of where I connect to the Internet from 🙂

Take a look at my post over at Singificant-Media.com where I have continued discussing this matter.

Article written by  John Garner

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

6 comments on “A 'channel' pass for TV series via the Internet”

  1. Just read an article today at the AdAge web site that I subsribe to and that talks about the way that many advertising groups are renaming for example their "tv-buying teams" to "video investment and activation units" !!

    Second this is an interesting quote : "What's different these days is that the media companies, having shaken off their post-dot-com bust hangover, are jumping back on the digital bandwagon"

    And finally on par with my above article : "You've got ABC and NBC distributing hit TV shows like 'Lost', 'Desperate Housewives' and 'The Office' on iTunes and CBS broadcasting the NCAA basketball tournament over the Internet."

  2. As I'm of the 'older school' I expect, when I buy products, that they will last for at least 20 years (like my old washing machine and vacuum cleaner - although a quality manager told me when I asked the question 'How long should a product last' that it depended on the end user - I obviously don't use either product enough!)
    My big disappointment is that I buy technological products which are quickly obsolete, due to fast changes in the sector. I don't have the recources to be constantly buying new adaptations at 400€ each time (i.e. numerique TV system) plus paying for the labour, which is often done in France by people who are incompetent as they have not kept up with new inventions and ideas coming from the UK. Buying DIY kits from the UK is OK. Finding a good technician is almost impossible. Renting from my telephone company has proved almost impossible. The first call (paying inflated prices to speak to them, even when I was interested in buying from them) resulted in my son being told that, in spite of being clients and receiving bills for the last four years, I was not a client. My son's response was, 'So why do you keep sending me monthly bills and why do I keep paying you?' The follow up by the company was ZERO. What has happened to Customer Service and 'Wowing' the client?
    Perhaps I should adapt to watching TV over the Internet.
    Can I learn how to do it?

  3. [...] The online advertising figures are bolstering the general ‘feel’ that there is not only more and more money being spent online in advertising but also that new trends which I have previously discussed are having a bigger impact than expected. The advertising based TV shows available online mean TV networks are beginning to wake up to this reality ! Another Washinton Post an article was recently published explaining how TV broadcasters are starting to really feel the pressure and challenge that the web represents for them : “The question is, do they partner with those new forms of content or those new providers? Or do they sit on their hands and become less and less relevant,” said Jimmy Schaeffler, an analyst with The Carmel Group, a market research firm. [...]

  4. [...] Others Read the Whole Article and Comments You're here : The Mag   Entertainment   TV       Series and Movies distributed intelligently  updated Learning from the MP3 fiasco TV programs and movies are set to be distributed in an intelligent manner, in other words, unlike the MP3 fiasco that the music industry put itself in. I often felt bewildered by the way the music industry seemed to be playing the ostrich about the electronic distribution of music over the Net. Thinking of new interesting ways to distribute music tailored to the new systems available wasn't an option. Instead the music industry went for a remake of the rocky horror picture show (minus the underlying humour). In the end the targeted online population downloading music illegally didn't get scared out of their wits, as planned, by the threats. It also turned out to be a bit of a public relations disaster for the them. I'm guessing that it was only the lawyers involved that profited from this ! 24 and Lost, two extremely succesful TV series at the momentIt seems that the companies behind successful TV series like 'Lost' and '24' are learning from the music industry's errors. They are not only providing their series to download legally but are also looking into other new ways of online distribution. You can see on TV.com that both Lost and 24 are available for download through iTunes. It's TV series like these that are really pushing novel and extremely interesting marketing ideas. Lost fans, for example, have seen a 'season pass' subscription system made available to them via iTunes ! The perfect solution to guarantee people will be coming back and they can choose to download the episodes whenever they want. The New York Times article explains that "Warner Brothers announced it would make hundreds of its hit films and shows available this summer for paid download via the file-sharing site BitTorrent". there is palpable excitement - a sense that the TV and movie industries are going to head off the pirates and file-sharing teens by making their products widely available online in legal waysSource: New York TimesRead the New York Times article (free subscription required) The article echoes a post from my blog in that it recognizes these moves on video-content deals are to avoid the issues that brought such bad press and to the music industry and the little effect obtained wasn't really worth all the hassle. Several issues are discussed in the New York Times article, like the capacity of the Internet to technically offer 100s of channels without forgetting the physical impact on the Internet of such a project. But so many of these projects do not embrace the Internet for what it is, a medium that is capable of distributing content all over the world. Many people won't realise when viewing many of these projects that they nearly all use geographic Internet technology (IP based checking) that stops people that are not in the US, or not in the UK from downloading content. I also previously touched here on how so many companies whether they are distributors of books (even electronic versions) or video continue to do everything they can to ensure the distribution of their content in a geographic based manner. Going against Internet in its natural flow in this will become more and more difficult to sustain when the Internet represents the larger part of their overall sales. There are obvious economies of scale possible in distributing a global version of a book, TV program or film. There are very minor differences in the way a product is broadcast in the UK and in the US for example when you look at TV series like 'Lost' and '24' quoted above. The series Lost produces podcasts with inside information for all the fansVideo content with subtitles like in some episodes of 'Lost', or video with several audio channels, could easily be made available over the Internet. Formats exist that allow for multi-audio and multi-subtitle channels in one same file. People are used to this concept through having used DVDs that allows for languages and subtitles. The series, Lost, each week, has people from the shows that are about to air, coming to speak in a 'podcast' (basically an audio file you can download). This helps keep the hype going and the fans happy. Even though I still have my doubts about podcasting it is the 'in' thing to do at the moment. I recently tested a divx plug-in for web browsers that allowed me to view a few minutes of a blockbuster film in High Definition... So hopefully in the quest to get it right, some of the new video-content projects will look closer at solutions that aim at giving the best service to users. Building an online copy of the present distribution system, that requires barriers against the natural flow of the Internet and what new technologies can offer would be such a shame !    Average rating :     [...]

  5. [...] It is easy to appreciate how a lot of people could miss the trend that led to this. The large media companies have realized that they can capitalise on these massive communities AND make money from it. Hey, they finally realised that the MP3 fiasco and all the legal mayhem surrounding it was really negative for them. The media companies have started to embrace the Internet as a medium to sell their products ! [...]

Recent Posts

Check out the most recent posts from the blog: 
Sunday, September 24, 2023
The reliability & accuracy of GenAI

I question the reliability and accuracy of Generative AI (GenAI) in enterprise scenarios, particularly when faced with adversarial questions, highlighting that current Large Language Models (LLMs) may be data-rich but lack in reasoning and causality. I would call for a more balanced approach to AI adoption in cases of assisting users, requiring supervision, and the need for better LLM models that can be trusted, learn, and reason.

Read More
Saturday, September 23, 2023
From Chatbots to Reducing Society's Technical Debt

I discuss my experience with chatbots, contrasting older rules-based systems with newer GenAI (General Artificial Intelligence) chatbots. We cannot dismiss the creative capabilities of GenAI-based chatbots, but these systems lack reliability, especially in customer-facing applications, and improvements in the way AI is structured could lead to a "software renaissance," potentially reducing society's technical debt.

Read More
Friday, June 16, 2023
The imbalance of power in the AI game: in search of the common good

The article discusses the contrasting debate on how AI safety is and should be managed, its impact on technical debt, and its societal implications.
It notes the Center for AI Safety's call for a worldwide focus on the risks of AI, and Meredith Whittaker's criticism that such warnings preserve the status quo, strengthening tech giants' dominance. The piece also highlights AI's potential to decrease societal and technical debt by making software production cheaper, simpler, and resulting in far more innovation. It provides examples of cost-effective open-source models that perform well and emphasizes the rapid pace of AI innovation. Last, the article emphasises the need for adaptive legislation to match the pace of AI innovation, empowering suitable government entities for oversight, defining appropriate scopes for legislation and regulation, addressing ethical issues and biases in AI, and promoting public engagement in AI regulatory decisions.

Read More
Thursday, June 1, 2023
Japan revises copyright laws for AI

Japan has made its ruling on the situation between Content creators and Businesses. Japanese companies that use AI have the freedom to use content for training purposes without the burden of copyright laws. This news about the copyright laws in Japan reported over at Technomancers is seen as Businesses: 1 / Content Creators: 0 The […]

Read More