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Network TV Downloadable Via iTunes 527

Posted by Zonk
from the television-catches-up-with-the-rest-of-us dept.
IconBasedIdea writes "Dallas Mavericks owner and opinionated media entrepreneur Mark Cuban blogs about Walt Disney cheese Robert Iger, and his recent deal with iTunes to allow TV episodes to become available for purchase and download. Granted, it was only a matter of time, but someone had to go first, and it is apparently ABC. Could this help niche shows stay alive longer? Will it kill traditional TV ads, long on the downswing of effectiveness? Will we end up eventually paying (or stealing) all of our future programming?"
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Network TV Downloadable Via iTunes

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    • Oh, Yeah. (Score:2, Interesting)

      I want that garbage traveling around with me, in my pocket!

      Look out! I can watch "Just Shoot Me" and "America's Top Model" anywhere!

      I pay good money to hide from this stuff.
      • Re:Oh, Yeah. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Pope (17780)
        Then don't get one? I think that's a pretty obvious answer, rather like I hate radio so I got a portable CD player and then an MP3 player. I didn't go out and get a radio to only sit around bitching about it.
    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:17AM (#13790758) Homepage
      The iPod does have an advantage, though, over those pocket TVs. I can download the episodes I want, and watch them anywhere and at any time, without worrying about reception. It's like having a pocket-sized TiVo built into your miniTV with a video out to watch it on a normal TV if you like.
      • Archos == Tivo (Score:5, Insightful)

        by meehawl (73285) <meehawl.spam@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Friday October 14, 2005 @12:55PM (#13791580) Homepage Journal
        It's like having a pocket-sized TiVo

        Actually, given that Tivo's main advantage is its ability to *record*, I think that the Archos PVPs, with their simple analog video-in jack, are a closer match. So as well as all the digital options for content, if you want to just grab some damn video, all you need is to plug the Archos into a video feed and hit "record". Low-tech, but acceptable, and I believe still protected by Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios [eff.org].

        And further, given Tivo's reluctance to enable free movement of content off the devices, I think a closer analogy for Archos is not Tivo but ReplayTV, with its DRM-free show sharing and ease of moving content between devices and over networks.

        The video ipod is classic Apple: as much as possible a one-way street from Content Owners through Apple to Consumers, with the ipod remaining as tethered as possible to a Mac/iTunes for operation. Making it harder than it should be for ipod owners to create and share their own content.

        For myself, I prefer more autonomy.
        • Re:Archos == Tivo (Score:3, Interesting)

          by iamhassi (659463)
          "The video ipod is classic Apple: as much as possible a one-way street from Content Owners through Apple to Consumers, with the ipod remaining as tethered as possible to a Mac/iTunes for operation. Making it harder than it should be for ipod owners to create and share their own content."

          how is that classic Apple? Just because it requires specific software? Without that software we'd be adding song ratings on the ipod itself which would be a major pain in the ass.

          you can add your own music if want, you

        • Re:Archos == Tivo (Score:3, Informative)

          by nine-times (778537)
          I'm not saying you can't prefer Archos. I was merely trying to give a vague indication of the reason why the iPod might succeed where pocket-sized TVs failed. I think the same thing I said also applies to why Archos devices might succeed where mini TVs failed.

          You're right, though, that Archos devices are cool and have some advantages over the new ipods. Their screens are also bigger and higher res. As far as I can think of, the advantage that the iPod has over Archos devices is the iTMS, meaning that y

        • Re:Archos == Tivo (Score:4, Informative)

          by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday October 14, 2005 @02:59PM (#13792699) Homepage
          The video ipod is classic Apple: as much as possible a one-way street from Content Owners through Apple to Consumers, with the ipod remaining as tethered as possible to a Mac/iTunes for operation. Making it harder than it should be for ipod owners to create and share their own content.

          As someone else mentioned, iPods can also play mp3s or unprotected AACs, so there's no need to buy your stuff from iTunes if you don't want. Likewise, the chip included in the device is an mpeg4 decoder. Apple's protected music: AAC::Apple's protected video:mpeg4. You can put unprotected mpeg4s on your ipod and play them. There's no requirement to use iTMS-purchased media if you have another source that will provide you mpeg4s (optimally H.264 at up to 768 Kbps at 320 x 240, which is the best quality you're getting on the new iPod)

    • by ShatteredDream (636520) on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:19AM (#13790778) Homepage
      iTunes could be extended to allow people to burn the content they buy as a DVD. Imagine being able to pay $3-$5/episode for something like Firefly. That would probably be enough to really fuel the success of such a project. With technology what it is today, Apple could easily offer a service where they let people burn that content to DVD thus destroying the rental market and making a new alternative to downloading movies possible.

      This technology if taken to its fullest potential could be what truly expands the movie industry for the next decade or more. If they work with Apple to create an alternative payment processing system that takes a fee of only $0.05-$0.20 per transaction the amount of money they could make on selling eventually a full length movie for $7.00-$8.00 on iTunes would be amazing and would allow them to undercut their hated ally Wal-Mart.

      Btw, my dad bought one of those portable TVs back in the 80s and if you have ever seen one, you know why it was a failure. The display sucked and the reception sucked even worse. The iPod by comparison lets people have a gorgeous display and can hold hours of stored video.
    • by joshv (13017) on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:20AM (#13790781)
      This is not about portable TV, this is about legitimate, for pay, TV downloads. I downloaded the season premiere of Lost this morning, it's playback quality was perfectly acceptable, full-screen on my 19" monitor. For the life of me I don't understand why Apple is marketting this as Video IPod only. It works great on a PC with I-Tunes. I too think the video IPod will be a market failure, but for-Pay TV downloads have a great future. Screw the cable companies. I only want to pay for the shows I watch, and I want to watch them on my own schedule.

      Apple, when are you going to get the Sci-Fi channel on board? I want BSG downloads.
      • Hey, might this be a marketing model for a new "Firefly" series?
        • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:43AM (#13790972) Homepage Journal
          Maybe.

          I have an interesting idea, maybe I'll get some feedback here.

          How about a functional investment ("bond") distribution model for a show like Firefly?

          Let's say Whedon needs to see $5M before he attempts online distribution. Instead of trying to merely pre-sell 200,000 $25 yearly subscriptions, maybe offer $25 subscriptions and $100 investment bonds. $100 gets you 1 share (out of 100,000). Assume WhedonCo buys 51,000 at $5.1M for 51% ownership. I'd gladly invest $10,000 for a 0.1% share.

          Once production begins, others will likely pay $4/episode or $30/season. I'll make my percentage after overhead, and have a major reason to promote the show to friends and family.

          Heck, if I can make $0.01 per subscription and 2M people end up subscribing, that's $20K for me. I'd be happy with that.

          Surely, the SEC will screw it up.
          • That's a great idea and I hope that somebody tries it, but if I were a potential investor, I'd consider the potentially huge factor of the "Information wants to be free! Bork bork bork bork!" idiots who'd help themselves to it on BitTorrent.

            While intuitively it makes sense that people would be a little cooler in a situation like this, it's easy to overlook the power of our ability to rationalize just about anything. We'd see rationalizations like:

            • "Joss Whedon already has enough money."
            • "The actors al
      • The real story is downloadable TV content with good quality at a good price.

        By making the whole announcement about video iPod, Jobs is avoiding a clash (or premature announcement) with the movie studios about downloadable movies. Instead, he is making a case for how downloadable movies could work, using TV content as a proxy.

        With the whole FrontRow bit on the new iMacs, he is also starting (stealthily) the assault on the living room: what is FrontRow but a potential alternative to Windows Media Center Edit
      • by Sancho (17056) on Friday October 14, 2005 @12:16PM (#13791247) Homepage
        Lost, Season 1 is going for $38 on Amazon.com. That's for 24 episodes, so right about $1.50 per episode. And that's for 720x480, nice packaging, and discs that will probably last longer than any media on which you back up another file. As of now, for $2, you get a single-serving episode at 320x240. You get no packaging, and you can't just pop it in your DVD player to watch it. The only real benefit is that you get to watch it /now/ if you either can't get ABC (our OTA signal is really snowy) or happen to miss the show, you can get it on-demand.

        To me, this is a ripoff. Particularly for shows like Lost and Housewives, where the stories are serial and build on previous episodes. I don't mind listening to music out of order or even only listening to one track from a CD, but you'll never hear someone say, "Hey, that 5th episode of Lost was really outstanding, I think I'd like to have a permanent copy of that on my computer." This is all the more relevant as TV shows make it to DVD just a few months after the end of a season.

        You're paying more for less just so you can get it now. If you are serious about TV, you'll have a PVR to time-shift TV and you'll buy DVDs for archiving. If you aren't serious about TV, you'll certainly never buy the episodes online.
        • You're paying more for less just so you can get it now. If you are serious about TV, you'll have a PVR to time-shift TV and you'll buy DVDs for archiving. If you aren't serious about TV, you'll certainly never buy the episodes online.

          But what if you're only serious about a handful of shows? Right now, there are precisely two shows that I watch on TV. I watch them via broadcast, then download each week's episode for watching later if I want, and then I buy the DVDs later when they are released, dumping my
        • My views:

          Someday I'll own a PVR.
          Today, I own a computer.

          Perhaps, in a season or two, I'll want the complete collection for Lost.
          Today, I just want to catch up a bit on the background.

          Perhaps, in a year, I'll be able to shell out $70 for two seasons of a show. Today, I'm more than willing to shell out a couple of dollars of 'expendable' money to get a few episodes as they come out.

          This isn't a hard concept. People buy small when they want big all the time, if they didn't places like Rent-A-Center would never
      • Although I agree that for-pay-download TV has a bright future I sure wish guys like you would stop giving the providers the idea that this level of quality is acceptable. Why were folks like you telling Apple that its dowloadable music sounds "just as good as CD"? Why are you insinuating something similar for this?

        I understand what you're trying to say, it's "watchable". Fine. Big Macs are edible too. But at the dawn of HDTV, why are we settling for Big Macs when you can buy a Porterhouse at your local
      • I downloaded one of the Pixar shorts and on my 12" iBook, i thought the picture quality was shit and it wasn't even full screen. I'd rather download pirated content simply because the quality is better, i'm not touching anything from itunes (video content) until they at least double the resolution. Oh and allow CD burning, fire the dipshit who allowed that.
    • I don't like this comparison. You can't put your own content on a 20 year old portable TV... so it's not terribly hard to see why they wouldn't do so hot. On the other hand, Sony Walkman sales soared in the 80's because consumers bought / made their own cassette tapes.

      Ultimately, the reason why this has more potential than the Casio TVs are because iPod is already a well established brand, and starting now (or whenever these iPods are released), anyone with an iPod that's not a nano or a shuffle will have

  • 128x128 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Malicious (567158)
    The resolution's going to have to be a lot higher than whatever an Ipod screen is, before I'll bother downloading to watch on my television.
    • Re:128x128 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Dav3K (618318) on Friday October 14, 2005 @10:58AM (#13790582)
      The res on the new ipod is roughly the same as that on a windows mobile device. At 320x240 you can actually display a pretty decent picture. The days of 128x128 are behind us now.

      Of course, with the video out feature, the screen is really just for personal use. For group viewing, one would simply output the stream to the TV or monitor.
    • Re:128x128 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gellenburg (61212) <george@ellenburg.org> on Friday October 14, 2005 @10:59AM (#13790590) Homepage Journal
      Everybody bitching and complaining about the 320x240 resolution needs to keep in mind that TVs aren't computer monitors. 320x240 doesn't actually look half-bad on a television screen. Sure, on my 23" ACD it looks slightly pixelated, but on my 32" TV in my bedroom the same video looks actually fairly decent.

      No, it's not HDTV or even DVD quality, but it's not THAT much worse than cable TV.

      I do feel though that the price needs to be slightly adjusted. Take a 22 episode TV season... that's almost $44 in iTunes. I could buy the DVD (if it was available) for less. TPTB need to keep that in mind.
      • Re:128x128 (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Gulthek (12570) on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:16AM (#13790741) Homepage Journal
        My wife and I watched 'Lost' from iTunes last night (rather than torrent the missed episode) on our television. Compared to the free torrents, the quality $2 iTunes download was extremely bad.

        BTW the price for a full season is already adjusted (just as the price of an album isn't the sum of its $1 songs). You can buy the first season of 'Lost' from iTunes for $34.95.

        If I had a video iPod I would be pretty interested. But for pumping to a tv this just doesn't cut it.
      • Take a 22 episode TV season... that's almost $44 in iTunes. I could buy the DVD (if it was available) for less.
        Depends on the show. Some (like Star Trek at $3.41/episode [amazon.com]) are ridiculously expensive.
      • Well, on iTunes the complete first season of Lost is available for $35. I compared that to the DVD set on Amazon at $38.
      • It's not even cable TV quality. They downgraded it from what your VCR or TiVo would record...

        (tv=500 vertical lines of resolution)

        -everphilski-
    • Re:128x128 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by noewun (591275) on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:07AM (#13790657) Journal
      I bought the one of the Pixar shorts yesterday (For the Birds). Looked okay on my monitor. On my TV it would probably have looked just fine. And, for me, that's the point: it's TV. For the most part it's not great art. I don't have an HDTV, nor do I intend to buy one in the near future: I don't really care about super-sharp quality when watching CSI, because it's CSI. That's why I think downloading TV like this might work.

      If it were a movie, I would feel differently. Movies have real cinematographers/DPs, are shot on 35mm, etc. TV is, well, TV.

      YMMV, etc.

    • Re:128x128 (Score:2, Insightful)

      by amigabill (146897)
      The resolution is possibly also like a built-in broadcast flag thing. They don't want you cracking the DRM and passing good looking copies around the net. They don't want people to want cracked videos, even if it means the low quality makes us not want to buy the original either.
  • DRM (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This is great but the only problem is the DRM means the content will be perminantly restricted. After some time it should become the property of the people, even when (if) the copyright expires the DRM still lingers controlling what you can do with the files.

    I dont buy itunes music for the same reason :(
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 14, 2005 @10:54AM (#13790543)

  • Key Milestone (Score:4, Insightful)

    by matr0x_x (919985) on Friday October 14, 2005 @10:56AM (#13790562) Homepage
    I believe this to be a major milestone in the way we view entertainment - more significant then even the mainstream growth of PVRs. This is the first step in a whole new direction for the industry as a whole, 5-7 years down the road I strongly believe that the average American will pay for what they watch, not for a given channel. This will also have a major effect on television advertising - where do ads fit into this new model?
    • Re:Key Milestone (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cowscows (103644) on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:10AM (#13790681) Journal
      They don't. And I'm ok with that. I want to pay for my content directly. I don't watch 99% of what the cable company sends me, but I have to pay for it anyways. I'd much rather just pay for individual episodes of some of my favorite shows, and maybe subscribe to a few of the less predictable channels (news, sports, etc).

      If things go this way, there will be plenty of free content. How else would you get someone hooked on one of your shows so that they'll buy more episodes? So I can download the first couple episodes of some new sci-fi show for free, and if I liked it, then I'll pay for the rest of the episodes when I have time to watch them. Ads make sense with the broadcast model of television. With cable, they make less sense, since I'm already paying a tidy sum, but I guess that ad revenue helps subsidize more shows/channels. With video on demand, and a pay per show model, ads don't belong. And notice I said pay-per-show. If I pay to watch all the episodes in season 7 of Stargate Atlantis, I want to be able to watch it again later without paying for it again, or at least be permitted to record it.
    • Re:Key Milestone (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mrchaotica (681592)
      If cable and satellite are any indication, we'll pay for our content and get ads anyway.
  • ipod for video (Score:2, Insightful)

    by js3 (319268)
    are they really serious about this? I mean the psp has better video capabilities and I still wouldn't use it to watch anything other than something mildly interesting.
    • Re:ipod for video (Score:3, Informative)

      by Eslyjah (245320)
      Just because you download it from iTMS doesn't mean you have to watch it on your iPod.
    • Re:ipod for video (Score:5, Interesting)

      by guet (525509) on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:13AM (#13790711)
      Are they serious about video on the ipod?

      No

      About selling video on the ITMS

      Yep. Apple and the big media networks stand to make a lot of money selling TV shows and news clips and eventually films if they can persuade enough networks/producers to sign up. Yes the resolution is not great, but it's much better than most videos available for download from websites (news.bbc.co.uk or the comedy channel in the US).

      Now I'd rather something I could play full screen on a monitor, and I think they'll be forced to provide that eventually if they want people to start buying en masse, but this could signal a revolution in TV similar to that brought by iTunes in the world of online music. Easy ordering, massive catalogue, and low prices all led to mass market adoption. Critically, Apple already have the installed base of ITMS customers who have entered their credit details and are just a click away from impulse purchases.

      It'll be interesting to see how this plays out against Microsoft's Media PC thing-me-bob.
    • Re:ipod for video (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)
      The iPod is just one place you can watch it. You can watch the video on your computer, or you can use the audio/video out of the iPod to watch the shows on your normal TV. Think about it like a TiVO, but no subscription fees, and you don't need reception for the channel the show is on. You don't need to tell it to record ahead of time, you just buy the show. Oh, and you can carry the TiVo in your pocket, use it as an mp3 player, address book, calendar, photo album, and play a couple games on it. Oh, an
  • by Grfxho (866867) <`grfxho' `at' `yahoo.com'> on Friday October 14, 2005 @10:57AM (#13790575)
    The loss of traditional TV ads might mean they have to actually focus on the quality of the programming... Of course, instead I will end up with commercials on my iPod.
    • by evil agent (918566) on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:08AM (#13790668)
      Yes, I agree that commercials will find there way onto iPods, but why should they? If I'm paying to get this episode off of iTunes, why should they stuff advertisements in there as well?
    • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdotNO@SPAMworf.net> on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:11AM (#13790696)
      The loss of traditional TV ads might mean they have to actually focus on the quality of the programming... Of course, instead I will end up with commercials on my iPod.

      In a way, advertisers have already coped with this. It's call "product placement ads" and it's been around since TV started. These days, you'll have strategically placed computers (noticed that most laptops tend to be shot so they're easily recognizable? They didn't take the shot of the computer screen with the Dell logo on the side as part of bad camera angles - they did it to get the logo in specifically for the shot. Same goes for PowerBooks (though, since they're really quite distinct, they're easy to take from any angle), MP3 players (Oakley thumps, anyone?), soda (main actor reaches for the distinctly red Coke can), cellphones, etc). Rather than try to advertise during the commercial break, they advertise in the show itself.

      Of course, on a tiny iPod screen, it just means made-for-iPod TV filming just got more creative with camera angles and closeups.
  • Somewhat limited (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Daath (225404) <lp AT coder DOT dk> on Friday October 14, 2005 @10:58AM (#13790584) Homepage Journal
    It's only five shows, "Lost", "Desperate Housewives", "Night Stalker" and two kids' shows, and it's $2 per episode... Is it just me or is it only available for iTunes muisc store customers who are in the USA?!
    • f.y.i The first four episodes of season 1 Lost are available to the UK. I think they'll limit the availablity of episodes according to the point the show is up to on normal TV in each country. I'm not entirely happy about this. I'd happily plum for the last season and a half of Lost at $4.00 an episode, but I can understand why they're doing this.
    • by Space cowboy (13680) * on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:41AM (#13790955) Journal
      It's only five shows

      It's been announced/available for 2 days now. It's a revolution in how we'll get TV delivered. All the other networks will look on, see that they're missing out, and clamour to get onboard, but this takes more than 2 days...

      Give it time - rome wasn't built in a day, or even 2.

      Simon
      • by Have Blue (616)
        They've already greatly expanded their collection. Within minutes of launch, the store had only the current season of Lost and only the first episode of season 1. Now they have the entirety of season 1 and the new episode that aired this Wednesday is also posted.
  • by Grendel Drago (41496) on Friday October 14, 2005 @10:58AM (#13790586) Homepage
    So... does this mean that those people trading and sharing TV eps can no longer claim "they're free! how can you steal free stuff?"?
  • What I want to see (Score:5, Interesting)

    by varmittang (849469) on Friday October 14, 2005 @10:59AM (#13790589)
    Free nightly news on iTunes, right after, or during the broadcast on the TV set. That to me, would be what puts the nail in the coffen for TV. But I don't expect that to happen. Reason I say free is because it has always been free. The people that have the bunny ears for their TV I think can still get ABC/NBC/Fox and watch the news for free. I know some people are going to jump on me and say news papers are not free, but you are mainly paying for the paper, and the opion parts of the paper, not the news part. Plus the newspaper has ads to help pay for its production. As for adds in the nightly news broadcasts on iTunes, I could deal with, as long as they are free downloads.
  • One step at a time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tsa (15680) on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:00AM (#13790601) Homepage
    We all know why Steve wants this so much, don't we? Many people don't have a broadband connection at the moment, so he first starts with music video's and TV programs, aimed at the tech-savvy adolescent market. They will soon want more, but by offering this low resolution video's Apple can get a feeling for the demand, as well as the technical problems they have to solve before taking the next step. Next step is higher resolution, and I will not be surprised if we can download Finding Nemo in DVD quality before 2006 is out.

    One other thing: what I find amazing is that apparently the RIAA finds 1.99 for whatever music video a good price, and different prices for more popular video's were not mentioned.
    • by dsgitl (922908)
      What I'm upset about is that the music videos on iTMS used to be free to view, and now there is only a 20 second preview available. I don't like monkeying around with Launch and certainly not MTV or the radio. Nuts to iTunes.
  • I was excited ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pturpin (801430)
    At first i was very excited about this, but as soon as i realized a few things my enthusiasm quickly died down (i was thinking more for watching on a computer than an ipod). First the resolution is only QVGA, a quarter of VGA, not even analog TV standard. Second I started doing the math and realized that if i watch a reasonable amount of TV i am better off with cable or something similar and a PVR or TV tuner card. Hopefully though i would like to see this progress. It is still a big first step forward.
  • AAA!!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .yppupcinataS.> on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:01AM (#13790614) Journal
    It's going to change/steal all of our future programming!

    WTF?

    The reason the programming exists in the first place is because there is demand for it. The fact that it's now being shown through a different medium is irrelevant to that demand.

    And where there is demand, someone will find a way to make money off supplying that demand. Just simple economics.
  • by Moby Cock (771358) on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:01AM (#13790615) Homepage
    People seem to want to own copies of programming and are willing to pay to do so. Look at the large market in DVDs of television programs, some of which are heavily syndicated and aired frequently (like Seinfeld and Friends -- they never seem to be off-air). A downloadable version of programs is the next logical step. When the video iPods were released I forsaw this exact scenario. The use of iTunes will help this along, since there is brand recognition and folks will 'trust' the source and be willing to download it.

    This could eventually spell disaster for marketing in the traditional sense but not for a while. I don't expect consumers will tolerate downloads thatr have ads embedded since they are paying a proce for that content. However, there will still be a demand for live-to-air programming for a long time. I can't imagine downloading the SuperBowl and watching it after the fact. Things like this will preserve television in its current form (or thereabouts) for the foreseeable future, I think.

    However, I have to say, being able to download Lost and watch it at my convenience is a very tempting propect.
    • When the video iPods were released I forsaw this exact scenario.

      You mean, in the ten minutes between the announcement of the video iPods and the announcement of the TV shows on iTMS? :^P

  • by slashname3 (739398) on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:01AM (#13790618)
    PVRs are poised to change TV quicker than podcasting. Per the article blurb above advertising on TV will have to change as PVRs allow users to skip over commercials easily. mythtv has changed the way a lot of people view TV. Personally I rarely watch "live" TV anymore, I much prefer to record a show, commercial flag it, and watch it when I want to watch it with the added benefit of not having to watch any commercials.

    What I find particularly funny is that the ads on TV have started to mirror the spam in email, they all seem to be pushing viagra and variants. The PVR will allow users to reclaim thier TVs just like spamassassin allowed us to reclaim our email systems.

    As to selling shows over the Internet, it may have a niche market, realizing you only need a small percentage of Internet users to make a reasonable profit. But to appeal to the widest possible audience such distribution of shows will need to be bundled with the cost of Internet access in some way as part of the $40/month this most cable services charge for access.
    • I agree 100%. Last night is a perfect example of this. I started watching Survivor at 7:10 CST and pretty quickly caught up with Live TV. I was like "crap...dumb live tv...can't skip commercials". My wife and I then remembered that there was a controlled burn of a house going on behind our church. Figured we would pause Survivor, go see the burn (got some cool pictures) and come back. Got back around 7:40 and watch the rest of Survivor with no commercials (then CSI with no commercials, then ER).

      So...a
  • by glennrrr (592457) on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:02AM (#13790619)
    The problem is one of perceived value. Desparate Housewives, Season 1 costs $38 on DVD on Amazon. It's enhanced for widescreen which means it is encoded at 720x480 (some of which may not be used due to matting). The same content available from the Apple Music store is $35 for a 320x240 cropped version. The DVDs also come with a 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound. Unless you desparately, need to watch the show right now, it's a much, much better deal to just order the DVDs.

    If you wanted, there are ways to rip said DVDs into a format playable on the iPod.

    Even better, you could record the magnificent 1920x1080 interlaced MPEG-2 widescreen broadcast every Sunday going forward, it'll take up 10GBs of space which at today's hard drive prices is around $2.50 of space, and if you buy your tuner card before the broadcast flag gets rammed through there will be zero DRM encumbrances.

    The value you are getting is: it's already pre-ripped and encoded for your video iPod. You can get yesterday's show for a semi-reasonable price. So this is good for people who just want to catch up with their stories and don't want to wait for the DVD. I'd be happy to get Curb Your Enthusiasm this way so I could cancel my HBO subscription. It'd save me a ton of money over the course of a year. (Don't tell HBO).
    • Desparate Housewives, Season 1 costs $38 on DVD on Amazon. It's enhanced for widescreen which means it is encoded at 720x480 (some of which may not be used due to matting). The same content available from the Apple Music store is $35 for a 320x240 cropped version. The DVDs also come with a 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound. Unless you desparately, need to watch the show right now, it's a much, much better deal to just order the DVDs.

      Not to mention that ABC is adding more commercials than normal (five break

      • Archos - Drag'n'Drop (Score:3, Interesting)

        by meehawl (73285)
        there are technical issues preventing seamless use of free recorders.

        If by "technicial issues" you mean the use of drag and drop to move videos onto the excellent Archos video players, than I guess you may be right.

        Archos has been at this a lot longer than Apple. Its version of the "ipod video" (as in, small screen with backward-looking enslaved-to-old-audio-paradigm form factor) was the Jukebox Multimedia, released back in 2002. The newer generations of players released since then are a way better. It's ni
    • by Have Blue (616) on Friday October 14, 2005 @12:48PM (#13791515) Homepage
      The killer app for this, just like it was for the music store, is buying that one episode you missed last week. If you care about the story more than the video quality, it's worth it.
  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:02AM (#13790623) Homepage Journal
    ...for both parties.

    Advertisements in their current form are different than they were 10 years ago. They're tested at regular speed and fast speed. Thought is given to logo placement early before one can click skip.

    Yet the distributor doesn't care who pays, as long as someone does. iTunes should consider a survey ad system for buying points. Watch a 60 second ad, answer 5 questions, earn 50 points to use for purchase.

    Also, piracy is counterproductive for true fans. If Firefly 2.0 gets on SciFi and 80% of you bootleg it, don't expect a third season. I'll never understand the people here who complain about lack of good content yet have 3000 songs from Limewire.

    In the long run, offering multiple acquisition options makes sense. I'll pay a subscription for content I like. I'll pay extra for HD and DD. I'll pay extra for bloopers and outtakes, and maybe for getting it a few days earlier.

    Content control doesn't bother me. As long as I can watch it on my TVs at home and on my PDA unlimited times, I'm fine with DRM. Shows requiring deletion after a week I just won't watch.

    iTunes won't kill the networks. Freedom of choice will kill those unavoidable to provide what the market wants.

    Until government regulates iTunes to protect the networks.
  • I know, its only going to be at 128x128, but I'd take Firefly any way I could get it. As the blurb said, if shows which deserve a wide viewing manage to hang on this way, then they stand a better chance of catching the imagination of a larger audience.

    I never saw Firefly when it was on tv over here (Ireland), but I heard/read the buzz about it from the States on the Internet. If I could have downloaded it legally and had it on my iPod, I would have ranted about how great it was to all my friends (as I did w
  • There are some channels where I'll pay to not have commercials and some where I won't.

    Ideally, it should be a choice on every channel. For example, to keep the times in sync they could offer a more expensive alternate channel where all of the commercials are pushed to the end of the time slot and the show is shown commercial free followed by the same set of commercials.

  • I've not watched a single show on TV for years... Not because I'm repulsed by commercials per se, but because I don't usually want to wait for a show or movie to come on. With broadband, it's possible to stream medium (400kbps) to high (1000+ kbps) content on demand. I wouldn't mind streaming an episode of a show I want to watch, commercials and all, if it were free and easy to access (i.e. I would not have to wait an hour for BT to find seeds or for newsgroups to download and unpack the avi file.) If I cou
  • "Could this help niche shows stay alive longer?"

    Maybe. A show like Firefly or Birds Of Prey that would normally draw a very limited audience and get tossed from broadcast TV quickly. Maybe this as a distribution model may keep these shows alive longer. But I don't know if that's enough to convince the PHB's that make these decisions.

    "Will it kill traditional TV ads"

    Yes. But they'll just pay for product placements. Problem solved.

    "Will we end up eventually paying (or stealing) all of our future programming?"
  • Firefly's hope? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alcimedes (398213) on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:10AM (#13790687)
    So Fox owns the broadcasting rights to the show, but do they own the downloading rights?

    Would this allow a producer to make a show, throw it on iTunes for $2 an episode, and then just continue to produce as long as they're making money? Sounds like a good way for fans to rescue worthwhile shows that are cancelled in place of "Who's Your Daddy" and the like.
  • Purchased content (Score:3, Interesting)

    by harryk (17509) <harryk20022002@yahoo. c o m> on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:11AM (#13790694) Homepage
    As someone who regularly buys tv series of a few shows that I enjoy, I would be willing to buy said content based on a few peices of criteria.

    1. it would have to be available in multiple size/screen resolutions - atleast the basics, and be availble in its original format.
    2. the content (even if drm crippled) would have to allow me to watch any resolution show as many times as I wanted, still based solely on the first purchase (I buy a DVD, and I encode it to any resolution I want today, and maybe tomorrow, and perhaps again in three months when I've lost the first encode)
    3. the content would have to be reasonably priced. I figure I pay somewhere between $30 and $40 for a complete season of episodes, depending on the show. Break that down between ~10 episodes, and I'm looking at roughly $3-$4/episode. If I am going to purchase a single show, commercial free, it would have to be comparable to this price.
    4. the license and/or use of said content would have to be transferable. If I decide that I want to sell my copy of said content/media and relinquish my rights to it, I ought to be able.

    I'm not a freak when it comes to DRM. I am all for fair use, and I truly believe the media companies ought to have some say in how their contents is distributed, as long as it is within the confines of fair use, I'm for it. If I buy a DVD, and decided that it wasn't all it was cracked up to be, I will either sell it to CDMax (or other retail chain) or sell/give to a friend. The same should apply for media purchased online.

    Thats about all I can think of at the moment. Perhaps overly simplistic, but I'm looking at the lowest requirments. I would prefer that the media be playable on alternative OS' , but it would not be a requirement.

    Harryk
  • It would have been nice if apple linked up w/ google video... or if only google had a gPod.
  • Car talk (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 3770 (560838) on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:14AM (#13790719) Homepage
    Episodes of the NPR show Cartalk was $3.95. I used to buy a lot of episodes. I'm a sucker for that show. Then the price was raised to $5.95 (or something like that) and then it just crossed over to not being worth it for me. $3.95 was rather expensive to begin with.

    Comparing the price of a song with a TV show such as desperate housewives is a bit apples and oranges. But comparing a one hour radio show with a one hour TV show isn't. At least in my mind.

    A TV show for $1.99 is worth more than a $5.95 radio show generally speaking. I hope that this will help push Cartalk down to $1.99 or even below.
  • by jfengel (409917) on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:15AM (#13790728) Homepage Journal
    The big deal with iTMS was that they got so many major record labels to sell music online. They convinced the labels that their DRM was good enough (far from perfect, but good enough that it's easier to post the rip from a CD) and so the iTMS catalog is enormous, with major-label content.

    Now they've got a deal with one of the networks to sell TV shows. I wonder if they're planning to go from there to the rest of the networks. And then to a set-top box hooked into the Internet. It would be like a combination of a TiVo and video on demand: you don't have to set it in advance but it plays regular broadcast TV rather than movies.

    Slashdotters will probably swear up and down that it's overpriced and they'd never pay that much for DRM content. $2 a pop is kind of pricey, given that you're used to getting it for free with your cable/satellite bill. If you're the sort of person who watches the TV every night from 8 until 11 then you're going to spend a lot this way.

    But I wonder if such a thing might just work. It's like the ultimate a la carte. I got rid of cable because I was too busy to watch TV, but there are a few shows I miss and I'd happily watch $10 or even $20 a month worth of TV to have it come in commercial-free and on my own schedule.

    This gets really complicated. As with music, there are many independent content producers who would love to use this to bypass the networks entirely. When 24 came out on DVD it was said that this was what they were really selling, and that the TV broadcasts were just advertisements for those DVDs. I wouldn't go that far, but it really does bring up a whole new avenue for artists to produce content (in this case, short-format video), get it to audiences, and pay for it.

    I'm getting way ahead of myself. Apple's next step would be to secure agreements with the other networks (and to get the rest of ABC's programming.) But if Apple starts sending out mysterious postcards again some time next year it wouldn't surprise me to discover that they're hinting at a new iPod that you leave at home.
  • Here's my take on TV shows on any downloadable, pay medium. When it comes to television shows that are available on broadcast airwaves (like ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, not like HBO, SpikeTV or those), then you should not be required to pay for the content. You can put up an antenna for free and get the shows, therefore downloading them should in no way be seen as illegal. This hasn't come up in court (that I am aware of), but with my understanding of broadcast law, I see no way you could get into trouble for it

  • It's an OK deal really. Provide the content for free and pay for its creation with advertisements. If we had to pay directly for content creation, what would our cable bill look like? The problem has been the creation of an inequity in the deal. More and more time going to commercials, and lower and lower quality of content.

    Personally, I'd prefer it if the downloads were free and came with commercials. Perhaps you could be given a choice of commercials to be auto-inserted upon download. That way, the comme
  • Hello, I am Zip Zorroski, CEO of Blogs, Inbloggerated. We are starting a new blogging service where bloggers can blog about anything at all (including blogs). We are also beginning several new ventures to spin off commercial blogs, called blogazines. These blogazines are like standard print but not, because they are blogs. This makes them cool (we prefer the term "bloggy"). Blogs are revolutionizing the planet by giving a new name to things that already existed 10 years ago when they were called "journals,"
  • by WombatControl (74685) on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:23AM (#13790811)

    I watched a few episodes of Lost through iTunes the other day. The quality wasn't great, but on my iBook's 12.1" screen it was good enough. That H.264 codec makes even low-res video seem much better than you'd think. Would I pay $40+ for a season of a show on iTunes? Nope - I'd rather buy the DVDs and get the extras and better video quality.

    What this represents is a step. The biggest hurdle isn't technical - it's legal and cultural. Apple could offer full-resolution versions of these shows at any time. They could do the same with movies. The technology may be in its infancy, but it's here today.

    If Apple can prove that this works, we'll start getting things like a true video iPod, more shows, more networks, and wireless streaming of shows through an AirPort-like base station - or better yet the iMac with Front Row will morph into an Apple PVR/media center. And unlike MCE, that solution will look good inside and out.

    Apple's testing the waters, making sure this thing will actually work before they throw themselves fully into becoming a media distribution company. They're making evolutionary rather than revolutionary changes, which is the way to go when you're navigating a legal minefield of IP law and business relationships. The networks are facing the possibility of drastic changes to the way their products are distributed, and dragging them kicking and screaming into the future just won't work.

    I think had this new form of direct distribution been around, shows like Firefly, Wonderfalls, Greg the Bunny, etc that were well-written, well-acted, and deserving of viewer support but were killed by networks who didn't understand what they had would get a chance. Shlock like Joey, whatever other sitcom-of-the-moment, or the latest reality show may still get the big ratings, but more challenging shows could show a real bottom-line profit that would mean that the horribly flawed Nielson system wouldn't cause them to be prematurely axed.

    But that will take some time, which is why the long-awaited video iPod is somewhat underwhelming - but make no mistake, this is just a way of laying the groundwork for what will be a revolutionary way in which we view TV.

  • DVD Jon! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Eric_Cartman_South_P (594330) on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:27AM (#13790847)
    My "Prayer of Jon":

    Pray, o' Lord, that You giveth thine Jon of DVD, the power to release thine TV shows from Satan's demonic, ravenous, malicious lock on ones and zeros, so I may become pure of spirit and download thine shows from ThePirateBay.

    Amen.
  • by Iloinen Lohikrme (880747) on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:30AM (#13790866)
    I think this move by Disney and Apple will also have more drastic implications in another front, namely battle between Apple and labels on pricing of records in iTunes. iTunes first was just a big record store, but now by adding music videos and televisions shows, iTunes is becoming a content portal, a first stop to anybody who wants content from popular music to hit tv-shows.

    The important thing here is that Apple is broadening their value generation base, they aren't anymore just a record store. They gather audience from music lovers to people wanting to watch tv, this makes iTunes have more people using it, and it makes iTunes more interesting market, giving Apple more power to negotiate with content producers. The move also makes sure that Microsoft and others have to play catch up with Apple, if they want to be a part of future content and media distribution landscape.

    More speculative thing is, is Apple trying to build slowly vertically integrated media platform where people can computers, content players, software and services all come from Apple? Atleast to me it looks like it. The major question now is, can Apple and Jobs this time play it right and crap a near monopoly in content area, making Apple the next decades Microsoft?
  • by BMonger (68213) on Friday October 14, 2005 @11:34AM (#13790909)
    For me I don't particularly care that a whole season is available. I'll get the DVD if I want the whole season. But let's say I've never seen Lost but have heard it's an awesome show. Going to iTunes and getting the first episode to watch, enjoying it, and then buying the whole DVD set is something I can see myself doing.

    I've heard that Battlestar Galactica rocks but I'm hesitant to spend the money on the whole season or whatever is out now. Some sci-fi shows I just don't like (Star Trek for instance). If there was an episode of Battlestar Galactica on iTunes I would definitely get it and possibly get the DVD's then.

    For some shows like 24 they have released a "first few episodes" DVD. What I would like to see though would be a DVD with 4+ episodes of different shows. 1st episode of 24, Alias, Lost, and Desperate Housewives for instance (yes I know different networks blah blah blah... work with me here!). I would love to go to the store and purchase a "1st episodes" DVD of TV shows that are already out. You can watch 'em then maybe find a show you'd like.

    Either way would be fine for me and I'd imagine a few other people too.
  • Let's all pay (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shotgun (30919) on Friday October 14, 2005 @12:44PM (#13791476)
    Will we end up eventually paying (or stealing) all of our future programming?

    God, I hope so. Maybe then:

    - the competition will shift from serving up eyeballs to advertisers and towards producing decent shows
    - people will limit their viewing to something they actually find interesting, instead of channel surfing
    - and most importantly, active interests/hobby will be able to stand on a more even footing with the always-on, always-free insanity box.

  • by TheWizardTim (599546) on Friday October 14, 2005 @12:44PM (#13791482) Journal
    I think that everyone here is overlooking the most important aspect of this. Content. Right now, if a TV show does something that "some" people don't like, they can get it pulled off the air by calling the advertisers or FCC. With this system, companies/people/anyone could produce a show HBO style and not care if you see Janet Jackson's boob for 1/10 of a second. You could see TV the way creators want, not the government, advertisers or people who want to push their views of right and wrong on you want.

  • by cabjf (710106) on Friday October 14, 2005 @12:45PM (#13791488)
    The more I read what people think of the new products Apple released, the more I see that everyone is missing the point. It's all about video iPod to everyone, but I think that the new iMac with Front Row and the Apple Remote are more telling about the direction Jobs is taking the company. Imagine, down the road, Apple releases an iMac in size and resolution comparable to lcd televisions with a built in tv tuner, or at least a mac mini with the remote and a tv tuner that can connect to an existing tv. Then imagine if more studios allowed shows and movies to be sold through iTunes (which may need a name change to something like iMedia). Then people have one source for their digital media, music, photos, movies, TV shows, DVD's, etc. Instead of taking Microsoft and Sony's approach of making gaming systems that offer these features, take something people already store their media on and give it a remote, software, and a pretty packaging. I can see Apple eventually offering TV shows and movies in a larger format if strides can be made in internet infrastucture and in signing movie/TV companies on board. The current offerings are merely to test the water, to see if the time is right yet.
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Friday October 14, 2005 @12:51PM (#13791554) Homepage Journal
    video, and just "downgrade" it when you send it to your iPod, much like they do with your photos on the iPod photo. It's pointless to have 3 megapixel pictures on your iPod photo(unless you are using it as a storage device) since it wastes so much power in loading, so iTunes will convert your entire photo library to iPod size, while still leaving the higher quality pictures on your machine. Why can't they do this with video?

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