I'm a Human Inbox

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Tune into TV Piracy

MindJack has an awesome article speaking about the issue of pirating TV shows:

From its premiere, Battlestar Galactica has been the most popular program ever to air on the SciFi Channel, and its audiences have only grown throughout the first series. Piracy made it possible for "word-of-mouth" to spread about Battlestar Galactica.

Audiences are technically savvy these days; they can and will find a way to get any television programming they desire. They don't want to pay for it, they don't want it artificially crippled with any digital rights management technologies - they just want to watch it. Now. This is the way that half a century of television and a decade of the Web has conditioned them to behave. We can't really complain that audiences are simply doing as they've been told. It is pointless to try to get them to change their behavior, because, in essence, you're fighting against the nature of television programming itself, the behavioral narrative which grew out of our relationship to the technology. We all understand that this piracy is technically illegal, technically a violation of copyright; but we're in a hell of a bind if we're telling the audience to "sit down, shut up and do as you're told" when it comes to television viewing. The audience won't do as they're told: they'll do as they've been taught, and that is another story entirely.

My sentiments exactly. What surprises me is that when media companies are shown this sort of argument they usually claim that piracy has only hurt their sales even more than it would have despite its success. TV is a different category than movies, music and games. Consumers are used to paying for music and movies, but consumers have never paid for television (ignoring cable), and the Internet isn't going to change that attitude. Mindjack goes on to list some advertising strategies which are all very reasonable.

I actually believe that advertisers are smarter than media producers. I think that the money from advertisers will bring the media onto the Internet far sooner than consumers.

Link (via Slashdot)