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After Monty Python Goes YouTube, Big Jump In DVD Sales 281

Posted by timothy
from the causation-may-have-something-to-do-with-correlation dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Apparently it with the release of all of Monty Python's material on YouTube, their sales have blown through the roof on Amazon.com. It is too bad there isn't any proper news article about this, but I think it bodes well for those who champion free content. More importantly, it forces the MPAA's feet into their mouths." Not every performer (or group of performers) has the decades-strong appeal of Monty Python, but this is a great thing to see. The linked article claims that the sales increase in the Python DVDs is 23,000 percent; there are probably some other ways to figure the numbers, but a big increase is easy to see.
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After Monty Python Goes YouTube, Big Jump In DVD Sales

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  • Flawed theory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by symbolset (646467) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @11:21PM (#26595167) Journal

    it forces the MPAA's feet into their mouths.

    No, for every Monty Python movie there's two dozen films the quality of "Glitter", "The Hottie and the Nottie" and "The Postman".

    There's no way it would improve their average sales to have those actual films previewable on YouTube. They're much better off with a thumbnail view of the clamshell case.

  • Re:Flawed theory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gravos (912628) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @11:26PM (#26595199) Homepage
    It's quite logical, when you think about it ... the YouTube videos, while there are many, are just a taster. Even if many clips from an episode or a TV show are uploaded, you can't get the whole thing in its original form. It's true that the sketch show nature of Monty Python helps, but I think we can apply this thinking to a lot more stuff. Once you've had a taste and you like it, you inevitably want more.
  • Re:Flawed theory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eof (33820) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @11:28PM (#26595213)
    Unfortunately, parent is correct. This isn't the first contradictory point to the *AA's claim that pirating affects their sales. They've ignored all of the other arguments, and I'm sure they'll ignore this one as well.
  • Re:Flawed theory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aurispector (530273) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @11:45PM (#26595307)

    Don't underestimate the idiocy driving the MPAA's decisions. Free advertising is free advertising, but it doesn't mean they'll connect the dots. ...And now for something completely different: a man with three buttocks!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 24, 2009 @11:51PM (#26595343)

    "Not every performer (or group of performers) has the decades-strong appeal of Monty Python, but this is a great thing to see."

    The way Monty Python became popular was by putting their comedy on the air where millions of people could watch them for free(On TV). It's exactly the same business model as YouTube and to imply that dumping material on YouTube for the world to watch for free won't work today is just naive.

  • sample quality? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @11:54PM (#26595365) Homepage

    A bunch of people seeing old favorites in crappy streaming flash, I can understand, would remind people how fun a DVD-quality video of their favorites would be.

    And when technology gets good enough to skip the "a dvd of this would be nice" phase, that business model will no longer work. Then look for artificial limitations (quality, advertisements) to create that differential

    For now though, yes it does seem like a big fat ITYS for the content copyright holders who assumed that internets REDUCE sales.

  • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @11:57PM (#26595381) Journal
    There are some classic Monty Python bits, don't get me wrong. However, by and large, the bits you remember are it. There is a lot of mediocre fare, there.

    I was a kid back when Monty Python was "live". The rare PBS (in USA) airing of their shows was risque fair, forbidden knowledge, if you will, for the American audience, back in the day. Hey, you might even see "full frontal nudity" if you were lucky.

    Years later, out of nostalgia, I bought the boxed set of Monty Python at Costco. This was a few years ago, something like 13 DVDs, I don't recall exactly... watched the whole TV broadcast series over the course of a few weeks, much to the consternation of my wife.

    Anyhow, my take-away was, yeah, there were some classic bits, but a lot of it was just tedious.

    My copy went out on eBay with both the buyer and seller happy. They got a bit of a discount off retail, and I can say I have seen every episode.

    I can't say it would break my heart if all the "good stuff" fell into the public domain, and the rest just faded away...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 24, 2009 @11:58PM (#26595389)

    The every sperm is sacred video has naked children on it! Quick, someone censor it before another pedophile rapes someone due to the sex crazed rage they will be put in from wanking to this smut!

  • by shaitand (626655) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @12:01AM (#26595409) Journal

    And you think a single product release increased the sales of a well established and household brand by 23,000%?

  • by shaitand (626655) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @12:05AM (#26595433) Journal

    The fact that they are an established brand doesn't make them the exception, it makes them even more impressive. Monty python has been around for a long time, you have to figure that their established fan base already owns their content. ANYTHING increasing the sales of a decades old brand like monty python by an astronomical figure like 23000% is simply amazing.

    It's no different than companies, a young company increasing profits by 200% a quarter isn't that noteworthy, IBM managing to increase their sales by 200% in a single quarter would be amazing.

  • Re:Flawed theory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eam (192101) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @12:06AM (#26595443)

    Yes it is.

  • Re:Flawed theory (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 25, 2009 @12:12AM (#26595497)

    What was wrong with "The Postman?"

    Did you watch "Waterworld" first?

  • by Urza9814 (883915) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @12:44AM (#26595681)

    Not quite accurate. When you put things on TV, you get paid. And you have to be very good to get something on TV. When you put things on YouTube, you aren't getting paid and you're throwing yourself into the mix with every idiot who thinks they're entertaining. Now, it may be easier for people to get discovered on YouTube than it used to be...or it might be harder, simply because of the mass. But the true problem here is monetizing it. It's great for guys like Monty Python, who are already famous and already have merchandise in production and have millions of fans. But it's not in any way a replacement for TV. Not until YouTube starts putting in ads or something and paying the content producers.

  • Anecdotal? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alvinrod (889928) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @01:13AM (#26595819)

    As much as I appreciate a try before I buy option, I'm not entirely sure that the success met here will translate into any kind of general result, data not being the plural of anecdote and all.

    I tend to actually purchase more content now than I have in the past. Most of this has to do with actually having a decent paying job and disposable income, rather than being a poor high school or college student. Even now, however, I will tend to see if I can find a few episodes of a show available as a torrent or on some website that streams the show before I commit money towards it. Sometimes I find that I like the show and will go out and buy a season or so on DVD and other times I find out that I don't care anything for the show and won't purchase any of it.

    Previously this was more legally grey but now that Hulu seems to offer popular shows a day or so after their original air date it's not that much of an issue. Then again, I don't use their service (It's not the advertisements, but mostly the fact that I need to register and completely resent having to do so), so I'm not overly knowledgeable about the variety of programming. In general, I think that the content providers are starting to realize that it's inevitable that the content is going to end up online, whether they like it or not and are starting to react to that.

    In general though, I probably tend to purchase less than a third of what I preview online. Some of this is due to the fact that I can't purchase it even if I wanted to do so, but the vast majority of it isn't all that great or engaging. Personally I don't care whether or not people sample before making a purchase or time commitment. I do so all the time, but if you genuinely enjoy a TV show, music album, or movie, purchase it. The people who make that content require money from somewhere to continue to produce that content and I would feel dishonest consuming all of it without giving something back.

    In short, exercise your freedoms but don't be a dick.

  • by Dr. Photo (640363) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @02:32AM (#26596133) Journal

    ;-)

  • by lordSaurontheGreat (898628) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @03:39AM (#26596377) Homepage

    Hopefully, this will knock some sense into the big production companies.

    My magic 8-ball says "don't count on it."

  • Re:Flawed theory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 25, 2009 @03:55AM (#26596423)

    A large percentage of media content (movies, tv, music) I purchase these days is the DIRECT RESULT of having come across the art for free online. I'd say that upwards of 50% of the media I buy is stuff I would have NEVER come across unless I'd found it on for ex youtube. I mean literally that if I didn't find the video while browsing youtube, I'd never even know your movie/tv show/song existed or interested me.

    Ah, Slashdot, home of the anecdote. Here's one for you: A large percentage of media content (movies, tv, music) I don't purchase these days is the DIRECT RESULT of having come across the art for free online. I'd say that 100% of the media I don't buy is stuff I would have NEVER come across unless I'd found it on for ex youtube. I mean literally that if I didn't find the video while browsing youtube I'd never even know your movie/tv show/song existed or interested me. I still wouldn't have bought it, but I enjoyed getting it for free because someone posted it on for ex youtube.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 25, 2009 @04:38AM (#26596575)

    Even if youtube had absolutely horrible quality one could still just pirate whatever top quality was available instead of forking out money in a shitty economy. Not like anyone is actually scared of MPAA/RIAA and what have you.

    People are buying Monty Python DVDs because they want too in general, not just to get higher quality.

  • Re:Flawed theory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Z00L00K (682162) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @04:48AM (#26596607) Homepage

    The video and audio quality on YouTube is really bad enough for people to want the real deal.

    But as a teaser it works fine with YouTube.

  • by cuby (832037) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:38AM (#26596765)
    The MPAA doesn't what free content everywhere because the majority of contents are attached to impulse buyers. The majority of music or movies are common consumer products, like a pair of trousers. They have a very short product life cycle. If they don't sell those albums, or those movies in 6 months to 1 year, they won't sell them at all. True interesting things like the Python's stuff are timeless because they are also art, not pure consumer products.
  • Fawlty Towers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Frankie70 (803801) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:49AM (#26596805)

    There are some classic Monty Python bits, don't get me wrong. However, by and large, the bits you remember are it. There is a lot of mediocre fare, there.

    Very True. In my opinion, 70% of more of Monty Python stuff was very tedious.

    The real classic comes not from Monty Python, but from Python members John Cleese & Connie Booth -
    the 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers.

    Each of the 12 episodes is a classic. Each can be watched multiple times.

  • Re:Flawed theory (Score:1, Insightful)

    by delete X (1290676) <deleto.ecsu@gmail.com> on Sunday January 25, 2009 @08:22AM (#26597283)
    Sorry to come with this thing, but I must say it: I lol'd hard
  • Re:Flawed theory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xaxa (988988) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @08:25AM (#26597291)

    I can recommend something like Last.fm [www.last.fm] for finding music. Stick an artist you like in the box, and it streams similar music (and every so often, the artist you asked for's music).

    I downloaded Evanescence stuff when I was about 18, and never bought any of their CDs. Most people I know that age did the same, as we had other things to spend a limited sum of money one. Now I've left university and have a job I can spend money on CDs, and I have about 60 so far. But I still tend to download something, and if I like it buy other albums by the same artist, so I'm still taking more than what I've paid for.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 25, 2009 @09:12AM (#26597515)

    Does anyone else recall when transcripts of The Holy Grail and other bits of Monty Python were regularly posted on USENET in the late 80's and early 90's? That is where I became exposed to Monty Python, and it led to the sales of at least 1 Monty Python CD ("Monty Python Sings") and 4 Monty Python DVDs.

    But we have known about this effect for years. About 15 years ago, there was a consistent trend among books (including new books) that were published online and made freely available: they sold much better than comparable books which were NOT made freely available online. The reason is simple, same as what happened here: free advertising. There are millions of books published each year, and most people don't have the time to go look through all the physical copies for what they want - but put it online where they can get an idea whether they want the whole book, where it is easy to quote a few paragraphs in an email to a friend or a post on a related internet discussion board, and suddenly there is a market for the book, because the people who want the information know where to find it. Many are willing and able to pay. Some are willing but not able - and those are not lost sales, they are an increase in market presence, because those readers will pass on their recommendations to others who CAN pay, and may eventually be able to pay themselves. There may be a few free riders, who would have bought the book otherwise but won't because it is free online, but these are very much the minority and are overwhelmed by the advantages of free advertising.

  • by fermion (181285) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @09:38AM (#26597631) Homepage Journal
    Exactly. In addition there was an old fashion price cut. old fashioned price cut. The complete set which elsewhere has sold for 100+ dollars now sells for around $60 on amazon, and has been on sale for as low as $40. The release online might have helped sales, but i think a fraction of customers would have bought if the set had cost twice as much.
  • Re:Flawed theory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @09:40AM (#26597645)

    Unfortunately, parent is correct. This isn't the first contradictory point to the *AA's claim that pirating affects their sales. They've ignored all of the other arguments, and I'm sure they'll ignore this one as well.

    It's one data point, but I'm not sure that this disproves that argument quite yet. It does show that marketing entertainment broadly helps expose you to a broader audience; which can result in greater sales.

    The Dead have done this for years, and it has worked quite nicely for them.

    Entertainment, by its nature, is a very personal taste sort of thing. By giving people the opportunity to see your act they can decide if they like it, and the are more willing to buy stuff.

    TV is moving this way as well - with networks such as FOX in the US making shows available on line. This can help build a following for a show; resulting in higher ratings. I'm even willing to watch a commercial or two to be able to stream a video while traveling.

    As for the piracy = lost sales argument, I think there is a point where it crosses over from "Let's see if I like them enough to spend money on them" to "I can get it for free so why buy it?" D/L some materiel and then buying a CD/DVD is, IMHO, fine. D/L it, find out it sucks and never listen / watch again - sure. D/L it , keep it, use it and not but it? Not cool. At some point, if you like it the artist ought to get rewarded. Yes, I realize the artist gets very little from a sale; and would like to see a way to really get money into their hands, but that is not, IMHO, a justification for piracy.

  • by MRe_nl (306212) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @09:47AM (#26597677)

    Terrence Vance Gilliam, American-born British writer, filmmaker, animator and member of the Monty Python comedy troupe known for directing several well-regarded films including Brazil (1985), Twelve Monkeys (1995), and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998). Each can be watched multiple times ; ).

  • Re:Flawed theory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zacronos (937891) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @04:15PM (#26600559)
    Interestingly, your anecdote doesn't undermine the point GP was making at all, and actually supports it. In your case, you say that the only media you don't buy is stuff you'd never have known exists if it weren't for youtube and similar free sources. This says that the RIAA and MPAA haven't lost any sales due to your watching youtube, since there is no media that you don't buy merely because you can get it for free elsewhere. Based on that anecdote, there is nothing to lose (at least to people like you) from giving away your art for free online. Based on GP's anecdote, there is something to gain from people like GP.

    I understand you were really trying to make a sarcastic point about anecdotes, and how they don't count as data. However, you failed miserably.
  • Re:Flawed theory (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 26, 2009 @03:06AM (#26604919)
    Why should 'minimum wage' be enough for someone to afford luxuries like buying CDs? They can listen to the radio for free. Why not make minimum wage $50 / hour so everyone not qualified/trained/motivated/intelligent enough can afford a Lexus they don't need too.

    Minimum wage is called 'minimum wage' for a reason. The idea is it is the bare minimum required to survive, not to pay for the necessities and luxuries. If they want more than the minimum they need to improve their situation either though working harder or working smarter.

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