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TV Industry Using Piracy As A Measure Of Success 173

mrspin writes "Last100 has an interesting post from Guinevere Orvis, a web producer who works in the broadcast industry, who describes the way in which 'unofficial' but sanctioned BitTorrent leaks are being used as a measurement of a TV show's likely success. Orvis writes: 'Broadcasters aren't posting their shows directly on PirateBay yet, but they are talking informally and giving copies of shows to a friend of a friend who is unaffiliated with the company to make a torrent ... it's partially an experiment, but the hope is that distribution of content this way will lead to new viewers that wouldn't have been reached through traditional marketing means.'"
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TV Industry Using Piracy As A Measure Of Success

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  • Makes Sense... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kozar_The_Malignant ( 738483 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:16PM (#21687402)
    How would you feel if you made a product so bad that no one would steal it?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Penguinisto ( 415985 )

      How would you feel if you made a product so bad that no one would steal it?

      I could always ask Microsoft, I guess. Their answer seems to be a simultaneous slackening of WGA lock-out behavior with a grand marketing announcement as to how well their anti-piracy efforts are going (50-some-odd-percent, was it?). Not exactly sure how to translate that for the TV industry, though...


    • Re:Makes Sense... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by big_paul76 ( 1123489 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:41PM (#21687790)
      You'd then be in the same boat as commercial radio - they've made a product so crappy that not only will people not use it for free, they'll pay 10-15 bucks a month to use something else.
      • Re:Makes Sense... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:00PM (#21688090) Journal
        A bit OT, but maybe not...

        Commercial Radio and Commercial TV suffer from the same things: crap scheduling, a lot of crap content with few gems buried among said crap (e.g. the occasional song that plays during "The Morning Zo0!!!11!111" on the radio, or conversely, television jammed to the gills with lame sitcoms and reality shows with the occasional "oh shit that was cool!" show wedged in there)... things like that.

        They both suffer from being packed to the rafters with commercials.

        Now, not all of either industry is like that - for instance, 94.7 FM (in Portland, OR) doesn't do morning "shows" at all - they play music all morning, with a couple of blurbs for "The Jon Stewart Minute" and a short 5-minute episode detailing how an alternative-type band or singer's career came and went. The closest they come to any kind of thing is what they call "The 8 at 8", where they play 8 songs in a row with a common theme... sometimes lame, but sometimes pretty inventive. They keep the commercials to a minimum (less than most, anyway), and even in the evenings on weekdays, the most you see that isn't straight-up music playing is a two-hour-long program of techno/alternative/industrial mixes by local DJ's (most of which aren't half bad).

        Rattled on too long there... sorry. Now by contrast, broadcast commercial TV networks suck as a rule, but occasionally something decent shows on it. Their problem isn't the media format or technical means of delivery - it's the way the medium is being strangled for every last drop of revenue it has, and to the detriment of the folks watching it. I'm not even really talking show content here, which also suffers greatly from this. As a producer, if you've only got 36 minutes to tell a story (or at least some of it) in a full 60-minute slot --not counting time spent on intro and credits-- you tend to drop subtleties and intricacies in a hurry - as a result the show quickly becomes crap unless carefully constructed).

        Little wonder that people are drifting away from television in general, truth be told...


        • they play 8 songs in a row with a common theme...

          A common musical theme?

          Or a common poetical theme?

          Let me guess... it's the poetry?

          Music education: a huge success for North America!
          • They actually alternate and play with it a bit - sometimes it's 8 songs with a certain musician somewhere in all eight of them (but not all in the same band). Sometimes it's 8 songs by bands that all got their start either locally or some other city. Sometimes it's eight songs which carry a common musical theme, as you've indicated (e.g. similar chord usage and the like). And sometimes (like this morning) it's eight songs with the word "don't" in the title. So to answer your question... maybe. Depends on th
        • by slapout ( 93640 )
          That's what makes DVRs great, you can grab the good stuff and skip the rest. But then we all know how networks feel about DVRs.
    • "How would you feel if you made a product so bad that no one would steal it?"

      They did, it was called "The Bionic Woman".

      • by Tacvek ( 948259 )
        Just to veryify, do you mean the original TV series (which is what you have actually specified) or the new series "Bionic woman"? For what its worth, the latter is definitely pirated by some people. The former, not so much. (But I have seen a few eps of the original series in the system.)
    • The North American Anime distribution companies have been using Bittorrent distribution of fansubs to tell how popular new shows are for years now. The thing is, is that it works very well. The popularity of the fan subbed version either means that there is a strong niche/cult following, or that it will have strong widespread popularity.
  • I thought the whole industry was supposed to be on hold while they figured their union shit out. I do wonder if they'll have to start importing british shows to fill the dead air that's left when they've rerun every episode of friends and sex in the city.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mini me ( 132455 )
      I'm wondering why independent shows haven't started popping up and gaining in popularity over the internet. Talk about the perfect opportunity to change how TV is produced and delivered while the majors are down and out.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by orclevegam ( 940336 )
        Well, there are some, just look at the sort of things that popup on youtube from time to time. Every now and then there will be something independent that makes a splash on the internet, but there are a number of barriers to mass popularity. The most important is probably one of advertising. Without at the very minimum a central channel or resource to promote the show people simple won't know about it. Relying entirely on word of mouth a show can still be popular, but it won't get the kinds of numbers most
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AmaDaden ( 794446 )
        I would love to see some better TV out there but I get the feeling that WGA writers are not to blame for shitty TV. A lot of the shows that I like such as the Daily show, House, Family guy and the Simpsons are down from the WGA strike but other shitty shows are still up and running. It seems like WGA writers make for better TV not worse.

        The list of hurting shows []
      • Oh, they have popped up. You just don't get bombarded with previews and trailers on TV. I mean, why would they want to raise some kind of competition?
      • "I'm wondering why independent shows haven't started popping up and gaining in popularity over the internet."

        They have, but they're few and far between. Despite popular belief, it's not easy to make a good TV sho. Writing and acting actually require a good deal of talent. Set design and construction require a good deal of money and labor. Funding requires faith in your product. It's not like there was a hoarde of independent TV show makers simply waiting for a delivery mechanism. They've had that for a
    • What, and have programs that are actually good? No, no, we can't have that now can we?
    • by eln ( 21727 )
      Most of the scripted shows have only started going into reruns over the past week or two as they've run out of already filmed shows. The networks also have several episodes of shows slated to be midseason replacements that are also already in the can. Some of them may even trot out shows that were originally rejected in order to fill time. Most (all?) of the networks also have a selection of reality shows that have no writers (or at least not any union writers) ready to go on the air. So basically, the
  • Cost of Piracy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kaoshin ( 110328 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:17PM (#21687418)
    Since piracy statistics are being used to help with marketing and increase profits, is this a measureable reduction to the actual cost piracy has on the industry?
    • Since piracy statistics are being used to help with marketing and increase profits, is this a measureable reduction to the actual cost piracy has on the industry?
      Losses due to piracy is up by $3 billion, but our marketing costs are down $10 billion. We better sue the pirates before it's too late!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by meringuoid ( 568297 )
      Since piracy statistics are being used to help with marketing and increase profits, is this a measureable reduction to the actual cost piracy has on the industry?

      As far as I've heard, TV companies haven't been so vicious at hunting down pirates. Not as bad as the movie companies, and certainly not as bad as the RIAA.

      It's probably that their product goes out free to all anyway - ad-supported, sure, but there's no revenue coming in directly from people watching the show. A heavily pirated show is clearly

      • by kaoshin ( 110328 )
        I thought we were talking Pay-TV...

        "In the latest survey of revenue leakage over the last 12 months to the regional pay-TV industry, conducted by the Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) and Standard Chartered Bank, the losses are conservatively estimated to stand at US$1.54 billion, as compared to US$1.13 billion in 2006." - Source []

        These figures are of course a survey of potential revenues lost. I was being sarcastic when I said actual cost because I know it is impossible to

      • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *
        Not only that, but it tells you where to target your DVD marketing, if a broadcast isn't practical, or v.v. as the case may be.

        There are a number of shows I didn't even know *existed*, that I became aware of when I stumbled across a download... and if I like 'em, my next move will be to buy a set of DVDs for backups. How is this anything but pure profit to the content owners?!

  • Free Distribution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheLazySci-FiAuthor ( 1089561 ) <> on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:18PM (#21687430) Homepage Journal
    What they call 'Piracy' will continue to rise - there is no point at which it will retract. I wonder if they have added into their estimations the accelerating growth of this piracy they are measuring.

    Which brings me to something that I've been wondering about for a while; how would the entertainment industry survive if there was theoretically no way to protect their intellectual property from open and free distribution. How would they handle a world where there was no legal route to enforcing a royalty-style or licensed payment system?

    Because it is my thoughts that as our world further connects itself together that this is exactly what will happen in the (no so distant?) future.

    At least in the technological sense, the legal sense is difficult to gauge, though I hope the legal system will suffer a major overhaul in the coming decades.
    • by Enoxice ( 993945 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:30PM (#21687644) Journal
      A total overhaul of the legal system? Do you have any idea how much work that is? Rethinking our morals as a species, and now lots of "new" technology comes under consideration, opposing views and interests, etc...

      As much as I'd like to see that, I feel like society as a whole is far too lazy to do more than talk about such things until there is some major shift in society that makes them realize that laws and government aren't perpetual and tend to lose power as society revokes it.

      Sadly, I feel like over the years people have come to trust the government and almost think of it as a given in the natural order of things.
      • I think lazy is the wrong word there... There is a lot of good thought buried in the old system, so an overhaul would end up throwing that away. A bit of refactoring and we're good to go =-)
    • What they call 'Piracy' will continue to rise
      Well at least the Global Warming Problem [] will be solved...
    • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:42PM (#21687810)

      How would they handle a world where there was no legal route to enforcing a royalty-style or licensed payment system?
      People will pay for convenience. I know I've hit the "Buy" button on iTunes more than once because it wasn't worth the effort to look for something on P2P or usenet. I occasionally hit Blockbuster rather than wait for a movie to download. Movies would likely still have some exclusivity because of their theater run. Money can still be made from music through commercial licensing and live shows.

      People will pay for an "exclusive". If they offered a pay download of the "Sopranos" finale, you can bet that people would rush to buy it - not willing to wait for it to be uploaded to the P2P sites.

      Ads can be intertwined more with the content. People probably wouldn't bother editing out all the scene where Ross in a future "Friends" style show is constantly holding a Pepsi or has dialog talking about how sweet Chandler's new Chevy is. It might be difficult to work in laundry detergent ads into soap operas, so I guess they'll have to wait until the writers call off the strike.

      Finally, I don't think that YouTube and its ilk would suck so much if it wasn't essentially competing with mainstream TV and movies. I mean, there would still be mountains of crap, but there might also be more fun stuff on there. Even as it is, I can kill a lot of time just browsing around.

      One thing is for certain - society would go on... this stuff just isn't that important. :)
      • People will pay for convenience.

        I might pay for convenience but, after 4 years of getting my TV exclusively from USENET/Bittorrent with the commercials cut out, I sure as hell won't pay for commercials or even watch shows that contain them for free. I'd rather gouge my eyes out. It's product placement (at least until that becomes too obtrusive) or nothing.

        As for paying for commercial free content, it had better be both REALLY good and REALLY convenient (and DRM free). Not sure how a bunch of disparate TV networks are going to pull

        • I don't have cable, so I'm in the same boat - if I want to see TV, it comes from usenet, and it is commercial free. However, I have to say that I would probably put up with commercials if the delivery mechanism was more convienient. (It's not at the moment.)

          Just like you say, until the pay product is better than the free (legality/morality aside) product - no sale :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jedidiah ( 1196 )
      Treat the internet like public airwaves.

      "Transmit" unencumbered official versions of shows from network
      websites with all of the add still intact just as if you had
      captured it yourself with MythTV or MCE.

      Most lazy people won't bother to remove the ads.

      These are the same people that own Tivos or cable provider PVRs
      and don't bother to set them up.

      Make it easier to get their version. Make the pirate networks redundant.

      • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *
        That certainly would work for me. I certainly couldn't be bothered to remove the ads for something I intended to view only once, or that I'm viewing for the first time -- and after that the ads are stale anyway (and they only get to foist 'em on you ONCE via broadcast, so this is no different) -- so if later on I want to make an ad-free copy, that shouldn't be an issue since they already got their pound of flesh.

    • My prediction is, eventually, a compulsory license will be the only way.

      You probably can't stop piracy short of Trusted Computing, and that's if and only if trusted computing turns out to be 'unhackable', which history shows is probably unlikely. And the down sides to Trusted Computing aren't worth it anyway.

      So, eventually, the only way is a flat fee compulsory license that is tacked onto your ISP bill. Then some system of measuring "# of downloads per show/song/movie", distribute funds accordingly.

      Now, the
    • The entertainment industry needs to realize that they only have one advantage, they distribute first.

      The whole issue is here because, nowadays, distribution isn't expensive. I currently pay (from wire to eyes) ~50 cents/Gig for content that I can time shift/copy/archive any way I want. (This doesn't include my hefty investment in a home theater system.)

      There is only one way to survive. Its like the slashdot subscription; I'm willing to spend an extra dollar to get content a day early. Now, they could sti
    • how would the entertainment industry survive if there was theoretically no way to protect their intellectual property from open and free distribution

      Product placement.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      All that will remain will be viral advertising campaigns disguised as entertainment series.

      Imagine a show like, "The Office", which takes place in an actual paper (or otherwise) company who invested to have the brand recognition, like lets say a more competitive paper products company, such as Dixie or Mead. Or Charmin.

      Product placement will be so prolific that jokes barely sneak out from behind pyramids of DaSani bottled water and cardboard Budweiser cutouts. The Perry Ellis logo will be emblazoned on ev
    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *
      As the other reply points out -- make the convenience factor outweigh everything else. Make the download and payment painless in every way -- easy to get to, easy to fetch, no worries about what it will burn to/play on, and a small enough fee that you don't think twice about buying it.

      And as I've suggested before, watermarked downloads could conceivably be used in a subscription-and-micropayment P2P network, where you pay to acquire a file, AND *get paid* to host it, which would help maximize distribution a
  • by cashman73 ( 855518 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:21PM (#21687490) Journal
    Many television networks are putting many of their popular shows online now, for free. All the major networks: CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox -- are all putting full episode content on their websites now. Even Sci-Fi is starting to do it, although they don't have too many shows with full episodes up (but a. they're owned by NBC, who is getting into the online distribution format quite rapidly and b. they're probably realizing that a good number of their shows are popular with geeks that know how to share their shows via bittorrent quite readily). I wouldn't be surprised if a few more networks, like Comedy Central, get into the action. I think what's happening is that the corporations that run the networks have seen how a site like Youtube has practically sprouted up overnight, and they're seeing this as a way to reach out to more people (and thereby increase their advertising streams and revenue).
    • Having shows available free online is great. The still-missing component, however, is a way to view online shows (be it from youtube,, whomever) on your TV, at your convenience. I just can't believe tivo isn't all over this.
      • Many newer PCs, particularly those with "decent" graphics cards (not the "integrated video" of the cheap ones), have S-video output built right in. Just get a standard S-video cable from Wal-Mart or Target for $10-20, and connect to your television's S-video input. If you're TV only has standard RCA inputs, you can get a converter for another $10-20.

        Ok, so there's still that little "problem" of your computer being in a different room than your TV, right? Unless of course, you have a notebook PC with wi-fi

        • That's not what I'm talking about. I already have a homebrew PVR. I'm talking about an off-the-shelf way to see this online content in full screen, rather than through a web interface.
    • I wouldn't be surprised if a few more networks, like Comedy Central, get into the action. I think what's happening is that the corporations that run the networks have seen how a site like Youtube has practically sprouted up overnight, and they're seeing this as a way to reach out to more people (and thereby increase their advertising streams and revenue).

      Comedy Central recently added the entire library of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to their website. This is a tremendous amount of content that you
    • Many television networks are putting many of their popular shows online now, for free. All the major networks: CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox -- are all putting full episode content on their websites now.

      That's what the Writer's Guild strike is all about. The studios would vastly prefer to distribute their shows via the internet, because they do not have to pay royalties for online distribution. None. Zero. This gives them a huge incentive to avoid distribution under the well-negotiated royalty rates for broadcast TV,

  • I don't get it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by snl2587 ( 1177409 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:22PM (#21687500)
    If possession of pre-release material is a felony, then why would a TV exec condone this? So downloading is ok if it helps make the companies money? Am I the only one that sees something fundamentally wrong with this?
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by boyfaceddog ( 788041 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:47PM (#21687922) Journal
      Yes, downloading is okay if it makes the company money. Remember that anyone with a television can 'download' the 'streaming content' from the 'providers' for free any time they want to. They can even 'timeshift' the broadcast to watch it later. The problem was never that the broadcasters were afraid of this technology it was that they were afraid of what this technology would do to traditional broadcasting. Now that the ship is sinking the raft doesn't look so bad.
      • The biggest threat to the television industry is not piracy.

        The biggest threat is that during the writers' strike, Americans will turn off the TV... and discover they don't miss it.
  • Deja vu? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by uberphear ( 984901 )
    This story is terribly redolent of this instance [] of an independent film producer receiving a tonne of publicity (and sales) for his film because it was widely pirated.

    Personally, I never saw the problem with the piracy of TV shows: a large proportion of those who watch them, assuming they like them, will probably watch the original broadcast or the next episode when it's aired anyway. It's a different matter for large-scale, large-budget Hollywood films, but in instances like these, I think that this is a m

  • Leaked pilots (Score:4, Informative)

    by hansamurai ( 907719 ) <> on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:22PM (#21687508) Homepage Journal
    Many new shows this year were leaked weeks and months before their pilot aired, undoubtedly creating early talk about the shows that they wouldn't get otherwise.

    I watched a few and they helped me make decisions, half of the Geico Cavemen pilot was enough forever, and the Sarah Connor Chronicles pilot renewed my interest in the Terminator series and I'm totally pumped for the show this January or February.
    • Many new shows this year were leaked weeks and months before their pilot aired, undoubtedly creating early talk about the shows that they wouldn't get otherwise.

      Why do you think Sci-Fi released their two minute mini-episodes, both on air and on the web, throughout the fall season? They're trying to create that buzz themselves, and get people to watch Razor and the next season in the spring,...

      • Nor did the Sci-Fi Channel gripe much when the whole Razor episode was leaked and viewed by thousands via-torrent weeks before the episode aired. The episode was CREATED solely to keep BDG fans interested as we wait for new episodes in March. They could not care less what method was used to get the show to the most viewers.
  • by teklob ( 650327 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:22PM (#21687510)
    And then if the show doesn't take off, they can always recoup their losses by suing the pirate...
  • I know I saw House M.D steadily increase in seeds over the course of the first two seasons, and I'm pretty certain the same thing happened with Heroes last season.

    It's not too bad a benchmark, I mean, if something is popular people are gonna want it. So they should see increased viewership and piracy as something gets popular. Which is kinda "duh" when you think about it.
    • Re:Not surprised... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:54PM (#21688010)
      Actually if it wasn't for torrents, I would have never been hooked on House. I have a fairly well set aversion against doc shows. I somehow can't stomach the usual tear squeezing and heart-rending stories of someone dying (or not dying so someone else has to or what not), and generally I don't feel for the patient.

      Now finally there's a doc who shares my feelings. Quite refreshing!

      I saw the show at a friend's who got a few episodes from torrents. So now I'm sitting every week for an hour in front of the TV watching. That's one viewer more they wouldn't have without that torrent existing, or at the very least it would have taken me a lot longer to find out that I do actually want to see this medical show.
    • I never would have tuned into Heroes, except that I saw a torrent of the first episode, halfway into the first season. Never would have purchased the whole season on DVD either, but I did.

      I perfect example of how pirating helps the networks, IF the shows are good. People will tune and and buy the DVDs for the best quality image and sound of a show they already like.

  • by Seakip18 ( 1106315 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:25PM (#21687568) Journal
    For network TV, I fail how to see this as piracy. With an antenna and DVR, I can record it and replay without their express permission. So if someone else does it for me, is it still pirating? I'm gonna watch the show with my DVR or a torrent version from someone else, but the end result is the same. I watch the show.

    This is exactly how I got hooked on Jericho. I watched the series after it got canceled. I really liked it and ending up watching it again with my friends, who, in turn enjoyed it. Now, we're waiting for the show in mid-January. With HD recording software of course.
    • It's all about control and ratings. If they could somehow keep you from taping the show, they would. Well, with the onset of the digital age, they will be able to, but that's not the point now.

      The difference is that you're not in their rating when you download the show. When you watch it when it's aired, first of all you watch the ads, which in turn means you are watching at all, and that in turn means one viewer more. Imagine the best show on earth, but only one person watching it, torrenting it and seedin
      • When you watch it when it's aired, first of all you watch the ads,

        No I don't.

        I'm hard-pressed to think of even ONE person who just sits and watches all the ads. Everyone I know either:

        1) channel-surfs until the ads are over (or they find something better to watch)
        2) Goes to the bathroom/kitchen/to check on the baby/whatever
        3) talks to others about the segment of the show they just saw.

        • Hush! Do you want them to pressure for TVs where you can't switch channels during the ads?

          We're watching those ads. Right? RIGHT?
  • I, for one... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by radarsat1 ( 786772 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:26PM (#21687576) Homepage
    I, for one, can attest that I've definitely discovered a few new shows by simply checking the list of most-seeded torrents on some web site.

    I've also discovered that it's not always an indication of quality. :)
  • Umm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StarvingSE ( 875139 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:28PM (#21687596)
    Ok, so what if I, Joe Pirate, go and download the latest episode of Lost from the pirate bay and subsequently get sued for copyright infringement. What if this episode was something that was leaked "unofficially" by the studio. Since it is done under the radar, the mafiaa officials won't know the difference. They're basically baiting you.

    It's like putting a diamond ring on a park bench, hiding in the bushes, and then calling the police when someone picks it up.
    • Well Joe, anti-piracy lawsuits, and the fear that goes with them, are actually a healthy part of the Media Ecosystem. You see, there exists a test bed for new shows, where they are usually created, and then individual market players can get all sue-happy, or whatever they like, confined in the test-bed known as the 'united states of america'.

      Because you see, my dear Joe Pirate, nobody of consequence (eg. me, in calm Canada) gets sued. It's all these imaginary "americans", who as you know from watching te
    • It's like putting a diamond ring on a park bench, hiding in the bushes, and then calling the police when someone picks it up.

      Uh, maybe you weren't aware, but that is pretty much exactly what the NYPD have started doing themselves lately [].

  • sicko (Score:3, Informative)

    by hajus ( 990255 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:33PM (#21687668)
    I remember many people thought Michael Moore's "Sicko" movie was released on BitTorrent on purpose.
  • This is why the record labels decided to go after Napster to begin with. If the songs are available for free download all the "albums" containing one hit and 9 filler songs got split into pieces. Everyone got the hit and ignored the ballast.

    The P2P sharing shows immediately what people want, and allowing that would force the record labels to produce high-quality music rather than mediocre one that can be forced down the customer's throats (ears ?). And high-quality music is a lot harder to come by than the
  • by sakusha ( 441986 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:34PM (#21687696)
    I know that the IP owners watch piracy to see what's hot. I noticed this a long time ago on usenet in a few .mp3 subgenres. Some extremely rare audio tracks that were not in print and only available in very old, extremely limited editions on vinyl were restored by certain (ahem) users. They were immensely popular, were constantly reposted, and basically became the only copies available in any media. The studios apparently noticed the popularity of these tracks, and the vinyl LPs were suddenly released on CD. I've seen this happen numerous times. They watch to see what the collectors consider worth investing their time in audio restoration, what the users consider worth collecting, and then they see money and rerelease the product from their vaults.
  • by Optikschmoptik ( 971793 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:36PM (#21687724) Homepage

    Because you can pick it up, unencrypted, right out of the radio spectrum just about anywhere. People have been stealing television content for years, with equipment kits you can buy at most garage sales.

    Some content providers have started to insert commercials both as a deterrent against stealing content, and as a way to recoup the massive losses. Advanced piracy tools already have hacked this system, with things like a 'mute' button.

    I oppose the mute button on moral grounds. Also, I am miserable.

  • That's how I got into Stargate Atlantis. You have to be kidding me if you think I'm going to pay for cable for 8 shows. Now I can get it (legally) on iTunes, and I do. Bonus, goes to the ipod automatically(for travel watching, etc.. hooks into my portable screen). There should be more shows on services like this, and more solutions like itunes/ipod(zune comes to mind, so does amazon unbox).
  • The MAAFIA has been using the services of "Big Champagne" to do the same.

    Nothing new []
  • Having missed the first episode of "The Bionic Woman", I watched a torrent of the show provided me by a neighbor, and quickly decided I would rather install Lotus Notes than ever watch that garbage show again.

    Interestingly, The Bionic Woman, the most heavily promoted show on NBC, has been CANCELED, and I - uh, I mean MY NEIGHBOR, um, has never seen the show as a popular torrent on any of my- uh-his popular torrent sites.

    I SWEAR!

  • Works for me! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by misleb ( 129952 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:48PM (#21687932)
    I download all my TV shows from Bittorrent. I don't even have cable. Why should I? If I'm just going to Tivo/MythTV the shows and skip commercials anyway, why not cut out the cable-TV middle-man?

    Though I think it may have had the opposite long term effect on my viewing. I don't see ads for new shows so I don't hear about them like I used to. I only have like 4 shows that I watch regularly and if they were ever canceled, chances are that I would simply watch less. So downloading shows and skipping commercials has weened me off of television on the whole.

    Doesn't bode well for the producers. They have to balance between the number of people who might, like me, just give up on broadcast television and those who'll use Bittorrent only to sample shows and then switch to regular TV. I suspect that more people will begin to see what a ripoff cable/satelite TV is and switch to "piracy" in the long term.

  • Makes sense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Orp ( 6583 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:09PM (#21688270) Homepage
    While your demographic might be a bit different than the General TV Watching Demographic, this is an obvious, free, and valuable way to determine popularity, probably as good as the Nielsons, and mabye slightly less useful than Tivo data (since they can, as I understand, know whether you actually played, and ostensibly watched, the show using Tivo data).

    If it weren't for the advertiser-driven model that we currently have, the bittorrent "content delivery system" would be nothing but positive for the industry. What they need to do is make high definition, high quality video files available for download for a reasonable fee, and remove all ads (or at least make that an option). I'd say the removal of commercials is the second most valuable aspect of getting shows off the Internet compared to the tuning in at 8PM (the first being able to watch it when I feel like it, something about as novel as the VCR).

    File sharing can't be stopped. Well it could, but it would involve stopping the Internet, and rather large economies would collapse if that happened. The writer's strike is all about writers getting revenue from "new media" and I have to say, I think they have a point since it's pretty clear that before long the boundary what is TV (coming over cable) and what is being delivered by the Internet (which, in my house, comes over cable already) will be less and less distinct.
  • Does this mean that at least some of the media cartel believes that there is a legitimate use for P2P after all?

  • Broadcasters ... are ... giving copies of shows to a friend of a friend who is unaffiliated with the company to make a torrent

    Methinks the notion that it is "piracy" just evaporated.
  • "Broadcasters aren't posting their shows directly on PirateBay yet..."

    I wonder. After all, I have seen, I mean, my friend, who downloads shows from PirateBay (whatever that is), has seen shows with commercials at the end. Often, commercials for other shows.

    Why would someone putting that up on PirateBay (some sort of nautical website or something?) include that? Why wouldn't it be cut off....UNLESS it was actually posted by the broadcaster? I have most often seen this with basic-cable shows. I mean my f

    • The only commercials I've seen on downloaded shows were obviously just not cut out from the original cap properly. The groups that release these do so under enormous pressure to get them out before the other groups, so corners are inevitably cut. I wouldn't be shocked if what you're saying is true, though. If it's not happening now I'm sure it will be eventually.
  • "If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it."

    - Thomas Jefferson
  • If I was a network and had a number of pilots I was unsure of, I'd "leak" them and listen to the chatter. While you can't guarantee your demographic with that, it will give you some feedback.

  • ... a three 'Arrrgh!' rating.
  • Between my work schedule and social life, I don't have much time for television during prime time. I sometimes use bittorrent for timeshifting - which is really convenient. It's about time networks embrace P2P networks - and what they should do is host the torrents, embed ads in the downloads, DRM-free of course, and they can get some idea of ratings/popularity through tracker statistics. Granted, it would not be a perfect system but it would easily be as accurate as the old Nielsen rating system.

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.