1. Legalizing TV Torrents

    brian on 2005.01.31
    at 02:16 pm

    I read somewhere this morning that networks were investigating how much a viewer might pay (per view) for their favorite show that they can watch when they want to. This made think about when people have to use BitTorrent to download their favorite show when the networks change their schedules to put your two favorite shows on at the same time, and you don’t have a dual-tuner TiVO to get on the record/watch goodness.

    The result of the torrent would be a high-quality version of the show, with commercials conveniently extracted. Since TV is clearly supported by advertising and advertising judged by ratings (which don’t count BT downloads, obviously)… this is a recipe for disaster for your favorite show: if everyone BTs the show, and doesn’t watch it over the cable box, there’s no ratings for the show, and it gets dropped, despite the unmeasured popularity of the show itself.

    What if, instead of charging micropayments, the networks simply followed Salon’s highly successful lead of day passes where any reader can have full access to a pay-for -content piece after watching a short, but highly-targeted ad. In the case of a TV episode, I’d say one of these ads for access to a network-hosted torrent (which of course, would route people away from pirate-torrent sites which would indirectly reduce pirate content’s popularity).

    If I had a legal way of downloading an episode of my favorite show in exchange for a day-pass-esque few minutes, I certainly feel it would be a fair exchange, a fair payment, if you would. Would you?

    There is a demo available! Someone (and I’m not suggesting you or anyone try this) could try this experiment at home. Locate an episode of NBC’s “The Apprentice” online and download via BT. Then go to Yahoo!‘s online Apprentice shill site. Look around, check out tie-ins to BK, Levis, Pepsi, Genworth, all the other companies that are pimped on the show, or pick up a Donald Trump Bobblehead doll.. I’d say that constitutes fair trade… NBC/Yahoo! Get you only a click or two away from buying their products… much more beneficial to them than a sign on top of a computer screen that says “Yahoo! Local.” Eyes and clicks. I’d almost guarantee a bump of purchases. And enjoy the show!

    Posted in: Media · Technology


    Comments (17)

    1. Calvin said on 2005.02.14 at 08:19 pm

      tv torrents

      I live in an area where when tv shows are available they are poor quality. I can download better quality pictures than the local cable can send HDTV plus I can recieve shows on networks unavailable. I f these shows were made more readily available pressure would be on local markets to improve services and carry all networks in alll areas. I can actualy get a better on air signal than a so called digital rebroadcast from Time Warner cable but even that sucks in comparison to what I can download.

    2. Jacob Lexington Wilmerton said on 2005.02.23 at 07:51 pm

      {…this part edited by site owners…} and then i went on the internet looking for torrents for the TV shows Undeclared and the show Lookwell (which was written and produced by Conan O’Brian)…

    3. Mr. Who said on 2005.03.17 at 02:42 am

      If everyone was a participant in the Nielson (sp?) ratings, then your concern would be valid.
      But very few people are selected. So by us d/l the show, it does not hurt the ratings.
      Further proof would be the many shows over the years that got cancelled despite having plenty of fans, fans who were not included in the surveys.
      In a few rare cases, shows have been revived due to overwhelming fanmail crying out over a cancelation.

    4. Will said on 2005.04.17 at 02:03 am

      A Better Way

      Why don’t the TV stations/studios themselves provide better-than-TiVo-quality torrents themselves, with ads from their sponsors in them?

      Think about it – it’s the perfect extension to their business model:
      1. They can get finer granularity on the demographics they’re hitting by zoning in on the geographical location of the downloaders – so they could target different ads for different locations, giving their advertisers even better bang for their buck.
      2. They get a much more accurate ratings system that works 24×7×365 instead of the ridiculous system they have now.
      3. They can expand their audience beyond the limits of their broadcast radius or cable network, and they can offer more than they fit into 24-hour/day programming.

      The first criticism of this idea I can think of is, “people will just skip over the ads” – but how is that different from VCRs and TiVo now? My guess is that people will sit through the ads to avoid the hassle of skipping most of the time anyway. It’s up to the advertisers to deliver their message in a way that we don’t mind watching anyway.

    5. R M said on 2005.04.23 at 04:18 pm

      if all the fuss is about people downloading the show with the advertisments extracted, would they still make a fuss if the shows were available with the tv ads included?

    6. Pete said on 2005.05.13 at 05:56 am

      good idea will

      in response to will’s “A Better Way” – my first thought when i read the title was the same, and i also thought of the dilema of people being able to skip the ads aswell, there would be many ways of avioding this, they could probably make a file format where you cannot skip though. but most importantly i’d like to mention that the demographic of internet users, more specifically files sharers and users of torrent services, probably wont be too interested in paying for shows. I think that if they want to capitalise on the torrent phenomenon, that ads are the way. realising that the cost of running torrents is minimal given that people upload aswell as download.

    7. Tim said on 2005.05.13 at 10:48 pm


      If they had their own media player that didn’t allow skipping of the commercials, it would fix everything. The only option could be pause, and then, after you’ve viewed the show already, maybe it could unlock the ability to fast forward and etc.

      They could also bundle in some statistics software, give the users options to rate ads even. I’d be watching the beer ads over and over too.

      Advertisements get watched, and they get all the information they could ever want.

    8. Even worse said on 2005.05.14 at 12:34 pm

      i’m from the netherlands and most of the good series from the US are already available on DVD,while we still have to wait until they are broadcasted on tv..

      like 24 which is alway januari when they staart with a new season (box is available in august,which i always buy)

      then series like Kojak 2005,medical investigation,cold case,without a trace,House..

      will never be shown on tv here.
      but do to my intrest,the moment a box is available i buy it….

      same as with movies,
      piracy only starts when e.g. Europe has to wait for 6 months for a film to be shown in the theatre ( like without a paddle),
      last week i imported the DVD and the movie is in june in our theatres..
      this is all due, that in europe France & germany demanded that everything released in europe is only allowed when they had the time to sub it…..
      same as for manuals/software etc.. ( PS2,PSP release europe is always last in the line)

      we can use the internet to ‘broadcast’ shows and view them worldwide..
      why don’t the companie who make these shows use it..

      i’m willing to pay for the good series,
      i’m not willing to wait until (or maybe never) a dutch channel starts broadcasting it..

    9. even worse said on 2005.05.14 at 12:42 pm

      excuse me for my english..
      after re-reading it,
      I see alot of typos..

    10. Janos said on 2005.05.15 at 03:16 pm

      completely foolish

      this is starting to piss me off, don’t the networks understand that people download shows that they missed, after all us people have lifes and sometimes miss a show or two. If you piss to many shows, then you stop watching the show completely. By having tv torrent sites I can download episodes that I missed, and then continue to finish watching the rest of the series, by them killing and sueing these websites, they are actually doing more damage then they think they are. Keep it up MPAA, and your have someone not watching the telly all together!

    11. Tim said on 2005.05.16 at 01:21 am

      Get real. I already pay for cable. I’m not paying more to get to view the shows that I’m already paying for. So here’s my deal… charge the people who live outside the U.S. (We get free television with nothing more than an antenna here.). Quality, I’m not concerned with. My thing is that I’m never home, and can’t record 2 shows at once. The MPAA needs to accept the fact that FREE tv torrents aren’t optional, they’re required in the U.S. If they keep on screwing around, and eliminate our ability to download freely, they’ll wind up ultimately hurting the cable television industry. Let’s face it folks, if I can’t get it online, I WILL switch to digital satellite, AND dsl. Businesses in America need the subtle (and not so sublte) remider that WE are the ones who pay their salaries. Ain’t life a bitch? ;-)

    12. jake said on 2005.05.16 at 07:27 pm

      I’d have to mostly agree with Tim, after reading about all the sites getting attacked. It really hit me hard that I’m basically already paying for the friggin’ content. I fork over Comcast plenty of money every month to give me access to the things that aren’t already free to begin with.

      It really just bothers me because I hardly watch any TV when programs are actually on. And I’m usually trying to sleep when The Daily Show is on. And what the heck am I supposed to do about watching Doctor Who?!? The whole thing really just bothers me…

    13. Mike said on 2005.05.17 at 07:28 pm

      Network Should Host the Torrents

      There will always be people that will DL movies, tv shows, games, etc. I am even one of the first to join that club. I am also one of the first inline when a movie or tv show i liked comes out on DVD. I have purchased the entire farscape series, stargate sg1, friends, quantum leap (the 2 seasons that are out), and V. I also had downloaded most of the eps for each of theses series before they came out on dvd. having them on my pc did not stop me from supporting the making of the shows. Most people that dl tv eps watch them once or twice or and then delete them….just like recording it from the tv. I think the networks should release their own torrent sites….here is a plan….embed comercials in the shows and post them on the sites a week after the air dates. this will keep people watching tv and keep the people who dl happy. With the commercials in the shows it will even give the networks the ability to get additional money for advertisments as they will have the potential of hitting a much larger audience. As for the potential problem of people wanting 6 month old ads honored…embed the comercial dates in the show and make sure the ad specifies valid dates, and rotate ads within the files available for dl monthly.

    14. john said on 2005.05.21 at 02:13 pm

      It makes good buisiness sence to promote a quality system where you can buy the privelage to watch complete 7 days television from a particular tv sender, i Hear the BBC are trying out a trial , where some people have access to download programes from the internet.
      (but only in the UK)
      As an ex brit pat i would happily pay to watch all the bbc Tv channels online, also scifi channel would get my money. I dont want satalite, i already pay for cable that i hardly watch and i notice that i am only interested in a few programmes.but i like the chance to try new tv shows, when it suits me. so i’m not really for “ pay per view “ system , but for more like a monthly or yearly subscription. But i guess both options should be made available.

    15. bea no said on 2005.05.24 at 09:29 pm

      when you watch the season finale of csi, see the GMC Yukon XL Denali, and think wow cool truck. Visit the csi website watch the ad and enter the competition to win the truck, then you’ve paid to watch the show,

      product placement is the future

    16. YMe said on 2005.05.27 at 04:29 am

      A Programmers View

      It’s very easy to come up with ideas about how to pay, and who should pay and when. the real problem is that for every system there will always be the one that brakes that system. In oreder to meet the requierments of the advertizing compenies, someone will have to create a system that MAKES you view the commershials, or makes you run them at least. I propose a system that will show you the adds while you download, in respect to what you are downloading and from where. that idea has ites problems, like hakers that will aventually will be able to get rid of the commercuals.
      also. and this is the thing, the important thing. the networks get thi’re pay day by selling the shows to local networks. in order to legelize the bittornet system, you will have to show that the bittornet system is more profitable, and you will have to locolize the commercials, a thins that looks simple, but it’s not.

      I am tring to do this myself, but I dont have a lot of expirence in bittorent programing. I’ll take all the help i can get, so if you have some help to offer –

    17. Skim said on 2005.07.02 at 03:26 pm

      Downloading and uploading TV rips is no more illegal than videotaping or Tivo-ing your favorite show and giving a copy to a friend or neighbor. That is the plain, simple truth. Whether the media companies lose money has nothing to do with the legality of it. You can be sure they won’t go easy and that you’ll need a good lawyer to win the case, even with such a strong foundation of reason. Which is why they’re so successful at shutting down TV torrent sites; because most TV torrent sites don’t have the money to fight it out in court. It’s the oldest trick in the legal book;: take advantage of your opponent’s poverty.

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