Tuesday, January 25, 2005

I want my bit TV

Ok, here it is. Out in the open like a naked Echidna. I get my broadcast TV from Bit Torrent. I seek out and download every episodic program I want to watch. I then burn them to CD and play them on my living room TV on a PC of my own construction. I have codecs pouring out of my ears. I have a computer who's sole task is to play multimedia content directly through my home entertainment center. One interesting side effect is the ability to surf the web with company and play web animations and display webcomics to a mass audience - SITTING ON A COMFY SOFA!

But the point of this is not to display my immense cleverness (or my decrepit geekiness) but rather to highlight a dilemma. Most if not all of my TV shows come without commercials (I don't torrent movies - why would I? Walmart sells feature films cheaper than beer - new OUT OF THE BOX!). I am VERY aware that my programming is paid for by broadcast commercials. So even if my torrent activity doesn't conclusively violate any broadcast laws I am circumventing the payment method which allows me to view them. Look I'd download these shows (Galactica redux, SG1, SG Atlantis, Venture Brothers, JL Unlimited, Enterprise) even if they were encoded with commercials by the internet elves who provide them. But even then, advertisers would lose the ability to place ads in the specific markets they are trying to reach. Solution? Heck if I know. But I don't think the answer lies in the prohibition of sharing broadcast television (that is to say television distributed to a mass audience with no discreet control over who watches it) over the internet. Somehow, advertisers and broadcasters alike will have to join the no broadcast model and find ways of pairing their market with the intended adverts.

While Ronald D. Moore worries that file sharing the episodes early will reduce their eventual veiwership in the US his concerns would be better directed at the fact that conventional broadcast of his (Galactica) immensely popular show clearly doesn't satisfy the typical US Sci Fi viewer. Maybe, just maybe Universal and the rest of the American Entertainment Ludites should find a way to distribute, count and tag (advertise on) these file shared children of their creations. Anyone who is familiar with the current bidding model of network television advertising knows that the current standard method is all but utterly ineffective.

So I still download. I'll still definitely buy the DVD's when they come out. And I'll still count myself as a (Galactica, Atlantis, Venture Bros) viewer even though I don't use my Dish to view them.

By the way, I LOVE the new Galactica - I just don't buy the process of re-imagining. This Galactica is simply a brand new Sci Fi show with a hauntingly familiar name.