In Response to “I want my Internet TV”

The Drunken Philosopher gave a lengthy reply to my short article last week. It is front page worthy, so am pasting it in here.

My one thought before I do – What happens when Apple is the new king of content? Do we want them to have the lock? Lets get some heavy competition going. iTunes is not the end all be all. Bad things happen when one person controls entertainment.

  1. The Drunken Philosopher Says:
    The future is here, and it goes by the name of iTunes. I remember reading somewhere that The Office would almost undoubtedly have been canceled if it hadn’t quickly become an immensely successful show on iTunes. Now with AppleTV, it’s really simple to watch all that content on your TV. I covered most of this territory already.Is it perfect? No. But it’s pretty damn good.The price point is a bit high, perhaps. You get to keep the episodes forever, but how many of those will you actually re-watch?–Actually, more than a few. South Park? Infinitely re-watchable. As was Arrested Development, if only it had been unleashed on iTunes. Even the older seasons of 24 are finally getting to the point where I can watch again and they feel fresh and exciting. But really, $24 for a season of commercial-free, watch-it-when-I-like South Park? Worth it.Perhaps Apple should explore the idea of ad-supported downloads in order to subsidize part/all of the download cost. iTunes is, more or less, the perfect medium through which to serve video ads; essentially a closed ecosystem, it would be possible to force a fullscreen ad to the top of a downloader’s screen at the time of downloading, then make them wait and click another button or enter a code or something after downloading ends, to start the download. Of course, that sort of system can always be gamed, so it’s probably a fools errand to try and implement it. And there’s always product placement to make up for some of the advertising revenue.

    Of course, the real dark horse could be streaming. I could totally envision a system where, for an extremely discounted rate (vs. the current cost of downloading) you are allowed to stream currently running shows for a limited amount of time. once you’ve paid your fee, just press a button on your AppleTV and-bingo-you’re watching last week’s 30 Rock. Charge $.99 per episode, or half that if you buy a season streaming pass. If they are smart–and Steve Jobs is no dummy–they’ll set up a way to make these purchases with the click of your AppleTV remote. Unfortunately, this level of functionality isn’t available yet, but it’s just a firmware update away.

    That’s the only real way that I see the price coming down in any significant manner. Problem is, iTunes currently competes more directly with Best Buy than they do with Time Warner-it’s all about replacing DVDs, not your not-so-friendly cable-tv provider. But they want to change that; AppleTV makes this desire clear, especially the wording of its marketing: “With AppleTV, Anytime is Primetime”. And if they really want to change it, they really, really need to start streaming current-run shows for a nominal fee. That way,they aren’t really at risk of cannibalizing the download sales. You can pick and choose: if you’d want to re-watch a show, you can still pay to download.

    Thus far, I’ve focused almost exclusively on the issue of cost, but there are other imperfections in the iTunes TV system, as it currently stands. For instance, no HBO shows. But if Apple plays their cards right, really gets behind AppleTV and creates an indispensable new paradigm for TV-content distribution… then it’s only a matter of time until HBO gets their act together and puts their shows on iTunes. Maybe at a higher price, but I’d pay 4 or 5 bucks per episode to download The Wire or Entourage, or 2 bucks to stream them.

    (N.B. Now that I’ve taken the time to write out this lengthy diatribe, I think I’ll have to also use it as a stand-alone post back on Drunken Philosopher)