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Buying TV Shows Online? I'm Not Down. Yet.
December 8, 2005

Everyone's all a flutter about being able to purchase television shows via the iTunes Media Store, but I'm not convinced. I have a few reasons, which I'll outline below, but this article pushed me over the edge.

Jeff Zucker, the president of NBC TV, disapproves of Tivo's model for downloads while praising Apple's approach. I'm far from surprised, but why should a consumer be forced to pay for something they've already paid for? As far as I know, I am free to copy and display a TV show in any format so long as it's for my private use. So, what's the problem with bringing them to my PSP?

As you might guess, it's because NBC can't make money with Tivo's plan. Thus, I have to pay $2 when I want a copy of my favorite television show. If I weren't already paying for television programming I would be fine with this a la carte system as I'm happy to pick the shows I like and avoid the ones I don't. But buying episodes just to watch on my PSP in addition to paying for a cable plan is far too pricey.

In addition, if I can only register one iPod with each copy of iTunes then everyone in my household will have to buy a copy of an episode. This is a larger issue with DRM that deserves its own post, but this kind of nickel and diming will never win me over.

We're paying for convenience here. That's why I spent $25 on the 3rd season of Home Movies—buying a DVD set is easier than recording each episode and copying it to disc myself. But if I can download episodes from my Tivo, send them to my computer and watch them on a variety of devices at will then what incentive will I have to download episodes for $2 each?

Today, I have no incentive. When every program, from network to cable, is distributed online* I will buy in, assuming the DRM schemes are reasonable. Then I will ditch my cable subscription and buy my shows online. Until then, I can wait.

* This reminds me that set-top boxes are going to be a huge deal in the next few years. It also makes me believe we will indeed get a digital hub Mac Mini this January.

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Comments (1 comments so far)

Comment #1:

I agree with you almost entirely, though I might also add that another reason why I'm not sold on iTunes is that the quality of the product they're selling you isn't very good. Sure, it'll look killer on an iPod, but full screen on one of their pretty displays, it looks terribly grainy-- especially when its compared to an AVI of the same show downloaded via bittorrent. I find this uber-confusing as Apple tries to align its computers to replace your television-- it also, arguably, renders Frontrow almost pointless.

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About this Entry

This entry is titled "Buying TV Shows Online? I'm Not Down. Yet." and was posted on December 8, 2005 at 10:05 am. It was posted in the category "Music\TV\Film\Media."

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