If you are a frequent Internet user, you have undoubtedly watched a video online somewhere.
Ok here, watch this:
That video happens to be from Youtube, but as you may or may not know, there are many other places to watch videos online. Some of them are questionably legal. The legitimate sites, however, show advertisements before, during and/or after the videos they display. A 30 minute show typically has 2-3 minutes of commercials — a far cry from televisions 8-12 minutes!
You can also walk the wild side and attempt to find your shows using BitTorrent. BitTorrent is a terrific distributed model for dispersing media across the Internet. But the television and film industry just don’t get it. Well I’ve got a solution.
In the same way that users are willing to sit through a couple minutes of ads in exchange for the convenience of being able to watch the shows / movies they want, on demand, the holding corporations should embrace bit torrent for distribution of content.
Imagine, if you will, an alternate Internet universe where CBS takes the latest episode of The Mentalist, inserts 2-5 minutes of advertisements throughout the show (paid for by their respective companies), and then creates and releases a torrent for that file.
End users would be able to grab the torrent from the official CBS tracker and download it directly to their computer, ads and all. The first few people to download it would be hitting CBS’s servers pretty hard — but as more people downloaded it, the bitTorrent software would be able to distribute its load request across its peers. It wouldn’t be terribly hard to set up a torrent subscription service so that episodes auto-download, like podcasts.
Sure, people could use a video editor to strip out the ads — but why put all the time into doing that? Provided the ad-count is low enough, and the ads are brief enough, (3-4 thirty second ads per thirty minutes of programming) it’s far more likely that people will simply just watch the ad. If the ads are short enough, it won’t be worth it trying to guess how far ahead they would need to move the slider-control.
DRM really wouldn’t be necessary either — no one will try to rip and sell the DVDs since they are available for free online anyways. DVD sales of the movies and series would likely remain unharmed since the people that like the program enough to purchase the DVD will do so anyways. Distribute the torrent in Standard Definition instead of HD to further discourage piracy. Heck, sales might even go up, since more people will be able to try out the program. Speaking from personal experience, the availability of new programs, as well as good content filtering, have helped me down the long tail of television shows to find some shows that I probably would have never watched otherwise.
The main problem with this, of course, is the ridiculous licensing laws. As long as the film industry and television industry continue to perpetuate their archaic business model, people will continue to watch their material in any way they can; with the ads stripped out even!
But offer up ready-made content with a small but lucrative amount of advertisements embedded, make use of a good distribution model (peer to peer) and you’ll capitalize on all the eyes that would otherwise NOT be viewing your sponsors.