What would you pay for the ability to download your favorite TV shows to your computer. What about movies? Is this the future of the internet?
I don't know. I'm pretty much a media junkie. I have the big screen TV with HD satellite hook-up. I have maybe 500 DVDs. I was the first kid on my block to own a DVD player, in fact. Hell, I even have a Laser Disc player still plugged in to my entertainment center and ready to go. I'm not sure where it's going. But its there. But one thing I don't think I want to do is watch movies on my iPod. And I sure as hell am not going to watch them on my desktop computer.
Don't get me wrong. I do watch movies on my laptop on occasion. Usually when I'm on a plane or in a hotel room somewhere and without easy access to any of the three non-computer DVD players in my house that are hooked up to real TVs. But its never preferrable, its very much a "on-the-go" kinda thing. Its not something I'm gonna do all the time.
But today, Apple announced iTunes Video. Download music videos for only $1.99, or download episodes from your favorite TV shows, (so long as your favorite TV shows are "Lost," "Desperate Housewives," "That's So Raven," "Night Stalker," or "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody." Ok, fine, I'll acknowledge that the first two shows are hits, but That's So Raven? And I mean, has anybody ever even heard of the other two shows?
So much like with the $0.99 music that you can buy from apple, I'm going to ignore for a moment the possibility of downloading music for a moment, and lets just assume that the only way to get content on your computer or iPod is to pay for it. (HAHAHAHA!) It's now a question of demand utility. I watch a lot of TV. Much of it I readily admit is quite bad. But if I were bored on a football bye week sunday afternoon or something, there is the very real possibility that I might be flipping through channels and watch something like "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody", whatever it is. Afterall, I'll sometimes be bored enough on a lazy Sunday to watch 6 hours of celebrity poker or home makeover shows or something, so who knows. But there's no way I'd pay to find out. Even shows I do enjoy, like say Desperate Housewives, I'm all about watching them for free. But I'm not going to pay $1.99 to watch it every week. It's just not worth it. Maybe on the off chance that I miss a week and I'm really devoted to a show (like say I am with 24) I might be willing to download it just to watch it once, but they're promoting the fact that i can on demand watch these shows as much as I want, whenever I want. Not going to happen. I don't care enough about anything I watch to watch it over and over again, and if I do, I am fully capable of DVR'ing it or waiting for the DVD set to come out. But its extremely rare that I need this feature.
So what do I really get here? No commercials? Freedom to watch whenever I want? At the end of the day, I figure there's actually about 15 hours or so TV that I watch pretty religiously every week. If I were forced to pay for each of those shows individually we'd be talking $29.85 (in practice, at least half of those shows are 30 mins. long, so its more like $43.78) every week. $119.40($175.12) every month to watch my favorite shows over and over again. I pay about $55/month for HD satellite+DVR service. Less than half, and I get the added bonus of picking slop shows that I just catch when I'm bored. It's not even a contest. At the end of the day, I'd much rather pay for my TV with my time (watching commercials) than my wallet. I'm an American. I'm greedy.
So that brings up another interesting question. Do you hate commercials? I mean, do you really hate commercials. In the last couple years that we've had DVR service, beststephi has become very commercial adverse. I mean, I totally get fast forwarding through them when you've prerecorded something, but if we're watching TV live, beststephi would rather pause it and sit in silence for 5 minutes than listen to the commercials. Me I just don't really care. Hell, sometimes I even find them funny. But then, I'm the kinda weirdo who watches the Clio Awards whenever a network sees fit to broadcasting them. I'll accept that people don't LIKE commercials, but at the end of the day, are you willing to pay money just to avoid them. Would you pay for TiVo service if it only let you skip the commercials and didn't let you record the show to watch at your leisure? Conversely, if you are the type who is willing to pay $1.99 to download "Lost", would you be willing to pay, I don't know, $0.99 to watch it if it still had the commercials in it and no way to fast forward through them.
Yes, she's hot, but $1.99 at that size?
Technology ruins something else. Thirty-five years from now, you're gonna hear old man Maverick sitting on his back porch waving his cane at the grandkids who are sneaking out behind the woodshed with their holocubes, "Damn kids today, can't even masturbate properly. Back in my day we didn't have tactile holograms, we had the Sears catalog bra section and we liked it. We liked it fine! We loved it!"