More than seven years ago, we first wrote about Ernest Miller’s concept of Bitcatching — a name that never caught on — which was the combination of RSS + BitTorrent, allowing the ability to “subscribe” to certain video programs. Miller envisioned that as a legal and useful way for TV broadcasters to embrace the internet with shows that had ads on them, and to avoid the fate of the recording industry. Of course, that was in the days before YouTube and Hulu existed. The industry decided to focus on those streaming platforms (with a bit of iTunes on the side). However, those all have some annoying limitations, which means that many people still just go to BitTorrent to get the shows they want.
A few different people pointed us to this interesting recent Reddit thread, in which someone asked if people would download official TV programs via BitTorrent if they were high quality… with ads:
If major broadcasting companies released high quality TV show torrents WITH commercials in them, would you download those instead of commercial-free pirated ones?
I definitely would. Right now I find I’m constantly defending myself when people ask why I download all my shows. I personally do it for the convenience of being able to watch them at my leisure.
As a consumer, I would happily download a torrent straight from the broadcasting company’s site since I know it would be coming from a good source, that it would be high quality and would be helping them pay their bills.
Advertisements make the entertainment industry go round, I’m not oblivious to that. I’ll happily be pitched to if the companies are willing to meet me and my lifestyle halfway. Chances are, if I’m vegged out on a couch watching a show, most of the time I’m not even going to fastforward through the commercials either. They simply just aren’t a big deal to me.
The responses are mixed. There are, certainly, a lot of people who insist they would never do that because they hate all advertising. I still think those people really just hate bad advertising, and don’t realize that they actually like good advertising (for example, the TV shows they download? They’re just “advertising” for other episodes of that TV show). But there are two types of answers that stand out and are seen throughout the comments. The first are that some people would agree to do this, having no problem supporting the TV folks. The second are people who say they hate commercials and wouldn’t do this, but that they would pay for a similar thing without commercials.
It seems that the TV industry is missing a big opportunity in not offering both of those options, and letting people decide.
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