As you can probably tell, I spend a lot of time thinking about you guys and your tough job of coming up with so many creative shows. I don't envy your having to sort through pile after pile of successful European reality shows trying to find one uncomplicated enough for American audiences. I don't know how you do it!
I'll be honest with you, I'm worried about the future of your industry. I know you're worried too. You think that if you don't act fast to counter all those people pirating your content that you'll wind up like your good buddies over in the music industry. I don't want that to happen to you, so that's why I'm writing this letter: TV, you can save yourself if you don't fight piracy, but rather embrace it.
I'm not surprised at all to see shows like The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Lost and Battlestar Galactica among the top of these rankings. Just think of the kind of audience these types of shows are likely to draw. It's unfortunate that this list couldn't have been compiled a few weeks ago when most of the broadcast networks were still streaming new episodes. So You Think You Can Dance ranked pretty well, but I wonder if American Idol would have been tops here as well. Further into the list were some even more interesting choices.
Episodes will be available for $1.99 a piece, the same price you'd pay to download TV shows from iTunes, Amazon Unbox, or most competing services. The main difference is that Vudu provides a set top box and not just an internet download store. You can download programs directly to your box, but once they're on the box there's no way to transfer them to an iPod, computer or DVD.
Oh yeah, and the box still costs $400. Overall, I'm still unimpressed with Vudu. But the service does have one thing going for it. It's probably one of the easiest ways to buy online video from the comfort of your couch and watch it on your television set. No PC required.
Vudu is also starting to add high definition content today. You can now download The Bourne Ultimatum in high definition. Today's also the day that movie was released on DVD and HD-DVD.
Now it looks like Apple is about to open up the iTunes TV store to a country that doesn't have the word "united" anywhere in its name. Starting this week Canadians will be able to buy episodes or complete seasons of a limited number of TV shows.
For now, it looks like content will include a handful of shows from the CBC, CTV, and some US network programs as well as NHL hockey games. Because we know how much people love to wait a day or two until after a sporting event so they can download it and watch them on the way to work after reading the scores in the morning paper.
TiVo Director of Service Operations Stephen Mack posted the news in the TiVo Community forums. TiVo customers can download Amazon Unbox movies to their TiVo boxes for viewing. But if you don't have a TiVo, you can still get the free videos from Amazon's website.
A few of the titles include Charade, House on Haunted Hill, His Girl Friday, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Some of the movies are available as free "purchases," meaning you can download the flick now and watch it whenever you like. The rest are free rentals. That means you can download it today and watch anytime within the next 30 days. But once you hit play, you have just 48 hours to finish watching your movie.
The free movies are available through Nov 18th.
And now Fox is offering free downloads of series/season premieres of 7 shows. You'll be able to download the episodes from Apple's iTunes store. The episodes are commercial free, and the goal is to build buzz for the Fox programs.
FOX recently signed on with Xbox Live Video Marketplace, and the first series available for the digital download-to-own service is Family Guy. FOX joins other television networks and movie studios on the service, including CBS, NBC Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros., MTV Networks and Lionsgate.
Family Guy was chosen to kick off the new content deal because of its attraction to the younger male demographic responsible for most of the downloads on the Xbox 360's Video Marketplace service. Starting next week, the series' first two seasons will become available, along with the Family Guy DVD movie/three-part episode, Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story. Newer seasons will follow, with fresh episodes hitting Video Martketplace the day after they debut on television.
Later this month, TVComedyClassics.com will officially launch as a download service in which folks can purchase, or rent, various comedies from the UK.
Don't expect well-known shows like Black Adder or Monty Python, however. In fact, there isn't a single show listed on the site I've ever heard of. Perhaps they'll be familiar to some of our readers from across the pond: Labours of Erica, Up the Elephant and Round the Castle, Mann's Best Friend, Robert's Robots and Two in Clover, just to name a few. Other series from the '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s will be added when the site officially launches, with over one thousand titles in all eventually added to the service.
Every so often I'll stumble upon something on the Web I think is totally the bees' knees, but then my excitement is met with total indifference by the folks who read this blog.
So who knows what y'all will think of it, but Way Out Junk is the coolest blog I've seen in some time. It's a collection of albums, many based on television, that are out of print. The blog allows you to download free MP3s, almost all of them transferred from the original vinyl albums.
This is a great idea. Many of the shows listed get a lot of buzz on sites like ours (because our readers know good television), but the general population doesn't seem to catch on. If only How I Met Your Mother would get on iTunes... it could definitely use some more fans as it heads into season 3.
Starting today, the long-running soap opera Days of Our Lives will be available on iTunes for the usual $1.99 per episode. Fans can also get episodes a bit cheaper by purchasing twenty episodes for $9.99.
According to Variety, placing Days on iTunes is most likely a move to get more people to watch the series, which has lost some viewers over the last year or so. Frankly, I don't see why more soap operas aren't made available this way, or, even better, made available for free online. Soaps more or less require a person to be tuned in day in and day out, and fans, one assumes, would love to be able to go back and catch up on whatever they might have missed.
This, however, leads to another question, which is "how old are the people watching Days, and how many of those people are going to use iTunes for anything?" Something tells me an iTunes promotional push isn't going to be much help.
On the heels of news of Stephen Colbert's "Tek Jansen" cartoons being made available on Xbox Live Marketplace comes even gooder* news: both The Colbert Report and The Daily Show will have full episodes made available on the download service just a few hours after they air on television. The cost is 160 points (I don't have Xbox, but if you do, then I assume you know what that means), or two bucks per episode.
For example, you can watch movies from Amazon Unbox on your TiVo now, but you can't browse and download movies on your TiVo box. You need to use a computer.
That is, until some enterprising users started hacking together programs that let you surf Amazon Unbox from the comfort of your couch. And why stop there? One user has developed a plugin that lets you browse Amazon Unbox, NetFlix, and Blockbuster all using your remote control.
- Click the download button for your video.
- A thumbnail page with a drop down box pops up asking you to choose the device to send the movie to.
- Next, a confirm page pops up.
- Close the confirm page without clicking anything.
- Now go ahead and choose another location from the drop down menu on the previous page.
- Repeat as necessary.
Computer users running Windows Vista with Windows Media Center will soon be able to download and purchase original content from Showtime, including full episodes, cast information, and various video highlights. Unfortunately, this is only available to people running Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate and not to folks like myself still running Windows Media Center on Windows XP. I've been meaning to upgrade, but I'm an extremely lazy man.
I've already said it about a million times, but I'm always happy to see evidence of this sometimes atavistic industry's realization that "television" no longer refers to just the "TV set." As more and more people turn to the Web to see their favorite programs, partnerships like this make a lot of sense. More ways to watch means more people watching, and that's never a bad thing.
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