Take My Show, Please!

// August 6th, 2007


AdAge had a nice article today about the leaking of a variety of fall TV show pilots online last week & how while the broadcast networks are sort of freaking on it, some are actually welcoming it.

In Go Ahead and Watch This Show Illegally, Jenji Kohan (cool ass name girl!), the creator & exec producer of Weeds, is totally cool with the fact that the 1st 4 episodes of the upcoming season of her Showtime show are available through torrent sites:

“Revenue aside, I don’t expect to get rich on Weeds. I’m excited it’s out there. Showtime is great, but it does have a limited audience.”

14.5 million subscribers to be exact. For Showtime, this is actually a plus in bringing wider exposure to the show. The paid cable networks don’t rely on advertising, so getting clips or episodes of their shows out there is essentially free marketing & promotion, which could spur subscriber growth or stronger DVD sales, which are a very lucrative business for them.

Showtime has also inked an exclusive deal with my great friend Netflix to provide the pilot of its new show Californication to subscribers 3 weeks before it premieres on Showtime. Showtime pursued a similar strategy in making episodes of shows like Dexter available on MSN, Yahoo!, etc…

HBO featured the first episode of Flight of the Conchords online before it aired on the cable network or on demand. There are also a whole bunch of Conchords clips on YouTube, which so far, HBO has done nothing about. The show lends itself to online video clips since it features short, hilarious songs from the duo. It’s all about building the buzz & getting it out there for people to see.

Last season, HBO premiered episodes of The Wire (one of my favorite shows ever) on HBO On Demand on Mondays only to show them on the air for the first time the following Sunday. Since The Wire is one of those strong word-of-mouth shows (everyone’s probably had someone like me tell them how great it is), this works to keep the fans pleased & build a stronger audience. The Sopranos doesn’t need this type of exposure b/c everyone already knows that it rules. Best. show. ever.

The article moves on to talk about my favorite company that won’t hire me, Joost, which is getting all sorts of buzz right now. Joost announced a few weeks back that it would feature the entire series of VH1’s I Hate My 30s 2 weeks before it would premiere on the TV network itself.

The rest of the article is very repetitive w/ the same old talking points i.e. Joost wants to change the way people watch TV, how the founders started Kazaa & Skype, etc… A great point that is made however by EVP of Content Strategy & Acquisition Yvette Alberdingk Thijm is:

“All these audiences are going to look for content online. Networks might as well protect the content and also make a little money in the process. Plus, because it’s free, you persuade the consumer to watch on a legal platform.”

NB: A funny thing with piracy now that everything’s going digital is this notion that copyright holders have created that watching something or listening to something is illegal. Isn’t the act of leaking it, the act of posting it, but really the act of selling it at a profit, the illegal act? At least that’s what I thought…

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