The future is inching its way onto our set-top boxes

I have from time to time lamented the tardiness of media producers in getting content in-front of my eyeballs. It’s not a case of being tight with money, although giving Murdoch £30/month for a glut of programming I’ll never watch is *too much* for me. I’ll happily pay for the stuff I want to watch as long as I can watch it now on whatever device I happen to have to hand. Until it’s made that easy for consumers the pirates will keep winning by default.

There was an interesting quote from the boss of Netflix in a recent interview: “The goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us”. Netflix is moving from being just a content distribution company to a producer of content. And if they can create content as good as their new remake of House of Cards hopefully the days of production companies being tied to restrictive bundle contracts are numbered.

The fact that shows can be disconnected from the broadcast schedules also offers other compelling opportunities. The BBC recently aired a number of comedy sketch show pilots which we only caught on iPlayer. Indeed they are now going to start trialling iPlayer net first runs of new shows over the next 12 months. No longer does the success of a show have to hope that it was picked up by enough of the 11500 viewers that happened to catch a random scheduled slot. Each and every viewing can be accounted for and counted even if the show is a slow burner like Firefly which was cruelly cancelled before it built up it’s cult following.

So the balls now in HBOs court. How exactly to I pay you so I can watch the next season of Game of Thrones when it comes out?


  1. I fear two of the potential outcomes with this model:
    “Safe” ideas and banking “celebrities”
    Lowest-common denominators
    Can you see a “Red Dwarf” or Vampire-slayer in there, let alone running for multiple series?
    Maybe I’m being too negative. Name _any_ decade and you can find the same distribution of terrible, good, great tv/films/music. There will always be people out there wanting to make great media and probably enough people to back them. There’s a lot of confusion out there as people get to grips with this new model. Let’s look back in 10 years time and see that society didn’t actually collapse.

    • Surely that’s what we have at the moment? The process of getting a show ready for the next available network slot means they are unlikely to go for anything too radical. If the pilot does pass muster then you are on the production train straight away for 13 episodes with pressure to get it out in time for the sweeps.

      It’s a similar problem to the music industry although the up-front capital costs are higher. However we are seeing the start of independent self-funded artists building their own following and bypassing the artificial label AnR gate. Maybe we’ll see the same with film and TV?

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