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Shows Good Enough to Pay for Them

On PVRblog, Matt Haughey writes:

The success of show sales on things like the iTunes store definitely points towards the future of TV: make shows good enough that people willingly pay for it (sans ads). Of course, cable outfits like HBO and Showtime have been doing this for decades so it will be interesting to see how the major networks compete in the future. I'm still hopeful the networks can create great programming worthy of purchase and adapt to this new world instead of the alternative: relying on lawsuits to block any technology that doesn't fit their current business model in a perpetual war between them and their own customers.
This is a great point. Networks have been trying to figure out how to get more money from product placements and other mechanisms that can't be skipped with a DVR remote, but it does seem that in the end, the best route is to make shows we're willing to pay to watch. Speaking personally, I can think of four:
  • Battlestar Galactica: Not only have I bought the one-and-a-half seasons already available on DVD, when I reached the end of the DVD set of the first half of the second season, with further DVDs months away, I bought all 10 remaining episodes on the iTunes Music Store to watch on my iMac and my iPod, because I didn't want to wait to see them.
  • House: I'm a recent convert, and am thinking of buying the first season on DVD to go back and watch it from the start.
  • Rome: If HBO offered this on DVD before airing it, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.
  • 24: This is a little shaky for me, because unlike the other shows I've listed here, 24 doesn't seem like the kind of program I would want to watch more than once. But it might just make the list.
That's four shows, or four hours a week out of how much original prime-time programming produced by the various networks? Hundreds of hours? But it's a start. If Hollywood can make more shows at this level of quality, and let me buy them however I like (DVD, iTunes, or premium cable channel subscription), then they could effectively take on the DVR and live to tell about it.

Of course, there's the small matter of making more shows at the quality level of the four listed above (and others I know to be good but don't watch, like The Sopranos). Easier said than done.


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