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posted by janrinok on Thursday January 12 2017, @10:56AM   Printer-friendly
from the who-pays-the-licence? dept.

The BBC is abandoning linear exclusivity as it goes for broke to make the iPlayer a global Netflix rival. The corporation says it will throw entire series on to the on-demand streaming service before the first episode in a series is even broadcast on terrestrial TV.

Director-General Tony Hall will call for the BBC to "reinvent public broadcasting for a new generation in order to compete against giants such as Netflix and Amazon" this morning.

Hall has set two targets: double the number of visits to iPlayer and quadruple the time a user spends on the iPlayer site by 2020.

Established broadcasters have faced increasing pressure from OTT providers in recent years. Netflix spent more on content (buying and licensing it) than the BBC or HBO last year. Netflix made "binge watching" series cheap and easy – previously you'd need to buy an expensive box set, and those usually sold to fans.

But for the BBC to follow suit and dump entire series on the internet at once means surrendering one of its key advantages: its ability to create artificial scarcity. Withholding episodes creates "event TV" – a common cultural experience – and results in increased attention. As Enders Analysis points out, live viewing has fallen 19 per cent since 2010 as time-shifted viewing making up about 40 per cent of the decline. "Linear remains vital," the consultancy warns.

Is "event TV" still a thing for non-sports programming?

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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @05:17PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @05:17PM (#452984)

    After getting burned by too many mid-season cancellations I stopped watching all non-episodic shows until they had at least an entire season fully-released.

    It isn't that I necessarily binge-watch, although I do, its just that once I had a choice, I was no longer going to let the networks screw me anymore.

    One thing I've noticed is that even when I have an entire season to watch, if the reviews ultimately end up being shitty, its really (mentally) easy to just delete it instead of giving it a chance. That's probably because there are sooo many shows to pick from.

    As more of the population adopts this attitude, its going to change tv production a lot. I'm not sure how though. We are definitely at a point where quality shows are the most bountiful they've ever been. Will the market contract? Or will show production costs get cheap enough to sustain such high levels of production despite a mostly flat level of available eyeball-hours spent on watching?

    It also helps that a 60-minute show is only 40-minutes now without commercials. Although the incidence of deadly-boring product placement (look at the features of this great car the lead character is driving this week!) are at an all-time high.

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by DannyB on Thursday January 12 2017, @06:41PM

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 12 2017, @06:41PM (#453006) Journal

    Dear BBC and other streaming TV series producers:

    I got tired of the Gilligan's Island formula in the 70's. That is, where you can interchange the episodes into any order and it doesn't matter. All conditions are reset back to initial conditions by the end of each episode.

    I loved Babylon 5 for breaking this mold. But it wasn't a soap opera that goes on and on, it is a story with a definite and planned ending.

    More TV series started making the entire series tell a continuing story. The problem is that they didn't have any planned end to the story. When ratings go down, it gets abruptly cancelled. Possibly on a cliffhanger. If it goes on long enough without getting cancelled it is obvious that they are not going anywhere and just making it up as they go along to waste your time. I want a story to enjoy. Not a story that just drags me around and never pays off with an ending.

    Another thing that happens is someone comes up with a great idea for a series. That is, season 1. It gets made. It has a great story. It has an ending that is open for a potential season 2. When season 2 is made it does not have the overall vision of a single person who conceived the first season. It gradually just goes off the rails. What unexpected or outrageous thing can we do to this character? (A thing that you can't take back. And ruins the character.)

    Babylon 5's ending is extremely satisfying. Like reading a good book. The book doesn't just end in the middle.

    Maybe some new TV series will figure out that they need to make a novel or an epic novel. It has a beginning, middle and end. Make in some number of seasons that can be financed. (Netflix can be helpful in that regard, as they have sometimes approved new series without a pilot, and sometimes approved more than one season to be produced.) If you can't make multiple seasons, then just make one and call it good. But make it like a complete book. Heck, even a mini series that is captivating and has a great ending. Movies are like that, but they're usually too short. Babylon 5 is an epic story that takes five seasons, and still had room for prequels and spin off series, and new stories that take place in its future.

    As for product placement -- Don't Do It. For example, back when I watched cable tv, I gave the new Hawaii Five O a look. All the characters are supposed to be cool and smart. But they all use Windows Phones? WTF? Not even believable. Nobody uses Windows Phone. I'm outta here.

    Which brings me to present day. I have no cable. No network tv. Only internet on demand streaming. I pay and I expect NO commercials and NO product placement. If you can't make enough money to produce the shows, then raise the subscription price, don't start advertising or product placement.

    I'll add just one more thing about ads (and indirectly product placement). Advertising is a cancer. It destroys every medium in which it ever exists. Like pollution. It starts out acceptable. Then moves to merely tolerable. Then annoying. Then there are bugs of people walking on screen over the content of the program right after a commercial. Sometimes these animated ads over the content obscure important elements of the program, and nobody cares because they let this happen. Then people fight back. Then product placement happens which is a direct admission that ads have gone too far but the tv network is so addicted that they can't help themselves and need intervention. Ads are why people went from network broadcast to cable. Cable was going to be ad free. But they let it creep in and look what happens. Then people fought back with TiVos. And then people voted with their feet and wallet once internet streaming became available. Don't put ads on internet streaming or the same thing will happen. It will start out tiny. A little crack in the dam. Just like web sites. A few ads at first. Then in a couple years an article is one page per paragraph, with that paragraph surrounded by a ton of blinking flashing dancing jumping seizure inducing ads. Ads are a cancer.

    I need to spend more effort optimizing performance within while(false) loops.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @07:23PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @07:23PM (#453026)

      The BBC is actually good at making single-season shows. They also avoid that american failing of packing them with filler episodes. One 8 episode BBC show often tells more story in a more engaging fashion than one 22 episode american show.

    • (Score: 1) by Gault.Drakkor on Friday January 13 2017, @02:09AM

      by Gault.Drakkor (1079) on Friday January 13 2017, @02:09AM (#453146)

      As to advertising and product placement.
      Product placement as advertising in TV was one of the earliest forms. Why do you think 'soaps' are named so? From the outright sponsorship of the early entries.

      I like what "Age of persuasion" argues at one point. (Paraphrasing this from memory). Ads are a contract, they request time from the viewer, they should offer something in return, in most cases entertainment. If you get no value, then they are not a good add, the contract is broken.

      I don't mind ads if they truly give me something of value in exchange for my time, which is getting to be a rarity. Mostly they cost us and those adds suck.

      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Friday January 13 2017, @03:12PM

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 13 2017, @03:12PM (#453328) Journal

        As I pointed out, ads always start out acceptable. Then tolerable. Yet they end up eventually destroying every form of media which ever has ads. Greed is insatiable. Also, it is easier to just reduce the content time and stuff in more ads and product placement than to recognize that the landscape is changing and you should reconsider your business model. Many newspapers did not do that. Cable TV did not do that.

        In the end, I realize that I would rather pay for the content and have zero ads.

        Advertisers know no bounds. The web makes this obvious. Ad networks have distributed malware. Ad networks have no vetting of the advertiser and will take money from anyone for anything, just like a street whore.

        Advertisers will lobby to put ads on the inside of our eyelids once the technology becomes available. Mark my words.

        I need to spend more effort optimizing performance within while(false) loops.