The Killing Writer: Illegal Downloading is "How Shows Die"

Sarah LeBoeuf

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The Killing Writer: Illegal Downloading is "How Shows Die"



When it comes to pirating TV shows, writer Dawn Prestwich says, "In short: if you don't buy it, they don't make it."

Piracy is so much a part of our modern culture that some content creators Variety [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/135582-Ubisoft-DRM-is-Ineffective-Against-Piracy], Prestwich discusses how illegal streaming sites adversely affect everyone working on TV shows. Simply put, one episode made available illegally is "worth the equivalent of thousands of downloads that weren't watched on a legal site... The entire production team that collectively created the content was adversely impacted--from the most junior production assistant on up. All positions within the hierarchy became devalued."

Prestwich believes that people who illegally watch TV shows think they're "sticking it to the man," but the practice is actually hurting the creative forces behind these shows. Viewers need to speak with their wallets to keep TV shows from cancellation; The Killing was saved twice in part from "the enthusiastic and legal downloading" of the murder mystery show. As Prestwich says, "When a viewer accesses an episode on a site like NinjaVideo, rather than a legal site, there's no accurate measurement of market value for that content. And that's how shows die."

As someone who grew up in the age of Napster, I know how blurry the line between legally and illegally obtaining media can be; when it's right there on the internet, it doesn't feel like stealing. Something to think about, though, is who you're actually adversely affecting if you choose piracy over buying legally. While Prestwich didn't offer an easy solution, she acknowledged that solving the problem would "involve higher standards on what constitutes ethical online behavior." Perhaps that's the first step towards seeing less promising new shows meet untimely cancellations due to a seeming lack of interest.

Source: Variety [http://variety.com/2014/tv/news/piracy-endangers-tv-renewals-and-jobs-says-killing-writer-guest-column-1201322657/]

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Sarah LeBoeuf

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If a show has to wait until it's out on DVD to find out if anyone liked it, and not ratings on TV, I think the show might be doomed from the start. Or perhaps I'm wrong, I thought shows generated money from ratings and ad revenue, and then DVD sales, merchandising, and other such things?
 

RaikuFA

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Kinda hard to blame just one thing. Focus groups and CEO's that think "THIS SHOW ISN'T WHAT'S POPULAR RIGHT NOW!!! IT MUST GO!!!" Are just as bad as piracy. Hell Community was canned the first time because they didn't see the numbers from HULU and the like as real viewers.
 

Ferisar

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"Sticking it to the man" isn't what the majority of people who pirate think, I'm more than positive on that sentiment. If they do, it's more often a justification rather than any actual "boycotting".
 

Weaver

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Apr 28, 2008
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Simply put, one episode made available illegally is "worth the equivalent of thousands of downloads that weren't watched on a legal site.
Okay, what one? All US sites that stream their shows just tell me to fuck off cause I'm Canadian.
 

Steve Waltz

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Television is so irrelevant in the information age. These are the days when people want things when it?s convenient for them. If Tuesday at 6:00 pm is even the slightest bit inconvenient, they will download the show instead. If watching television shows adapt to where it?s convenient, there would be far less illegal downloading going on. The whole reason I don?t want TV at all is because it?s inconvenient and I?d just rather wait for it to come on DVD or whatever.
 

Atmos Duality

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Oh we've all seen this song and dance before...
Yes, yes, Ms. Prestwich. It's a tragedy just like how piracy killed the film industry, video games, and the music business, right?

Oh...wait, no, NONE OF THAT FUCKING HAPPENED.

You know what really kills TV shows these days (besides meddling executives)?
Mediocrity.
Especially considering the number of (surprisingly) genuinely GOOD shows we've had these past few years.
(...or even before; I'm STILL getting caught up on Supernatural)

I mean, there's still loads of inexplicably popular garbage (all reality TV, shit-coms like "The Bang"), but the fact I can talk about more than one show without my eyes rolling straight out of my skull is a privilege I didn't think I'd have today.
 

Scorpid

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The problem is that the current method of watching TV is absolutely insane. I can't watch regular TV at all because of how many ads there are. If it isn't on Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBOgo, or Youtube then I don't watch it. I'm not spending my free time or my money on a "service" that requires me to spend a third of my time in front of a TV viewing bullshit ads for cars I can't afford or pharmaceuticals I clearly don't need. You want me to watch your show you bring it to me without that horse shit. Maybe if cable was free I would give TV a chance.
 

RJ 17

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crepesack said:
Meanwhile at the Game of Thrones studio....
That's pretty much what I was going to say. "Funny, HBO sees stuff like that as free advertisement for their network."

http://www.businessinsider.com/time-warner-ceo-people-pirating-game-of-thrones-is-better-than-an-emmy-for-hbo-2013-8

:p
 

small

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my entire country has a reputation for illegal downloading and bypassing geoblocks to access netflix. heck one of the industry higher ups referred to people who bypass geoblocks in the same sentence as pedophiles.

here in australia most of the time people dont want to wait months to watch a show assuming they will get it at all or they dont want to pay $100+ to get a pay tv subscription.

take warehouse 13 for example. i still havent found a way to legally stream season 4 or 5. i actually want to legally stream and purchase it yet im not allowed to. hell i cant even stream or buy anything past season 2 here thats not a dvd purchase.

not to mention the last season of game of thrones here was completely locked up with a hefty pay tv subscription for the entire season, and they wonder why people pirated it.

if they cleaned up their act and stopped making it a pain in the ass to legally stream or purchase then people will start to switch.

someone once said "pirates offer better service than legal producers" and i agree

that said i totally get the point and yes i can see it seriously hurts a show but frankly if a show gets cancelled in the usa the fact something is popular or not here in australia means jack when it comes to keeping it on the air in the US.

the ironic thing is i actually know a few people who work on america tv shows as writers, and producers and they are just as frustrated with the limits
 

Omnicrom

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If the only way forward you can see would "involve higher standards on what constitutes ethical online behavior" then you've got problems. If you can't legally provide a better service than piracy than you've already lost. Get behind legal, fair, streaming services and actually try and appeal to people to spend money.
 

JarinArenos

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Maybe you'd see less illegal downloads if you had more legal methods of viewing. One release on Netflix is worth a thousand torrents (see? I can make up bullshit statistics too).
 

ryazoph

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Here's a simple solution: release torrents of the show with advertising. Sure, people could skip the ads, but they still see at least a few seconds of an ad.
 

Doom972

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Most of those legal sites aren't available for all countries. I can't think of anything available globally other than Comedy Central. In order to get people to watch the show legally, the makers of the show need to make it available to watch legally anywhere. Expecting someone to just wait for the DVD release to see if the show is any good isn't reasonable.
 

kaizen2468

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Ill watch them on TV when i can, but if I can't, say because i work in the middle of fucking nowhere with no television for months at a time ill find them any way i can.

Here's an idea, let me watch any episode of any show at any time with no restrictions and ill pay for that and never download any tv show illegally again.. Until then, they can shove their traditional business models right up their asses.
 

RicoADF

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Jun 2, 2009
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While yes piracy is causing the industry issues it only has itself to blame. If your only going to offer your shows on expensive cable networks and release DVD/Blurays months later (and here in Australia even the cable version is often late compared to the US) then you can't complain when people simply download it because they want to watch it now. Provide the legal means to easily purchase your show at a reasonable price and most people will happily pay, unfortuently Hollywood doesn't understand this simple idea.
 

Riotguards

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out of 500 channels i only have one channel which airs potential drama that i might be interested in (sky) and they don't even have a reliable timetable for said shows so i could wait months to finish a series while america gets to season 5 before i even finish season 1

in fact supernatural suffered a huge blowout for me because they decided to skip a season or two (hell i've yet to watch how SPOILER, satan's seal is released SPOILER)

i've only managed to catch up to the rest of the season by online viewing, lets face it instant and up to date viewing without 30 minute adverts is hugely better than whats on offer now
 

JayRPG

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Make your TV shows more accessible worldwide and there won't be as many pirates.

There are extremely popular TV series that literally can only be watched via piracy in Australia, and there are even more extremely popular TV series that can only be seen if you have an obscenely expensive satellite TV service called Foxtel (A rupert murdoch monopoly).

We don't have netflix, we pay up to 1000% more for digitally distributed content in some cases (if they are available at all). Stop making it so hard for people to watch your shows and people won't need to pirate. It's as simple as that.
 

Sarah LeBoeuf

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Not The Bees said:
If a show has to wait until it's out on DVD to find out if anyone liked it, and not ratings on TV, I think the show might be doomed from the start. Or perhaps I'm wrong, I thought shows generated money from ratings and ad revenue, and then DVD sales, merchandising, and other such things?
There are plenty of other legal ways to watch most TV shows between the air date and the DVD release. Many are available on demand right away, or on Hulu, or a channel-specific streaming service. Even if you DVR a show and watch it later, that's actual data used to determine a TV show's reach and popularity. All of that is taken into account; the only thing that isn't is how popular it is when viewed through illegal means.