Our family spends hundreds of dollars a month with Time Warner Cable. And plenty more with the NBA league pass. And plenty more with tickets to Knicks games. It's not that we don't want to pay for our sports entertainment. And it's not that we are unwilling to pay more.
But last night we were turned into "pirates" as the entertainment industry likes to call us. As 2011 turned into 2012, the executives at Time Warner Cable and MSG Network were unable to make a deal to keep MSG on Time Warner Cable. My son was fuming and so was I.
So I did what many did last night. I opened Twitter on the family room iPad and tweeted out a question.
Screw cable. Where can I watch the Knicks game online tonight?
— Fred Wilson (@fredwilson) January 3, 2012
Within seconds the suggestions came pouring in. NBA.com's League Pass for broadband was widely suggested but they were blacking out the Knicks Raptors game in the NYC area. Note to NBA.com – take all Time Warner Broadband IP addresses out of your blackout code table. If you do, you'll sign up a bunch of new subsribers during this TWC/MSG spat.
So we went on to the pirate sites. That worked great. No blackout problems there. Here's the tweet I sent out when we got the game on the big screen in the family room (via our family room mac mini).
thanks everyone for your help on streaming the knicks game. #screwcable twitter.com/fredwilson/sta…
— Fred Wilson (@fredwilson) January 3, 2012
I added the #screwcable hashtag to that one. I hope others start using it. The industry sure deserves it for turning really good paying customers into pirates.
I've long believed that piracy is largely a business model problem not a human behavior problem. If you give people a legal way to consume the content they want, they will pay for it. But when you make it impossible to legally consume the content they want, they will pirate it. That's what happened last night and that is what will happen every night there is a Knicks game on TV for as long as MSG and Time Warner Cable continue to figure out how to screw their customers.
Sorry for the “noise” but so rarely do I get to be the first commenter that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity!Good morning, Fred and AVC.
Donna, your greeting is not noise. Do you get any sleep?
Not much, William.
HoolllllllaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaHello from Chennai! 😀
Now that’s noise…You’re in Chennai? son of a gun….I’ve been there 3 times. Where abouts? email me.
Chennai’s where home is, dear William.Live in Anna Nagar 😀 Any plans of heading there next?
I’ll email you. Anna Nagar is a nice area. I used to like to stay at the Taj Connemara, and office was in Okkiam Thoraipakkam. I liked Fisherman’s Cove sometimes.
Hello from Chennai..Rohan & William. Know of atleast 3-4 regular readers of AVC from Chennai
How in the world could a “good morning” from Donna be noise?
We ditched our TV provider (Bell) over the Holidays as well.Financially it didn’t make sense.$70+/month and we were only watching a few shows a month (Sports Center every morning and the odd Law & Order) and maybe a movie or two (which we had to pay extra).We went with Apple TV.$120 investment and although I have to pay for each show, it works out WAY cheaper (roughly $40/month) by selecting exactly what I want to watch.Plus, it has the advantage of being able to watch cool video podcasts like “This Week In Startups” and “Mixergy” on the big screen.#ScrewCable
Hi Stu…You must be in Ontario? I’m in Toronto. Who is your Internet provider? I used to have Free-to-Air on satellite but that doesn’t work anymore.
@wmoug:disqus – Yes I am in Ontario :)We called Bell and cancelled our TV, Phone and we wanted to cancel our internet as well.But they ended up offering me a 1/2 price deal for my internet which in turn was cheaper than the company I was going to move to (TekSavvy.com) – so we stayed with them.Even if you on’t plan on cancelling, call them and let them know you are considering it. You’ll be AMAZED at the “deals” they have because, “surprise”, you now qualify for their “loyalty program”.It’s such a joke.If they were proactive about this “loyalty program” then people like me would be saying how great they are.Instead, they give me a better deal and I’m still pissed. Go figure.
Great to meet you. Now I know where Port Dover is!True. They are buying time with us.Rogers is terminating Wi-Max in my (rural) area in a couple of months, so I have to switch to a 4G tower or back to Internet via satellite. Not happy about it.
Don’t suppose moving is an option?Wifi is like water to me, I go where it is plentiful.
Easy to say 🙂 We live in a rural area…a lifestyle choice. I think we’ll figure out the Internet thing. The Canadian government gave $230 million to this company http://www.xplornet.com/ind… to provide high-speed to rural areas. Let’s see what they come-up with.
Sorry that Toronto won.The cable industry & the lawyers behind them keep proving to us they are dinosaurs. So these are the same folks behind SOPA- that explains it.
it was a close game. toronto played better down the stretch. good win for them. the knicks aren’t going to be great until we get amare, jeffries, schumpter, and baron davis back
Yup. It was a good come back for the Knicks in the 2nd half, but both teams have their work cut out for the season.
i’m impressed by the raptors coach. less so by ours.
D’Antoni will take 3 yrs off Amare’s career. I sometimes think the Raps are cursed (TMac, Vince) although they were the first organization to fall for Isaiah’s charms, so some of it is self-inflicted.
D’Antoni will be gone soon. Phil Jax to step in..
both teams played hard
Fred,That’s what happens with 15 years of re-monopolization of access. Sports monopolies know that. Look at what the NFL contract has done to ESPN pricing. 1984 was the true birthdate of the internet. Competition and resulting non-competitive responses paved the way foundationally for web 1.0. The question going forward is whether the collective mass of alternative access networks, application ecosystems and enterprise-driven cloud computing paradigms will result in greater and sustainable (legal) choice at the edge. Michael
i sure hope so
It is how I was watch NFL games. We are unable to get NFL on TV here and sadly I do not feel like paying a huge chunk of money (not even able to, being a student and all) so I do it the illegal way. But it got me in to AF last year and been hooked since!
since corporations are persons now, we can treat them like any other person … don’t give me what i want, i can get it elsewhere ..piracy? my new friend.
Et tu, Gregory? That’s the kind of flawed premise I’d expect out of someone sleeping in the park or “occupying” various administration buildings, man.How in the hell are “corporations persons now”???
I think he’s referring to the 2010 Supreme Court ruling:http://en.wikipedia.org/wik…http://en.wikipedia.org/wik…(January 21, 2010), was a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court holding that the First Amendment prohibits government from placing limits on independent spending for political purposes by corporations and unions. The 5–4 decision originated in a dispute over whether the non-profit corporation Citizens United could air a film critical of Hillary Clinton, and whether the group could advertise the film in broadcast ads featuring Clinton’s image, in apparent violation of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, commonly known as the McCain–Feingold Act in reference to its primary Senate sponsors
yes, thanks .. my glib exaggeration style is often over-simplified.
I am familiar with the ruling. The only shocking thing is that 4 members of our highest court would see it Constitutional to restrict the speech of independent organizations of citizens.I would ask…So are unions, planned parenthood and other orgs that have those same rights “persons” now too?Or should the only people allowed to buy air time be individuals not acting in concert with others?
Thing is, I’m not convinced MSG sees you and me as “the customer”. You can only serve one master. Theirs is the cable distribution system (ie, their customer) .Meanwhile, cable acts like a monopoly.Can you spell disruption?
well if TWC is their customer, they are doing a bad job of managing that relationship
Agreed – they’re already running commercials telling Time Warner customers how to change cable providers, which is stunningly ignorant since many people live in apartment buildings and have no choice.
No – not really.I’m not too good at spelling.But I can smell it in the air
Why do you assume that it is TimeWarner Cables’ fault? Could MSG’s asking price been too high? Just look at themassive inflation in TV sports contracts. These sports based cable TV networkshave just completed bid rights into the stratosphere and expect cable companiesto ramrod whatever rate hikes they want to pass on to consumers.As an example, I will point to ESPN’s asks for the Longhorn Network. They wantto charge $.50 to $.75 a month in Big 12 country and $0.10 to $0.20 everywhere else inthe country. Those asking prices are astronomical considering that it onlycovers one university. Some cable companies have said, “You can show theprograming on our network and charge whatever you like to consumers and keep100% of the money. Just don’t force all consumers to take your programming.”ESPN’s response – Go pound sand. I certainly don’t think the cable companies are saints, butsome of the media companies have been very undisciplined in regards to biddingfor these contracts. All of these contracts are predicated on passing throughmassive rate increases to the consumer. That’s why there is a massive differencebetween CBS Tier 1 contract with the SEC versus ESPN’s Tier 2 contract with thesame conference. ESPN pays far more than CBS because ESPN is ramming this costdown the throats of consumers.Don’t assume that Time Warner Cable is thevillain and that the media right holders are the saints in this debate.
i don’t assume this is TWC’s fault. and i don’t think i wrote anything in the post suggesting that I do.
I blame the NBA and the NHL. They are the ones making me as a fan, not be able to watch my favorite team. I’m a 4-ticket season ticket holder to the Buffalo Sabres, but there is only one legal way for me to get Sabres games on my TV now — and that’s switching from Time Warner to DirecTV. To do what? Sign a two-year contract and only find that DirecTV next year doesn’t have Sabres games? #nochance
My bad. I read #screwcable to mean solely TWC because you refer to your $200 bill in the opening of your post.
to me MSG is more of a cable company than TWC. i get my 50mb broadband from TWC. i wish they would ditch the cable business and just be an ISP. they are pretty good at that
We would if we could…the model is changing but it’s going to take a while. For one thing, the IP network can’t handle the multicast programming that RF (radio frequency i.e. cable) can. Consider 50% of the homes on your node (100 or so probably) watching 2 HD tvs with 4 ipads cranking. You’d be begging for dialup.
Exactly.Sports and local news have become the only reason for A LOT of people to stick with cable television. Greenfield did a study showing that 93.5% of cable households regularly watch football and 68.4% regularly watch baseball.The local news demographic is aging and sports are demanding more money. It may take awhile, but sports will eventually be online, and cable (in its current form) will be on its way out…
BTW, how was the picture quality? I briefly checked it out. Not so good for me, especially full screen.
Mediocre. But we saw the game start to finish
Check out http://www.veetle.com next time.It’s California based. And generally HD..
#screwcable #screwsopa #screwpipa #screwpaulyshore
Wait wait wait…. the NBA starts before May now?
i’m not sure you can call what we watched last night basketball. the knicks didn’t look very good.
They looked just fine when they whipped my Sacramento Kings… 😉
Yes they did. I really hope Jimmer starts shooting better 🙂
A lot of things need to happen with that team 🙂
I didn’t watch but if they looked bad playing the Raptors that’s gotta be a game that went nowhere. Two teams fighting to win the first draft pick derby.
Sorry to break it to you, NooYo’kas, but the Rockets own the Knick’s pick this year, through the McGrady trade…
Such a great point. Another thing worth noting is the millions of dollars wasted during these disputes on advertising campaigns by both sides who are trying to convince consumers that the other company is not playing fairly.
I am a pirate. And have been since I started university in Singapore.As a student, it was simply because we couldn’t afford it. Streaming made so much more sense. Right now, it’s because I can’t access good football (read: soccer) without paying a bomb for subscription and buying a TV.If Sky made it easy for us to stream and for subscription, I’d be happy to pay.Piracy IS situational.. and largely a business model problem.
On a different note, I was busy watching movies over the past couple of weeks.. thanks for all your Fun Friday movie suggestions. I loved the following -1. The Help: Top Draw! 2. Sherlock Holmes 2: Epic! Must must must watch. A sequel that was much better than a superb prequel. So good that I watched it twice in 2 weeks.3. Spielberg’s Tintin: Top top top draw. The technology used is insanely good. 4. Puss in Boots: I heard a girl describe Antonio Banderas’ voice as orgasmic… I guess that said it all. Great movie!! 5. Mission Impossible IV: Okay. Worth a watch.6. Horrible Bosses: Truly horrible!! Have a great day folks! 🙂
I cut the cable all together 2 weeks ago.
Try living abroad but having close ties to the US — totally incapabile of legally participating in just about everything. Fortunately, I still have a US itunes account and Apple doesn’t pull the Amazon move where they block my IP from time-to-time.I don’t have a lot of entertainment time, so when I do, it’s important I can get what I want. I tried to buy a movie for my wife the other day and there was no way to get it other than torrent.Turntable.fm blocked us, too.
Turntable will hopefully be able to unblock you soon. It is top priority. I don’t think I’ve seen a more bummed out entrepreneur than the day Billy turned off turntable to non-US users
In India, piracy is so prevalent for the top American TV shows like Big Bang Theory, Supernatutal etc that it is now the default way of consumption. Similar to your situation with the Knicks game, there is no legal way of buying that content unless you want to eait foran uear when the reruns will come on local channels.The worrying thing is that in people will become so used to pirating content that when the contenr companies will finally figure out how to deal with their worldwide userbase, the only acceptable price will be free.I hope the new genetation of companies like Turntable and Spotify make their own rules and not follow the archaic geography based licenses of these old media comanies
Time to rescue the goldfish and then smash the bowl.
Same for many Audiobooks and music albums. Its ridiculous. You want to buy, you want to pay, but they tell you that “it’s not bla-bla-bla in your country’ and that the only option is piracy. I can’t get it.
We ditched cable (or more accurately, downgraded to the super basic $16/mo plan) a few months ago, and last night was the first time that I had trouble accessing sports via ESPN3.com. I guess they were getting pounded as I could not get the Rose Bowl through the Xbox at all, and had to settle for a grainy stuttering video feed in a small window on my PC. Oh well, I’ve saved about $500 since I downgraded, it’s a small price to pay. The local sports pub is enjoying my increased attendance, so I’m helping the local economy too. Or at least, that is what I keep telling my wife 🙂
I have been with Cablevision for years now, based purely on the fact that I have no other options. I will never forgive them for blacking out the World Series. Not saying that it was or was not Cablevision’s fault, but that doesn’t matter to me. We are talking about the World Series here.As soon as I find a way to be able to pay for only ESPN and HBO, my cable days are over.
You’re 100% right here, Fred…..any time I’ve been a “pirate” was because a legitimate way to consume the content didn’t exist. Cable companies and channels seem to be doing this dance more and more (funny how Cablevision, which in this case owns MSG, is usually the one picking a fight), and I can’t wait to see the disruptions come.On a side note, I wonder how many people would immediately dump cable if they had a way to watch in-market sports live on their TV….I’m sure that’s one of the major reasons, if not the only reason, that the feature isn’t available.
Question: Did you pay for this pirated stream or was it free/ad supported?
neither. i didn’t investigate who was providing the stream but it was a totally free rebroadcast of the toronto TV broadcast of the game.
The Toronto broadcast…that means you didn’t get Walt “Clyde” Frazier.Oh well, guess you were “streamin’ with meanin'”.Glad you were able to get the game, but unfortunately you had to see our Knicks stink it up for extended periods against a mediocre-at-best Toronto team. Once Baron Davis is fully integrated we’ll have a high ceiling.
While it’s legit for us to pirate depending on the situation, we probably wouldn’t do so if there were real negative consequences for doing so. We can pirate anonymously w/o getting slapped on the wrist, which is tantamount to the providers saying, “Don’t do this b/c we said so or ‘else.'”
I’ve been locked into DirecTV for years (since about ’93 I think) because they were the only way I could get all the Atlanta Falcons games…but it’s been such a horrible and costly relationship that THE MINUTE I can get all the games in decent quality anywhere else I am out.Outside of the NFL, I do almost all my consumption via Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus (and 9 out of 10 times, I do it via my iPad, my desktop, or my Roku player)…my wife and kids still watch a few channels and shows on ‘live tv’ but they do so by recording it all first…I don’t think there is a single show outside of live sports that we watch ‘live’ anymore…which makes cable (or DirecTV) a very low priority/relationship in our lives (ie. they don’t have much room or goodwill left to mess up and keep customers).
In March of last year I began a personal experiment by disposing of my TV. Haven’t missed it for a moment. #unplugcable
I think he’s saying he already pays TWC, NBA.com, and The Knicks. So enough is enough, he’s not paying anyone else. The streaming site he tweeted about does not charge.
Spent new years recharging in the Catskills. Even out in the boonies, smartphone + tethering + laptop = live Giants game. Score!If it weren’t for HBO, I’d ditch the cable companies for good.
Scanning the comments, I’d say the cable execs are right: there is no movement to cut the cable…….NOT.
This is a big problem in Spain, from what I can gather. I have been unable to watch any branded content on YouTube or other video platforms because the country’s digital providers and cable providers either lack the licenses for distributing, or own exclusive rights to distributing. It’s ironic that media people in charge of our biggest media just don’t get how media is consumed.
#screwcable indeed!I think most of us can see that the future of entertainment is not delivered by cable companies as they currently are. Most of us have re-envisioned cable’s business model for them – so that they survive past 15 years.But they will never change. They will simply wither on the vine and die as ad revenues go to flexible media platforms where users can be more accurately targeted and eyeballs are more receptive to commercials – because they’re consuming what they want, when they want to.
did you just break the law? oh thats right SOPA is still tied up in committee. i cut the chord for 6 months last year – turned it back on in september when my wife was expecting sebastian (no.2). We concluded that HBO and my soccer channels are all that we watch – everything else we could get online in one way or another.
‘piracy is largely a business model problem not a human behavior problem.’I believe this as well. If we are right the stupidity of the cable companies is truly profound.
10 years ago I would have found that statement to be naive (and possibly self-serving, depending on the context). It was in the same line as “downloading music on Napster is a great way to ‘try out’ an artist before you buy an album!”. I had all sorts of downloaded music, and couldn’t have imagined paying for it.Granted, I was in middle school. Since having an income, I’ve found that I do pay for content (though at a lower price point than cable providers would like; I’ve paid for Hulu and Netflix but not cable). Most people I talk to tend to be in the same boat… it does seem like it’s a business model problem. I do think that you need JamesHRH’s comment to make the statement whole – he said “if stealing was easy or quick it would go mainstream or close to it”. Keeping transactional friction low is critical.
While in direction, I agree with you, it is pretty easy now Rob.Maybe not for the mass market from a cable company’s perspective, but every day it becomes more and more so. This chasm will get crossed and then it will seem like it happened overnight. Smart companies anticipate not react.I’m not an expert but the cable companies appear immensely reactionary. They have no love from anyone and as soon as they can be replaced they will. Rather than understanding this rather obvious set of behavioral customer truths, they just keep doing the opposite. It’s complex. It’s a mess. It’s full of stuff that I don’t have the details about but eventually the customers will drive the change either through them or without them.
Totally agree with that. I don’t think that it’ll be the cable companies who figure out how to get people to pay instead of pirate – their strengths are not genuinely consumer-centric. That’s worked really well for them up until the last 5-10 years – but in those years that I’ve been a paying customer, they haven’t been the ones to get my spend.I really like Clay Christensen’s constant reminding that these companies and industries that fail (whether because they didn’t pick up a new technology, failed to adapt or compete in a changing climate, etc) aren’t chock full of stupid people. They’re smart people that are good at what they do, and often are following (an often short-sighted) path of least resistance.I struggle to internalize that though – it’s hard to have a brutally bad customer-service interaction and not think that these guys are stupid, malicious assholes. It’s hard to see a company’s vision differ so dramatically from what I’d expect to be “the right answer” and not feel like they’re drunk at the wheel. And…I think we’ll be better off when cable companies get displaced.
Yes…no one will mourn them when they are gone. Cable companies. Telephone companies. Internet providers. All in the same boat.I spent some time with a project that touched on access and distribution of rich media through social platforms and the idea of social TV (in my blog). And met and talked to a bunch of the cable and network folks.On first blush, yes they are smart and sharp and articulate. I question whether you can use the term smart though when not acting in the face of the obvious.
I hope someone more knowledgable than me calls me out if I’m mistaken here, but my perception and (limited) personal experience suggests that executives often have 3-12 month timelines on their compensation. They’re not economically encouraged to build a company for the next 10-100 years, but to show as big a jump in bottom line RIGHT now as possible, get their bonuses and resume stuffers, and move on to greener pastures.I feel like that’s a particularly cynical view, but I haven’t seen a ton of counter-examples. In situations when short-term gains are over-emphasized I think some of the emergent behavior appear dumb, though the individual agents are all acting intelligently.I guess it’s the board that sets the executive incentive plans? But maybe they’re best rewarded by short term gains. I don’t really have ideas on how to pull cable companies out of their funk.
How funny you post this now. I just became a pirate last week, watching films neither TWC on demand, netflix instant, or apple could offer me. So I am another frustrated paying customer who made the effort and then said Basta!I would fire TWC in a second for the 120/mo they charge me for cable and modem. TWC has broadband service which comes in waves, and drops when I am on deadline (like clock work), and the DVR box is so damn big and ugly that it offends my design sense. So I am happy to join the disruption.
Glad to know that the Canadian cable co’s aren’t the only thieves around.
Hey there – Couldn’t respond to your comment a few days ago ’cause Disqus limit. I saw Steely Dan live at Beacon Theater time before last. Played a whole album start to finish live. Awesome stuff.
Some of my greatest mentors in Hollywood were chairmen and studio executives in the late 90’s. Many of them saw piracy as an accessibility demand problem and not a theft problem (e.g. street vendors in rural China sold handicam rip DVDs of blockbusters where no movie theater or video store could be found). Their views on content and piracy were “disagreeable” to shareholders and the industry abroad – they no longer run these companies.Fred, you just summed up my anti-SOPA position. The entertainment industry is failing to update its stranglehold on exhibition outlets (the theater experience, cable, publishing, P&A etc.). I found ignorance here disturbing and have since expatriated from Hollywood filmmaking to join the ranks of tech entrepreneurs and big players disrupting content flow.For culture as a whole to progress, it is our responsibility to knock the feeble exhibition legs out from underneath these giants – show them that we want what they’ve got and we’re willing to pay for it, but not at the expense of our time and convenience. Not anymore.
who are those mentors? we need them now. they can take the moral high ground on SOPA and related issues.
Very frustrating – few of them are reading past the title, all stand for the bill “in principle.” Has anyone prepared any eye-opening one-liners to sum this bill against supporters?
“piracy is largely a business model problem not a human behavior problem.”thiscopying started getting faster with scribes, then gutenberg, then xerox and now here we are.the street finds its own uses for things
So, with their prices, the cable co’s are thiefs, and we are pirates. This is 2012.Who are the good guys?
Think Robin Hood, not pirate. 🙂
I’m with you.
Interesting comment thread.My girls (11 and 9) got iPads over the holiday, and we have DirecTV, which has a fantastic iPad app.You can stream inside your home, but of course it is on a channel by channel basis – depending on the deals that DirecTV has cut with the content companies.when my 9 year old couldn’t stream Phineas and Ferb, she asked why, and about halfway through my 10 minute discourse on rights holders and retransmission consent and fees, she stopped me, saying that she had got it to work…..by going to youTube!There has been a historic thought process in the media industry that you can always raise rates on content, because it was a pass through, and customers had no other solution.Really, if you had to watch crappy picture quality versions of the Knicks every night, wouldn’t you simply pay the incremental $2 per month. Of course you would – and that’s wht MSG is counting on. And as far as managing their relationship with their customer – Time Warner cable – there is no relationship – it is a bad marriage hof convenience – held together by the kids (the ultimate end users). these guys make so much from retransmission fees that the advertising is secondary. And thus so are the cares about inconveniencing you.
I think piracy is acceptable to most major media companies – as long as it is time consuming.If stealing was easy and quick, it would go mainstream or close to it.As for cable, it gets harder and harder for the cable companies to show how they are adding value to the programming you are consuming. How they fight that is going to be a tricky one to answer ( internet rates could be going waaaay up? ).
it took me one tweet, and less than a minute to get the knicks game on my TV
If only we all had that reach…..
that is the problem that services like jiq and quora are trying to solve for users who don’t have that reach
% of NA households with Internet feed to their main TV screen is……..<5%?Asking, not saying….
Most new TV sets sold now have the ‘connected tv’ option. Some industry guys are crying that 50% of them don’t get connected, but that implies that 50% of every year’s new TVs actually do have internet connections. So it’s just a matter of time, and not that much of it.
too bad it’s so tough for any of these services to get or stay very good/reliable (eg: atdhe.TV’s links are all broken right now). if they did, they’d be too easy a target to go after. that’s exactly what happened with Kazaa, despite their moving to Australia for safer haven.my group has great technical experience building a similar service for Asia. But we abandoned it early upon learning that places like China have draconian laws around this.
Phil Swan of TVpredictions.com will lay the blame where you are hesitant. The constant bickering over who can squeeze more money out of their customers has resulted in terrible service and an absolute willful ignorance of what is wanted in favor of what can bring the highest shareholder return.I have stopped watching most TV and will cut the cord sooner than later with Cablevision and the ding-a-ling Dolan’s. NHL online package, here i come.
Any time you see a frown on the streets of New York City, chances are it has been caused by a recent customer service experience with Time Warner Cable.
I agree about business model and piracy. I also thinks that at some point, if the business model doesn’t get straightened out fast enough, that piracy becomes the norm and people won’t go back to paying. The best example I can think of is news. Very few news websites can charge for news now because the business model has been free for so long. Even music, to some extent, has this problem because there is an entire generation of people who were raised on sharing music via mixed tapes. Movies, books and sports are next.
Seven months ago when my satellite TV and DVB-T receivers suffered during storm, I’ve decided to try to survive by watching online TV broadcasts.I have to admit I’ve done it pretty well thanks to http://wwitv.com/ http://justin.tv http://veetle.com and to some other broadcasters. Also, I could hardly remember when was the last time I turned on my radio receiver. Any radio-station that is worth to be mentioned streams its program throughout the web. Online radio programs (mixed model) exist for ages, and this model don’t show any threat to they major business, but actually helps them a lot. The same story has yet to happen with TV channels, if they want to survive.Throughout the day I regularly go through online releases of newspapers I follow, but this doesn’t stop me to buy newsstand issue next morning and reading it before I go to work. What really makes me mad are messages I regularly receive while surfing on http://Youtube.com for some sport events (even those from before many years) “This video contains content from …. who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds”.They don’t have a clue that much better decision for them would be to present me with some good add instead. I would even survive those creepy adds saying “click here and find out when you’ll die” !
Wow and “Occupy Cable” movement starts on AVC over a Knicks game!I can only imagine the revolution that would have occurred had you been forced to miss a true sports event, like the Packers vs Lions game on Sunday! I didn’t think about Twitter, I had to rely on my brother in law, a Lions fan who was at the game and my cousin, a Packer fan, who was at the game, to provide me with updates via cell phone.
you can stream most any game you want on a TV that is connected to a mac mini or cheap windows machine. not legally, mind you. i sure wish the NBA/NFL/MLB/NHL/Premier League/etc/etc/etc would just offer all their games without blackouts over the internet so we can do this legally.
In Buffalo NY, we suffered the same fate, but with our beloved Sabres. Time Warner sent an email to all of us, blaming MSG of course. Apparently these items are suppose to make me feel better about not having the Sabres games. The only reason I have cable is for the Sabres games — all the other programming we watch we DVR anyhow, so I can watch on Hulu.I’m so glad Time Warner is giving me the new YNN Hockey Night show!! Woo! #WHATAJOKE #screwcable”We don’t think that MSG’s actions are fair to sports fans, so Time Warner Cable is offering the following in appreciation of our customers: • A special month-long preview of the Time Warner Cable Sports Pass, a package of more than 15 sports-oriented channels. This package—which normally costs $5.95 per month for residential customers—will be available from January 1 – 31, 2012. (Visit www.timewarnercable.com/spo… to see the full list of channels and channel numbers.) • A free preview of the NBA League Pass premium sports package which offers up to 40 live games per week. This offer is good through January 8th and more details are available atwww.twcconversations.com/MSG. • The launch of YNN Hockey Tonight, a new nightly hockey show, premiering January 2nd on YNN in Western New York, including the Buffalo and Rochester areas. YNN Hockey Tonight will feature live interviews & analysis, plus scores, standings and information from all around the world of hockey, every night at 11:15 PM through the end of the NHL season.
I had similar experiences also:- In UK for holiday, couldn’t watch Heat-Lakers Christmas day game. Solution = hook up live PC stream to big screen in living room. The whole family watches the game, albeit with some refreshes and pop up ads.- At home in US, I subscribe to League Pass Online option. Too many Heat games were blacked out last year due to cable programming carrying these games. The stream quality is really high – as good as I get on cable IMO. I would recommend this product.Once the sports leagues break free from cable/satellite dependence, the tv monopoly will crumble.
We need Mark Cuban and Broadcast.com back.
Well, now that he’s an NBA team owner, I don’t think he’d cross NBA rules about local market blackouts.
You’ve just admitted to a serious crime.As a thought exercise what does the law dictate as a sanction for this? $150,000 and upto 7 years in prison?
You should be THANKING Time Warner. They are just sparing your the misery of watching the Knicks. BAM! ;)PS: You’re a Pimp and a Pirate! You’re so cool.
hmmm. i replied to this post yesterday. but somehow it didn’t get posted. i’d like to you add punk to that list. pimp, pirate, punk. that’s about right.
Ha. Will do Triple P. Are you sure you don’t want me to add Masochist to that as well for being a Knicks, Jets, and Mets fan?
Masochist = Eagles Fan
you are not really screwing cable if you continue to pay, what i am sure is well over $100/month for TWC. Any plans to ditch TWC all together and [ort only Netflix/Amazon/Hulu/NBA.Com, etc stuff to your TV? This makes more and more sense now that you can watch any major network TV show online today.
i would if i didn’t have kids.
i guess i’m not the only one admitting to it. look at this comment thread. it’s full of people admitting they do the same. when all your citizens are breaking the law, maybe the law is broken.
I’ve often thought the NFL should break down and allow subscriptions to certain teams. I don’t want to pay several hundred bucks to access every game. I just want to watch the Steelers, and would gladly pay for the privilege – but not at the going rate of the full NFL Sunday Ticket through DirectTV.
Sean – even worse, this is only available if you have DirectTV. I have Comcast so no dice.
YES! What’s the point of a law when more than 50% don’t bother with it?
I’m afraid the law and basic moral principals have diverged substantially. This post is an example of that.
Have they ever been entirely in sync? I don’t think so. Part of the law is based upon the good of the many, the rest is based on special interest causes that have sprouted up over the collection of laws’ collective history. Morals aren’t universal and they’ve never been. This post is a beautiful illustration of that.
“when all your citizens are breaking the law, maybe the law is broken.”I’m don’t think you mean that. There are 22 million people in the NYC metro area. You are a (self described) member of the 1%. How would you feel if laws were made simply because members of the 99% (or even the 85%) decided they wanted more of what the 15% or 1% had. So, many people deciding to break the law and then the laws were changed and things were given away (that you owned) to balance out wealth. By the way I don’t have any particular issue with what you did and I also don’t think you need a rationalization for it at all. You wanted to watch the game and you found a way to watch the game because (like the story about why a dog licks his balls) you could.
They call that revolution and it happens exactly when Fred stated…”when all your citizens are breaking the law, maybe the law is broken.” If we don’t do something to correct the inequity of the system, the law(government) will be deemed broken and then someone(s) will fix it. History is a great teacher.
LAW IS WILL OF PEOPLE.WHEN WILL OF PEOPLE BREAK LAW, LAW IS BROKEN.
“There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.” – Ayn
I believe that piracy is strongest when you have industries with super fat margins that are trying to protect their kingdom and slovenly way of life inside the moat when the Visigoths are standing outside.Or more to the point – deflationary economics win.It’s not that people won’t pay. They want fair value. Offer them that + convenience and they’ll pay any day of the week.Offer a great product at the “right” price and you’ll create even bigger market opportunities for yourself.But as you know, cable, like many industries, faces the “Innovator’s Dilemma” and can’t do that.It’s why I say “YouTube is the new Comcast”When does the industry crumble? My prediction: In the future Google will grow frustrated with being outside the moat and will bid on NFL rights (or soccer rights in the rest of the world). If they can pull that off (with their superior balance sheet & market cap) watch the moat fill up.Only sports rights keeps the industry together. 91% of Americans still have paid TV and hundreds of $ billions are at stake.I can’t wait to have a ring side seat. I still pay for TV. I will always pay for content so that artists earn money. Still #screwcable(sorry for the novel) #occupyAVC
you kidding me? you can write a novel here anytime you want. such great points too!
You two are getting worryingly good at this blogging thing.#screwTechCrunch
i think a bunch of former techcrunch folks are going to do just that
I really don’t see his happening.In the future, the NFL, or the EPL for that matter, will recognize that they don’t need a distribution partner and will go straight to the customer. Youtube maybe that white label partner, but the balance in power has shifted.Sports NEEDED the distribution channels that TV offered them, now they don’t because they own their domains. I occasionally pay for sports / content, but if you think those College Football players are collecting a dime, you may know something I (and the NCAA) don’t 😉
I think the sums of money, the predictability and the up-front money will persuade them otherwise. Plus, they’ll probably get cut into the back-end also
so you see youtube tech / servers as a white label for the big content producers. I can jive with that.HBO as well?I think the Louis CK thing is a big deal. There’s an opportunity there to redefine the channel (no pun intended) and deliver on the experience.Vimeo, Blip.tv etc are not living up to that because everyone wants to be a platform and no one wants to do the hard work of nurturing / encouraging and taking risks on content.
It’s already happened, at least w/ NFL in Europe.I bought my NFL Gamepass directly from nfl.com and I’ve been enjoying everything they have to offer at a price of 200 euros / season w/ HD quality. Subscribing to the local Finnish provider, Viasat, who broadcasts 1-2 games a WEEK would’ve cost me 120-140 euros in the same 5 month span. So as an NFL fan there’s tremendous value in buying the Gamepass directly from the league.What is unclear to me is the deal NFL has made with the TV networks, since they are broadcasting Fox&CBS&NBC broadcasts through GamePass (not just NFL Network).
they blackout the games on NFL Gamepass when a local station has the game. thus these products are more valuable to people who don’t live near where their favorite team is
Great points. I’ve shared F.W’s problem for years with my #Grizzlies. (sadly they were often too bad to be actively pirated)Once sports are highly available on demand or a la carte (i.e. Google/ Apple TV) – the floodgates will open…BTW – the first paragraph of the post is epic.
“I believe that piracy is strongest when you have industries with super fat margins that are trying to protect their kingdom”Comcast is at a 7 to 10% profit margin (compared to Microsoft at a whopping 33%). Att is at 15%. Time Warner Cable is at about 7%.I’m no fan of comcast for reasons other than what they charge (try using their business voicemail system as only one example of neolithic software.) But I think you have to follow the money on this. What they charge and what they do is a result of their content costs to a large degree. And who gets the money for that? While they do have close to a monopoly obviously even in places where you have a choice (we can get fios and comcast at home) they still had to invest money to bring the last mile (fios) to our house. And they risked and spent billions on that. There is no lean way to run that operation it involves tremendous risk and investment. There were practical reasons why communities offered monopolies to cable companies. If they didn’t those companies couldn’t afford to take the risk to build the system. That being said I still think this all comes down to the content creators more than anything.
I think you also need to consider the entertainment business’s Creative Bookkeeping in assessing an accurate profit margin to organizations like Comcast/NBC/Universal. Charging off $100K to “deliver” a film print literally across the street is quite common. This is also why profit participation from net profits on a film is a joke: it’s a fact that many of the top grossing films of all time have amazingly “never made a profit” when it comes to participation payouts . Hmmm.
“Charging off $100K to “deliver” a film print literally across the street is quite common.”True.It’s a game just like sports. Everybody is looking to get paid without losing or getting caught.
exactly why this industry will crumble. it lacks transparency and the Internet will bring that.
the studios & msos are equally culpable and equally on weak ground in the future IMO
Many content creators are increasingly circumventing cable as a distribution channel. Ex: HBO GO, Louis CK, the triumphant and long awaited return of Arrested Development, ESPN’s online offerings. The list goes on. I’d say the MSOs are on shakier ground.
HBO GO does nothing to circumvent cable — they won’t sell you access directly. The only way to use that service is to subscribe to HBO through one of the (limited number of) MSOs that allow access to HBO GO.
You are correct sir. I was mistaken and thought you could purchase it separately… which I hope is coming soon.
Perhaps perceived profit margin rather than actual?
Mark is spot-on. Youtube already live streamed the Indian Premier League (cricket). Not sure what the results were but that could obviously move to the US if the money was right. (http://www.youtube.com/user…
Copa America soccer was on You Tube last summer. It was fantastic because I could watch a match or a condensed game whenever I wanted on my iPad. I had never before had much TV access to it despite some of the best players in the world being involved.MLS and their critics are always talking about TV ratings but their core following are young cord cutters and I know there is a lot of “pirating” of MLS games. Every match day thread has a “stream?” comment. MLS does have the Match Day Live service but the latest mobile app didn’t have full replay and they blacked out local games. Comcast doesn’t let iPad users watch the ESPN app, even if you subscribe on cable. They won’t even allow viewing of ESPN3 through the app (if there is a way to watch ESPN3 on iPad someone let me know). MLS Match Day Live blackouts were annoying if a home game was on Fox Soccer, a channel in the rural area of cable. MLS also restricted legal international streams, which frustrated expats and fans in other countries (they do exist for MLS believe it or not). For a young league and growing business like MLS this isn’t smart, particularly in a world soccer market that is extremely competitive. Their future is in delivering soccer streams worldwide to a niche soccer fanbase (a big niche) of cord cutters and satisfying their hardcore local supporters, rather than fight a losing battle for the American “casual fan” on cable TV.
They live streamed some of the bigger musical acts at Coachella within the US last summer. (with some heavy ads from 5 react gum) So great for fans. Keep it coming youtube…
On the money. Another example of what will make this decade an exciting one!
Mark,Say your scenario plays out and Google bids on and wins NFL rights from one of the broadcast networks. Then what? They show the games exclusively online, with banner ads on them? They create their own broadcast or cable network, and monetize it with subscriptions or ads? How do you envision this changing the basic model of sports content being offset by ads (broadcast networks), or by ads + subscription fees (cable)?
If you had exclusive rights to the NFL you could charge advertisers what you want to appear on your broadcast. Don’t forget that 185 million people per month now watch online content in the US.Also, the biggest shift from radio to TV came 5 years after the first baseball game was broadcast on TV.If sports find the Internet, the audience will come. I assure you.
What is awesome is how the Internet enhances watching sports. I watched the Fiesta Bowl on ESPN3 and could easily click back to highlights from the game including picture-in-picture formatting while the live broadcast continued. It was a bit of an “a-ha” moment.I’m sure there are plenty of other ways smart producers will figure out how to leverage the power of the Internet to enhance the viewing experience beyond what the TV allows (…or I should say easily allows…(or maybe the TV evolves to allow more of this…)).
What broadcast networks pay the NFL for rights to show the games is, I believe, less than they earn from sales of ad spots during the games. So it’s a loss-leader for the networks; they make it up being able to charge more for ad spots in shows following the games (because some percentage of the game viewers keep watching the channel).So, even if Google got TV rates for ads during its streaming of NFL games, it would probably lose money on them, given what it would have had to pay the NFL for the rights. Is your idea that Google would make money the same way TV networks do, by capturing some of the NFL audience for subsequent programming? If so, what programming? And would it be able to charge network-like ad rates for that subsequent programming?
I have no love for the cable companies whatsoever. Once in the 90’s when I was sitting in a hotel lobby with some of their execs that said people don’t hate cable companies I picked up a clipboard in a NYC hotel and pretended to do a survey. Cable lost out to the IRS.That being said, I wonder who gets disinter-mediated by technology. With your investment in Maker Studios, I think it might be the content providers.With the NFL set to get $70/year per cable subscriber ($7B in rights fees 100M in subscribers), and ESPN getting $56 a year per subscriber ($4.69 a month) they seem to be the ones that might get disintermediated. That is for EVERY single subcriber. So if I used technology to stream this game to Fred and Fred only and he paid me the $25 how much less revenue would there be for the NBA??? I know somebody that does this for expats and they can make good money given that they are only so many people that want to watch a game.The flaw to the reasoning is the huge days like the Superbowl.
re: “who gets disinter-mediated by technology?” … mso’s. and high-cost content providers. The industry can’t be supported beyond low-cost new entrants.
The MSOs (like us) would like nothing more than to give our subscribers more choice and quit using our bandwidth to provide a ridiculous amount of irrelevant and unwatched programming. The Disney/Fox/ComcastNBC/CBS oligopoly require us to carry all this crap. The FCC requires us to PAY to carry local broadcast stations where we provide eyeballs to that broadcasters normally wouldn’t get increasing ad revenue. It’s a broken model–we agree. The economics to the MSOs for video aren’t nearly what you, Fred and 99% of everyone else assumes. Y’all are smarter than that.
How did those ideas work out for Netflix?
HBO saved cable back in the day. Can Content pave the way for streaming? Blip.tv stutters. Vimeo lays submerged. YouTube moves in another direction. I think ultimately nfl.com etc will play a big part.
what would it take to get Vimeo to “float”?
I think for me Vimeo’s connundrum is this: pick any two: curate the content build the channel build the revenue streamYou’re trying to get eyes on the site… or the content… or the channel? Investors like the idea of channels and “content” but that’s not how publishing got started. They used the Bible. Broadcast TV started (way back) with Gershwin. And then really hit stride with I Love Lucy. VIMEO is a clusterfuck of content, some good and some bad but none of it is good enough (HBO) or bad enough (Youtube) to give it an identity.Worst of all, there’s no discovery mechanism and there’s no marquee content. It’s ALL viral. Which is bad for them because YouTube already won that game. Imagine a series of shows / films produced exclusively for Vimeo, broadcast for the first two weeks only to Vimeo Pro users.Imagine paying $50 for the next Louis CK productions and getting Vimeo Pro subscription with that.Everyone bitches and moans about TV and content, but who’s swinging for the fences?
Excellent post. My friends and I have agreed with you for a long time about the fact that if I can legally consume it quickly and easily, I will. Exhibit A: iTunes. I’m very on board with the #screwcable movement. When I can finally get HBO WITHOUT paying for a big cable package too, I’ll finally be able to catch up on all those great shows.
Fred I still think pirating is really a problem dealing with economics. I am sure the largest percentage of people who pirate are college students, or non full time workers. I know many friends that were avid piraters that don’t anymore cause they have the additional income to consumer on buying convenience. I know its a huge factor in my behavior.
there’s a study done for a sports cable company mentioned elsewhere in this thread that suggests you are wrong
Ok when dealing with sports and youth males that have an extremely hard time in the past finding authentic links to stream live games, I bet many have opted into buying the subscriptions. I have been living abroad and have done the same for some specific games. However, my assumption is that if it was readily available, like say movies, music, applications, it would been pirated. I can’t tell you how many hours I have spent trying to track down links, or use streaming torrents that ended up sucking. You are basically forced into buying.
Agree with your point, Fred, about business problem vs. human behavior problem. I nuked our cable subscription a few years ago out of frustration, which turned me into a pirate for watching NFL games. Couple weeks ago there was a game I wanted to see and I ran into more trouble than usual finding a feed. I thought, “Gees, this is stupid. I would pay $15 right now for the privilege of watching the remaining 3 quarters of this game. Why won’t anyone take my money?” Finally found a feed on Ustream. Halfway through the fourth quarter the host must’ve received a digital C&D letter from the NFL, because the stream was shut down without warning. Screen went to a freeze frame with, “feed has been closed because of a request of the rights holder.” I’m not making the NFL, or any other rights holder, to be the villain here. But this is dumb: I have money; you have a product; why can’t I buy it through the medium that so easily connects us? I guess I can, but not a la carte. Something’s gotta give.
i know. it is so frustrating. i’m happy to pay and i just want to watch the game.
I, too, yearn for a la carte TV, but I think it will take a massive disruption, from either innovative digital incumbents, like Amazon, or a heightened drop off of traditional TV customers to catalyze such a monumental change. Cable companies and content providers have such a stranglehold on content because they know that highly profitable channels subsidize the un-profitable or break-even channels. If everyone could select individual channels, I seriously doubt there would still be 500 options to choose from.
Guess I’ll speak up…I agree that cable companies and other providers are doing a lousy job. They’re leaving money on the table and pissing off customers in the process. But what does any of that have to do with an *entitlement* to watch a Knicks game in your own living room??From my perspective (I know, contrary to most in this community), one has the right to buy a ticket to watch the Knicks play, and in exchange for that ticket the right to sit in the arena to watch. Alternatively, one may have the option for pay-per-view in the comfort of their home, etc. If this doesn’t cut it–you don’t like the pay-per-view deal with your cable company–you can walk away from them and they don’t get any more of your money. Eventually, a new model will develop, but jumping directly to bootlegging is wrong (IMO). People are *not* entitled to watch Knicks basketball when they want just because TWC or others suck. With some patience a good solution can be found (or built) and one doesn’t have to resort to *piracy*. The market is ripe for these new systems, why lower ones’ standards?
dale, if i could have paid $25 to watch last night’s game legally i would have done it instantlythe problem is there was no legal way for me to do it
I understand that, Fred, and I respect you for it (I really believe you’re sincere about that). I’d just prefer a solution which *may* involve a period of doing without, because I want nothing to do with bootlegged torrents or similar.
“dale, if i could have paid $25 to watch last night’s game legally i would have done it instantly”But that’s you. The model that a vendor uses must be based on what many people would do. Anytime a person says “I would gladly pay $X” for a product, that doesn’t take into account what others might do in the same situation. It neglects the total picture that pricing a service involves. And unintended consequences as well.I was just on vacation and the hotel charged a very high $21 per day for Internet when most places give it to you for free, right?I was happy they charged for it though.Why? Because that way there were less people using the connection and I got better service.
I’ve paid that amount and gotten < 1 mbps up and down, and also been gifted with 40mbps down/25mbps up for free (fairmont San Jose). Hotel Internet is wild.
Indeed. If I didn’t avoid hotels that charge extra for Internet because that practice is annoying, I’d avoid them because the quality of a hotel’s Internet access is inversely proportional to the price charged. Strange, but I’m not the only one who’s experienced this phenomenon.
Here is a question and one you know much better than me. If via slingbox or some other technology I let you watch my screeen, and only you not me or anybody else, is that fair rights?I guess not because of all the “not for retransmission, rebroadcast, etc” at the end of the game but just because you say it does it make it illegal?? I paid for the game, and I am only letting you watch my screen. What if we did it for a trade of points, not money?
“What if we did it for a trade of points”Well first that’s still “consideration” and most likely according to various legal theories that wouldn’t fly.Along those lines you can’t operate a taxi in NYC or any city without a medallion and the fact that you aren’t charging $$ doesn’t change that. Same with a restaurant w/o a liquor license. People can bring their own liquor but you can’t bundle it with the meal.According to this:http://www.comcast.com/corp…See section 7, “use of services”Doesn’t prohibit what you are suggestion simply says you can’t use the equipment elsewhere. Also says you can’t resell. I haven’t read the contract obviously but I find it hard to believe they don’t prohibit this. And if they don’t and got wind of people doing this one sentence amending the contract would take care of that issue.That said as Jobs would say “sosumi”http://en.wikipedia.org/wik…
I can’t be the AirBtoB of unused cable watching because Comcast put something in their terms and conditions?Apple was the famous one for terms and conditions: http://www.southparkstudios…As I said I never am going to try interpret the law, but just because you put something in terms and conditions does not mean its enforceable. Ask ski slope operators.
i believe that is how i watched the knicks raptors game the other night. someone in toronto was broadcasting his/her screen live on the internet
One to one or to the world….that theoretically makes a difference, but I would never want to fight Cable/League lawyers.
When owners and leagues stop using taxpayer money to build their mega luxurious stadiums, I will start feeling less entitled.Thanks for sharing contrarian point of view though.
That’s a community (government) management issue and we will surely agree on many issues surrounding business and government (what a mess).Your comment is off-point as it’s simply an attempt at justification. It’s rationalizing wrong-doing for convenience. We’ll not agree on this, but we can agree on dissatisfaction regarding the content delivery, cable providers, and other issues. 🙂
Yes, it was meant as a point to justification. Ok good we agree that cable companies suck.
Yes, we can agree. However, in my view, the problem is not simply with the cable companies. With regard to sports (which differs in some ways from music and other artistic medium distributions) there is not only the cable provider, but the leagues, owners, and players, each of whom demand a high ransom. I find it interesting that sports fans are quick to criticize the cable provider, but aren’t railing against the NBA (or NFL, MLB, etc.), the owners or the mulit-tens-of-million-dollar contracts demanded by the beloved players. There’s room for improvement in the entire sports ecosystem if one is to be fair and critical-thinking.
Yes, we agree again. Owners and Players ever increasing demands definitely increase the cost of sports entertainment….and also further increases fans justification for pirating their streams.
“stop using taxpayer money to build their mega luxurious stadiums”In most cases that’s done under the threat of the the team moving. Same reason in certain areas you can get tax and other benefits for your company if you threaten to move it elsewhere. The economic development people don’t mind this either because then they can claim to have kept you in the city by offering incentives.
I understand the team’s motives (i.e. greed, selfishness). The Marlins recent sweetheart deal with the infamous City of Miami government is fresh on my mind. Video:http://video.foxbusiness.co…
Too bad there are not more “socialist” teams like the Green Bay Packers! :)Don’t have to worry about them leaving Green Bay!
I so, so agree.
I agree with you Dale. Most of us feel that if we are willing to pay for it, but we can’t because of some tech limitation, then it is OK to ‘pirate’ it. But as you said, we have no such right.I believe this rationale comes from the perception that no one is being harmed. Fred is willing to pay but no one will take his money for it. So the end result is that Fred watches the game and all other parties are status quo. No harm, no foul.
This is not a question of entitlement, this is a question of do the Knicks really want to stay in business?
It’s a bit of both, Matthew, depending on which part of this thread one wishes to parse. Most of us see opportunity in a modification of the sports entertainment business model, but that does not change facts of law, including terms of service, etc. I’m definitely for applying pressure for change (I believe it will be good for business and fans), but there are lines which I feel are best not crossed, especially when it comes to something such as non-essential, copyrighted entertainment. *Change the game*, but don’t “cheat” while waiting for the change. But I have no problem walking away from the consumption of such things if I don’t like the carriers, medium, market, or creator. Others maybe not so much. 😉
If you stream it they will come.
The players, owners, league spend money to enter into contracts with cable companies and specialized networks, who in turn negotiate with advertisers to bring viewers an entertainment medium. They have real costs to all of this. But because someone doesn’t like that there are fees or limitations or other obstacles within the creating group’s model, it’s okay to simply “hack” in and take what one likes? I find it fascinating that fans find it enjoyable to even watch such teams if they so despise the model (read: greed) with which the system is devised. I’m not saying that watching the sports is wrong, just that there is a lack of continuity to such reasoning. It comes back to an attitude of *entitlement*. Edit to add: To be clear, I’m not against changing the model, I just don’t respect streaming models which involve simply breaking laws of distribution, and disregard the entire investment that is/was required to develop the market.
Yes it is. Because this isn’t a vacuum, it’s the real world and the genie is out of the bottle. Your argument works well in theory or in a classroom, it doesn’t work in today’s reality. People WILL ‘hack it’. It’s just a fact. Once the content is encoded and broadcast you’ve lost control of it. None of the moral discussion matters. In the end it boils down to one premise: Adapt or Die. I don’t care what the initial thought behind the limitation is, you’ve lost if you don’t provide ALL of your customers with the easiest way to purchase access to the media that you distribute because someone somewhere on the internet is distributing your content for free and THAT’S your competition.
Malcolm, we don’t disagree on the importance of adaptation. It’s essential to survival, business or otherwise. That does not, however, make it correct or acceptable to “hack it” just because we can. Sorry, but the response is lame to me in the context of proper behavior. Now in the context of business risk, of course, your point is correct and if content creators want to remain viable they must “adapt or die” as you say. I have no bootlegged software, not one song from a torrent, etc. Why? because I’m not entitled to have a copy of these items without rightfully paying for them. It’s simple respect for the creators. I watch very little professional sports now, however I did watch a lot several years ago. I’ve grown weary of the model and choose not to support it–it’s non-essential and principles run deep. We won’t agree on this (streaming illegally obtained or distributed materials) but we will agree on the importance of providing value to customers, delivering promised goods and services as agreed, and the need to “adapt or die”. Edit: some typos
True we won’t agree and I can respect your pov here. It’s the honorable thing to do if nothing else.
Totally agree with this post. I have Netflix streaming, Apple TV, and regular coaxial for local channels. I watch other shows online, or I just go without.What do you think of Louie CK’s self-described experiment last month where he personally distributed his latest stand-up special? He only charged $5, and at that price it was beyond worth buying, especially since it’s an HD file and I can import it into iTunes and stream it via Apple TV.Louie’s personal distribution proves that people will pay for quality content when it’s fairly priced. If he went the traditional route and released a DVD or DRM file for $20, I honestly would have waited 2 weeks and pirated it. But for $5, it’s “basically free,” as he says, so there’s no reason to steal it.
here’s what i think about Louis CK’s experimenthttp://www.avc.com/a_vc/201…
I totalled up my Comcast annual bill last week. It’s just over $7,000 / year. Granted, that’s for two houses with high speed Internet access and the highest tier of content but it completely blew my mind.Plus I pay for Netflix, DirecTV (for my house where Comcast doesn’t run cable to), and a whole bunch of other things, including $ for exactly the same content on iTunes.The statement that “piracy is a business model problem” is exactly correct. And it’s not really a deep business model problem since the existing business model is generating huge amounts of money (and profits) for the companies involved in content creation and distribution.It’s a philosophical issue. They want to preserve their pricing advantage for as long as possible, regardless of the technology dynamics and their need to evolve their business models.It always happens eventually. And it will again this time.
Cable cos are like insurance cos to health care.
Preserving pricing is one thing, but it’s also about creating new network powerhouses for media companies that aren’t Disney (VS/NBC Sports Network, Turner, plus all the granular local nets) who are willing to pay up for these rights so they can make a play at diminishing or replicating the extreme leverage ESPN has over MSOs as THE must have property. MSG certainly has that leverage in NY.Sports carriage contract lengths exacerbate the lack of innovation. NFL broadcast rights were solidified last month through 2022 – they permit internet broadcasts for those games shown on terrestrial television…so long as you subscribe to a qualified cable provider. We might have flying cars by then, but so much for a cord cutter being able to watch a football game online.
There’s a business model to disrupt the cable industry. Cablevision and Comcast should be shaking. But first, let’s set the table.Cablevision/Comcast is the 800lb gorilla and they have people (like you) spending thousands and thousands of dollars per year. Why? Because they have forced you to “bundle up” — only way you get a few of those specialized channels is by buying EVERYTHING (ie, customer segmentation)http://www.tvalacarte.org/n… is the worst part of bundled pricing? The Freds and Brads of the world, along with MisterArcher, are sometimes still unable to watch their shows even though they might be willing to pay ANYTHING! http://www.tvalacarte.org/n… anyone’s grandfather would say… things are different now. The internet has now enabled free customization. Yes, personalized selection of channels at NO marginal cost. http://www.tvalacarte.org/n… is the solution? Television a la carte! Sure, lots of folks in the industry say it cannot happen. Why? Because they use fear and propaganda to suggest that pricing will rise to the customer. BS!In short, end customers always benefit when pricing is transparent and direct.http://www.tvalacarte.org/news/201…I wish I had more time to start this business….
Reminds me of what we’ve seen in the music industry…However, it’s interesting to see how some players have embraced the change. HBO GO, for example, is a great adaptation. Similarly, Starz’s partnership with Netflix was a good hedge. There are plenty of instances of content creators going around the gatekeeper (cable). My fingers are crossed in the hopes that going directly to iTunes, YouTube, Netflix, and other new distribution channels will eventually yield enough of a return to produce high quality content. And then we can cut the cable provider out completely.On that note, who’s psyched for Arrested Development, exclusively on Netflix?
You do realize that you’re in a small minority?Most ordinary people and certainly the vast majority of lower middle class and poor people do no pay $7000 for content a year. Especially when that’s what they may be paying for health care because they don’t have insurance.They might pay $40 a month for cable or $40 for Internet and maybe the occasional Netflix but it’s nowhere near the amounts you’re spending with also the demand for repeats across gadgets. Most people, if they have an i-pod, that’s enough, they don’t also insist it be on 6 other devices. Your demand is a particular brand of very high-end tekkie consumption, and you argue out entire coercive philosophies from it, but it’s not valid.I tried to get this point across to Fred once, and failed. He just believes everybody is just going to have more and more iphones and gadgets and tablets and whatnot and that they will all just keeping spending more?But how, when the Internet kills their jobs?
Oh – I know that, but let’s still do the math. $40 * 12 = $480 / year. That’s plenty of dough. And I guarantee those folks are downloading stuff off of iTunes and other services also that they are paying for.
you try fios?
fios is not available in my building
This is a particular problem for expats, who can’t legally get their home country media, despite a willingness to pay for it. A few niche sports are beginning to see the opportunity, but too slow, and too few (and it’s not just limited to sports).BBCiPlayer made a big step forward with their iPad app, but they are so caught up in the rights restrictions that the app also suffers restrictions (absolutely no live sports, no films, rest has restrictions by geographic market).It’s incredibly frustrating. For me, this is the opportunity that media companies need to grasp – it will either eventually inter them to years of low margins, or free them to satisfy fee paying customers. No doubt it’s scary for them, but the alternative is bleak.
It is completely a business model problem. Protecting content in this way is never going to work. Essentially you’re putting an incentive to bypass one barrier to consumption (price) by adding another (inconvenience of access). If a savvy user can figure out how to circumvent both (and is prepared to deal with the consequences) why the heck wouldn’t they?How much demand is being satisfied by the black market? If one or the other of the barriers were lowered, overall legitimate consumption would rise, and that has to be better for your bottom line.
We cut the cable in vt (Comcast), stepped up to high speed Internet and bought a Mac mini. Now saving $2,500 per year and the quality of what we watch has increased dramatically. Looking to ditch TWC in NYC.
You can probably avoid NBC.com’s NYC blackout by using a VPN connection to another US city. I use this method to watch geo-locked UK ondemand TV (although live feeds of BBC channels are not strictly legal, until the BBC get their act together to to allow overseas licences)I use this payed VPN service – at $75 / year it’s about the same as one month of cable. Plenty of US cities and worldwide locales.http://hidemyass.com/vpn/r3770 Can be a bit technical to set it all up though.
anarchy…no wonder the Dow is up 2 percent
i love how you think about the world in terms of the market. its a gift.
Don’t be silly!! Dow is up on Europe…Rumor is their new album is about to be released…http://europethebandmedia.b…
I agree. I jump at the chance to buy apple software and don’t think twice about it. Great biz model. When I was on Microsoft it was another story.
Cut the cord on cable a few months ago. I haven’t missed it…except for this exact use case, live sports. Was having this convo with friends last week and it’s unanimous that *user opinion* would support a la carte. But one of my buddies mentioned that he heard an ESPN exec after a conference say that he didn’t think there would ever be a day in which ESPN is unbundled from the cable companies…it’s too lucrative for ESPN b/c they get paid a huge bounty on a per/subscriber basis from Comcast, TWC, etcWhich begs the question – how much would people pay for a la carte access to something like the ESPN family. I can’t stomach paying $75 a month for cable but would gladly pay $25 a month for ESPN family…because it’s basically all I watch. At some point the math on a user basis may work, but until it does, ESPN is not going to pursue more aggressive options for distributing content online that is not bundled together with the cable co’s (a la Watch ESPN, etc) Agree with someone else that it’s going to take Google bidding on a big-time contract (world cup, premier league, etc) for this disruption to happen. I can’t wait for that day.
What about the Nets?They’ll be in Brooklyn next year or Moscow.
i’m not sure what to make of the nets. if i lived in brooklyn, as i did many years ago, i would be seriously considering changing loyalties
Cable co’s need to figure out their role in the overall ecosystem. I think there are some huge opportunities, but protecting a dying business model like the music industry attempted to do, isn’t one of them.
Wink Wink….I know what you’re thinking.
ha…no comment. 🙂
Both companies (MSG and TW) got their heads up their asses. Unless the annuity of the loyal subscriber base (their cash cow) declines precipitously it will always prevent them from ever addressing the fact that the internet/social media is their competition and that they need to co-operate or get nothing.
I just use a vpn service, hop onto a UK server and nothing is blacked out. Pirate sites are sketchy, and go up/down at will. Give it a try.
This is exactly why I’m glad BYU went independent this year. I’ve had access to every game for free where before I had to pay for half as much.Unfortunately, the cable companies are so tied into government, I don’t think we’ve seen the nail in the coffin yet. They’ll be propped up by their cronies for years to come.
My 10 year old daughter, new watcher of pirated loot, asked me what I was doing on the laptop just now. (school starts tomorrow).I read her this post, and some comments and told her my comment.She has decided to fire cable with me. The disruption is on here. We are listing our shows and looking for them on other services. She has figured out our yearly costs, and is now looking to beat those costs with other providers she is looking up (thank you all here for your suggestions!!).We watch little TV as it stands (animation, nature, movies, but no sports), I wonder sometimes why there is broadcast TV at all these days…..The only people who I’d like to pay is channel 13/PBS. I have no need for 100 channels filled with crap from TWC. We just need internet, but at this rate maybe I get a friend to hack the wifi of neighbors. Or do the wifi share thing I heard about where you can bunk up with your neighbors. Happy to fire TWC for overcharging me for their sub par ‘high speed internet’.I love that my daughter is so psyched about AVC. She loves FG. I wonder, is she the youngest ‘member’? She wanted to write this post herself but I type slightly faster….
Please get her involved. Her perspective as a 10 yr. old is priceless. And her age group will wipe away the archaic rules governing media/entertainment.
Thanks for your comment, from both of us.You can’t imagine how excited she was to get involved, and ripped through the calculations and shows list and found where we can get everything we watch. Especially at her age she knows screen time is limited and has real value. We watch things together and so we chose content carefully. And for the record she is no ordinary 10 yr old. Yesterday, we were out with her BFF and her mom, our dearest friends. The mom ran out of cash and needed some so asked her 10 year old. My daughter suggested she charge the mom a fee. The BFF said to mom “OK Mom but you owe me a dollar extra back on $20”. My kid said, wait, no, charge interest, you’ll make more because it compounds over time if she pays you late.This is a girl who lives with her divorced mom, who runs a start up on dining room table. We have people already wanting her to run for president. Her list of 20 changes to US was impressive. She also gets Jerry’s post contents from The Monster, when relevant relayed to her.
Give her the name Panterosa2 and let her roll…but @andyswan:disqus will have to watch his language 🙂
Ha… but he isn’t McClure ;D
I would probably call her Rosina, after Rosina in The Barber of Seville, who has a great aria on what happens if you cross her.She would only get post theme translated and sections highlighted, and ability to comment if she had something interesting to say.I just found out she got Google+ over the break with her cousins and I am going to pull her full info down, and edit.
Impressed! I see she likes the promo involving the young gal going corporate with the lemonade stand.
I would start her up on Gotham Gal’s blog @thegothamgal . It’s G rated. This one is definitely PG-13 and R on most days.
Yes, on GG, see above. She is a foodie.
what the fuck are you talking about? 😉
Lol….I was so wrong…
So we went to GothamGal this morning. And “WTF are you talking about” from Fred below is, I’m afraid, right….see the video on Losers…. filled with many expletives ( I know that word she said, but there was also” what sucker”?). She and I laughed.I’ll go back to prescreening all her watching.
I replied before, and comment appears to have vanished, so forgive if this is a dupe.She is enterprising, herself, and because she sees me quit job and begin a startup.She is a foodie, so lemonade might not be enough for her. She’d make Japanese pickles or sticky toffee pudding.
She sounds like a prodigy kid.
she’ll need an awesome avatar like her mom has
Fred, did you know Comcast banner ads are appearing in your RSS feed?
and TWC ads too apparently
” If you give people a legal way to consume the content they want, they will pay for it. But when you make it impossible to legally consume the content they want, they will pirate it. “In your case, this would seem to be the case. But for many, the web has simply created a nice way to make it easy to avoid paying for stuff.
Was reminded of a post from Bill Gurley (Benchmark Capital) that’s over 18 months old but that dug pretty deeply into the specifics of cable affiliate fees and why they “make the world go round.”http://abovethecrowd.com/20…Worth a read (or re-read).
thanks. i will give it a read.
I subscribe to HBO but, for whatever reason, Cablevision doesn’t allow me to use the great HBO Go app. What did I do? Went to http://www.mobilevids.org and downloaded Game of Thrones right to my iPad. It’s how I watched the season. My toddler also has a new thing for Mickey Mouse and even more so for Donald Duck and Pluto. Did I turn to the Disney Channel? No, that’s for the tweenie market. Instead, I went to YouTube on my iPad, hit AirPlay and we watched these great shorts from the ’30’s and ’40’s. All that said, while I hate Cablevision/Optimum, their iPad app is pretty freakin’ cool. It’s like some rogue team at the company created and it somehow escaped their bureaucracy.
We finally dropped HBO yesterday. Some good original content there, but months go by without them offering any. We may rejoin for a couple of months when Larry David gets around to producing another season of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
I actually led a study that identified and quantified the impact of live sports piracy for a major sports broadcaster, in real time. I won’t get into how we did it, but it involves the very method you used to find out where to find the Knicks game. The results back up exactly what you said: while some pirate just because they don’t want to pay, for live sports the majority pirate because they don’t have access. It turned out piracy was actually an amazing opporutnity for this broadcaster to understand consumer demand and use that in their rights acquisition and programming decisions.
damn. i wish that study was public. it would make a great case against SOPA.
Unfortunately no, but take heart in the fact that some media companies are actually trying to build business around new technology and better customer experiences
“If you give people a legal way to consume the content they want, they will pay for it.”I share your frustration with the cable companies — I remember when ours blacked out the Giants games — but, for the most part, your statement is not true. Probably the vast majority of piracy is committed by those who do have a legal way to access the content but prefer not to pay for it.If most piracy is a business model problem, consider the extent to which it is one because VC-backed web and mobile companies have conditioned users to expect their products and services to be free.
Blackouts are not the cable companies idea, it’s in the contracts the MSOs sign. Blackouts come from the leagues and the local teams.It’s fashionable to hate on cable but #screwMSG and #screwNBA would be more appropriate.
MSG is cable in my mind
I was lucky enough to be sued for pirating music. It was 2007 and it was for music I shared in 2000 or so on Kazaa (I was 13 btw). They only got me with 3000 songs or so so I made out okay.I spend over a $1K on iTunes each year now. I am HAPPY to spend $$$$$ on iTunes for high quality, easily accessible content. [and the next time I share it is a federal offense and I face prison] but I am still happy to do it. I read through almost all comments and thought hard about your post, Fred. I cannot agree more. I stole because when I was 13 I didn’t have that huge resource that was iTunes. I couldn’t drive to Best Buy (or Sam Goody haha) to buy an album. Riding my bike across Highway 6 in Houston (one of the top 10 deadliest highways at the time in the U.S.) was not a good option to buy a CD. SO I PIRATED. And now I sit here with a K that puts me against federal prison next time I download music. I do not pirate TV, I do not pirate movies, I do not pirate ANYTHING. But when I read about people pirating–I smile. We have to do these things to break the broken system on the other end. #screwcable
sounds like a frustratingly-rewarding-frustrating-rewarding outcome 🙂
OMG. that is scary.
This comment comes from Missouri where we are stuck with Charter.Setting to the side Sports for a moment, the problem comes with all that you pay for and not watch. Part of getting the DVR box.Dave Pinsen brings up a good point regarding HBO. Think about it. How viewers actually watch HBO movies? HBO did save cable and has evolved to today where the big majority have it for their originals.But to get to HBO, you have to have the package that has 100s of channels that suck.Mark Suster is right about YouTube. Even if it comes to someone preempting Google (then is bought) or sets something on the organized level of YouTube, what he says will happen. The younger crowd with growing force up the age bracket(s) will start to check the YouTube side on their smart televisions and/or convenient screen.
A lot of people are rethinking subscriptioncable for in home entertainment. There is a movement occurring. It goes by manynames – cord cutting, over-the-top (OTT), Smart TV, Video on Demand. Consumerswant the TV content when they want (time shifting), where they wantit (mobile/tablet) and on what screen they want (Screen Shifting).Cable operators are having a hell of a time keeping up. A walled gardensubscription based model isn’t equipped to innovate and evolve with theirconsumer base. What will evolve with the consumer base is adeveloper driven model. The first TV brand to open its infrastructure todevelopers, and support them well, will be the new owners of the living room.(The most valuable real estate in the US is the 9 feet between the consumer andtheir television). Google and Apple know this and are bringing theirsmartphone app stores, and their developers to TV. We will get more choice andmore control when apps replace bundles. Fred, you are half way to TV 2.0. You arecutting the cord. Good. Now go get a Google TV and see what you are missing. Weswitched the kitchen TV with a Google TV a couple of months ago and it’sawesome. Blogged about it here. http://bit.ly/uFTGx5. Back to sports and cable, it seems the AlbertPujols Angels deal was enabled by the team’s owner opting out of a big cablecontract. http://lat.ms/swmv0L. Maybe there is hope for yourKnicks.
i use a boxee and a mac mini. i also have an appleTV in my ski house
3 1/2 years ago we all saw the launch of the iTunes App Store and the subsequent disintermediation of the mobile carriers. Last week I set up Apple TV, Roku, and XBox and realized more than ever how the cable companies are the mobile carriers of 3 years ago. All I need from them is their dumb pipe. The market (specifically, content distribution rights) will be pushed to go direct to consumer and cord-cutters / cord-nevers (youth that never subscribe to cable), and pirates will help drive this. @fredwilson:disqus have you considered using a Digital TV antenna for sports? Even rabbit ears work in many urban areas and the quality is great.
that will only get me the sports that are broadcast over the air. most of the basketball and baseball games are on cable these days
I think CBS has said that that online streaming of NCAA tournament games is more profitable than the tv broadcast. A little hard to believe, but it may be because of high viewership * high CPM vs fixed price tv ads. Additionally, they don’t blackout *any* games. (They used to blackout the game being shown on tv locally.) They can easily charge a lot of money for this still free service, but they don’t…yet. I believed, after this successful experiment that professional leagues might follow, but the NFL recently re-upped with DirectTV so apparently not. (Though, the NFL may be a significant loss leader for DirectTV, so this is not the best example)ESPN is readying for the post cable world with espn3.com, but ISP’s (usually cable operators) often block access. Like Fred, and many others, I often want to pay to watch a sporting event, and this option is disappointingly not available to me. The system is broken.
On the other side of the equation, I’m paying a hefty surcharge to TWC for access to ESPN, MSG, etc. that I never use. Couldn’t give a squat about sports, yet a good part of my cable bill subsidizes those fees. Sadly, a la carte digital means don’t quite satisfy my needs, but they’re getting closer. Will be interesting to see what happens to both the cable networks and the MSOs when this balance shifts — I suspect it will be much more of a “pay for performance” situation on the network side.
You can fault cable’s customer-centricity or focus but not their logic or defensive position. Until viable competitors take sizable share from them, monopolies have no reason to adapt. http://wp.me/pSCE3-4hLong live competition!
On the whole, I honestly don’t think “piracy is a business model problem” is accurate enough. This really isn’t about a business model, or about losing revenues, or maximizing investments – it’s all about maintaining a Gatekeeper’s role over content and how it is used : the gatekeeper mindset. (And I say this as a veteran of the business side of film, radio & television; I’m still unfortunately stuck in that last one, but it’s paying the bills while we build our own project.)True story: While I was in film distribution, I presented a research report pointing to the incredible financial up-end on opening the vaults and making all of our vast catalogs of currently unavailable product available to the public; and the relatively low costs of preparing this material vs. the financial long tail of availability.At first, there was silence.And then, these two actual responses:”How would we possibly control a release schedule?”I started to explain the remarkably simple methodology: initially promote the fact you are doing this, make a big noise out of it & beat your competitors to the punch; and thus build brand loyalty by just making available a constant stream of “fresh” product, with minimal promotion costs incurred (it was more detailed than that)…”But then how could we control public taste for product, or manipulate master trending for a better ROI?”That’s an actual quote from a studio president.And that’s when I shut up & decided to change careers while I could.Per the Knicks, it’s the same thing: maximizing bucks under old models of distribution. Don’t look for forward thinking there.And nothing scares cable companies – who are now more than ever also content providers – more than talk of allowing users to have a menu of channels to choose from rather than bundled tiers. Their whole economic model depends on tiering as a way of spreading content costs.So “piracy is a business model problem?” Sort of correct. “Piracy as a business mindset problem” would seem more accurate to me.So, yes – #screwcable. Even though I work in the biz, we cut the cord nearly two years ago.It’s been… liberating.
“how do we maintain our windows?”that is what i hear all the timeas if the windows are the businesssheeese!!!
Years ago, “windows” actually had a purpose: movies made their money by demonstrating “legs” – their ability to play-out profitably over a period of 6 to 8 weeks in a single location. This was reflected in the agreement the studios had with the exhibitors: first week, the studio would receive 85% to 90% of the total receipts, the second week, that percentage would reduce the studio’s share to 75%, or 65%, and so on, until after the third or fourth week, the percentages would reverse to the exhibitors advantage, with the studios only receiving 35% of total receipts.Thus, a hold on ancillary rights windows being triggered was necessary to insure a fair share of proceeds to the exhibitors.But again, that was YEARS ago. And we were the envy of our geek friends if our modems ran at a blazing 1200 Baud.Now, with content profitability decided within the first 3 days of performance, and theatrical exhibitors rarely receiving ANY part of the receipts or instead paying out advances + total receipts (making their profits on the refreshment stand only) – the concept of a long theatrical window is as antiquated as celluloid shirt collars…But, by god, they’ll fight you to the death for those shirt collars.This is why, back in the 80’s, MIT’s Media Lab called theatrical exhibition “a smokestack industry of the 21st century.” I’ll go further (here I go hanging myself) and say that under this current content-controlled model, coupled with ever growing negative-cost & P&A budgets, by trying to pass these rapidlly escalating costs onto consumers (who are already rebelling against high ticket prices & higher cable costs), this whole method of producing content & distributing content will eventually become completely Unsustainable. Not today, not next year, but without a doubt – eventually.It’s no longer a matter of #screwcable – but of #cablescrewsitself. 😉 kp
great explanation and comment. thanks!!
I would paraphrase It as a “lack of business model” problem AND a consumer behavior problem and throw in a business behavior problem too! ;). But like the old joke: “I don’t have a drinking problem, I just have a problem when I’m not drinking,” market forcing factors like “piracy and free” are real problems for business that will destroy and upend an industry regardless of your moral perspective. I’m curious to know what everyone thinks this dysfunctional mess is going to look like in a year or two? If last year’s spat between TWC and Viacom about iPad rights, as well as Netflix and Starz inability to agree on price are a hint, this disruption will probably be led by content owners and destroy pure distributors as diverse as Netflix and TWC. (a simple reason for Comcast’s purchase of NBC Universal?). I’ve also noticed TWC and Comcast Xfinity have now been joined by individual networks that have iPad apps. Seems like individual content producing/owning networks (especially anchor tenants like HBO and AMC ) may bolt from cable and become direct-to-consumer app-based content producer-distributors. The market wants unbundling, right?Will this help with your problem, Fred? When chaos reigns, one can only hope customers will win out. Unfortunately the next round may be a fast follower with ISPs like ATT (mobile anywhere content) taking a piece of the pie through our in-app subscriptions. Ka Ching!
i think you only need to look at the music business to see the future of the cable and film businesses
Growing up, my parents didn’t like me watching TV so we didn’t have cable at home. When I left home to go to college, I couldn’t afford cable. Afterwards and to this day, I never cared enough to call up a provider and get it installed.I’ve been cutting the cord for a long time now, but it was never a deliberate move for me. Thinking about it now, I don’t imagine I’ve missed much — especially thanks to the wonderful web. It makes sports and live events hard, but I’ve accustomed myself to the dark (and awesome) underbelly of streaming sites.
The medium was the message, and the message has been found wanting. You missed nothing.
You’ve missed a few good shows, thousands of bad ones, and far too many irrelevant ads.
Well, I downloaded a lot of things.And now there’s Netflix, too.
my wife and i decided we wouldn’t let our kids have a TV in their bedrooms. that was 21 years ago when our first child was born. we’ve stuck to it. but they all have TVs in their rooms. they just call them laptops. when i think of the stupidity of our policy, i just shake my head and chuckle.
There have been a variety of comic strips with this same joke:http://img.memecenter.com/u…
that’s awesome. just reblogged it on tumblr
I loved reading the #screwcable tweet last night. It’s going to be very exciting to see the cable tv space get rocked.I’ve lead sales and marketing for Directv and Dish Network dealers off and on for almost four years. I can tell you first hand that almost everyone that pays for tv is not satisfied with what they’re paying. They’re willing to pay, but are often upset or feel cheated for paying for channels they never watch and they hate all the commercials (for those that don’t always use DVR). They also feel cheated because their provider will raise rates without saying anything. The list goes on.The company that disrupts tv will have to:1. Provide the tv service at a much lower cost and allow customers to choose and pay for channels a-la-carte.2. Stream through existing devices consumers have (like Netflix). This disruptive company won’t have technicians that go to customers homes. TWC, Comcast, Directv, etc., spend a crap load of money on infrastructure with technicians, hardware, etc., which also translates to contracts that nobody likes.3. Provide a solid revenue model and simultaneously disrupt tv ads. We all know tv is going two-way and this provides a whole new level of engagement with ads and anything on tv. This company will know their customers. Just like Google Ads, they’ll only show customers ads they might like because they know their customer. With that knowledge, they’ll be able to add ppc-type models to tv. I know many people think it will be Google and/or YouTube that disrupts tv, but I don’t see that happening. Could Facebook do check-ins? Or daily deals? I Just think YouTube’s brand is established. As is Google’s. I think there’s room for them in the space, but I don’t see them being the main provider. If I weren’t building my startup Gridjot, I’d be in the space. It’s very exciting. I’m happy to help if anyone knows some one doing this.
Hopefully full a la carte won’t take a massive disruption, but will just take some more of these annual fee disputes before more and more customers do what Fred, me and others have done when forced to.A pox on all their houses – team owners, cable sports networks, and distribution providers. It is a continuing upward spiral. ESPN and regional sports networks overbid for programming, then raise monthly fees, which then get passed on to ALL subscribers.I am not a professional baseball fan – I am a Mets fan. It particularly galls me that every month I pay over $2 of my cable bill to the unwatchable YES Network – and it should gall Yankee fans that they are paying ~1.50/mo for SNY.It is particularly burdensome on my elderly neighbor who doesn’t watch any sports but does watch CNN, Fox, MSNBC, AMC etc. Her bill includes at least $10/month for sports content she doesn’t watch or want. I would be happy to pay $5+/mo for SNY, and would pay more for ESPN – but the teams and networks are deathly afraid of this. It would take introduce volatility into their revenue streams- what better fan protest than to drop a team, or to pass on paying a monthly charge for weak content in off season months. They could minimize this with 1 year contracts, which would be their right to do. The chief argument against ala carte is it won’t reduce customer bills – while I disagree, even if true I can’t see how that is a winning argument. Let the $ flow to the best channels, and let the losers fold. Interesting how many “free market” advocates oppose free markets in TV programming.
yeah, paying arod’s salary when you are a mets fan is insulting
I’m hoping that HBOgo and many of these streaming packages from the sports leagues will be a sign of things to come. I’d gladly pay for the content I want to see a la carte and, in many cases, I already do. I pay for MLB.tv, NHL Center Ice, Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime in addition to Comcast, who blocks my access to HBOgo on all TV connected devices despite that I pay extra for it.In many ways, this looks a lot like what happened to the music business. They ignored the demand for portable media and their customers found another way to get it. The cable companies and, to a lesser extent, the cable networks that force these channel packages on us are ignoring the demand for a la carte programming. Now that content providers like HBO are offering their content through an app, I don’t think it will be long before they cut out the cable companies.Unfortunately, when this happens, I suspect the price of broadband will go up and any actual savings will be minimal. Unless a new competitor pops up, like broadband over the power grid, I don’t see the MSOs getting any more consumer friendly.
I’ve been involved in some content right discussions, and a la carte is solely the fault of channel owners – the position of many must-have channels is “pay for all subscribers or don’t get our content at all”.
The only programming that keeps people from cord cutting is live sports. Hence, sports networks can demand a bigger piece of the hundreds of dollars a month you are spending on cable. This leads to a stalemate and we have seen this play out before. The only solution is to have all sports programming available online, and for a fee — perhaps you should encourage Google (earlier post) or Facebook or Apple to start spending some of their war chests on sports rights. Then, the game would change and you would no longer have to be called a pirate.
Same question I asked @msuster:disqus : Then what? How would that change the basic model?
Everyone with an internet connection would have access, legally, without being a pirate. Billions of dollars of network rights fees would be at stake but I am not sure how much longer those fees can be sustained….just my humble opinion.
You haven’t answered the question. Did you click the link to my previous comment ( http://www.avc.com/a_vc/201… )? Anyone with a TV can watch their local NFL teams play now, legally, without being a pirate. What changes if Google, Facebook, or Apple out bids one of those broadcast networks at the next auction for those writes?
Sorry, that link isn’t working. I am afraid that this is where sports rights are going. Look at MLB and NBA — all the playoff games are not on cable, not free over-the-air and they have survived and thrived. If Google, and let’s throw Yahoo and AOL in the mix as they seem to need a hail mary (sorry for the sports metaphor), were to offer $1 B a year for sports distribution rights (professional or college), I think you would see an interesting bidding war. What percent of television households have broadband and therefore access….
Eventually every producer of content who can figure out how to do it is going to get their thumb in the pie of every intermediary who pushes that content to the ultimate subscriber.All of the middlemen are expendable. Once an HD signal is created, the only issue is how to distribute it on a profitable basis. The Internet is now part of that distribution network.The Longhorn Network is a perfect example of just that. Sure they went into partnership with ESPN for management but make no bones about it, the University of Texas is simply controlling its own product and its own interests. Nothing more.I am not sure that what you describe is really “pirating” as you legitimately accessed content that was appropriately available albeit through a non-traditional or alternative channel given your physical location. In some ways, that is the elemental magic of the Internet.You used the real estate of the Internet to vanquish your physical real estate. I am not sure that you have engaged in any illegal activity of any kind. You were just clever. Clever is not illegal.Sports — in particular live sports — is going to be a very special element of video distribution because of its identifiable fan base and their willingness to spend money for content in real time.Fred, put $25 in your charity account for your pirating.
i bet the ads on this post along put $25 in my charity account. in fact i know that. my ad revenue per month is about $4000. so that would be $133/post
Different perspective here… I just moved back from overseas and subscribed to “Comcast Basic Cable”. My observations of the domestic cable market are as follows: (1) Expensive for what is provided, namely non-digital broadcasts where approximately 25% of the channels are shopping channels. (2) The experience described above, where a US-based consumer is not allowed to legally purchase domestic transmission, is exactly what happens in overseas markets. There is an overseas demand for US entertainment and that demand is blocked by content owners. Try Hulu.com on your next overseas trip and see what happens. US content owners are forcing potential overseas consumers into being pirates. (3) I got in the habit of watching my entertainment on my laptop and I find it annoying to have to sit in front of my TV to watch shows now and consequently, the TV is off most of the time. I am considering canceling my domestic cable service because I’m just not using it and I can’t justify the expense. Laptop follows me anywhere. TV sits in living room.
we watch a lot of TV on the mac mini connected to the big screen in the family room. it’s the best of both worlds in many ways. this device is key if you want to do that. http://www.logitech.com/en-…
I would add #screwFCCBroadcasting blackouts and other cable/network chicanery is insanely bassackwards. The problem starts and ends with the FCC.They limit consumer choice in so many ways. Sports leagues that don’t realize this soon are begging for trouble in the form of empty stadiums, dismal ratings and completely alienated, disenchanted consumers.By the way, the Super Bowl is streaming online this year for the first time:http://latimesblogs.latimes…
Whether or not I agree with your decision to pirate — not that you care what I think — it is cool that you are giving the feedback out in the open and creating a forum for others to do so as well. In our community, if you don’t have cable, you don’t have television. We don’t have television. It wasn’t an economic decision, but rather a values decision — I grew disenchanted with television many years ago.My kids have grown up thinking the television screen is for watching DVDs and streaming with XBox and use their laptops the way I used the television set when I was a kid.Funny, the only time I’ve been tempted to get cable is for sports. So much for that idea.
same, same. i was without cable for a while before my kid came along, and then the thought of having to keep her away from the channel changer was another good reason to be without it. my kid watches dvds and netflix streaming, and i don’t have to worry about the bad things in the ads or the shows; i see what i want to online.
a friend of mine told me about his child who has grown up with no TV. the child recently saw a TV ad for the first time. she said “dad, look. it’s a movie about a toy!”
That’s funny! I remember the first time some of our kids saw commercials. The end of innocence. We’re not complete purists thanks (or not thanks) to the open door policy of the adopted uncle across the street who as an actor thinks that it is his personal responsibility to support the craft by having a television in literally every room (including bathrooms) with mega-cable.
This is simply not a case of “pirating” content. You entered into a relationship with TWC in which they agreed to provide you with a set of cable channels (including MSG), and you agreed to pay them a substantial fee on a monthly basis. They then abruptly pulled the signal for one of your most valued channels over the weekend, depriving you of the content you paid handsomely for.The NBA, TWC and MSG did not provide you with any opportunity to switch to another “NBA-endorsed” viewing method in time to watch last night’s game. So you did what most rational people would do in that situation – you utilized a creative solution to use a product that you’ve already paid for but that the service provider(s) refused to deliver to you.
The NFL has similar problems – look at the model MLB has where I can get any game on multiple devices regardless of my physical location. Forcing people who are paying customers to have to muck around and finds streams is a poor way to run a business.
And of course Google Reader served me up a TWC ad right along with this post.
friction for digital goods isn’t cool.i’ve heard of playing hard-to-get with girls; not so much with mainstream consumer products!
I try like hell to pay for all of my content, but it is amazing how many content providers won’t let you consume individual shows, teams, etc digitally. I feel extorted. The whole process is broken. To add insult to injury, the marketing efforts by cable co’s saying they allow individual channel selection is an ode to fine print.
I agree — I love to watch the NBA and absolutely hate NBA League Pass (for Broadband, never used the other offerings). I would use any other option if there were one. I don’t have cable so that’s my only legal option to watch NBA games.The broadband product is very poorly done, and the customer service is horrible. I get the impression that it’s a backwater project from NBA.com that they are using to pick up some extra $, not a first-class citizen among their product offerings. They are missing out on the future by not focusing more on the broadband component. It doesn’t work well technologically, and they don’t even show ads! During breaks in play you just get dead air with an “nba league pass” graphic on the screen.Every year I have some problem with it. Sometimes the requested game just doesn’t stream, and given that their customer service is horrible — it is in fact explicitly closed during the evenings, so you are almost guaranteed not to be able to contact someone in realtime if you have an issue watching a game — you are completely out of luck. There is no way that I have seen to forecast which games will be blacked out, so that often surprises me, too. I have resorted to using one of my servers in a different part of the country as a SOCKS proxy so that nba.com won’t black me out.I’d pay dearly for something that worked well and that would let me see the games I want. I’d happily pay a la carte per game or for a subscription to just my team.
@readers:disqus my best friend’s mother-in-law makes $95 every hour on the internet. last month her pay was $8370 just working on the internet for a few hours.Follow the instructions at Online Income solution and set up your account.. http://goo.gl/XLH8T
PIRACY END WHEN CONTENT SOLD BY CREATORS INSTEAD OF CORPORATE IDIOTS.
Worked for Louis CK.
Worked EXTREMELY well for Louis. Word on the street is this is how he wants to work from now on – to the great chagrin of Fox, and his agency. (Who knew that Louis would accidentally find a cure for vampires?)
louis ck has admitted he would have made more money by doing the project through a bigmediaco. control was more important to him some acts will value control – other creative projects such as big budget prods like b’walk empire, harry potter, etc… will value scale, lushness, richness (special fx, established books, big actors, etc)need to be funded by bigmediacos (or other writers of big checks).good art is sometimes shepherded as result of collaborative efforts btw producers and bigmediaco’s.
I agree with everything you say here, Fred. But I worry that cable companies not only control the content but also control the pipes. Where I live in Manhattan, Time Warner is the only internet option. So if enough people cut the cord I worry they’ll figure out a way to block us via the pipes. They will only enable self-disruption so long.
Apple could buy a cable/Internet company and become an integrated conduit of content via a iTV.
Yes but only get them a few regions.
True…but that could be a start. We can envision a future company that only broadcasts programs over the Internet, then #screwcable is a reality. CableCos have the content now, but when content goes strictly online, then their model will implode totally. They were smart to move into the Internet pipe business since 1995 to protect their turf, and they did for a long time. That’s coming to an end. I really would like to see a CNN or PBS of sorts that broadcasts only online.
and watch apple stock get crushed as they destroy value in acquiring a biz they dont understand at a premium. oh, thats right, thats what google does.
If Apple needs pipes they will get them. They could come up with a product that lowers the value of the current cable cos.
i would switch to FIOS if they offered it in my building. i am also thinking of moving to DirectTV so that my content comes from a different place than my internet
Been Cable TV free since late 2007.Good on the Wilson household.
We need Apple to step in and be the shit disturber with iTV.Also, a new kind of company can emerge by broadcasting only via the Internet.
Sports throw TV upside down.the nfl in particular is kingmaker for a platform or network.I couldnt imagine google paying $5B/year for nfl rights…but also would be bad for the nfl.people still want tv experience – internet-only limits size of potential audience, and would cause serious delivery quality issues. (how well do you think the web can deliver 20mm concurrent 1080P hi def streams?)so long as tv is valuable for consumers, tv co’s will pay for sports rights, and will demand that their exclusivity be protected vs other delivery platforms.
The web doesn’t HAVE TO deliver 20 million concurrent 1080P hi def streams. That’s what companies like AKAMAI are for. They get one copy and distribute multiple copies. Technologically speaking, this can be done down to the telco central office or neighborhood remote terminal, if your ISP has his act together.When 10 guys in your neighborhood are watching the same game, it’s easier than if they were all watching different games.How is watching a game on the web any different than watching a Netflix movie in 1080p via streaming?
Hey, Fred, Chris Paul is feeling your pain. Could be an important spokesman for the #screwcable movement:http://twitter.com/#!/CP3/s…
CP3. i love that guy. wish we could have gotten him on the Knicks
great call. I screwed cable 1 year go. Will never go back. Long life the Internet!
Black market entrepreneurs exist in totalitarian economies because there is demand. No difference in the cable industry which is trying to build barriers to entry via legislation and regulation. The same thing happens in the bond market, corporate and muni. The big guys control distribution via regulation and legislation-then put their minions in the SEC and DOJ to make sure they keep control.
you’re an a-hole. These things happen all the time to people who have cable or Sat. TV — get over yourself, Fred. you may be a venture capitalist but you’re still a moron.
An a hole and a moron. That’s quite an accomplishment
Part of the VZ deal with Cable for spectrum is that VZ will back off their TV offering in 2 years. It would seem this is a move to pin the consumer. This part of the deal shouldn’t fly.
I agree that “If you give people a legal way to consume the content they want, they will pay for it.” But I’ll also add…”for the right price.” Business model problem for sure because some of the content you CAN pay for is ridiculously overpriced.
LouieCK provided a great workaround by selling his content online directly to his fans… https://buy.louisck.net/
Pretty sure I said that last night.
As a major NY Ranger fan who is sick to my stomach over the TW/MSG fiasco, maybe you can send out a request as to where someone such as myself can watch Ranger games online. Hurry! Their next game is tomorrow (thurs)!!! Thanks!!!
I think I only buy cable because it’s more convenient than pirating.
There’s a business model to disrupt the cable industry. Cablevision and Comcast should be shaking. But first, let’s set the table.Cablevision/Comcast is the 800lb gorilla and they have people (like you) spending thousands and thousands of dollars per year. Why? Because they have forced you to “bundle up” — only way you get a few of those specialized channels is by buying EVERYTHING (ie, customer segmentation)http://www.tvalacarte.org/n…What is the worst part of bundled pricing? The Freds and Brads of the world, along with MisterArcher, are sometimes still unable to watch their shows even though they might be willing to pay ANYTHING! http://www.tvalacarte.org/n…As anyone’s grandfather would say… things are different now. The internet has now enabled free customization. Yes, personalized selection of channels at NO marginal cost. http://www.tvalacarte.org/n…What is the solution? Television a la carte! Sure, lots of folks in the industry say it cannot happen. Why? Because they use fear and propaganda to suggest that pricing will rise to the customer. BS!In short, end customers always benefit when pricing is transparent and direct.http://www.tvalacarte.org/n…If you want to help start this business, drop me a note @misterarcher:twitter . If there’s enough interest and initial support… well, then time to disrupt.
All this talk, but no link to show how you pirated the game yourself! Hook it up!
Amen. I wrote something similar about DVD ripping after RealDVD was killed by DRM loonies: Would Studios Rather We Buy DVD Ripping Products Offshore?As studios work to quash legitimate products like RealDVD, offshore providers of DVD ripping software — like AnyDVD developer SlySoft — are reaping the rewards.http://www.cepro.com/article/studi…
I was traveling back from Europe so I’m a bit late, but I very much connected with this post! This is exactly, as you know, what has hurt the music business so much. I was motivated to integrate a quote from your post into a short one that translates the discussion to the music biz I hold dear.Fans Would Love To Pay For Music (Or The Tale Of The Reluctant Pirate) http://www.wesleyverhoeve.c…
I’d love to see a resolution to the blackout issue (MLB.TV has the same issue, As I understand it, it has something to do with the broadcast contract?)
Your local NY situation is what a lot of people in other countries have to suffer daily. I’m sure in Latin America many of us would gladly pay to watch many shows that are taken for granted in their countries of origin, but the powers that be make it impossible, even for pay. We have to reccur to the same pirate sites that you used. The whole big-business legal entanglement is damaging their own interests, and they keep denying that fact.Well, I’ll just download the latest Dr. House for free, since apparently my money is not good with these people.
I don’t have a TV at all.I believe you do know in your heart that stealing is wrong, and piracy is stealing. You’re huffing and puffing here because you want someone to validate your hope that it isn’t wrong.But it is wrong.And you’re shifting the blame to “the business model” which is baloney. It’s still theft.People need to get paid. You always make it seem as if there are these evil greedy middlemen in the way with their hands out getting in the way of your enjoyment of the artist or game. But these are services, just like anything is a service. Do you know how much those basketball people get paid?!
So, I want to buy something. The people who supply it have a limitless supply (I won’t be depriving anyone else). They won’t sell it to me for some reason that makes sense to them. Is it piracy if they aren’t offering to sell me the product and I’m not keeping anyone else from getting it? If it is, then having all the guys in the neighborhood over to watch a pay-per-view game or fight is piracy too.The business model IS BROKEN. The ones who suffer are the suppliers. They can fix the problem by CHANGING THEIR BEHAVIOR. They need to stop trying to change the rest of the world so that they don’t have to.I have a TV to watch movies on DVD. It’s not hooked up to anything but a DVD player.
Canceled my cable two years ago. Netflix + MLB.tv + FIOS.
I recently was late with my payment to Time Warner and had my service suspended. I have the triple play package with basic cable service (no premiums). In order to have some kind of reception in the interim, i plugged the cable wire from the wall directly into my TV. Lo and behold, i now have HBO, Encore, The Movie Channel, Showtime and Cinemax. In my humble opinion, THIS is an example why these companies will eventually go under. I called them last night to go ahead and just cancel my service since my “work-around” is a better package then the one I was paying for. Viva La Piracy!
Hey Fred – Great Post and great comments! A friend pointed me your way and I am glad he did. I feel your pain and for similar reasons got so fed up with the cable tv companies that i canceled cable tv and started a blog to help others do the same. Now i save over $100 a month and still watch all the programs i love. It is called KilltheCableBill. Specific to this post i created a list of Sites You Need to Know About When Watching Internet TV – All of which offer Full Episodes of the Most Popular TV Programs for FREE – plus a Ton of sporting content. Check it out at http://www.killthecablebill…
We started a demand/petition to encourage Time Warner to find a resolution. Feel free to sign it and share! http://pblk.dm/a
done and tweeted
Netflix + Hulu + Indoor Antenna = HUGE SAVINGS
except, if they block it for you because you are NOT in US, going through proxy is also cheatingbetter torrent for free then!