Saturday, February 05, 2005

Informal Survey

Hey, while I zone out, I'm getting some info for another essay and some research. Recently, a friend mentioned he missed West Wing (TIVO-less fool) and bit-torrented the ep. When I asked if he would have paid for the episode, he answered "of course".

Could everybody visiting the site - even if you don't usually leave comments -- please answer the following question:

What would you pay, per episode, to watch your favorite TV shows?

a buck? 2 bucks? 50 cents? A quarter? Give me the top range you wouldn't choke at, please.

Hmm, and I wonder -- is it a different amount if you're talking one ep of your favorite show, or to get all access to all episodes? Is there a difference between the occasional fee, and if you had to pay, say 50 cents a show, meaning 11 dollars for the year's entertainment (or 6.50 for battlestar galactica and other 13 episode shows?)

If you're an RSS hipster, could you drop me a line at your convenience at Thanks.


Anonymous said...

$3 for an hour long show.

Anonymous said...

I would not pay for a regular, unedited version, because I can get that for free on my TV. If they want my money, of which there is so very little, they'd better be giving me access to entire seasons with bonus stuff.

It'd be a difficult price point to judge- at which point does it become more convenient to pay than to torrent?

Anonymous said...

half hour show: 1.50-2 bucks.
hour long show: 3-7 bucks depending if it's an hbo show or a sydicated show like oprah or such.
a full station listing such as "fox" wher eyou cna view any show they have an archive of, just by downloading it, like the whole x-files series: 25-50 for 6 months or a year. while you can still buy the dvd's for most shows you get no extras, just te plain show that aired in this deal so the lower price point total then 50 a box set i think would work.

i've always had the idea, if i had the money, to buy the right sto a lot of old shows that maybe lasted a season or two that people liked, but got cancled and realese them as very cheap collections. look at firefly and how well that did in dvd after being cancled. shows like john doe, that old warewolf show, things like. someone steal the idea if you can, i think there is a lot of easy money to be made in old shows you could buy the rights to cheap and sell for 20 bucks a pop.

Sizemore said...

Not a single red cent for as long as there's a way to get it for free.

"We have to try as an industry to get ahead of this and give the audience an attractive model before the illegal file-sharer providers meet their needs," David F. Poltrack, CBS Television's executive vice president for research and planning.

More attractive than free? Well maybe if they gave a blowjob with the closing credits but even then I'd rather save my pennies.

Take the new Battlestar: Galactica. It came out here in the UK way before you guys got it and I watched the first few episodes on SKY (the main subscription satellite channel over here) but as soon as I saw the torrent files were available I turned the TV off. There was no way I was going to sit down at 8pm each night and have the story crippled by dumb advertising if I could just wait a few hours and watch the thing in one single serving without the tampon ads.

Now part of my annoyance at advertising is because we have the BBC over here which is paid for by a licence fee. So from an early age I was used to quality TV that didn't depend on advertising at all. The first time I visited the States I was shocked by the amount of advertising you guys put up with.

Like the music industry, the TV and Movie industries need to find a new model because the old one is broken worse than Paris Hilton's hymen.

If it means the end of TV (music, film, whatever) as we know it then good. Maybe what comes next is an improvement. If all TV production stopped overnight then it'd make the theatre a hell of a lot more popular so I'm in a win-win situation.

Probably not what you wanted to hear but there'll always be work for writers thanks to those pesky novel things that have yet to be replaced by technology.

Unknown said...

Interesting. The "as long as it's free" argument has a bit of a flaw, doesn't it? Odds are you're paying for satellite or cable ... and I seem to remember the iTuned thing being doomed, DOOMED from the start, I mean, why pay when you can get it for free ...?

I'll probably get a skewed response here, as I have a pretty tech-hip bunch of readers. For most people, the difference between bit-torrent and having it delivered/available from a set-top box or menu is a vast gulf.

The BBC thing is interesting too. Not the same situation, nor expectations, at all.

Sizemore said...

I was paying for cable. Then I found a company called Homechoice here in the UK who offered me a broadband connection and a video-on-demand TV service for the same price that I was paying for just the old broadband service. So now I get stuff like Spaced and The West Wing asleep in my TV until I want to watch them for no extra charge at all.

I look on the TV service as being completely free but just coupled with a very cool broadband service. So cool in fact that they doubled my connection speed this month without asking and at no extra cost just because I'd been with them for a little while.

But yeah I agree with you. Most people run a mile from bit-torrent because to many its complicated. It usually boils down to ease of use (or at least the perception of ease of use). It's easier for me to grab a full season of an American show than to sit back waiting for a UK station to show it but I'll still buy the 3rd season DVD of Curb Your Enthusiasm when I'm in San Francisco next week because it will be quicker for me than waiting until I get home to find a torrent.

Some of the Japanese stuff I watch may never show up here so I grab it while I can.

The BBC model is interesting because it's so damn old but seems to be outperforming the commercial stations with it's progressive thinking. Probably because it's never been used as an advertisement delivery device. I mean look at the vast network of BBC websites. All paid for by licence users. Then there's the vast archive of old material both from TV and radio that is about to be archived online for free forever (fingers crossed) because it's already been paid for and most people are in favour of just releasing it into the wild (some of it under CC licences) rather than milk the public some more with staggered DVD releases.

Sorry if all that's a tad off topic and in all honesty my British perspective on American TV may not count for much.

Unknown said...

No, it's interesting, ease-of-use and availability are factors. And it's odd, in theory Canada has the same system as Britain, with the CBC, but the CBC produces nonstop joyless dreck.

Anonymous said...

Since I buy boxed sets of TV seasons on DVD, I'm already spending at least $2.50 per episode for the stuff I like. To get jukebox-like episode-downloading, I'd spend about $5.00 per episode. Sure. (And it always amazes me that the Museum of Television and Broadcasting will let you walk in there and watch any episode of any TV show ever aired...for almost nothin'.)

Sizemore said...

Well the BBC is pretty clueless with its current TV schedule too. They made the mistake of getting into a pissing match with their commercial rivals so went looking for the next Pop Idol/Big Brother and really lowered the bar.

Seeing as the thing has been broadcasting since the thirties you'd think we wouldn't have much to complain about but we are very demanding of the service because it belongs to us.

To be fair though they do balance out the bad karma of something as poor as Eastenders with very cool stuff like the online radio productions of Judge Dredd and other 2000AD stories with full casts (and Simon Pegg as Johnny Alpha!). Then there's the new radio version of Hitchhikers and the hopefully non-screwed up return of Dr Who. Add all the really good comedy of the last few years and it's not in bad shape for a 70 year old.

So do you feel that television run on advertising is the only option in the States? I mean crap like Friends refused to die because there was too much money at stake. And lowest common denominator nets aim wide and low and keep the good stuff from ever even getting on the radar so no Global Frequency for us.

It's the easy formula stuff that gets money thrown at it because it's a safe bet.

Not that I can think of a viable alternative of course. But I do know that the time and money I save on bad mainstream TV, music and DVDs gets funnelled directly into completely independent stuff. So I won't spend £s on an Enterprise DVD but I will throw money to some guy in Switzerland making vampire movies under his own steam.

john said...

Not to be too defensive, but I feel I need to jump to my homeland's national broadcaster's defense - or rather, explain some of the reasons why the CBC produces dreck.
It's one thing to say that the CBC is based on the beeb, but it really isn't in a meaningful way anymore. CBC television is basically a private broadcaster in form if nothing else. CBC radio is far more "beeb"-ish, but ironically is far better rated in the major markets than you'd think - usually in the top three.
Further, for a long time (literally until the mid-1990s) it was national policy that the CBC would produce content that was "good for you", as opposed to actually good. This is a long legacy from the 1920s, when Canadian regulators demanded that the CBC be better than the "filth" coming up from the south. Needless to say, that part hasn't worked out so well.
Meanwhile, in the last few years, as the regulations have been changed, both CBC in particular and Canadian Television in general have gotten much better.
Sorry for the rant... some of my family are employed by the CBC.

Oh, and as for the actual point of the thread, I can't imagine paying more than $20/month for a decent subscription based TV system. But I'd want at least ten shows for that, saved on a local HD, so I can back them up if I want.

Sizemore said...

...saved on a local HD, so I can back them up if I wantThat's one of the bug bears that Cory likes to get his teeth into over on Boing Boing. You just can't trust the technology that the companies have their fingers in. You think you have a good deal until they change the rules and/or disable your set.

(Then again if you read The Concrete Jungle by Charles Stross there's a good argument for allowing DRM because it makes wiring CCTV cameras up as gorgon deathrays all that much easier)

Rasmus Lykke said...

Yes. And not more than a buck fitty

Anonymous said...

i think it really matters on how you view the world too. people who will pay for tv often have the cash to spend, and also see a point in supporting the show with respect ot the people by paying for it, even if the parent company maked quite enough to have it stolen a few times. same goes for why people have hte excuse of downloading music or paying for it. personaly i will pay for music more then download it because even if the parent company makes plenty, i want to show my support for a band i might never get to hear from again. same with tv shows. i miss john doe, i thought it was a great show, and if i could PAY for a subscription along with others to fund more shows being made for it, i would. set up an internet tv station wher eyou pay subscription fee's that go toward funding origional or cancled shows to be able to film maybe 5-7 a year, lower budget maybe, would be nice. or is that a dumb idea? hell ook at farscape, i bet people would join a subscription channel online or elsewhere, and instea dof buying all the ads they did to support it, pay the fee and have a few mini-series made a year from that profit. what do you think?

Karl said...

If I paid, I'd expect something like what HBO does for shows. Commercial free running programs {the shows are non-stop, then followed by some ads}, no more FCC regs, etc, etc.
I'd say $5 for network & regular cable shows, $10 for paid cable {HBO type stuff}.
It would be merely a "you see what you pay for" basis.

Karl said...

gah, goofed up my decimal point. 0.50 for network and 1.00 for cable

Unknown said...

Hey, I've been on the CBC, so don't think I'm slagging just to slag. But you're right, being shackled to this weird 1950's idea of "canadian content" crippled them creatively, and so only the creative cripples stuck around in the really high end jobs.

Canadian TV has had a bit of a Renaissance. What's really cool is that I did stand-up with Brent Butt, and to see CORNER GAS doing so well fills me with glee. He's a champ.

Anonymous said...

As someone who avoids cable entirely and only watched a few shows (yes, via Bittorrent and IRC, mostly), I'd be interested in a deal like 50 bucks a year for access to a certain number of shows (say 10), including old episodes. And only so if the content provider (would this be the cable company?) provided at least one dedicated, high-bandwidth seed per file.

Anonymous said...

It would definately have to depend on the show..and where it was. I know for American shows, I'd shell out a couple bucks $3-5 per ep as long as it was a GOOD established series..newer series I'd maybe at most give 50 cents to a dollar for... because you never know how those are going to turn out. Advertisements never really have been an issue for I'm not bothered by them. :)

For international shows, I'd be willing to pay a bit more, (up to $10..depending on the episode/series) just because we don't get them in the states and they're a little harder to come by. However, again, qualities like plotline, general theme, etc would come into play. (yes, anime included...which may mean ongoing trouble for fansubbers anyways (

If shows were to start offering paid seeded could help or hurt I would think..especially when you have a good show, that just had a lousy episode..I'm sure word would spread fast, and people would learn to avoid those. Although, I try to run to my tv anychance I get, it's nice to know nowadays if I missed the episode of Survivor, and I wanna know how Jane got Dick voted off the island, I can just download the show. :)

At least that's my thoughts on the whole thing. I would hope they wouldn't start putting bans on shows too. Movies I can fully understand and respect. I don't personally touch those. (although again, I admit to getting some non-english movies through bittorrent before buying the DVDs..because who wants to buy a DVD of a movie you hate?) However, in an age when you have no CLUE if the show you absolutely love is going to make it to syndication and an eventual DVD deal, would you take a risk in waiting, or go to your nearest computer and download/archive the files...just in case?


Amandarama said...

I would pay about $10 if it was for a whole season of something obscure that I couldn't find on Usenet. Otherwise, I have no interest in paying extra for something that would be free for my own home use if I'd remembered to set my VCR.

Unknown said...

If someone would put Stingray and/or Twin Peaks back on the air, I might go as high as five bucks an episode.

For most of my usual watching 1-2 dollars an ep.

Unknown said...

I think I'd be willing to pay any fee per episode that wouldn't make the cummulative cost of an entire season more than the cost of renting the entire season from my local video store. Which I think would mean keeping it under $.50 per episode.

DougBot said...

I think it really depends on the show and how many episodes. Would I pay $2/episode for Law and Order? Probably not. But a show I really liked, such as The Venture Brothers? Quite possibly.

I really liked Babylon 5 and the entire set is out now, but it's just too steep for me at the moment. Same deal with Farscape--great show, but at $10/episode ($20 for a 2-episode DVD? Who do they think they're kidding?) it's nowhere near a good value. I don't even want to think what some folks are going to shell out for all of the seasons of Cheers or Friends or whatever.

Then there's stuff like Arrested Development or MI-5, which are well worth the cost. So I guess the answer is: it depends. :)

Evilhippy said...

Living in the middle of nowhere as I do, without access to Broadband, I do end up paying for television shows on DVD. Since even BitTorrent isn't really that much of an option for me on the Hillbilly dial-up that I have I would be willing to take the chance on low priced ($1-$3) DVD's of episodes of shows.

I have seen episodes of ER and other shows for sale as a single disc for $3, but I think that if the studios would put out episodes and even pilots of unaired shows in this form I would buy them. It could even be used to test the waters with unaired pilots, and at the very least make some money off of them. Though that is a bit off topic.

Æ said...

I have been thinking about this for a while now. Since I don't have cable I download every show that I watch, well, almost. I still do get a few broaccast channels and will watch a few network shows.

I would pay 2 dollars for a one hour show. That is still cheaper than what you end up paying for a season if you buy it on DVD, if it comes out at all.

That way I can watch shows while I am at work on those extremely slow nights. I just have to burn them to a CD.

I would get cable or satellite, but only if I could pick and choose the channels I want. If I could just get Sci-Fi, Comedy Central, TLC, Discovery, History, and maybe USA I would jump on it in a second.

Have a happy,


Anonymous said...

Good question - Curious to see what you find out from this survey.

I've been using eDonkey for a year now - whenever I miss an episode, probably once every couple of months. Going to have to use the Net to get today's Simpsons. Superbowl went long and Tivo recorded the wrong stuff.

I imagine I'd pay $2 for an hour-long episode - and maybe $20 for the season.

Anonymous said...

1.00 for a half hour show, 2.00 for an hour.

Kevin Church said...

I tend to buy shows I really, really like on DVD unless they're something like The Simpsons, where random reruns make me happier than having to pick an episode. Recently I picked up Season 2 of MI-5 (aka Spooks to the Brits). Each episode in its 10-episode run is a mini-movie and I think it's well-worth the $60 I paid for the set. So, for Super Great Television like this and Battlestar Galactica, I'll pay $5-6 an episode, which is about what those classic Trek sets are setting me back. For one-time use, though? I'll never pay. Let me own my own copies of something.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't pay shit beyond the my already exhorbitant cable bill or collecting something on DVD.

But I now have a DVR, so I won't be missing a thing...

Unknown said...

Well, that's rather the point -- this is INSTEAD OF your cable bill or DVD's (or supplemental to DVD)

Anonymous said...

I would say to use the NetFlix model. I pay $17 a month (or something like that) and in return, they send up to 3 DVDs worth of material at a time. That more or less boils down to $0.50 a day for the TV I want to see.

SDM said...

Coming in hardcore late on this, but...

I wouldn't mind shelling out $3-5, as long as I got to keep the episode... and I'm talking a high-quality copy. What would be kind of interesting would be a sort of "choose your own DVD" type thing, where you could mix and match episodes of various series you enjoy, or just episodes of ones that you don't. Say, you don't want the whole run of Seinfeld, but like a few episodes. You could pair them with, say, episodes of Friends or whatever else, and get the whole DVD package. Of course, there are a ton of logistic problems with this, but hey, I'm just rambling here.

If there wasn't some way to get a decent copy, I'd shell out a little under a buck, to maybe two, so long as there was no encoding BS to prevent me from keeping a crappy VHS copy. I know it's kind of a low figure, but if you like a fair number of series, that could add up really fast.

Of course, if this system ever made it big, it would be interesting to see if prices were determined by the show in question. Sopranos? $5. The latest sitcom with a former big name actor that's bombing in the ratings? That's three for a quarter, right there. Ratings replaced by buy rates... it would be interesting.

Oh, and if I did it? There better not be any commercials.

Alex Epstein said...

Well, I do pay for TV episodes. On DVD. So based on $40 for a season of The L Word, that works out to what, about two fifty a pop?

For a new year of Sorkin's West Wing, I'd happily pay $4 an ep. Not so much for me with the John Wells, though.

Mark said...

Yeah, for a re-watchable copy of a show I loved I'd easily spring for $1 a half-hour.

Certain clearly-in-danger, please-don't-cancel shows (Arrested Development, Firefly, Wonderfalls to name some in my case) I'd probably go up near $5/hour.
Kinda hard to price it at more than the eventual DVD-release price, though.

I've thought this was the way to go for a while, though. For a clean, high-quality copy of a just-aired episode I can keep and rewatch, for a show I love, I'll lend my support. I'm convinced there are enough others like me -- willing to pay a (reasonable) price for quality -- to make it worthwhile.

Copying iTunes and giving me $1 per half hour or (say) $20 for a 22-ep season would be super-sweet in my book.

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