2009-09-28

Interruptions

I see that a new season of Mythbusters is going to be aired on Discovery Channel. Mythbusters happens to be my favorite show. Discovery channel does not happen to be my favorite vehicle for delivering my favorite show.

The reason is quite simple: the people at Discovery channel apparently have no idea that this isn't MTV. Every few minutes they interrupt whatever show is on to tell me about ... other shows that will be on at some later time. Shows that will in turn be duly interrupted by similar out-of-breath announcements.

Sometimes even to tell me about the show I am already watching.

This is incredibly annoying. If I am already watching TV, which is becoming a rare occurrence these days, the last thing you want to do is to give me reason to switch channels or turn off the TV.

Lately I have mostly been turning off the TV set.

I long for the day when I can get my TV shows, legally, by subscribing to them much like I subscribe to podcasts today. I want to have a piece of software that checks when new episodes are out, downloads them to my computer so I can watch them there or sync them to whatever device I want to watch them on. iTunes has its flaws, but it already provides a model that is good enough.

When I am done I want to delete the show to make room for more content that is being buffered until I want to see it -- knowing that the store will remember what content I have paid for so I can download it again at some later point. I don't even mind paying for the privilege of not having to store content I have paid for -- just as long as the price is reasonable.

TV as a distribution model is dying. In part because it is incredibly annoying and in part because people's viewing habits are changing and they are changing fast.

One would think that the TV industry would have enough smart people to overcome the incredibly dimwitted people who perpetuate everything that is annoying about TV, but evidently this is not the case. The industry is not really aware of how fast things are changing, how easy it has become to obtain unauthorized copies of content and that much of the innovation that takes place cannot be controlled by the rights holders.


It is 2009 and the industry still acts like the regional licensing schemes that fuel piracy of TV shows are hewn in stone. I do not think it is inappropriate to question the intelligence of people who run companies that are so thoroughly sabotaging their own future. Licensing can and must be fixed and TV stations have to adapt or go under. The cushy, yet inflexible licensing deals that have provided convenience and stability for rights holders are becoming a serious liability.

TV needs rethinking. It needs to adapt to what people want or you will lose the market. Much like the music industry managed to breed an entire generation of people who are used to getting music for free because it took the music industry forever to adapt to the changes that were taking place in their consumers. (Evidently there are still executives in the record industry who are too daft to grasp that it is too late to get the toothpaste back in the tube).

People keep telling me that I am not a regular consumer -- that my media consumption habits are somehow different from the mainstream. I don't think so. I think I am relatively representative of my generation and if I am at all ahead of what is mainstream, it is certainly not by much.

In the meantime it would be nice if the morons at Discovery Channel and National Geographic channel did not remind me every 15 minutes why I think they deserve to go bankrupt.

4 comments:

  1. Unfortunately, Discovery Channel is no better or worse than any other "free" channel in the US. They are ad-funded, and need to make sure that a) they show you ads and b) that you come back to see more ads.

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  2. What annoys me is that they interrupt their programs to show ads for themselves. That should be unnecessary, and at least my reaction is to get annoyed, switch channels or to just switch off the TV altogether.

    I actively avoid National Geographic channel because of the really annoying interruptions. (Not sure why, but they have managed to fine-tune their interruptions for maximum annoyance).

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  3. Sure, but how else are you going to know when it is Shark Week? ;-)

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  4. "[Critter] Week" type efforts just gives me a strong urge to contribute to the extinction of said [Critter].

    Which of course is irrational.

    The rational thing to do would be to hunt down the un-talented hacks who do these shows and beat them with a sharp stick until they go back to doing dramatic, unimaginative movie-trailer voiceovers for low-brow action movies.

    ;-)

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