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ABC's New Online Restrictions Drive Users to Piracy
by Karl Bode 09:09AM Monday Jan 20 2014
As few weeks ago, ABC made the curious decision to make their content more difficult for consumers to watch, making customers wait eight days to watch new episodes online -- unless you have a cable subscription and ABC had struck an arrangement with your specific ISP. Not too surprisingly then, data suggests that the downloading of some specific ABC titles skyrocketed to the tune of 600%:
quote:
Research by Tru Optik shows that the number of BitTorrent downloads for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s winter premiere skyrocketed. The show saw a near 600% spike in United States downloads compared to previous episodes. The increase can in part be explained by the streaming delay, as there was no significant increase in regular TV ratings or talk about the show on social media.
That the refusal to make content available easily and inexpensively to customers drives people to piracy is a lesson the entertainment and broadcast industry simply refuses to learn. Instead of greater availability, we keep seeing ever-more fractured catalogs and greater restrictions, all in the false belief they're protecting legacy TV revenues from inevitable evolution. Instead, the policies drive users to the very piracy options broadcasters proudly proclaim they're immensely dedicated to thwarting.

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ericthered26

join:2011-09-29
Hamilton, OH

3 recommendations

At this point

At this point, I'm confident they'll never learn. They're just far to stubborn and arrogant. Netflix, Amazon and Youtube are our only hope, but they won't be the only players in this new game.

Once people really start to take notice of the success Netflix is having, they'll want in on that too. And with more and more streaming capable boxes out there, the big content providers should be quite scared. But their arrogance screws them.

Jason Levine
Premium
join:2001-07-13
USA

Re: At this point

Actually, if the content providers had any sense at all, they'd realize that Netflix is their best weapon against piracy. Why would I pirate a show when loading it up via Netflix is so much easier? I can guarantee that - were ABC to put Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on Netflix, the piracy rates for that show would plummet. (Not to zero, of course, because there will always be those who pirate, but they'd drop substantially.)

Instead, the content providers see Netflix as a threat to the "old ways" that made them a lot of money in the past: Release on TV and viewers must tune in when the content providers say to and possibly release on DVD/Blu-Ray otherwise lock the content up in their vault so that it doesn't compete against their new content.

That "old way" is broken but they don't want to admit it yet. The sooner they come to terms with it, the sooner they can figure out how to profit from the "new way."
--
-Jason Levine

Morac
Cat god

join:2001-08-30
Riverside, NJ
kudos:1

Re: At this point

It's on Hulu Plus, next day. That doesn't appear to stop people from pirating.

Jason Levine
Premium
join:2001-07-13
USA

1 recommendation

Re: At this point

Hulu Plus isn't exactly as big as Netflix is. As of September 2013, Netflix had 31.2 million subscribers in the US. Meanwhile, Hulu Plus, as of December, had 5 million subscribers. Putting the show on Netflix would have a much bigger impact than putting it on Hulu Plus.
--
-Jason Levine

Morac
Cat god

join:2001-08-30
Riverside, NJ
kudos:1

Re: At this point

Yes Hulu Plus isn't as big, probably because of the ads, but it is a legitimate choice, which makes the "I pirate because no cheap legitimate alternatives" argument invalid.
Bengie25

join:2010-04-22
Wisconsin Rapids, WI

Re: At this point

I'm not going to manage two accounts or two bills. I don't want to piecemeal my TV watching experience via an infinite number of streaming solutions that all charge me money, while providing little additional benefit over a single service.

Jason Levine
Premium
join:2001-07-13
USA

3 recommendations

The point of the article is that there was a cheap, legitimate alternative: ABC's website. They drastically altered that alternative (unless you had a certain cable provider and a certain ISP) and piracy rates skyrocketed.

I think The Oatmeal's take on this fits perfectly: »theoatmeal.com/comics/game_of_thrones

The easier you make it for people to view your content, the lower piracy will get. However, if you make it harder for people to view your content or make it too expensive for them (in the Game of Thrones example, requiring a cable TV plus HBO subscription just to view 1 show), people will either do without your show (the option I'd personally recommend) or would pirate it.

Getting back to the S.H.I.E.L.D. show, I had forgotten to DVR the first few episodes. I went to look for them via legitimate online sources, but found nothing. I even kept DVRing the following episodes so I could catch up. At some point, however, I gave up and deleted the shows that were hogging my DVR's drive. As much as I want to watch the show, I'll do without until it's on Netflix - if I'm still interested in it by then.
--
-Jason Levine
averagedude

join:2002-01-30
San Diego, CA
Reviews:
·Cox HSI

1 recommendation

Re: At this point

said by Jason Levine:

....
As much as I want to watch the show, I'll do without until it's on Netflix - if I'm still interested in it by then.

^^2nd^^ especially the bold part.

Morac
Cat god

join:2001-08-30
Riverside, NJ
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Comcast

1 edit
The thing is easier does not necessarily equal free. It's very easy to buy a streaming episode of a show from Amazon as Amazon's VOD service works on virtually every device out there. It's not free though, so many people will pirate.

It reminds me of this Vine video.

»vine.co/v/hxrzVeMjhFi
--
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Jason Levine
Premium
join:2001-07-13
USA

1 recommendation

Re: At this point

No, it doesn't mean it needs to be free. However, my funds are limited. Right now, I'm paying for Cable TV (only because they gave me a good deal - otherwise we would have cancelled it for being too expensive), Netflix, and Amazon Prime (partly for videos, but mostly for the free shipping). I don't have unlimited cash and so things get prioritized.

In my case, this means that when I miss the first few episodes of a show that I may or may not like, I'm probably just going to drop it. Perhaps I'll catch up if it goes to Netflix or DVD (via library rentals), but I'm not going to pay extra money for a show before I decide whether or not I like it. Had those missed episodes been available via my already paid-for options (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Cable VOD), I could have caught up without paying any additional money and continued watching the show.

Of course, I'm only one person, but how many other people like me are out there? More importantly, how many other people are out there in similar situations as mine but without any qualms about pirating the program? Judging by the increase in piracy of this show, quite a lot.

I'm not saying that ABC should have kept all of the episodes on their website for free, without ads, for all time. However, putting up the last episode or two (even with some ads) would have helped to keep fans coming back to the show. Instead, they made it harder to view the show and this led to an increased piracy rate.
--
-Jason Levine

sb999

@beyondbb.com

2 recommendations

No. Not a legitimate choice to counter not pirating, because they charge for their service *AND* make you watch commercials throughout the show. That's why they only have a few subscribers. Most people aren't interested in paying for something and then having to pay for it again by watching commercials. This is why Netflix is popular and Hulu is not.
Rakeesh

join:2011-10-30
Mesa, AZ
Reviews:
·Sprint Mobile Br..
·Cox HSI
The main reason I don't use hulu is because it doesn't work with anything except a web browser. If you use it with anything else, you not only have to pay a monthly fee but LESS content is available that way. Why on earth would I pay more to get less? Hulu is such a shit service.

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK
No it doesn't. If you're already paying for Netflix, and Hulu is inferior, you're not going to sign up just for that show when you could just download it.

Now, if it was on Netflix, then no download.
--
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

intok

join:2012-03-15
Many of the pirates are those with connections too slow for streaming services to offer acceptable picture quality if they work at all.

In the end nothing beats playing the file locally.
silbaco
Premium
join:2009-08-03
USA
Netflix doesn't pay near as much money as other means. It doesn't matter if it erodes piracy as it would also erode higher paying methods of viewing.

Jason Levine
Premium
join:2001-07-13
USA

Re: At this point

True, reducing the price of an item might mean you make less per item, but might increase sales of the item enough to increase profits. Converting pirates to paying customers (via Netflix) could offset any higher-paying customers "lost" to Netflix.
--
-Jason Levine
shmerl

join:2013-10-21
Netflix still can't compete with piracy fully yet, since it doesn't offer DRM free content. The only real competitive service is Headweb, but it's regionally limited so it completely defeats the purpose.

Simba7
I Void Warranties

join:2003-03-24
Billings, MT

They will *NEVER* learn

We have been watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D before the week-long delay and we were perfectly fine with the commercials every 10 minutes (or so). It's like watching it on broadcast, which we can barely receive here (can't put up an external antenna).

So, now we have to go to other, non-legitimate sites that we have to practically firewall the crap out of due to the "questionable" ads and possible exploits they try to pull on our systems (ESET SS7 saved our butts there).

It seems like they will never learn, no matter how many times it has been proven. All this does is tick off the viewers, which is never a good thing.
--
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Corehhi

join:2002-01-28
Bluffton, SC

Re: They will *NEVER* learn

Try USTV.....legal and has the basic broadcast stations.
Bengie25

join:2010-04-22
Wisconsin Rapids, WI
Reviews:
·Solarus

Re: They will *NEVER* learn

said by Corehhi:

Try USTV.....legal and has the basic broadcast stations.

Great info. Just looking at it, it doesn't seem to be much better than just getting from my local ISP, but it's great to know about these kind of things.

Thanks for the info!

Morac
Cat god

join:2001-08-30
Riverside, NJ
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Comcast

1 edit

1 recommendation

This proves people don't want to pay for content

The linked article says that the episodes are still available next day for Hulu Plus subscribers, but people would rather seek out pirated copies than dish out $9 a month for Hulu Plus or buy a season pass on Amazon.

What this basically shows is that if people can't get what they want for free, when they want it, they will pirate. I don't see how Netlfix, et al will help against that.
scantor

join:2004-08-11
Columbus, OH

Re: This proves people don't want to pay for content

I think Hulu gets a bad rap due to the ads. People are willing to pay for ad-free or watch ads for free, but not pay for ads.

I've been pleasantly surprised at Hulu Plus and like it alot more than Netflix despite the adds, because the selection is what I want to watch, but I think it's a lost cause.

I will say though that this doesn't hold for FX and USA, neither of whom make their content available next-day (or at all in FX's case) on Hulu. So if I wanted to cut the cord, I'd be downloading their shows or not watching them, which is just stupid.
JoeSchmoe007
Premium
join:2003-01-19
Brooklyn, NY

Re: This proves people don't want to pay for content

It has to be said that FX makes "Justified" available next day on Amazon via season pass (or pay-per show). And after about 6-8 months via Amazon Prime. I don't know about the other shows.
jvanbrecht

join:2007-01-08
Bowie, MD
The other reason Hulu gets a bad rap is due to ownership. Alot of people do not like Comcast/NBC/Fox/Disney. They took what could have been a game changer, and gimped it.

I remember growing up back in the days (In South Africa), we have 3 or 4 broadcast channels over the air that you paid a TV license yearly for (was a small amount, kinda like the taxes they put on blank media), and those channels still had ads, lots of them.

Then there was the "paid tv", M-NET (over the air still but scrambled). You paid monthly, but there were no ads during the shows, a few ads between the shows since most hour shows are really just 40 to 45 min long).

That is what pisses me off here, I don't mind the ads on over the air broadcasts, but considering how much we pay for cable, they really need fewer ads during those shows..

Re: This proves people don't want to pay for content

Bless you for stating the exact problem with paid tv. Too many commericals and too high a fee from cable providers. I am looking hard for alternatives to cable ..... ONLY due to being forced to pay for 40% commericals!

Cable crap is a pathetic business model. 20% foreign language, 20% government/community interest, 20% sales/religious channels, and 40% television entertainment (of which 1/3 is commericals). And we are asked to PAY for this.

Morac
Cat god

join:2001-08-30
Riverside, NJ
kudos:1

1 recommendation

Personally I don't like Hulu Plus. As Homer Simpson said, " if I wanted to pay to see ads I'd get Hulu Plus", but it is still a relatively cheap option. So people who say they pirate because there is no legitimate option, need another excuse.
Bengie25

join:2010-04-22
Wisconsin Rapids, WI
Reviews:
·Solarus

Re: This proves people don't want to pay for content

Money isn't the only reason, there is the "mental cost". The reason people are willing to pay for Netflix is not only because of its low prices, but because the "mental cost" of having a single source for much of what you want is low.

As soon as you start having to go to different providers for different things, and when things are different, and things come and go, it create a type of worry and anxiety of the unknown that creates a negative.

I hear devices like Roku can reduce this cost by having a single interface to rule them all, but even then, many people don't like having multiple bills.

In order for something to be popular (Mental cost + Money cost) must be less than what people are willing to spend. All of this fragmentation of content is creating massive overhead for managing one's entertainment.

Morac
Cat god

join:2001-08-30
Riverside, NJ
kudos:1

Re: This proves people don't want to pay for content

So basically:

»vine.co/v/hxrzVeMjhFi

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK
I think the argument should be reversed. ABC should be thinking "People can get it from us or they can get it from piracy.... what can we do to make it easier for them get it from us?"

And then they'd reverse everything they've done lately..... and succeed. Piracy isn't nearly as convenient as "Instantly available for streaming now for cheap." People pay for convenience. If the price for something is to high, then people go back to saving money and taking effort and time.... piracy.
--
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

fuziwuzi
Not born yesterday
Premium
join:2005-07-01
Atlanta, GA
Let's see... I pay Hulu Plus $9/month and I still can't watch it on my TV because it is restricted from my WDTV and smart TV system, only available on a web browser. And still have to view the ads. Yeah, that's a real viable alternative (major sarcasm).
--
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DownTheShore
Honoring The Captain
Premium
join:2003-12-02
Beautiful NJ
kudos:13
Reviews:
·Verizon Online DSL

1 recommendation

My Two Cents

As far as I'm concerned, they're cutting off their nose to spite their face. I have the attention span of a gnat. If I can't access their programming when I'm interested in watching it, I'm moving on to something else and they've lost my eyes on their product.

Corehhi

join:2002-01-28
Bluffton, SC

Duh.....

and they thought what would happen???

I know I'm willing to watch commercials if I have to but that just doesn't seem good enough for some of these guys.

tlylework

@steadfastdns.net

TV is dying, just like newspapers

TV is in the throws of dying, at least in it's current form. My opinion is channels just start offering their content streaming from their website, with commercials included. Comcast stops trying to be a cable provider and become what all ISP's should be which is a bandwidth provider.

The transition from one to the other is where the problems will occur, not everyone is ready to make this kind of switch.

••••

antdude
A Ninja Ant
Premium,VIP
join:2001-03-25
United State
kudos:4

OTA FTW.

At least that still works. :P

••••
mingkee27

join:2013-06-21
Brooklyn, NY

simple.tv

Fortunately I got the hardware and hooked with a 320GB HDD and instant DVR.
However, ABC signal isn't stable and it cuts out during heavy weather (rain or snow). That's why I have Aereo.

TwiztedZero
Nine Zero Burp Nine Six
Premium
join:2011-03-31
Toronto, ON
kudos:5

OTA + HTPC = WIN

Its simple. Over the air for local content and a home theatre pc with xbmc & 3rd party streaming addon's and you're good. None of that lollygagging just cut your cord and you're a happy camper. Watch what you want, when you want at your convenience advert free. Its not like you have unlimited hours when you get home from work to arrange your life around a television network's schedule. Take control and HTPC-PVR your life your way. I cut the cord back in 2008 and never looked back.
--

!- From the mind located in the shadows of infinity -!
Nine.Zero.Burp.Nine.Six
Twitter = @TwiztedZero
Chat = irc.teksavvy.ca

tlylework

@steadfastdns.net

Re: OTA + HTPC = WIN

Problem is this model is not sustainable. Content providers must make money to pay the actors/reality tv stars.