Mark Pesce has a two-part series on Mindjack concerning piracy of television content, the impact of p2p networks, the growth of broadband Internet access, and a proposal for a new way to create revenue streams from hyperdistribution.
The pervasive culture of TV downloading leaves the producers of pre-produced television programs high and dry, receiving nothing of value for their work. But is this really true? The absolute, basic motivation of a TV producer is not money — though money is needed for production — but to gain and hold an audience's attention. TV producers want their programming to be watched as widely as possible — by everyone. That's what they care about, and that's all they care about, because, with viewers, everything else takes care of itself: audiences equal money.
This assertion seems so basic, so fundamentally essential to the economics of television, that it's very hard to understand why anyone (other than a broadcaster being cut out of the value chain) would get upset about piracy of television programming. The model as practiced at present can't effectively leverage the economic benefits of hyperdistribution, but that model was created before hyperdistribution was technically possible. The age of hyperdistribution demands the development of new economic models which can harness piracy, for profit.
It's as simple as this: we're in an interregnum, that brief period of time before some bright young hacker or some clever company solves this problem definitively. When that happens, when the rest of us can download television programs quickly and easily, it'll seem like a bomb went off - broadband use will soar, people will desert the broadcast networks, and the only producers to survive this transition will be those who harnessed the strength a new value chain, where piracy truly is good.
While I understand where he is coming from, the industry of media has never been known to be quick enough to understand and capture the true demand of the media content. That being said, all it would take is for one big company to "get it" and the industry might shift their distribution mechanisms within a few years.
Living in Tokyo, and seeing the global demand for Japanese animation content, and all of the fansub communities, it's clear that Japanese media companies have no idea how big their potential market is. Cartoon Network is doing a decent job of it in the US, but the market is much, much larger than that.
After reading the article, how feasible do you think Pesce's proposal is?
Download (using BitTorrent, of course) the live presentation of "Piracy Is Good?", delivered by Mark Pesce on May 6th, 2005 at the Australian Film Television and Radio School in Sydney. (200MB)