Arvind Narayanan (arvindn) wrote,
Arvind Narayanan

TV is dead. About time!

I'm not alone in thinking that the writers' strike is just the latest symptom of the crumbling power of the studios. Marc Andreessen takes things to the logical extreme and suggests that an extended strike would be the best thing that could happen to consumers in the long run: Rebuilding Hollywood in Silicon Valley's image.

Now couple this with Chris Soghoian's eye-opener TV Torrents: When 'piracy' is easier than legal purchase. (Chris is the guy that got a lot of publicity for the fake NorthWest boarding pass generator and other security breaches.) The main thrust of the article is that
  • virtually all TV content is illegally available online as Bittorrent RSS feeds
  • there are players like miro which aggregate all these sources and slap an elegant GUI on top.
The result is that watching TV on your computer is enormously more convenient than turning on the idiot-box, and if you've tried it you can never go back again.

I've been trying Miro for a while. It's been slightly unstable on Ubuntu Feisty, but works like a breeze on Gutsy. The interface is heaven. Forget the illegal stuff. I find there's enough legal content available that I have enough for several hours of happy TV watching per day. Combined with occasionally renting TV shows from Netflix, I don't miss cable at all.

Of course, I'm slightly ahead of the curve in ditching TV; I think mainstream news media is a propaganda machine, I'd rather have a lobotomy than sit through commercials and Discovery channel is my idea of an engrossing TV show. On the other hand, the average person needs to watch Jack Bauer and they need to watch him NOW. So TV's dead for me, but not yet quite dead for everyone.

But we're getting there. Streaming content from your computer to your TV is getting ever easier; if the writer's strike continues, most people's favorite TV shows are going to get canceled; and the mobile video is starting to come to its own. By the end of next year, there's a good chance we're going to see hordes of deserters. Of course, there'll still be people watching TV the old fashioned way, just like people still use dialup, but the business model is already starting to topple.
Tags: economics, internet, technology, tv
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