Piracy and Ad-Based Entertainment
Posted on January 16, 2008 at 04:48
I sometimes get frustrated with seeing the degree to which information piracy (as opposed to the piracy of physical goods) takes place. I only hope that I’m serving the better interests of an honest dollar by arguing the rights of companies to privatize their software. While I support GNU and the free software movement, I realize not everyone is a hobbyist programmer or can afford to spend their spare time developing software without some sort of financial reward. The problem in the end is that the computers are designed and used by humans, and as a result computers are simply another dimension of human society, no different from other aspects of how society communicates interacts.
I’d rather deal with an honest pirate, one who has no difficulty admitting to the fact they‘re stealing information and/or redistributing it without permission, than one who’ll argue they’ve done nothing wrong or illegal, or argue that they’ve been left with no other choice, or any other equivalent to the effect of saying that they’ve violated the rights of others out of a need, and therefore justifies their actions. There’s nothing Robin Hood about piracy. I know I’m already sounding preachy, and with an issue like this, I’m either preaching to the choir, or talking to walls, so I’ll try to make this a bit more interesting.
When we watch broadcast television, or listen to the radio, provided we have the a receiver and electricity, we’re able to entertain ourselves for free. But of course, the content providers wouldn’t be able to produce their shows without some way of earning money in the process. Because we’re able to connect to the content for free, the content providers are left with no choice but to runs advertisements throughout the day. The companies buying air-time to run ads get the benefit of reaching an audience, while the content providers have a stable revenue stream of ad money, provided they maintain an audience to see the ads.
Of course, people could turn off their television or radio, or change channels, but the content providers are hopeful that as long as they provide interesting enough content, people will be willing enough to relax and wait until their show returns. Also, content providers are capable of avoiding pressures from ad companies and broadcasting encrypted signals, and making their money by selling the only devices able to decrypt the signals, and/or working through subscription plans. However, the popularity and ease of providing and receiving content through the open air-waves has proven more profitable, in return providing better quality services to audiences at the cost of watching advertisements.
The internet can function is the same way. Content providers can stream their content freely, and audiences can enjoy themselves as they would with their radios and televisions, provided their content with watching advertisements occasionally. Of course, subscription plans are much easier to maintain digitally, but the internet has been fairly open and while not free, maintains an equal access for all its users, therefore, I would argue that the system of streaming content incorporated with ads is the best, and quickest way to establish stable, reliable revenue streams from the internet. I’m sure many people today would be willing to play games online, or watch original video programming provided they’re required to watch advertisements at the appropriate time.
The problem with advertisements is that there are too many of them. Content providers are willing to test the patience of its audience by lengthening ad-time, while at the same time, selling smaller sizes of available time, making them cheaper to buy, and more attracting to businesses. Decades ago, the costs of producing radio and television shows was much lower, and so, the amount of ad-time was significantly smaller. Content providers would almost always remind the audience before commercials, “And now, a word from our sponsors” or to say that the show was brought to you by whatever company who has been running ads during the show. This provided a reason why advertisements were being shown. Today however, I rarely see a reminder as to why I’m watching the ad. It’s too assumed why the commercials are playing, why we should watch them, and thus, people get angry with them.
The internet has too many ads itself, but like any entertainment medium either starting out or loosing their audience, advertising will be cheap, and therefore, unless content becomes more interesting to draw larger audiences, the only way to make money is to sell as much available space as possible to advertisers. As the popularity of streaming popular content grows, advertisements will become more valuable, and won’t invade our programs as much.
If all the television networks would be willing to provide all their shows on the internet, with the same ads running, and record companies not as demanding for royalties, so that streaming music via internet radio sites and computer applications can be made more affordably for the providers, content providers may not have to worry as much about people pirating their content if it was already freely available.
While owning content is a different issue, as long as content providers are able to interest people in buying their products, pirates aside, they should be able to continue doing so, and if not, and they find themselves struggling to gain profits in selling their products, they’re better off trying to recoup the money by diversifying their product line.
The nature of entertainment should be of free expression, as well as free admission. My frustration with having to see and hear people discuss what they’ve stolen won’t solve the issue en masse. I’m hopeful that content providers will see there are larger revenues in the free broadcasting of their content than there is in being overprotective, restrictive and paranoid of their audience.
Dev - Stricter rating rules. Prevent user from rating again