Speaking of foolish ? those latest moves of yours seem quite desperate. Whee ? you?re going to sell episodes of past
shows too! The only difference is that yours won?t be portable and will essentially be locked to the company-provided
(e.g. Comcast and DirecTV) PVRs. Guys? Don?t you think that if people wanted those show on their PVRs they would have?
well? recorded them? That?s kind of the point of the whole thing.
So, earlier I said that you were going in the wrong direction. I?ll explain: while ABC appears to be focused on
previously-aired episodes, you need to focus on yet-to-be-aired episodes. That?s where it gets interesting. A cursory
look at your numbers suggests that this is possible. You?re already willing to sell past episodes for 99 cents. Why not
sell yet-to-be-aired episodes at Apple?s $1.99 price point? That?s a whole ?nother buck. You can use a good portion of
the marginal revenue to bribe the local stations and you?d still be making money.
You see ? fundamentally people pay more if it?s something that?s not already readily available. Imagine being able to
see ?Lost? a week early. OK ? that?s a bad example. You don?t have ?Lost.? Maybe that?s the problem: you don?t have
much these days. This brings me to my second yet-to-be-aired suggestion, pilots. Why don?t you shake up the way that
television works and create pilot.nbc.com? Picture this:
Instead of trying to guess which shows will be popular and which shows won?t, let people fire up their televisions and
check them out for themselves. After every pilot users would be required to fill out a questionnaire. You could use the
same delivery mechanism as your current/soon-to-be video-on-demand offerings. (However, I would encourage you to offer
these shows for free.)
This would do two things: it would give you a better understanding of which shows to keep and which to let go, but,
more importantly, it would help to create a buzz around a show. For instance, NBC ? you have a pretty solid show in
Surface. However, it just hasn?t found its way in the world yet. It?s possible that if users had been able to escape
the reality-driven summer schedule and take a gander at what?s upcoming, Surface would have, well, surfaced with the
power of its monsters. Instead its swimming along like a big sea-turtle.
While these suggestions might seem somewhat scary or perhaps just whimsical, the point is still the same. The world is
changing and you need to stop cramming the old system into the new world. Don?t fight the Internet. Instead, take
advantage of its power. Use its advantages. Don?t let this opportunity pass you by. Once it?s gone, it might just be
In any case, I?ll let you get back to your business of screening television shows and attempting to discern what the
rest of the world would like to watch. Good luck with that!
A Passionate Viewer
If you have comments or suggestions for future columns, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.