Thursday, May 24, 2012

More thoughts on your Dan Harmon thoughts

Thanks to everyone for all your comments on my Dan Harmon posting. Thanks to Dan for linking to the piece.

In between the folks agreeing with my position and the ones saying I’m old, out of touch, and should just be sent to the glue factory, a number of you brought up an interesting speculation – namely that networks are becoming obsolete and that the future of creative content will lie in other, newer arenas like the internet. So a maverick showrunner need not be concerned because if he has a large enough fan base he can circumvent networks completely.  

Some thoughts on that from a guy who, depending on your viewpoint, comes from a position of first-hand involvement in the TV industry or from Jurassic Park.

Television is definitely heading in that direction. In ten years we probably will watching shows on delivery systems not yet invented.

We’re in transition, no question. But here’s the thing – it’s a slow transition. Very slow. Why? Because no one’s really figured out yet how to make the kind of money on the internet that networks can collect broadcasting over-the-air or on cable.

I know people who produce very popular webisodes. They get linked, they win awards, and their primary goal is to have a network buy them and turn them into full series. A time will come when that’s not necessary; when webisodes will be substantial money-makers on their own, but that day is not here yet.

Commenters brought up Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams as examples of writers who have (deservedly) achieved cult status. But they needed something to launch them. They needed the networks. Doesn’t even have to be a major network. Joss did it with BUFFY on the WB. And I’m not saying you absolutely can’t achieve cult status without the mass exposure that a network provides, but it’s much harder and the success stories are way fewer.

At some point you need the big guys. Kevin Smith makes his little indie film, CLERKS. It gets attention at Sundance. Lots of kudos. But it wasn’t until Miramax came along and distributed the movie that it took off and launched Smith’s career. Thank you, Harvey Weinstein.

What the internet affords you (today) is freedom. I’ve had this blog for 6 1/2 years now. No one gives me notes. No one approves what I post. It’s all very liberating. But nobody pays me. Yes, I suppose I could accept Google Ads but they'd just junk up the site, and the income I’d receive is negligible. Now if a major advertising agency came along and offered me a bundle to place a banner for Coke or American Airlines, sure I’d do it – but who am I kidding? I’m a little blog. Coke and American Airlines are not going to take funds away from their Upfronts budget to sponsor Friday Questions.

Even current showrunners with 200,000 readers or Twitter followers can’t yet parlay their numbers into the kind of money they’d need to tell the networks to kiss their ass.

Here’s the reality check: Yes, there are more networks to choose from today (which is a good thing!). And even a small one like AMC can be your golden ticket IF you happen to create that magic breakout show. But the bigger bankrolls, the better salaries (even though they’re way less than they used to be), and the most exposure are still on the major networks. At least at this moment.

It’s exciting to me that COUGAR TOWN, a show ABC cancelled, is getting new life on TBS. What I don’t know is what the budget will be. My guess is it will be less. Can Bill Lawrence do it without compromising the show?   I'm hoping he can.

And over time, when cable networks continue to drain audiences from the Big Four that may change. There will come a day when getting a show on Adult Swim means as much (financially and ratings-wise) as getting one on CBS.

Just not today.

Today you still need to make a good deal. You need your "Harvey Weinstein."  Sorry, but you do.

You could bankroll your own show but that’s plenty risky. You do a show on NBC. You get paid for running it and you get an ownership stake. The show gets cancelled and you just walk away with whatever money you made and vacation in Hawaii. You bankroll your own project. It doesn’t fly. You’re selling your house and moving to El Centro. Do you have faith that your 1,000,000 Twitter followers will support your project enough that you’re willing to mortgage your house on it?

An Anonymous (of course) commenter said: In the age of the Internet, having a built-in, young, loyal audience that you're directly connected with can be pretty useful, "fanboys" or not. Old world media veterans should do well to remember this.

Uh huh. This Old world media veteran invites you to write a check.

60 comments:

tom said...

Isn't Bill Lawrence quitting as showrunner of Cougar Town when it moves to TBS?

Thomas said...

Internet money is about $1000 per million views as-is. If you were clever, I'm sure you could quadruple that, but I also believe something will come along and make it so you can make vastly more than that per million.

Anyway, point is, if you can consistently make anything for $10,000 and get over 10 million views, you're in profit. My guess is there will be a few people doing this within 10 years, then something will shake up the online space and all of a sudden revenues will increase and everyone will want to be a part of it. I don't think we're at that point yet, but I think within the next 15 or 20 years, we'll see a period of change where in 3 years or less the entire media landscape will change and big media companies will see the internet as their primary income.

Anonymous said...

Yeah dude... Bill Lawerence is out as show runner on Cougar Town.

aboleyn said...

Thank you so much for this reality check. So many outspoken opinionated people have no idea how the industry actually works. I certainly do not claim to either, and that is why having someone like you spell it out for us is so informative. I at least acknowledge that it is indeed a business and despite how attached we viewers and fans are to a show, a writer, actor or whatnot if we are not supporting this with hard cashy money all of our tweets and blog comments just amount to useless noise. The industry is certainly evolving, but evolution takes time.

The Brains said...

Google just bought Motorola mobility - the largest maker of cable boxes. If anyone can figure out a good way to monitor people's TV viewing habits for better advertising, its Google. This has the potential to revolutionize the TV ratings system and could provide a boost for shows like Community which are low-rated but have a strong, passionate following that are not accurately measured by current ratings systems.

bettyd said...

I was reading something on American Idol contestants - where are they now. The season 8 winner Lee Dewyze was dropped from has label after he had the lowest sales numbers of all AI winners. He said something like you are saying in that he had tens of millions of people vote for him, but where were they to buy the album. Similar that many millions can love someone online - for free or really cheap - but will not pony up the money to purchase the content.

I love the networks have shows online, and depending on how recent the show is, you get more or less commercials. I love that model - I'm sure the advertisers like getting their 15 second commercials in rather than their more expensive 30-60 second commercials being fast forwarded with DVR use.

btmarino84 said...

I'd be happy to write a check to Mr. Harmon or any great showrunner that I am a fan of. The success stories of things on Kickstarter shows this (Did you see how much Doublefine made on their campaign? I guarantee that at least the same amount of people watch Community than bought the last Doublefine game). So there are ways to support it developing more and more.

Sorry, I had to reply because mostly I agreed with your post until your vaguely insulting last sentence. If Joss Whedon was trying to raise a million dollars to make a cheap TV show, he'd pull it off. Same goes for Harmon. And I'd gladly give as much as I could.

Anonymous said...

Ken, on the off chance that you missed this:

http://www.gq.com/entertainment/movies-and-tv/201206/new-rules-of-tv#slide=12

No credit given, though, which I suppose says something about the status of writers.

btmarino84 said...

@Thomas

You know, as much as I love the idea of more freedom on the internet, I'm not sure I like the idea of big media companies seeing the internet as their primary income. I like going to see movies in beautiful big screens in the movie theater, I like watching TV Shows on my nice HD TV. I only really like watching things on the computer if they are a DVD or an HD download. Streaming never gets up to the quality it could, plus my screen isn't as nice as the TV or theater. So I'm not sure. I guess if they were using HD downloads then I'd be happy but I'm afraid of a world where movie theaters don't exist.

Sebastian Peitsch said...

Thanks for the follow-up "a guy" ;-)

Let me just point out to you that Chris Hardwick re-launched his career via The Nerdist. And @wilw kind of has come full circle, basically going to a midlife crisis or souls-searching on his blog http://wilwheaton.typepad.com

And be honest, being on that writers' panel and doing consultant work on some shows is one thing but you did Dodger talk and are now back to announcing for the Mariners - don't you think this blog kind of got you work? I mean not even a little bit?

I know as a fact that you got linked by two of the most well-know German media bloggers (or better: one media critic who got a ton of awards for his work criticizing the old media, first and foremost the biggest German tabloid (think Sun but from Germany)

@wilw now has a show on the web playing tabletop games which he co-produced with Felicia Day - they both were on "Eureka" together and Felicia did "The Guild" after she was on "Dr. Horrible".

Kickstarter funded Ze Franks' "A Show" which is currently "airing" on YouTube in three minute snippets. Frank raked in over 100k in funding all via the Internet. Also Kickstarter was there to help fund "Superfine Adventure" from the maker of "Day of the Tentacle" - an adventure game. They got more than 3 million dollars in funding over the course of six weeks.

15 years ago I didn't even know what "the Internet" was. Back then I had a 33.6 modem. Today I have 6mbit DSL - that's a factor of almost 500. That means in 15 years I will have a connection that will be able to transport the contents of a Bluray disc of today in 5 seconds.

Trust me - within five to ten years, the whole scene will have changed drastically and companies like HBO aren't even noticing.

Anonymous said...

The thing about AI voting...the people who bought his cd are the same ones who voted that many times. They don't limit how many times you vote. The numbers don't match, but if every one of those 100k buyers voted 10 times, he wins.

Pam P

Sebastian Peitsch said...

through a midlife crisis and for a fact.

Me have bad english skills.

nerkul said...

As it stands, Joss Whedon could make a very comfortable living financing his own stuff and selling it to his internet fans. He's one of few, so far. I reckon if Dan Harmon gets one more show on a mainstream network he'll be able to do the same. But that isn't really the point, because ultimately everyone wants to be Hollywood big, change the world and be loved by the planet. What the internet affects is the career path of someone on that journey, and the kind of people who'll take it. The Weinsteins may be the last of their kind. Middlemen are on the way out. I can see how that prospect would cause fearful reactions: about 50% of the human race is middlemen and they don't take kindly to being eliminated. Brilliant creators spreading love will be heard... that is, if they are brilliant creators spreading love. The de-chaffening process will be NOISY and SCARY for many.

I'm British and don't know what Adult Swim is but I already know I'm downloading Harmon's next show. Monetize me.

yourube72 said...

it seems the old industry structure was 5/6 broadcasters, small number of shows and massive amounts of money heaped upon them (big, BIG slice of pie for the few).

currently, the older & established broadcasters' viewer numbers are much smaller and continue to drop, along with advertising income/production budgets etc.

as we have already seen, the near future should see many more broadcasters and a greater amount of original content.

20-25 years ago only 5 shows out of 20 appealed to me. now it seems like i can find 20 shows i enjoy (and even more dreck that i ignore). there's so much more content, now.

it's all win for the viewer. however, the old broadcasters having to share their piece of the pie (taking a pay cut) may not be so happy.

Chris said...

It seems to me that until a profitable internet broadcasting model is developed there will continue to be a disparity between the standard TV broadcasting model and the internet.

As Ken has said here, broadcasting on the internet does not yet bring in "real" money and that is what is needed to produce quality viewing.

I feel that internet broadcasting faces many of the same challenges as the record industry is currently struggling with - the perpetual destructive cycle of piracy. I'd imagine that any future internet based broadcasting would be run on a "viewer pays" model rather than relying on advertising revenue. No one wants ads in internet content.
But as with music, plenty of people will happily distribute media on peer-to-peer networks.
We'll end up with a case of 'Everybody's watching but nobody's paying'

And you just can't make quality viewing without a budget.

Whoever comes up with the solution I'm sure will be a very, VERY wealthy individual in a few years time.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Ken, I think your comments are perfectly right. But I also think that one thing all broadcasters - large and small - will be looking at in future is the fan base showrunners, writers, and stars have when deciding where to put their money. Your blog isn't making you money *directly*, but it helps you sell more copies of your books and the size of your audience will be an asset when you pitch future shows - increasingly so, as time goes on. It's my view that we are heading to a time when people pitching shows will be expected to have done stuff on the Web and shown they can build appeal before they're commissioned to do anything.

wg
P.S. Would like to call your attention to the 2012-2013 schedule of the Just Kiddin' Theater, run by a 2011 Sitcom Room attendee, for which two other 2011 Sitcom Room attendees have written a play to be produced in December: http://justkiddintheatre.com/JKT-wp/?page_id=857

nerkul said...

Chris, re piracy, the examples of Louis CK asking $5 for his video while acknowledging that anyone could pirate it, but hoping we'd pay anyway out of mutual respect, and Joss Whedon putting Dr Horrible online for free and then asking $15 for his homemade DVDs, show that piracy is irrelevant if you provide quality and respect your audience. An infamous study commissioned by the UK film industry concluded, to their chargrin, that people who torrent films also spend more. (Because they love films, duh.)

The truth is piracy only hurts you if your success depended on marketing rather than quality. This is a terrifying reality for many people who thought they had a right to be in the entertainment industry. Laws are currently being passed in many countries running counter to this fundamental truth. There will be tension, violence and then a correction, because truth doesn't like to be ignored.

Mark said...
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nerkul said...
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Mark said...

Concerning your last line, Ken, we are beginning to, with sites like Kickstarter.

If you're not familiar with them, on such sites, people post a plan for plan a webseries, movie, videogame, or even a kitchen appliance that they'd like to bring to life. They set a goal for an amount they want to raise to start their project. People then have a month to pledge money to them, and if the pledges match or exceed the goal by the end of a month, the people who pledged pay up, and the project gets fund to run. Those who pledge do not get ownership of the idea or share in the profits, if there are any, but there are various rewards for pledging certain amounts of money; pledging the price of the product usually gives you the product, and higher levels might give you a cameo or a dinner with the people working on the project.

This has translated fan enthusiasm to money to get projects off the ground. This kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/926010713/lust-for-love-feature-film is a film featuring a few actors from Dollhouse, the most obscure of Joss Whedon's television shows, which set a goal of $70,000 and received $100,000.

And here's a fellow who's popularity isn't from a TV show, but is instead a self made minor internet celebrity, who used Kickstarter to raise $146,000 to make a triweekly videoblog webseries: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/zefrank/a-show-with-ze-frank

This isn't going to raise the money needed to fund television shows with current production quality, but I could see, within ten years time, a proliferation of low budget yet high quality webseries online being able to stay afloat.

BigTed said...

"Cougar Town" is now essentially just a bunch of people sitting around a suburban neighborhood drinking wine, and occasionally throwing coins into a can. (Which isn't a bad thing.) Other than the actors' salaries, I bet they could make it pretty cheaply if they had to.

Bradley said...

Friday question: Before computers, did you type up your own scripts or was that job given to someone else? Also, do you still have copies of these old scripts? I can imagine the early ones only ever existed on paper (and TV, of course).

Piliocolobus said...

You can stream it to your Wide Screen HD TV. I do. :)

Anonymous said...

So I'm noticing that salaries in the Entertainment Industry seem to be badly inflated. As things continue to evolve, salaries may start to reflect...market value.

Piliocolobus said...

How can you finance a big production online? The canceled ABC soaps tried to do it but folded due to lack of financing. Hulu's 38 second commercials might work for reruns but I don't and won't pay a Premium for new shows.

Harkaway said...

Towards the end of your piece, you get to the nub of the matter, which is about money. What many people seem to think is that quality television can be made on a shoestring and that a profit will be forthcoming.

TV is a heavily capitalized business and making a pilot isn't done for $10,000, or, often $100,000. Although networks commission pilots and pay towards them, generally more is spent by the studio making the show as an investment. They want it to be as good as possible so it will earn them cash down the line. Most studios will not see much of a return on their investment for a while. They never see it if a show runs only a year without good sales overseas.

Making webisodes can be done inexpensively, but they are kind of like superior student films, hoping to catch someone's notice, so more seed capital can be injected and a wider audience can be found. The internet may seem like a way to reach millions, but you must sustain and monetize any income for years if you want to reach the millions of people that most networks reach. It is called broadcasting because it throws the net wide, not because it appeals to niche audiences or cult audiences.

Most of us reading Ken's wonderful blog are here because we have an interest in tv in a variety of ways, perhaps as writers, directors, actors, but certainly as consumers. Most viewers are not as engaged as Ken's readers. They have some shows they like, and they try to see them. Many people now record their favorites and enjoy them at their leisure, but that behavior hasn't ensnared everybody yet. Advertisers still find network television reaches many of the people to whom they wish to sell.

Although many people will watch stuff on their computer, I think that most will wish to watch their big screen television. I already can stream just about anything to mine; Youtube and the BBC Iplayer are included as apps with my Tivo service. Video on Demand can go straight to the TV.

Television as we know it is not dead, but networks, production houses, cable channels, etc. are still all in the game. They'll need to evolve, but they always needed to do that. Will we enjoy watching what happens? I expect so.

Wendy said...

Friday Question---

What's your take on Ryan Murphy? He's definitely a busy guy with Glee, American Horror Story, & The New Normal (his first half-hour sitcom) all on TV next season plus the movie adaptation of The Normal Heart from Broadway.

Roger Owen Green said...

But Mark- re Kickstarter (and I have sponsored a dozen project), you still need either a killer concept, or some sort of name recognition earned from old media. The actors were from Dollhouse, a relatively obscure show, but still a nationally broadcast program.

chuckcd said...

"If anyone can figure out a good way to monitor people's TV viewing habits for better advertising, its Google."

This has the potential to put George Orwell in your living room.

Mark said...

Rodger, I'll give you most of that--a killer idea or notoriety is needed, but I would argue that the notoriety need not be from old media.

Part of the point of including the second link, to Ze Frank's Kickstarter, was to point out that even someone not made popular by television (or to my knowledge any of old media) was able to use this to good effect. His notoriety that allowed him to succeed at getting funding was an earlier web series from the mid 2000s.

Johnny Walker said...

I'm completely agree with you, Ken. The only way that a fanbase is worth something... is when they've proven that they're worth something - i.e. money.

Something is only as valuable as someone is prepared to pay for it.

There is one sign of change on the horizon, though: Kickstarter. An easy way for content creators to get funding from their fans, (pretty much) cutting out the middle man.

A number of projects, unable to find funding down "traditional" avenues have found their budgets from loyal followers. The largest project so far raised over $10 million... which begs the question: How much money would a new season of Firefly cost?

chuckcd said...

Johnny,
I would pay to help Mr Whedon with that!

pumpkinhead said...

Am I the only one who doesn't think it's "better" with all these choices? I'm easily old enough to remember a dial (heh heh, a "dial")with only three major broadcast networks, and I remember in those days, I always had something I wanted to watch at any given time of the evening, often having to choose between two things that I wanted to watch.

Now there are entire nights of the week where there is nothing I'm interested in watching on any of our five trillion channels except reruns of those same shows that I watched back 20, 30, 40 years ago.

I feel the networks' desperation has become so palpable that you can almost feel coming through the TV set, and it prevents them from developing a lot of best potential shows, or giving them a chance to find an audience.

And why? Because 300,000 people who could be watching the show are instead watching people make cupcakes, and another 200,000 people who could be watching it are instead watching family members trying an intervention on some druggo loser who is going to relapse 5 minutes later, and another 800,000 are watching real housewives do whatever it is real housewives do in their fake reality.

I do acknowledge that under that old model, shows like The Walking Dead may not exist either, so maybe a compromise model would be better with major networks and a few minor ones, but what we have now is a mountain of crap obscuring the existence of a few good shows, instead of a world where there were more good shows, everybody knew about them, and everybody you knew watched them and you could talk about them. All that's left for that now is a few unbearable talent competition shows.

To me it doesn't feel better.

Phillip B said...

Dreaded baseball analogy - there were major league teams which attempted to prevent newspapers from running box scores on the theory that if you could follow all the action in print, there was no reason to go to the game.

Then the teams resisted game on the radio, and then on television and the internet. Their bad logic seems obvious now, but it took some time to figure out how to create the money machine as it now exists.

There will be a way to provide universal video on demand without resorting to a tip jar, but it is going to take some time and some painful false starts.

Piliocolobus said...

OMG. People are gonna (spelling liberty taken) throw knives at me now for this..... But I watch Storage Wars. *hiding for cover* I am a secret Barry Weiss old-girlie-fan fan groupie. Heck at least I am being honest.

Johnny Walker said...

In other news: Cliff just found the perfect woman! It would be the ultimate ending for his character... Someone to bolster his confidence, and stop him trying to impress everyone, and sure enough, the IMDb confirms that the actress never reprised the role. You can't "fix" a character in a TV show! Great episode, though. Excellent job by Ratzenberger, too.

Dr. Leo Marvin said...

As usual, Ken makes eminently good sense. There's just one point from the first post that bears repeating here: Screw Chevy Chase.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

NOt to mention the fact the the young and 'new' audience is being raised in an enviroment where they find it normal not to pay for downloads.

nerkul said...

To reiterate: I own no television and download everything illegally, and I would happily pay for stuff I enjoy. Dan just has to ask.

al said...

Okay Ken, I'll agree with you that the new-media business model isn't there yet to support shows. We've heard that Community was getting abysmal TV ratings but fantastic digital views. But the real money iss in TV commercials, so those are the ratings that counted

But here's my thing: are those ratings even accurate anymore? Aren't those nielsen ratings just a small sample, used to predict what the audience at large is watching-- but if most of that audience ISN'T watching TV anymore, those are bad numbers. People who watch online aren't going to be part of Nielsen's study, so it's an inaccurate cross-section of viewing habits. (like if I unknowingly went to a nudist colony to poll for favorite clothes... the only people that would respond would be the small number that DID wear clothes, and my sampling would be wrong for the colony as a whole)

So not only is the new media model the way things are moving... but it seems to me, it's a model that HAS to be accepted, and NOW, because the old one simply isn't accurate. It's not that I want networks and companies buying ads to focus on digital media because that's what my generation watches (though I do want that), it's that focusing on TV ratings is a lie.


What do you think? Any flaws in my "non-pro" logic?

MBunge said...

"As it stands, Joss Whedon could make a very comfortable living financing his own stuff and selling it to his internet fans."


You don't know that. You don't know how much he could make and you don't know what Whedon considers "comfortable".

This is the internet fanboy version of the political pundit fallacy where the pundit is incapable of distinguishing between what they want and what would actually be popular with the public. The internet fanboy version is the conviction that what they want out of the entertainment world must be profitable because...well, just because.

Mike

nerkul said...

If I didn't know it I wouldn't have written it. You don't know it.

MBunge said...

"If I didn't know it I wouldn't have written it."


So, are you sleeping with Whedon or are you his accountant?

Mike

armchairprogrammer said...

Dear al,

I'm afraid that the flaw in your "non-pro" logic is the belief that Nielsen exists to measure the viewers of the programs. It doesn't; its function is to measure the viewers' exposure to the ADVERTISEMENTS. This can be seen in TV ratings reports when a program with no ads (such as a Presidential speech) is broadcast. Sometimes, no ratings numbers are presented, because the paying clients (ad agencies and their customers) have no interest in how many people watched.

Your other point, regarding the legit1macy of Nielsen's process...
well, you either accept the science of statistics or you don't. I won't champion it here, other than to say that it is widely accepted as scientifically valid. Of course, so is the theory of evolution, and that's not enough for a growing handful of people.

nerkul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nerkul said...

The main bit of Ken's post that I disagree with is the rate of change. Right now I download about 20 hours of American television a week. It's incredibly convenient, with no adverts, and I can watch on any device. If everyone did this Nielsen would become useless overnight. Advertisers would need to work out placement and sponsorship deals to reach the people actually watching. Community got tiny ratings, did a whole episode about Subway, and got renewed. While Harmon was blogging about Greenblatt he can't help but have considered cutting the middleman altogether.

It's only lack of awareness that prevents this changing the industry overnight. That means the correct model is exponential. Even if takeup is small today and small tomorrow it'll be 100% soon.

al said...

armchairprogrammer:

but that's my whole point. They're not accurately describing the number of people being exposed to advertisements, since their cross-section does not accurately reflect the viewing population. To go back to my nudist colony analogy, if the survey of the colony says 8/10 people like shoes, and the company sells 8 shoes, they look at their numbers and say "Well, 8/10 people said they wanted shoes, 8/10 people bought shoes, thus we sold shoes to 80% of the nudist colony. Good job, folks!" when in reality, only 8 people bought the shoes.


Likewise, if Nielsen ratings are saying 2 thousand people of their cross section are watching ads, allegedly representing 2 million people of the general populace being exposed to the ads, how long is it going to take people to realize that that many people aren't watching TV, and only 2 thousand are seeing the ads?

If more people are watching online than used to, doesn't that suggest that the old system is broken? And does the nielsen system accurately reflect this? (Or do they just claim to to secure their business?) I suspect we'll never really know. But what I'm sure of is, every one I know watches and follows Community intimately. Very few watch The Big Bang Theory.

Erin said...

Re: the Cougar Town budget on TBS, here's what co-creator Kevin Biegel (who I believe will be the showrunner next year) told critic Alan Sepinwall -- it's vague, but FWIW:

TBS really stepped up in a good way with the budget, they've been saying, "We're fans of what you guys are doing, so please keep doing it." I don't know that this is a situation necessarily where we have to go out tomorrow and every episode's a bottle show, because now the budget's been quartered. But I also think it makes financial sense to just tighten the bootstraps a little bit. I'm not sure what that's going to mean at the end of the day, but it does seem like TBS wants to keep making the show we've been making, and we're going to try to keep doing that to the best of our abilities.

(in this article: http://www.hitfix.com/blogs/whats-alan-watching/posts/interview-cougar-town-co-creator-kevin-biegel-on-tbs-move)

Scott said...

Sure people say "Oh, put on something good out and I'll pay for it." But when the time comes to actually enter that VISA card number, 90+ percent of those people will decline and find something for free to watch. Probably on TV.

And I love nerkul's post where s/he says what they watch is downloaded illegally and they'd pay for programming. The irony just drips from that.

Anonymous said...

"And I love nerkul's post where s/he says what they watch is downloaded illegally and they'd pay for programming. The irony just drips from that."

Plenty of irony to be had from almost any twenty-something year old twit, which unfortunately makes up the majority of Community viewers. All these opinions on the best way for Sony to handle their business in general, and Harmon in particular from people who've never had more than 10K in their bank accounts in their entire lives is hilarious.
Reminds me of the Conan fiasco. All the crying by fanboys, and when all the dust settles, Conan's ratings are in the basement, and his "supporters" are off somewhere downloading free movies.
I think Conan effectively diminished twitter campaigns forever. Executives now know it's just a little dust kicked up by their opponents PR machine, made up of mostly no-life nerds with emotional problems and the attention span of a gnat. Nothing to pay any attention to.

nerkul said...

I'm 34, I own my house, and my business is worth considerably more than 10K.

Scott, I don't get the irony in my saying I would happily pay for the entertainment that I enjoy. I pay for cinema, I pay for the large amount of music I download, yet somehow television hasn't found a model that allows me to pay directly for what I want to watch. Does that seem right to you?

In my country they've just made thepiratebay illegal, and that was one of (thankfully many) ways we had to find new quality entertainment. I remember a couple of years ago I got a warning for seeding an episode of Parks & Recreation. NBC objected, even though without torrenting it wouldn't otherwise have been available in my country.

Why bury your heads in the sand about the inevitability of the future? The fact is if you're a creator who makes quality and respects your audience, you will be paid. Joss Whedon and Louis CK have already demonstrated this. If you're a middleman then you need to wake up and change your business model, rather than lobbying politicians to make unenforceable laws that actually hurt artists.

nerkul said...

Of course, Arrested Development is coming exclusively to Netflix. I've never dealt with Netflix. If they make it a simple download without a messy signup procedure, I'm in. Otherwise I'm stealing that too, and I'll wait for the next middleman to get it right.

Anonymous said...

The people here who say they would pay for Harmon's show are likely full of it. And even if they did, in the aggregate you wouldn't put enough money together to finance the table read.

My money says a two-tier structure will gradually develop. Broadcast quality and budgeted shows and a vast array of shoestring budget web series. Occasionally, one of them will pop, especially if a heavyweight like Whedon lends his name to it. But you won't see the revolution that many are predicting.

Anonymous said...

The people here who say they would pay for Harmon's show are likely full of it. And even if they did, in the aggregate you wouldn't put enough money together to finance the table read.

My money says a two-tier structure will gradually develop. Broadcast quality and budgeted shows and a vast array of shoestring budget web series. Occasionally, one of them will pop, especially if a heavyweight like Whedon lends his name to it. But you won't see the revolution that many are predicting.

nerkul said...

Define 'pop'. In our world is any show bigger than Community? TV is about American Idol and Harrison Bergeroning the audience to a quiet, meaningless death. Literally nobody else watches any more.

Lenny said...

Yep, I was going to mention Nerdist - it seems like that may be the way forward for 'TV'. Just looking at some of the comments on youtube, nerds get to watch what they want to watch - if the Nerdist channel makes money, others might soon follow.

MBunge said...

"Joss Whedon and Louis CK have already demonstrated this."


And how many years and how much success in regular channels did each of those gentlemen have before they were able to make some money through the internet?

Mike

nerkul said...

I had never heard of Louis CK until last year; he wasn't globally big until recently. Joss Whedon is an order of magnitude bigger than Harmon (or perhaps more since the Avengers, but that was inevitable to anyone in the know) but Harmon could take a similar trajectory and, today, the rate would be even quicker.

You're right though. A lot of mediocre artists will need to find day jobs. If you aren't genuinely unique in a global age, the public owe you nothing.

Michael Rafferty said...

But what will happen when the government finds a way to regulate the internet?

Hecky said...

When paradigms change, they change fast. Network TV shows in general simply aren't aimed at an internet-savvy audience. But that approach will backfire as that audience ages and eventually dies off. The audiences coming up behind them do not, generally speaking, follow content in the way the sponsorship model of TV financing requires. Maybe a way will be found to transition ads to some online form, but I doubt it. Direct pay seems more likely: ads just turn off members of the new media audiences, and are psychologically less effective in addition to that. I think Ken has the right time frame but I think he's also underestimating the rapidity with which the old paradigm can give way. It will take a successful technological innovation of some kind, but it could happen much faster than we might expect.