Illegal downloads, we are all too often told by various media giants, will be the death of decent TV and films. While I can see this is a logical conclusion if people continue to trawl bittorrent sites for their entertainment, I can’t help but think there is a better and easier solution than chasing down and fining an individual hundreds of thousands of pounds for having watched a show without paying for it.
My genius idea? Make the shows much cheaper to watch. Single half-hour episodes of a show currently cost £1.89 on iTunes; I can’t be the only person to see this as way too much for way too little.
The biggest problem illegal downloaders face is not from the litigous media companies, but rather from slow connections and bad quality files. If it cost 10p to watch a primetime show quickly, easily and instantly as soon as it’s aired on TV I have no doubt that millions would buy rather than steal. The old way of buying copies of films and TV series in a physical format is dying fast, and responding by just directly porting the cost across to the digital format simply isn’t responding to the changing media landscape.
I don’t believe the majority of people object to paying for things they view, they just need a realistic and fair price. When a show is on TV, the advertising rates for each viewer, if my Googling is correct, are less than a penny, so a 10p charge per viewer would be immensely profitable by comparison. Yes, DVD sales will suffer, but as the format is dying out at a galloping pace anyway, why should this matter in the long run?
Like the music industry, it seems that multinational media companies simply can’t get their heads around the idea that the monumental profits of the previous 20 years just aren’t possible any more. Pushing vastly overpriced content is only going to encourage more people to abandon ship and take up a life of virtual swarthy swashbuckling instead.