Rantmodo: TV Is Broken. Can Anything Be Done?

TV is broken. I don't mean that somebody's just put a boot through the screen, although in terms of funding TV production, they may as well have. What kind of fix will actually make sense and keep both TV production flowing and TV fans actually happy?

Image: CGMegee

This series of thoughts was prompted by Friday's article on George R R Martin's comments surrounding Game Of Thrones piracy and some of the discussion that flowed from it. In the article, Martin notes that:

"So people are just anxious to see it. I think we’re seeing — we’re still right in the midst of a whole new template evolving for television and film entertainment."

...and one commenter noted that:

"The simple fact is, it could air a few hours after the US and on FTA TV and it'd still get massively downloaded here for the simple fact that we want to watch ad-free TV when and where and on what we want — unless it's on the ABC it's gonna be chock-full of ads and pop-up bullcrap. I'm prepared to pay for such a thing, but until it exists I'm a rabid TV downloader."

I'm not pulling that quote out to have a specific go at that commenter per se; it's just that it seems to encapsulate the position of an awful lot of Giz readers, and a wide swathe of the general community as well.

Is TV really broken if we pirate everything?

Yeah, it really is. This is a simple matter of economic reality. TV production is expensive stuff, and while there's no way that I'm going to say that a given program (or another) automatically deserves to make money — because you get into wacky protectionism issues going down that path — the simple fact is that TV production at any kind of decent standard costs a significant chunk of change.

The figures aren't easy to come by, but the suggestion is that even something that's dirt cheap, like, say, a trashy reality TV show costs somewhere in the region of $US100,000-$US500,000 per episode. Something dramatic with sets, lighting, actors, effects and so on easily tips the scales at a couple of million dollars each episode. Multiply that by a 22-odd episode US season, and you're quickly spending a lot of money to produce a show that may not be a "hit".

But I buy the box sets after the season is over?

Good for you; I've got plenty of box sets of series sitting on my shelf right now too. But box sets are pretty undeniably the gravy, not the main meal when looking at TV from a business standpoint. If you saw a box set of a TV show that you'd heard utterly nothing about peeking out from a store shelf for $50, would you buy it on a whim? It's unlikely, to put it mildly, and it's certainly not something that you could build a sensible TV production model around. Even if you did happen to produce a Game Of Thrones style series that spread via digital word of mouth and did very well, the next $44 million or so you dump into the next series would wipe you out — and that's without factoring in the cost of piracy to the "hit" series at all!

There are undeniably examples of shows that have gone the direct-episodes route — Family Guy and Futurama being the most obvious — that went to a direct DVD sales model post-cancellation, but the simple truth there is that they built audiences on the back of traditional TV exposure.

The traditional TV business was built up around the idea of advertising, both subtle and increasingly less subtle. The reason why TV networks can charge so much for advertising spots is because they can offer up sizeable audiences to advertisers. Pirated shows are without ads, so there's no audience there, and the position that builds up around "I want it when I want it" doesn't give time to build that kind of advertising model — and that's if the show generates enough interest to last that long. Locally, Channel 10 hyped the hell out of The Shire, and social media analysis suggested it would be a hit. However, it shed viewers at a rapid rate. No great loss you may think (and I'd agree), but there's no way that Ten didn't lose big money on just that one show. There's only so long that you can run a business — any business — losing money.

But Aussie TV networks treat the viewers like scum!

This is a tough one to argue against, and I'm not even going to try. Having been an avid sci-fi watcher for many years, there's nothing more frustrating that networks shifting schedules, holding "important" episodes or simply stopping showing a favourite TV series. I'm not a big sports watcher myself, but I do get that not being able to see big matches, or seeing them on a delay is annoying too, especially in the social media age.

I also get that you can't please everybody all of the time; there aren't enough programming hours in the day to put everything on all at once, and people's tastes vary. Were it up to me (and I know this won't be popular), most sports would be relegated to niche channels rather than taking up huge chunks of prime time programming, for example. I know I don't fit the typical Aussie model TV viewer there, but even then, who does? This shouldn't be read as a defence of the existing networks per se, because there are problems there a-plenty, and timely delivery of content is just the tip of the iceberg. Like I said at the start, TV is broken.

Image: miikkah

So what's the alternative, smart alec?

Alex, actually, but I'm digressing there. There's a few models that could be used for TV of the future, but none of them are entirely bulletproof against a tide of "we want it when we want it" thinking. Here's why.

Model #1: Full VOD, All Of The Time Why it's great: The nirvana point of TV delivery, this would bring any program to your TV on demand. We're kind-of-sort-of-maybe heading in this direction, although Australia is most definitely lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to VOD delivery — and we'd be massively behind were it not for the sterling efforts of ABC's excellent iView team.

Why it could suck: VOD is great for delivering to niches; while you watch the NRL, I'll be happily ensconced in a web of sci-fi shows, documentaries, a single reality show guilty pleasure and intermittent bouts of Pro Wrestling. The problem with niches is that they're niches; small audiences in other words. That's a tougher advertising sell, which means you either sit through more ads — and more crappy, cheap ads — with everything, or pay a lot more for your VOD solution without advertising to cover production costs.

Model #2: Pay TV is the only TV Why it's great: This is what Foxtel does right now, and last week's discussion had plenty of back and forth on the merits (and drawbacks) of the Pay TV model. It avoids the niche play because you're paying a lump sum for a lump of TV content, and the less popular channels are propped up by the more popular ones, keeping a larger proportion of the audience happy — at least in theory

Why it could suck: Abandoning a free-to-air model entirely necessarily removes TV as an entertainment source for those on lower incomes, including, for example, the elderly who may use TV as one of their only entertainment options. Pay TV isn't above the same kinds of scheduling, advertising and repeat strategies that the free to air networks use, either, and you can bet that any popular series would quickly switch to premium packages if Pay TV were the only game in town.

Model #3: Public TV Why it's great: The ABC. The BBC. Within those six letters stands a whole lot of the programming that I adore, alongside some exceptionally worthy programming that the commercial channels simply wouldn't touch. I'm on the record (and will state once again, if anyone from the BBC is listening) as stating that I'd happily pay the UK licence fee in order to get full BBC programming in Australia.

Why it could suck: Not everybody loves the ABC and BBC, and the concept of a mandatory TV licence (as is the case in the UK) would sit poorly with a lot of Australians. I'd rather pay the ABC to do what they do than, say, pay Channel Nine to produce The Footy Show, but it gets good viewership figures, suggesting that there are plenty who wouldn't do so. State-run TV isn't without its problems, including the inevitable political interference angle, and it would be all too easy for a disgruntled government to starve a public broadcaster of funds if it felt like it.

Model #4: Pay-Per-Episode Why it's great: No ads. This is essentially the current iTunes model. If you want to watch an episode, you pay a few bucks for it and it's delivered to your viewing device with no commercial interruptions. The program producers get your dollars, and everyone's happy...

Why it could suck: The iTunes model works because, like DVD/Blu-Ray box sets, it sits on the back of the existing TV model, where existing advertising and networks cover the production costs. Flick over to a purely user-pays experience, and you're not likely (as a business) to want to fund more than a couple of episodes, and wait for the money to come in. Or in other words, you'd see a lot of pilots, and a lot of series that simply never concluded because the makers ran out of money due to a shrinking audience. Again, this is a niche play, not a broadcast one.


Model #5: Do It Yourself Why it's great: YouTube TV, in a word. There's a lot of really great YouTube content, and plenty of folk who've made serious money out of YouTube videos, overcoming the niche audience issues and delivering a lot of great and eminently viewable content.

Why it could suck: There's a lot of great content, and a lot of utter trash — and sometimes the trash wins out, at least in a flash-in-the-pan kind of way. Nobody's going to convince me that Rebecca Black's "Friday" was a great song, but a lot of money was made rather quickly on the back of it. If that's the future of TV, I'm going to weep, but only after I'm all done puking.

Ultimately, a lot of TV production comes down to the bottom line, and the bottom line is money — and even here, there's a problem at the consumer end. A lot of the vitriol against Foxtel in last week's article (and it's a repeated meme) is that there's no good "value" for money in a subscription. The problem there is that value isn't a fixed kind of target, even for something like TV. As a personal example, when Babylon5 was still in production, I watched episodes semi-direct from the US. By "semi-direct", I mean I knew someone else who got VHS tapes of the episodes from the states, because it took ages for them to air on Channel 7 here. Naughty, yes, but the NTSC VHS tapes were woeful to watch (and indeed, I did wear an onion on my belt and all that), so I purchased the VHS tapes as soon as they were available. Two episodes at at time, and I got excellent value out of them, because I wore those tapes down like crazy watching and re-watching episodes countless times.

Those tapes cost me $30 a piece, and they were great value. Would I pay $30 for two episodes now? No, because that's not what the market says they're worth; I'd pay $30-$50 a season instead. Actually, I paid a little more than that for each season when they hit DVD, and again, I'm happy with that value. But that value isn't, say, the value that somebody on a lower income elsewhere in the world might put on it; a $30 box set would be unobtainable if your income was $1 a day. Equally, even if prices dropped, a "reasonable" price to some could (and, I'd say, based on the amount of piracy around things like cheap apps, I'd say would) quickly become "too expensive" for some.

tldr; version: TV is broken, but there are no easy fixes.


Comments

    If only there was a way to watch something with ads, or at the same time without ads after paying a dollar. I looked at xbox videos last week and was dismayed to see the cost of single episodes was disproportionate to 1) my time saved by not having ads 2) the cost of buying a series after it has aired, on Blu-ray/DVD. Also, it seems pointless even starting to watch a series these days because within 10 episodes it gets cancelled. Sure, you've enjoyed those episodes, but you want a full story, and not something rushed at the end just to finish-up ala Last Resort.

    The one suggestion missing from your article is the use of in-show advertising. This wont work for every show, for example, you cant have someone in Game of Thrones reaching for a box of cornflakes for breakfast, but other shows definitely could have it. Look at Cisco phones, they are used in a few of the US legal and cop dramas and that costs a pretty penny in advertising. Cisco still gets 100% exposure even if the show is pirated.

    Great article. I really wish TV can be fixed. To get the big budget TV shows like game of thrones or the next scifi blockbuster, they need cash to actually fund the big budgets.

      haha yeah or if anyone has watched burn notice lately you'll notice the whole thing is one big hyundai ad, cracks me up every time.

        Which I don't mind at all if it pays their bills and lets me consume it (with belt onions) at a couple bucks per ep. Generally doesn't detract...but yeah, its crack up.

          Yeah I agree, I don't find it offensive at all, I'm sure the average viewer barely notices they're being advertised to. I notice Apple and Dell place their stuff in just about every american tv show on the air. If the script asks for someone to be using a laptop I don't mind if they get to recoup some costs through lucrative product placement deals.

    I like the idea of crowdsourcing.
    They only start production when they have enough money and we pay for no ads. Totally worth it.
    I also don't mind watching a few ads before or after my show as long as they do not boost the volume. You tube is a good example of this but sometimes I do want to scream if I watch 10x 20 second clips in a row as that works out to more ads then download.
    This also has the added benefit of a show still getting made even if the fan base is small, just as long as they have deep pockets..

    TVs are just screens. What we're talking about is content creation and distribution. It's a huge opportunity which has some big players drooling. What we used to call TV needed to be broken.

    I wonder if the maths of crowdfunding each season of Game of Thrones would work out...

    Season 2 has a budget 15% higher than Season 1, putting it in the region of $69 million

    10.3 million viewers per episode, including all repeats and on-demand viewings
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_of_Thrones_(TV_series)#Viewer_numbers
    http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Season_2

    $69,000,000 / 10,300,000 People = $6.67 Per person per season.

    But... You'd never get 10.3 million people to support the project.

    For the sake of the hypothetical, let's say HBO chips in $10 million for the exclusive TV broadcast rights. And for supporter numbers I'll use the current support level for the Veronica Mars movie (59,335)

    ($69,000,000 - $10,000,000) / 59,335 People = Each supporter would need to pledge $995

    Even at a million supporters it would still be $59, which I think is more than people would be willing to pay.

      You're overlooking the international viewers, remember we're the largest pirates of Game Of Thrones

        Very true. I couldn't find a solid international total.

        I'd love to think you'd get 20 million people supporting the show worldwide, but I don't think that many people would contribute.

          It's also a bit of a limited sum game. Works OK for Games Of Thrones now on the back of TV exposure, but how do you get new content up under that model?
          (which isn't to say that it can't or shouldn't be done, but GoT and similar hyper-popular programs are an example of current TV production. A much tougher call for a totally new show)

            Also very good points. I think the concept could work for
            a) adaptations of existing content such as "We want to make a TV version of [insert popular game/book/thing]
            b) Super popular content producers: "Hi my name is Joss Whedon give me money to make a show"
            c) We already have an amazing pilot, watch it free then give us money to make more.

            /edit: assuming that most shows don't cost as much as GOT to produce.

            Last edited 25/03/13 4:31 pm

              I think option c is a winner, get companies to make pilots, then if enough people pledge it becomes a show. Could then do the same to see if season 2 etc gets made.

              I generally don't watch FTA TV anymore. The shows are generally just shite, and even if they're not pure rubbish the ads make me ragequit every time. I watch a helluva lot more YouTube and Twitch.tv these days, but I really like the crowdfunding idea.
              Remember Mortal Kombat: Legacy? How about Battlestar: Blood and Chrome? I have little doubt that these could have been Kickstarted into full-length series.

    I work for one of the TV stations and I've noticed a few other problems (With Australia) not getting US aired programs straight after they are played there.

    Broadcast licensing is a big one that requires the stations to purchase the rights to air those programs can take a ridiculously long time to be approved and thus halt any chance of getting certain programs aired locally quickly after the US. In most cases TV stations have to wait until a season of a show has finished before they can even get the approval to air.

    Another factor is that the US and Australia differ in seasonal programming throughout the year.
    Their Fall season (Starting around May) would be equivalent to our later schedule in October, from a number of viewers point of view.
    Arrow is an example, in the US it's almost finished its first season but here in Australia it won't air until after Easter. The reasoning behind this is that to start it earlier (Say in January) wouldn't work from a statistical point of view as January is a very low rated month for viewing.

    All this isn't what I would call fact, just my view on this sort of thing being in the industry for several years.

    Last edited 25/03/13 2:26 pm

      I disagree.

      Broadcast licensing does not take that long where needed... All of the Australian networks attend the LA screenings every year in May, they all know what new programming is coming up, months in advance, the regional US sales offices start to pipeline deals as soon as they can.
      If the Aus networks want to fast-track a series and are prepared to pony-up the cash to do so, then they all know they can get content ASAP.
      The US studios sales divisions know that sales made close to the US air-dates will command the biggest premum - it's in their best interests to get the broadcast rights out quickly.

      US season programming does differ from ours, some of the impact here can be where a US network runs a series of say 2 new episodes in 2 weeks, then a repeat a week later, then a new episode after that.
      US audiences are used to this phenomena, however Aus audiences like to see a season run-out, week after week.

      I think your comment about 'seasonal programming' is part of the problem. TV in Australia still relies on the archaic ratings system developed in the 1950's. It hasn't kept pace with modern society's viewing habits. Just about everyone has the ability to record programs and watch them at a more suitable time. FTA stations should be broadcasting programs as soon as they become available and letting the viewer choose when they watch them.

      I appreciate that this means they would need to come up with a different method of counting viewers, but the technology exists already. Take TiVo for example. Every day it downloads the latest program guide. At the same time, it uploads data about what you've watched in the past 24 hours. From what I've read, this includes an enormous amount of detail including what you watched, what you recorded, what ads you fast forwarded through etc. If that sort of data was used for calculating ratings, it would be far more accurate than the existing model.

        You can watch aired shows at anytime via each stations "Catch up" websites which you can find from here: http://www.freeview.com.au/

      Fall is autumn, so it's around September/October in the northern hemisphere.

    I'm not about to say that piracy doesn't have a negative impact on the bottom line of film and tv studios, but there is no real evidence about the exent of the impact piracy has. It's not as simple as a 1:1 ratio of pirates taking away from legal views of an episode of a show. Game of Thrones is a good example of the murkiness of this issue as GoT is funded by HBO subscribers in the US and around the world (global syndication to operators like Foxtel is a seperate issue). It doesn't rely on ad revenue, and obviously not every HBO subscriber watches the show. GoT gets a big budget from HBO for its production because of the 'water-cooler' buzz that it generates for the network and in turn the increase in subscriber numbers that it generates. Arguments could be made for the positive impact that piracy has to a model such as GoT with HBO - i.e. more people pirating a show leading to more people subscribing to HBO. I don't think the issue is as black and white as the author is making it out to be

    TV is broken only if you are a spoilt and impatient prat. All is I hear are children shouting "We want everything the way we want it, and we want it now!" Don't forget, kids, real life is about trade-offs. You want free to air tv...you get ads, you want good shows to be produced, you must pay. What exactly, is wrong with waiting 6 months for a show to come here from the states or wherever it is made? Really...people really are inwardly-focussed these days.

      What exactly, is wrong with waiting 6 months for a show
      spoilers

      I don't think anyone is complaining-we're trying to come up with a hypothetical compromise in which all parties involved would be satisfied, I'm more than happy to keep pirating TV shows and won't complain at all about free episodes that I get to download an hour after it airs and keep forever with no ads, but the company that makes the show complains about us pirates and we realise we're hurting the industry. we can demand whatever we want as this is a hypothetical argument plus we're already getting what we want-its the tv stations that aren't

    I think you missed an important part of the discussion here; FTA tv is already paid for. Sure, we're not paying for it as the viewer, but if we're not watching, then the networks make less money. When they delay / cancel series' and act like jerks they're not doing it in order to favour the advertisers, if anything they'd make more money by showing it at the same time as the us / uk because more people would watch and advertisers would pay more.

    So why the fuck do they still act like jerks?

      The advertising side of things kinda doesn't work that way ( I work in TV advertising btw).
      Delayed airing of programs actually helps show the ratings in the US to better price the shows advertising spots here in Australia.
      In Australian TV advertising we actually make more money from local programming shows like Underbelly, The Block, The Footy Show and Local News (etc.) than we do from US aired shows.
      FTA TV isn't already paid for either, it makes its revenue from the Advertisers paying for TV campaigns.

      That being said this does cause Australian viewers wanting the shows asap to resort to piracy instead of being more patient.
      Though long running TV shows are being fast tracked more regularly like The Mentalist, Person of interest, CSI etc.

        Ahhh that's quite interesting, it finally explains why they hold off for so long.

        When I said 'already paid for' I meant from the perspective of the viewers, I do understand the aussie networks still have to make money to pay for the shows. I just mentioned it because people always bring up the idea of cable-like situations, but I often wonder how much that would change things really because they're already getting advertising revenue.

      Advertising rates are based on ratings and our ratings seasons do not coincide with the US. There is simply no way they could make more money by showing them when half the country is on holidays which is why Seven are getting rid of their lame ducks now and all of Nine's new shows are starting "after Easter", when ratings will actually be half decent.

      None of the shows you are refering to have any hope of attracting half the audience MKR or a footy match will anyway, so they'll always take a back seat.

    "Pay TV isn’t above the same kinds of scheduling, advertising and repeat strategies that the free to air networks use, either" Are you kidding? PayTV showed the FTA networks how it was done. Ten had done it for years and it never helped them but the popularity of re-runs on Pay TV is almost certainly what prompted Nine to cancel Sale of teh Century in favour of endless re-runs of Frasier, then Two-and-a-Half Men and now Big Bang Theory.

    "I did wear an onion on my belt and all that" This is a Grandpa Simpson reference, right? How come you have applied it to B5? I ask because it is predated by my favouorite book trilogy of all time and I've often wondered if it came from somewhere else entirely.

    Anyway, the short answer is there is no fix, TV will wither to the point where TV drama is simply unsustainable and all we'll get are endless repeats and new seasons of the worst reality shows imaginable. This is because, as with music, the internet has taught too many of the target demographics that TV has no value and there is simply no way back from that. Reality TV and sport work because they are basically internet-proof, everything else is vulnerable.

      Endless re-runs on FTA are nothing new, and most certainly not a Pay-TV invention. Heck, on the Doctor Who side of things, the way that a whole generation of UK Whovians knew some of the classic stories was from recordings off-air from the ABC, complete with station comments in the credits. MASH has bounced around just about every network (maybe not SBS, given the subject material), etc.

      Onion on belt, because I was referencing VHS tapes which are old-style. Also, jokes die when I have to explain them.

        Endless repeats in prime-time are absolutely a recent phenomenon. As I said, Ten had done for years with zero success but for Nine and Seven it is relatively recent (last decade or so).

        You should read Liege Killer by Christopher Hinz.

    FTA should try to be innovative rather than the arrogant dinosaurs they are. Since iView, I haven't even bothered with an aerial for my TV, and I would be happy to pay for viewing if it was reasonable (currently paying for netflix subscription).
    What local TV should be doing is offering us stuff that is not available overseas, like Good local content - which there is plenty of with encouragement. Having made community TV for some years, I have seen plenty of good stuff, that with a little support could make very watchable TV for a reasonable price - How about community sport for about $1000 an episode?

      FTA does innovate. That's why we have Masterchef, MKR, The Block and The Voice. That stuff works really well for them.

    Have you seen that new Shaun Micallef show on Channel 10?

    I only heard about it because I was watching an illegal [live] stream of WWE Raw a few weeks back. The stream I was watching would interrupt every now and then with an ad. A *LOCALISED* ad.

    I honestly don't have a problem with having ad breaks in my shows. Time it well [as shows already aim to do] and localise the ads and I'm happy for it.

    I guess the next thing is delivery [streaming, which then carries issues of quality and bandwith] and how much I pay per month to get access to it. And, I guess, if I can pay a premium to get no ads or less ads.

    There you go - free video on demand at lower quality and more ads, with the video quality increasing and number of ads decreasing as you pay more.

    Hahaha, a million points for the onion belt.

    Meta-argument: All programming on commercial tv is just ads- your program is just 3 x 8 minute ads in between other ads- at the moment they just don't get to the sell.

    Instead of credits at the end display places to purchase, ie "Did you like NCIS/ The Wire/ My Chef etc Download from Itunes / Purchase from JB / Watch the rest on Netflix etc. Got an internet enabled TV? Just push button 1 Now etc

    I stopped watching most commercial free to air TV for a number of reasons:
    1. The bait and switch method that the channels use. They have a show on at a particular time, you watch the first few episodes and just as you are starting to enjoy it they switch the time, usually so they can show some crappy "reality" show instead.
    2. When they advertise "all new episodes", but after a few switch to reruns of a previous season. Aside from breaking up the story line I have no interest in watching the same episode twice. You either have to tune in each week to see if they are finally showing new content or just give up.
    3. Do not start the show at the advertised time, usually due to some crappy "reality" show that they made and have full control of the length of, it's called editing people!
    4. Start showing series that they know have been cancelled mid season.
    5. Apparently randomly pick which shows are available on their online viewer. You start watching a series, but miss one episode so you go online to view it but it is not there.

    Slightly off topic, but even Foxtel can be a frustrating medium. I don't know what Pay TV options are like in other countries, so I don't know if this is normal or not, but I find Foxtel to have just as much time allocated to ads as free TV. The only difference is the emphasis on advertising their own shows and channels. A 40 minute program on FTA TV runs for an hour. That same program still seems to run an hour on Foxtel.
    I know many people would argue that's what IQ is for, but you could argue the use of a DVR for FTA TV too.

      Arrow has FOX ads pinned to front and back of each iTunes ep now too.

    Great article! Well researched, well argued, well written. Thank you for significantly raising the average quality of articles on this site.

    The problem with niches is that they’re niches; small audiences in other words. That’s a tougher advertising sell, which means you either sit through more ads — and more crappy, cheap ads — with everything, or pay a lot more for your VOD solution without advertising to cover production costs.

    On the other hand, an advertiser chasing that niche can be confident that their ads will get in front of the right eyes if they advertise on that VOD.

    I've realised over the last couple of years (watching FTA) that ads don't bother me as much as I thought. I also don't seem to mind product placement. What does bug me is the garbage that is forced on me by FTA. There are times when i flick from one channel to the next and the majority of the channels have reality shows like the voice and my kitchen rules. To me that is the lowest of low quality viewing. I accept that ratings show they are popular and that's fine, but I don't want to watch it. Fortunately I can now watch as much (full length) Monster Jam as I want thanks to VEVO on Youtube - it's rarely on FTA. Actually I've found that I am watching YT on my TV about 50% of my viewing time now. This, combined with the "catch-up" channels and FTA has given me most of my content on any screen at any time and reduced my downloading.

    Not a single mention of the fact that there is almost nothing new primetime broadcast in anything remotely classed as HD on free-to-air.

    Anyone who cares about quality (content and PQ) aren't watching FTA.

    1920x1080i on FTA HD channels was actually pretty good early on last decade, first run shows in glorious HD and DD5.1 audio. Hard to believe considering the crap FTA are serving up these days.

    Ten no longer show any tier 1 sports in HD, arguably the most obvious case for a decent HD broadcast. Last year they did some, but due to the massive over-compression, low resolution and cramming of too many channels into the statmux, the quality was atrocious. It's sad, but it actually looks better in low definition blur-o-vision.

    Nobody wins in the current scenario.

    Until the FTA networks wake up and realise that this is not at all what viewers want, they will continue to suffer because they will keep losing viewers to other media.

    Even sadder, our NBN which is capable of carrying many, many more channels in 1920x1080 HD at >20mbps MPEG-2, have no plans to do so. This is a MASSIVE failure on the part of all involved! They could literally revolutionise FTA TV overnight and nobody would need any new equipment other than the NBN NTU.

    So amazingly depressing.

      Yep. It's a tragedy that we probably won't see a real FTA service delivered via the NBN anytime soon, maybe one day though. It would be amazing, especially in the areas where digital service is sketchy at best.

      Multicast functionality has been part of the NBN design from the beginning, and it was enabled in September last year. Of course whether providers offer multicast services is up to them. iiNet is participating in a multicast trial right now at a greenfields site in Sydney, pushing IPTV to customers. If content providers want to get into the IPTV business there's nothing stopping them.

        Multicast is great for some things, but what we need is a high-bitrate spectrum injection of the RF feeds straight from the networks.

        And it needs to be broadcast, not multicast, so existing equipment can decode the signal.

    Would love to see less advertising during motorsport, as in less ad breaks. I think it was the first round of the V8 supercars in Adelaide, 30 laps cut out for ad breaks. It wasn't even televised live, it was delayed. There was NO reason to do that. Everytime they would come back from an ad break 1-3 laps had passed. Such bullshit.

    Damn, I thought you were going to talk about faulty TV's... I put my technician hat on and everything for this one :(

    This article is pointless.

    Basically you are ignoring the brand power of Game of Thrones. It's a super premium show for which in Australia Foxtel pay a LOT of money to broadcast. So, why would they pay so much? BECAUSE its not available for cheap ANYWHERE else. Australian viewers are FORCED to watch the show on Foxtel or pay $80+ on itunes.

    Tag Heuer watches; they are fucking expensive purely because of the brand. If one jeweller started offering it at 80% off the industry would collapse because no other Jeweller would stock this product at the normal wholesale price.

    Then what happens? No one is selling Tags, Tag stop making watches.

    If we could get Game of Thrones without Foxtel or through some lean mechanism whereby we don't pay for something we don't need then Foxtel would never pay HBO anywhere near as much to broadcast Game of Thrones. Then guess what? Game of Thrones would have the budget it currently has and the show would be shit and this whole article would never exist.

    Face the facts. You can't pay a gym ONLY for the equipment you use and you certainly can't change the way we are fed television programming.

      Pointless? You seem to have a found a point or two about which you can grumpily opine.

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