[opendtv] Re: 20050509 Mark's Monday Memo

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 12 May 2005 07:53:43 -0400

At 10:05 PM -0400 5/11/05, Tom Barry wrote:
>It is not really necessary to go all the way to SDTV programming
>in order to differentiate eventual HxDVD sales from the original
>broadcasts.  They can just sell higher quality discs with less
>parts cut out, no commercials, logos, or popup overlays, and less
>filtering or artifacts.

Tom has stumbled onto something here that may be significant.

There are some things that broadcast TV does well, and it is likely 
that it will continue to do so, in the future. Live sporting event 
coverage is one of the programming areas that is well suited to the 
advertiser supported programming model. It is difficult to time shift 
sports, as the outcome is well known shortly after a major event 
(although some people start caching an event, then start watching 
20-30 minutes later so they can skip the commercials and catch up 
with the live event near the end).

There are some things that broadcast TV does not do well. The 
presentation of movies is a good example, as most of us prefer to 
watch these "stories" without commercial interruptions, and we have 
multiple options to do so (premium movie channels, VOD, NVOD, DVD 

And there is one thing that broadcast TV cannot do at all - the 
presentation of content without restrictions on things like nudity, 
violence, and language. In essence, broadcast TV is becoming 
non-competitive with "uncensored" media because of the content 
restrictions imposed by government. It should come as no surprise, 
that pressure is being applied on broadcasters in this area, as it 
may be the deal breaker for "Free TV."

The content moguls can use the lack of an enforceable broadcast flag 
as the excuse to move their best content to distribution systems 
where content restrictions do not apply. As Tom notes, DVD versions 
of programs could contain additional content that is not offered in a 
free-to-air version, along with additional features that could be 
linked to e-commerce opportunities.

Image quality might also be a factor, however it is important to note 
that this does not matter much to a significant portion of the 
potential audience. Consider the large number of people who think 
that DVDs are high definition today.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in Congress. If the 
broadcast flag or equivalent is not included in the rewrite of the 
communications act, this could be a signal to the conglomerates that 
the era of Free TV is over, and that's OK with their friends in the 
Nation's capital.

Bottom line, the real value of ad supported TV is as the promotional 
engine to drive the sale of higher quality content.

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