Clawing to escape the belly of the beast here in Hollywood. To commiserate, email my name assistantatlas at yahoo.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Will Someone Do the Math That Will Destroy TV? Please?: 4.35

Question of the day, kids: How much does it cost to run a 24-hour Internet television station with original programming?

Because that's all it's gonna take to change (read: destroy, hopefully) TV as we know it.

Think about the advantages an Internet station would have over a terrestrial one. Do it. Think! Feel that rubber burn.

First and foremost, no censorship. Let's repeat for emphasis: no censorship! None. If some nation gets censor-y, an Internet TV station would be well-poised to migrate. Also, one based in the US would face no FCC regulation. You know how MTV won't let you be? Not a problem on WWW.

Second, low start-up costs. I think. It probably depends on what you want to do. This is where the math part comes in.

Third, more lucrative revenue streams. See, I think it would be much more profitable to launch a channel on the Internet because there are so many possible revenue sources. Think banner ads, text ads, direct email/newsletter ads, product integration, general sponsorship, show-specific sponsorship, and detailed consumer profiles, you capitalist pigs. I mean, um, CEOs-in-training.

All your base belong to us, you dirty Housewives.

Fourth, freer format. Why should we have to make half-hour and hour-long shows?* The only answer is broadcast commercials, and since Internet TV is a totally different thing... So shows could be how long they're supposed to be. And programs of differing length could also be packaged off and sold in different ways to different advertisers for more cash.

*Okay, yes, Adult Swim has 15-minute shows and there are other exceptions. I know. Shut up and pay attention to the point.

Finally, how cool would it be if you were one of the guys or gals who changed media as we know it? Pretty cool, I'd say. Now I wish I'd paid attention in Calculus. Or Algebra, for that matter.

I'll be exploring this theme next week when I finally get around to discussing the Open Source Film. You might enjoy it. I'll explain how you, yes you, can help take more power away from the suits.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly, this might happen. Sooner or later. But I believe you'll see cost effective low quality television dominate. Because of profit maximizing.

Look at the difference in journalism and quality writing between the easy access websites and blogs (I myself am an blogger), and the traditional magazines.

I this medium, for it will be a new medium when accessing and viewing tv happens during surfing the web, scripted television would have to change it's pace, attack and ultimately go further for the lowest common denominator in terms of quality.

5:07 PM

Blogger Peggy Archer said...

Why are you trying to put me out of work? Since all the features have decamped to foreign countries, TV's all most of us have left to pay the bills.

Don't make me camp on your floor, Atlas!

5:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, I think that may be illegal. At least if you want to put in advertisements.

From a New York Times article I read last week: (Link at as original article is no longer freely accessible)

"Promotional value is all the network can realize from streaming the uncut episode of ‘The Bedford Diaries” on its Web site, because it will run without commercials. The Hollywood creative guilds do not permit a commercial use of the program online."

It might be that this episode is a special case, though, and these restrictions don't universally apply. I don't really have any knowledge of Hollywood or legal matters, so I might be misunderstanding this.

11:38 PM

Blogger Steve Peterson said...

One side benefit of TV moving to the internet is that you won't have to figure out what channel Comedy Central is again every time you move across town and the rotting cable company changes.

2:03 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that there are two sticklers on your plan for internet TV. People love their TV, they don't like watching on a computer monitor (or in my case, a 14" ibook).

Also, I have no idea how much it takes to run a broadcast station... i'm assuming alot. It would take HUGE amount of bandwidth and hardware support to run a large scale tv outlet over the internet. Just the storage alone would be murder.

4:59 PM

Anonymous just_sayin' said...

Anon@4:59: "The storage alone would be murder": the storage would be PROFITABLE if your programming was halfway decent, well-organized and accessible.

My question, Atlas (and everybody): Would internet TV be subscription-based or ad-supported? Or both???

8:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking as someone who experimented in college as the programmer for a 24 Hr internet tv station (sans censorship until our nutso chancellor remembered we existed) there's a number of reasons that would make this difficult. It's doable, but it's going to take another fifty major tries before someone figures out how not to fuck it up.

First of all, it cannot create its own content for the first two or three years. That's a money hole. It needs free content that people want to watch - a la mtv's origination. And it's going to need a lot of content - preferably content that can be watched over and over again. 24 Hrs is alot, and if you want people to tune in more than once a week, you have to change it up fairly regularly.

Start up costs for the network itself would then be fairly low, and it'd be profitable very quickly, drawing other content creators to it.

If one goes the route of creating original programming, you have to limit yourself to four hours or less per day (which would still be exhorbitantly expensive, even if everyone is working for free). Creating a small, but good-looking tv studio could be done for under $200,000. This would provide a versatile place to shoot game shows, talk shows, news, and late night style shows - which are the easiest to make as well as the cheapest.

The problem with cut-rate internet prices content is that it's hit or miss, and generally more miss than hit. And who works for free anymore?

Kristen The Media Consultant

12:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

nah we prolly won't see online TV w/ original content anytime soon. yahoo wanted to try something like that last year and it couldn't even take off. it would be almost impossible for an internet station to convince advertisers to put up the same amount of money that a terrestrial station can to sustain its programming costs. unless the content we're talking about are 'JibJab' videos of course.

2:20 AM

Anonymous Rob said...

As long as the communications companies that own the servers continue to gouge customers and companies, an open access Internet will remain a pipe dream. Without an open access Internet, independent programming cannot command advertising revenue comparable to over-the-air competition, leaving an insurmountable quality gap. To say a poorly-produced great story will wrest the public's attention from eye-friendly popcorn fare is to say the Florida Marlins ($15 million payroll) have a shot at out-performing the Yankees ($200 million payroll) this year. Within the realm of possibility, but not bloody likely.

1:46 PM

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7:28 PM


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