So, this is a rant. It’s also a comment on the future of advertisings golden child- television ads. It’s also a message to Rupert Murdoch- who obviously either doesn’t get it- or is putting up a good front. It’s also a message to local NPR affiliates who are up in arms about NPR making programs available as PodCasts. Oh, yeah- Clear Channel- you too- wake up.
To those powerful people that still believe that they can “bundle” programming- that they don’t create- and resell it as a package, your days are numbered.
A la carte TV will work- it will just be delivered by someone other than:

  • Television networks
  • Broadcasters
  • Cable systems
  • Satellite TV systems.

These are all soon to be obsolete leftovers from the day when it took expensive technology and hardware to distribute programming. Much the same way that if you build newspaper printing presses- you best be looking for a new profession. “Bits not atoms” as Nicholas Negroponte said in “Being digital” way back in the nineties. In other words- what is digital, should stay digital. The articles on the computer at the newspaper should stay on computers instead of being converted to ink on dead trees. Same goes for digital media like TV shows and movies- and radio broadcasts- no need to “package them” anymore- just put them on a server like the iTunes store and deliver them direct to the consumer- unbundled.
So, I’d be willing to pay $5 per episode of the Soprano’s- in HD quality, or $2 in podcast version. And if Cadillac wanted me to learn all about Tony’s new Escalade- they could subsidize my download (I’ll watch and interact with their 2 minute infomercial for $5 off my $5 download- where they will quickly learn that I’d never drive that monstrosity unless it ran on water). Note- I don’t really need anything else from HBO- at this point Netflix does a better job of delivering movies to me- and as soon as HD DVD’s appear- HBO’s last advantage will be gone.
While NPR affiliates are worried about losing access to their subscribers due to podcasts- what they haven’t worried about is creating valuable local community oriented content- which would have helped them build a relationship with their audience- allowing them to have their listeners come to their sites instead of the national site. It’s a learning curve that will sort out the visionaries from the hacks in media really quick.
So- while I can’t download the Soprano’s right now- I’m more than ready too- and HBO better find a new model for distributing the only products that they have had a hand in creating.
The idea of A la carte cable packages only is a discussion if you still believe anyone needs the distribution systems of yesterday. As soon as there is a digital rights management system as solid as iTunes available to everyone- content producers- like David Chase, producer of “The Soprano’s” will be able to sell their programming direct, with an intermediary aggregator like iTunes store or Google video offering the nexus that provides the targeted message insertion handling for those who want to subsidize their viewing.
For me- all I want is my Soprano’s now- so, HBO if you are listening- put it up on iTunes- before you force me to either go to a friends house- or to Bit Torrent. One show isn’t worth a $70 cable bill a month. Capish?

What do you think?