If anyone thought you were getting something for nothing when you flipped on the tube- or still thinks that- they are an idiot. TV has always cost consumers money- even PBS has its fund drives. Broadcast made you sit through the same stupid commercials, multiple times- even though you weren’t ever going to buy feminine hygiene products (guys) or Cruex (girls). It cost you time- and wasted advertisers money, delivering their message to people who would never buy their products. I like watching beer ads- even though I’ll never drink one- but, that’s ’cause I’m in advertising.

Cable and satellite is another matter- everyone who gets their TV delivered this way pays- and in the US, it’s about 80% of us. So, we’re already paying for the programming- but how much are we paying for stuff we don’t want? A lot. That’s why TV via the Internet is the future- only the programs you want- with only the ads you want- so why ABC and ESPN are coming up with this stuff- it’s a case of too little, too late:

Marketplace: Putting ‘a word from our sponsor’ on demand
LISA NAPOLI: ABC and ESPN said today they’re going to offer some of their programs to Cox Cable free, on demand.

There’s a catch. They’re going to disable the fast forward button on your digital video recorder so that you have to watch the ads.

Don’t panic. This is only a test for the moment.

But media professor Ken Wilbur of the Marshall School of Business says if you’re gonna watch a TV show whenever you want, the industry has to get creative in order to make money.

KEN WILBUR: Deals are being done virtually on a daily basis. And I can’t remember a time when the television industry was in a more dynamic state of change.

TV watchers are forcing that change by recording programs and skipping the ads. But why would anyone pay for a digital video recorder if you can’t do that?

Analyst Brahm Eiley of Convergence Consulting says there doesn’t appear to be a win-win solution to this problem.

BRAHM EILEY: I mean, something has to give one way or another. These shows exist on advertising revenue. And if they’re not going to see that type of advertising revenue, then the cost of making these shows are going to be passed on to the consumer .

In other words, ultimately viewers will pay somehow — either with their time or by having to pay for shows that might otherwise be free.

As I said- there is no such thing as “free”- and the failure to understand that is what’s making this whole shift so entertaining. Why can’t we just admit it- and pay for what we want? And have our message subsidized directly by advertisers who want to reach us individually (1 to 1 marketing)- and have feedback- instead of wasting their money “Broadcasting” to people who will never buy their product.