The Killing Writer: Illegal Downloading is "How Shows Die"

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The Killing Writer: Illegal Downloading is "How Shows Die"

The Killing

When it comes to pirating TV shows, writer Dawn Prestwich says, "In short: if you don't buy it, they don't make it."

Piracy is so much a part of our modern culture that some content creators go to extreme lengths to combat illegally downloaded media, often unsuccessfully. TV writer Dawn Prestwich thinks that unlawfully downloading TV shows can doom them, which is probably not the intention of most people who pirate television shows. In a guest article on Variety, Prestwich discusses how illegal streaming sites adversely affect everyone working on TV shows. Simply put, one episode made available illegally is "worth the equivalent of thousands of downloads that weren't watched on a legal site... The entire production team that collectively created the content was adversely impacted--from the most junior production assistant on up. All positions within the hierarchy became devalued."

Prestwich believes that people who illegally watch TV shows think they're "sticking it to the man," but the practice is actually hurting the creative forces behind these shows. Viewers need to speak with their wallets to keep TV shows from cancellation; The Killing was saved twice in part from "the enthusiastic and legal downloading" of the murder mystery show. As Prestwich says, "When a viewer accesses an episode on a site like NinjaVideo, rather than a legal site, there's no accurate measurement of market value for that content. And that's how shows die."

As someone who grew up in the age of Napster, I know how blurry the line between legally and illegally obtaining media can be; when it's right there on the internet, it doesn't feel like stealing. Something to think about, though, is who you're actually adversely affecting if you choose piracy over buying legally. While Prestwich didn't offer an easy solution, she acknowledged that solving the problem would "involve higher standards on what constitutes ethical online behavior." Perhaps that's the first step towards seeing less promising new shows meet untimely cancellations due to a seeming lack of interest.

Source: Variety

Permalink

If a show has to wait until it's out on DVD to find out if anyone liked it, and not ratings on TV, I think the show might be doomed from the start. Or perhaps I'm wrong, I thought shows generated money from ratings and ad revenue, and then DVD sales, merchandising, and other such things?

Kinda hard to blame just one thing. Focus groups and CEO's that think "THIS SHOW ISN'T WHAT'S POPULAR RIGHT NOW!!! IT MUST GO!!!" Are just as bad as piracy. Hell Community was canned the first time because they didn't see the numbers from HULU and the like as real viewers.

Meanwhile at the Game of Thrones studio....

"Sticking it to the man" isn't what the majority of people who pirate think, I'm more than positive on that sentiment. If they do, it's more often a justification rather than any actual "boycotting".

Simply put, one episode made available illegally is "worth the equivalent of thousands of downloads that weren't watched on a legal site.

Okay, what one? All US sites that stream their shows just tell me to fuck off cause I'm Canadian.

Television is so irrelevant in the information age. These are the days when people want things when it's convenient for them. If Tuesday at 6:00 pm is even the slightest bit inconvenient, they will download the show instead. If watching television shows adapt to where it's convenient, there would be far less illegal downloading going on. The whole reason I don't want TV at all is because it's inconvenient and I'd just rather wait for it to come on DVD or whatever.

Oh we've all seen this song and dance before...
Yes, yes, Ms. Prestwich. It's a tragedy just like how piracy killed the film industry, video games, and the music business, right?

Oh...wait, no, NONE OF THAT FUCKING HAPPENED.

You know what really kills TV shows these days (besides meddling executives)?
Mediocrity.
Especially considering the number of (surprisingly) genuinely GOOD shows we've had these past few years.
(...or even before; I'm STILL getting caught up on Supernatural)

I mean, there's still loads of inexplicably popular garbage (all reality TV, shit-coms like "The Bang"), but the fact I can talk about more than one show without my eyes rolling straight out of my skull is a privilege I didn't think I'd have today.

The problem is that the current method of watching TV is absolutely insane. I can't watch regular TV at all because of how many ads there are. If it isn't on Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBOgo, or Youtube then I don't watch it. I'm not spending my free time or my money on a "service" that requires me to spend a third of my time in front of a TV viewing bullshit ads for cars I can't afford or pharmaceuticals I clearly don't need. You want me to watch your show you bring it to me without that horse shit. Maybe if cable was free I would give TV a chance.

crepesack :
Meanwhile at the Game of Thrones studio....

That's pretty much what I was going to say. "Funny, HBO sees stuff like that as free advertisement for their network."

http://www.businessinsider.com/time-warner-ceo-people-pirating-game-of-thrones-is-better-than-an-emmy-for-hbo-2013-8

:P

my entire country has a reputation for illegal downloading and bypassing geoblocks to access netflix. heck one of the industry higher ups referred to people who bypass geoblocks in the same sentence as pedophiles.

here in australia most of the time people dont want to wait months to watch a show assuming they will get it at all or they dont want to pay $100+ to get a pay tv subscription.

take warehouse 13 for example. i still havent found a way to legally stream season 4 or 5. i actually want to legally stream and purchase it yet im not allowed to. hell i cant even stream or buy anything past season 2 here thats not a dvd purchase.

not to mention the last season of game of thrones here was completely locked up with a hefty pay tv subscription for the entire season, and they wonder why people pirated it.

if they cleaned up their act and stopped making it a pain in the ass to legally stream or purchase then people will start to switch.

someone once said "pirates offer better service than legal producers" and i agree

that said i totally get the point and yes i can see it seriously hurts a show but frankly if a show gets cancelled in the usa the fact something is popular or not here in australia means jack when it comes to keeping it on the air in the US.

the ironic thing is i actually know a few people who work on america tv shows as writers, and producers and they are just as frustrated with the limits

If the only way forward you can see would "involve higher standards on what constitutes ethical online behavior" then you've got problems. If you can't legally provide a better service than piracy than you've already lost. Get behind legal, fair, streaming services and actually try and appeal to people to spend money.

Maybe you'd see less illegal downloads if you had more legal methods of viewing. One release on Netflix is worth a thousand torrents (see? I can make up bullshit statistics too).

Here's a simple solution: release torrents of the show with advertising. Sure, people could skip the ads, but they still see at least a few seconds of an ad.

Most of those legal sites aren't available for all countries. I can't think of anything available globally other than Comedy Central. In order to get people to watch the show legally, the makers of the show need to make it available to watch legally anywhere. Expecting someone to just wait for the DVD release to see if the show is any good isn't reasonable.

Ill watch them on TV when i can, but if I can't, say because i work in the middle of fucking nowhere with no television for months at a time ill find them any way i can.

Here's an idea, let me watch any episode of any show at any time with no restrictions and ill pay for that and never download any tv show illegally again.. Until then, they can shove their traditional business models right up their asses.

While yes piracy is causing the industry issues it only has itself to blame. If your only going to offer your shows on expensive cable networks and release DVD/Blurays months later (and here in Australia even the cable version is often late compared to the US) then you can't complain when people simply download it because they want to watch it now. Provide the legal means to easily purchase your show at a reasonable price and most people will happily pay, unfortuently Hollywood doesn't understand this simple idea.

out of 500 channels i only have one channel which airs potential drama that i might be interested in (sky) and they don't even have a reliable timetable for said shows so i could wait months to finish a series while america gets to season 5 before i even finish season 1

in fact supernatural suffered a huge blowout for me because they decided to skip a season or two (hell i've yet to watch how SPOILER, satan's seal is released SPOILER)

i've only managed to catch up to the rest of the season by online viewing, lets face it instant and up to date viewing without 30 minute adverts is hugely better than whats on offer now

Make your TV shows more accessible worldwide and there won't be as many pirates.

There are extremely popular TV series that literally can only be watched via piracy in Australia, and there are even more extremely popular TV series that can only be seen if you have an obscenely expensive satellite TV service called Foxtel (A rupert murdoch monopoly).

We don't have netflix, we pay up to 1000% more for digitally distributed content in some cases (if they are available at all). Stop making it so hard for people to watch your shows and people won't need to pirate. It's as simple as that.

Not The Bees:
If a show has to wait until it's out on DVD to find out if anyone liked it, and not ratings on TV, I think the show might be doomed from the start. Or perhaps I'm wrong, I thought shows generated money from ratings and ad revenue, and then DVD sales, merchandising, and other such things?

There are plenty of other legal ways to watch most TV shows between the air date and the DVD release. Many are available on demand right away, or on Hulu, or a channel-specific streaming service. Even if you DVR a show and watch it later, that's actual data used to determine a TV show's reach and popularity. All of that is taken into account; the only thing that isn't is how popular it is when viewed through illegal means.

A lot of you bring up interesting points that I hadn't considered; being American, I have a wealth of legal options available to me. I didn't know that Australia didn't have Netflix and some legal streams are blocked in Canada. Ugh.

Definitely agree that the television industry needs to do more to catch up with the modern streaming era and make more legal options available. I just personally don't ever see piracy as a valid option for myself, even if I can't find what I want to watch elsewhere. But that's my personal choice; the article is just reporting someone else's views.

Sarah LeBoeuf:

Not The Bees:
If a show has to wait until it's out on DVD to find out if anyone liked it, and not ratings on TV, I think the show might be doomed from the start. Or perhaps I'm wrong, I thought shows generated money from ratings and ad revenue, and then DVD sales, merchandising, and other such things?

There are plenty of other legal ways to watch most TV shows between the air date and the DVD release. Many are available on demand right away, or on Hulu, or a channel-specific streaming service. Even if you DVR a show and watch it later, that's actual data used to determine a TV show's reach and popularity. All of that is taken into account; the only thing that isn't is how popular it is when viewed through illegal means.

Unless of course you're in another country. And the websites don't allow you to. Like Comedy Central doesn't allow you to watch the Daily Show. Or Fox doesn't allow you to watch their shows, or ABC, NBC, CBS? I don't illegally download, I wait for DVDs to come out. But your logic is still not sound. You're using logic based on shows just in the US.

Most shows aren't even necessarily downloaded by those in the US. Some stats show network shows are downloaded by those overseas. People that can't see the shows online because they don't have access to them.

Look, I would happily pay for TV shows, but they don't let me. Just because I don't live in the US I can't access any of the legal sources of these series. My only two options are waiting months for it to release here or downloading the series. I am an impatient man so I won't wait. Now it is completely up to that network whether I pay for it or download it. They must make the choice to offer me a legal method to access that media as fast as the Americans get it.

Protip: The more easily people can watch a show legally, the less likely they are to pirate it. When Gabe Newell said "Piracy is a service problem", he was talking about games, but it applies to TV and movies also.

P.S. Thanks

I'm so happy to see the first comments here, know exactly what's going on. It's about time people dropped piracy as an actual "issue" and stopped calling it stealing (even if it's in the article...).

Going after these streaming or torrent sites is ridiculous. It's slow work, it never lasts and when you swat down one, another pops up, giving people more options.

Raising "higher standards" for "ethical online behaviour" is a lost cause. If people can find shit for free, they'll do it.
Offer a better service through availability and quality and you'll see people buying streaming services. So many have adopted these services, that it simply can't be true that people aren't "buying".

Unless there's specific proof of these allegations, I'm calling complete bullshit on it.
If anything it's likely an excuse being thrown downwards, to cut costs and pay. We're still in a damn recession where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and economists are constantly telling us this. If people don't have money, they can't buy these stupid ass things.

Rules of internet piracy:
Correlation is not causation.
Amount downloaded is not the amount lost - People only have so much money to spend and there's no sign that anyone is hoarding their liquid assets in the middle class or lower.
If you don't have competitive prices, there's little to no sale - It's too expensive and monopoly only turns customers away to seek other entertainment.

Sarah LeBoeuf:
As someone who grew up in the age of Napster, I know how blurry the line between legally and illegally obtaining media can be; when it's right there on the internet, it doesn't feel like stealing. Something to think about, though, is who you're actually adversely affecting if you choose piracy over buying legally.

I find this part of the article unsound - This is your opinion and it's not helping people at all.

First, you should not perpetuate the myth of piracy being stealing.
The mindset itself is a bad excuse that tricks people into thinking it's true and it closes down any and all discussions on the topic. The rules on this site alone almost prohibits it.
This is not a sensitive topic, alternatives to piracy are actively being made and having massive success - use your knowledge of iTunes, Netflix, Spotify and similar services to compare and bring it into your judgement instead of repeating a fallacy.

This is part of why GamerGate is raging, this is not very informative at all and while I understand that this is on a gaming news site and that you don't get paid to actively investigate this topic, please do a bit of research anyway.

Second, you're directly telling your readers that this is "something to think about" which is leading and not in a good way.
Read my piracy rules above, specifically that correlation is not causation.
You could do research on this and see how the market has been for people buying boxset DVD's of shows/series and whether it's falled compared to what streaming services are gaining.

My guess is that it matches it just fine and if anything, that income has gone up. Not down.

Sarah LeBoeuf:

While Prestwich didn't offer an easy solution, she acknowledged that solving the problem would "involve higher standards on what constitutes ethical online behavior." Perhaps that's the first step towards seeing less promising new shows meet untimely cancellations due to a seeming lack of interest.

Prestwich is not in a position to comment, she's a writer. Not an economist or marketing strategist of any kind.
She just hears rumours and puts her own spin on this shit because, pardon me, she's fucking ignorant as well as stupid.

Sarah, Prestwich is not an authority, she's just in a business that is going through hard times because they're unwilling to invest in different options.
When you add in your own opinion (and what it was) just before hers about "ethical online behaviour", you're not questioning what she's saying, you're sort of encouraging people to think the same. This is not a good thing at all! :(

I haven't even touched on ads and how much of a problem they are, when so many people are choosing to circumvent them (cord cutters and browser ad removal tools) and this is directly related to shows in particular and especially to how they're written and directed.
This, this right here, is exactly the thing you should write about to inform people of why shows might be having a hard time, because that's been their main source of income for decades.

I practically leapt out of bed to write this, when I saw the article on my phone.
This stoneage mentality that Prestwich is displaying, is my number one pet peeve and when I furthermore read that she's a writer (one of my kind) as well as more of this "piracy is stealing" perpetuation, I get pretty damn miffed.

Look, TV people. You don't stop piracy by telling people it's wrong. You stop it by providing a better service than the pirates can. And you simply don't at this point. You barely offer a service at all to non - Americans

I would pay a reasonable monthly fee to have new shows that I'm interested in streamed to me. But I won't go back to paying for television. It's a rip off, it literally rots your brain and I have little interest in the copious amounts of crap it offers outside the few shows I'm interested in.

I also think this is dramatic. I watch Dancing with Stars on Hulu and a few commercial breaks are fine by me. Put it all up in a similar fashion on the internet and you won't lose money. It also frees us from trying to be available to watch something on one night at a specific time... which is such an outdated concept it's actually laugh out loud funny.

Executve Meddling was the cardinal sin. Everything wrong starts where things start: At the beginning. Why do people pirate? They pirate because they want something and can't get at it normally. Piratng takes more effort than buying something, since it requires a computer with a decent internet connection and the search. Granted, the search part is probably easier than the rest, but not everyone is good at it. So, what did a company do that makes it harder than a person to go buy it? Really, after all the stuff people DO buy into, what did they do that made it fail?

Yawn. Television is a dying medium, but I sympathize with those affected. There's a reason southpark puts all of their episodes online, legally, for free, withing hours of broadcast. There's a reason netflix is successful in television, and Pandora in music. Companies need to stop fighting streaming. It's what consumers want. Of course, I hate television, so you probably couldn't pay me to pirate one of their shows. I'll stick with books and games.

When I have a decent job next year, I'll start paying for these kinds of things. I already donated money to Wikipedia, so I'm on track to putting money where it counts.

That said, I think more flexible payment methods should exist. For instance, maybe you can buy an episode of the show to watch, or you can donate money to the people that made it. That way, you can watch the show on your own terms, and give as much money as you think they deserve. When I want to watch the Avengers and it costs $20 on Blu-Ray, I'm just going to find it on the Internet. If I had a clear way to give $5 to Marvel to say thanks, I'd love to. Sure, a lot of people wouldn't pay, but I think Kickstarter is a great example of how people with disposable incomes are willing to pay to support things they love.

What about all the people who aren't 'ALLOWED' to watch something, because they live in the 'wrong' part of the world?
-I'd HATE to live outside the USA when it comes to a LOT of legal media streaming.

What about all the media that's NOT hosted on ANY kind of streaming site?
-Older shows, Nick's screwing of Legend of Korra, etc.

What about all the people who are forced to pay a MASSIVE increase in price to watch something, because they live in the 'wrong' part of the world?
-I'd HATE to live in a place like Australia where I'd be forced to pay 2x - 10x MORE for the SAME DAMN THING.

I have crazy mixed feelings on this topic. When it comes to video games, I'm almost 100% anti-piracy. If a game interests you, you buy that game and no others. You can frequently buy it direct from the producers. Worst case, you buy it off a platform like Steam or GOG, which seem relatively fair to the content producers and the customers alike.

TV, on the other hand, is still largely controlled by a small handful of extremely corrupt cable companies who have actively compromised regulatory government bodies in order to destroy net neutrality, bypass antitrust legislation, and generally fuck the consumer out of every last dime. I'd love to watch Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, etc., but I'm not going to pay extortionist prices for a bunch of shit I don't want for the "privilege" of catching 2-3 quality shows a week. Honestly, I think watching streams of GoT, WD, and the like is practically justified civil disobedience. And yeah, I'm sure it hurts the little guys on these productions, too. But I'm also pretty sure a few janitors died when they blew up the Deathstar.

it's also how some shows become popular in the first place... Game of thrones would have been a shadow of what it is if everyone had to wait for the "legal method" to view it. I mean it's fine that these writers maintain their antiquated thinking on the issue, after all illegal downloading is illegal for a completely understandable reason. But again when you paint your would be audience as criminals you're depleting some much needed empathy. Encouraging people to be good is much more effective at least in the long term than punishing them for being bad.

As someone who legally watched every single episode of that show, I can say the reason why it died was not illegal downloading, it was because the 2nd season dragged in the middle and the 3rd season just sucked. Let's act like the Netflix only 4th season doesn't exist, makes the rest of the show better.

Whenever the issue of piracy comes up everybody always seems to blame the piracy on studios for not making things "convenient enough" and frankly I think it's pretty much a BS excuse.

Look, I'm not going to argue with the fact that more could and should be done to make the shows easily available to all people, but I don't see how that makes people entitled to steal their content for free either.

Only if there's absolutely zero legal avenues for obtaining the content, and no future expectation of legal avenues, do I even see how the ethics of it become debatable, and even then I don't condone breaking the law just because you're able to somewhat reasonably justify something to yourself.

Frankly, I have more respect for pirates who simply acknowledge that what they're doing is wrong than ones who throw up excuses in defense of their actions, or worse yet who convince themselves they're theft is some sort of moral crusade against the evils of DRM or whatever it is they don't like about the legal routes. I don't like DRM either, but if I want to protest it I'll just not play the games that have it.

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