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Author Topic: Piracy Is Good? How "Battlestar Galactica" Killed Broadcast TV
radiorahim
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posted 07 January 2006 10:38 PM      Profile for radiorahim     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Interesting article on Bittorrent distribution of TV programmes by Mark Pesce that appears on the Mindjack.com website. Its in two parts and the second part deals with a possible future model for the distribution of TV programming.

"Battlestar Galactica", a remake of a campy late 1970's Sci-Fi drama was released in the UK first and in the U.S. several months later. No problem with high speed internet connections. Folks just downloaded it off the internet rather than wait for it to be aired in the U.S.

But, rather than "kill" the show it created a huge fan base.

quote:
October 18th, 2004 is the day TV died. That evening, British satellite broadcaster SkyOne part of NEWS Corp's BSkyB satellite broadcasting service ran the premiere episode of the re-visioned 70s camp classic Battlestar Galactica. (That episode, "33," is one of the best hours of drama ever written for television.) The production costs for Battlestar Galactica were underwritten by two broadcast partners: SkyOne in the UK, and the SciFi Channel in the USA. SciFi Channel programers had decided to wait until January 2005 (a slow month for American television) to begin airing the series, so three months would elapse between the airing of "33" in the UK, and its airing in the US. Or so it was thought.

The average viewer of the SciFi network is young and decidedly geeky. They are masters of media; they can find ways to get things they shouldn't have. Thus, a few hours after airing on SkyOne, "33" was available for Internet download. No news there.

A new peer-to-peer file sharing technology, BitTorrent, was employed to share the quarter-gigabyte audiovisual files of "33". Unlike older forms of internet downloading, where too many requests for the same data can clog up internet links and send servers crashing. BitTorrent distributes files more and more efficiently, as more people join the hunt for the data. Everyone looking for bits of a file - say, an episode of Battlestar Galactica - shares the pieces they've already located with anyone else who doesn't already have that piece. Since the pieces are scattered randomly among all the users who want the data, there's a lot of to-and-fro between the users; rather than being a request for one copy of one file on one server, it's as though many hundreds of hands are copying and exchanging playing cards. You may start out holding only the Ace of Hearts, but soon enough you'll have a full deck.

This is a form of peer-to-peer file sharing known as "swarming": all of the peers in a swarm share the portions of the data they've already received. And, as the Chinese proverb goes, "Many hands make light work." BitTorrent transforms the creaky and unreliable technology of audiovisual distribution, making it fast and hyper-efficient. BitTorrent creates the conditions for something I've termed "hyperdistribution" - a distribution channel which is even more efficient than broadcasting.

That has certainly been the case with Battlestar Galactica. The British aficionados of the series provided torrents for each episode within a few hours of each broadcast. Many fans in the US picked them up and watched them; so did many people in Australia.


Here's the article:

article

Actually, we have the same problem in Canada. The second half of "season two" of "Battlestar Galactica" has already aired in the U.S. (and I think) the UK. The "Space Channel" distributes it in Canada but the first programme in the second half of the season won't be aired for another couple of weeks.

So I'm sure lots of folks will be downloading it from Bittorrent sites.

As a long-time "trekkie" suffering from withdrawl symptoms, "BSG" (the new version) has become "my" sci-fi show. It's nothing like the old 1970's series that starred Lorne Greene. The "good guys" aren't necessarily all that good and the "bad guys" are bad but actually have some legitimate gripes about the "good guys".

If you're a "space travel sci-fi" fan I think you'll like it


From: a Micro$oft-free computer | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Clog-boy
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posted 08 January 2006 06:16 AM      Profile for Clog-boy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
What a coincedence: We had the 1st episode of the new series on last night..! Looked pretty great to me, indeed a relief for sci-fi lovers suffering from withdrawl.
Only, I'm still waiting for Crockett and Tubbs to walk in, with Edward James Olmos playing Adama. Probably will take some time before I've disconnected my association of him with Lt. Castillo...

Also watched the 1978 movie of BSG last night
It was probably aired due to the start of the new series. Sure did bring back a lotta memories, as I watched the series a lot as a kid.


From: Arnhem, The Netherlands | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged
Reality. Bites.
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posted 08 January 2006 08:01 AM      Profile for Reality. Bites.        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Actually this time the situation is reversed, with Season 2 just getting started in the UK, while episode 11 has aired in the U.S.

It's inevitable though, that broadcasters in different countries will have different scheduling priorities.

Canadians, of course, get new episodes of Degrassi before they air in the United States, despite it being the most popular series on the network that carries it.

We also get the new Dr. Who more-or-less in sync with the UK, while the U.S. doesn't get it at all.


From: Gone for good | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged
CF Pilot
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posted 08 January 2006 10:24 AM      Profile for CF Pilot        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
"Rome" on HBO is another great show that I've downloaded. You can't see it in Canada unless you have a grey-box satellite dish, which I don't. BTW, a second season for Rome has been greenlit. Filming starts in March, broadcast on HBO in early 2007.
From: Ontario | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged
Reality. Bites.
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posted 08 January 2006 10:36 AM      Profile for Reality. Bites.        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by CF Pilot:
"Rome" on HBO is another great show that I've downloaded. You can't see it in Canada unless you have a grey-box satellite dish, which I don't.

Or unless you subscribe to the channels that bought and paid for the rights and show it the same night as HBO.


From: Gone for good | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged
CF Pilot
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posted 08 January 2006 12:01 PM      Profile for CF Pilot        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by RealityBites:

Or unless you subscribe to the channels that bought and paid for the rights and show it the same night as HBO.


Yeah, you need the Movie Network to see it here. Here's the thing about that. I have expressvu, so movies are available on demand. I can't see getting TMN just for 1 show. I will definitely buy the DVD box set when it comes out though.


From: Ontario | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged
Reality. Bites.
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posted 08 January 2006 01:58 PM      Profile for Reality. Bites.        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
So wouldn't your situation be the same in the U.S?
From: Gone for good | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged
Jimmy Brogan
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posted 08 January 2006 03:11 PM      Profile for Jimmy Brogan   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
"Rome" on HBO is another great show that I've downloaded. You can't see it in Canada unless you have a grey-box satellite dish, which I don't. BTW, a second season for Rome has been greenlit. Filming starts in March, broadcast on HBO in early 2007.

I also downloaded Rome and thought it was the best television drama ever. I will certainly buy the box-set when it comes out. Rack up another sale for bit torrent.


From: The right choice - Iggy Thumbscrews for Liberal leader | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
radiorahim
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posted 08 January 2006 04:55 PM      Profile for radiorahim     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I also downloaded Rome and thought it was the best television drama ever. I will certainly buy the box-set when it comes out. Rack up another sale for bit torrent.

That's one of the points in the linked article. So-called "piracy" can actually generate sales.

One of the arguments that Pesce makes is that "TV programming" as such is on the way out over the next decade. Software like Bittorrent is much more efficent at getting programming out to people...that and DVD sales as an "interim" measure.

He sees that broadcast TV will survive only by doing what it does best...stuff that's "live" i.e. news and sports...and live concerts/shows/drama as was done back in the early days of TV in the 1950's.


From: a Micro$oft-free computer | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged

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