Archives For TV Shows

TV Studios Leveraging BitTorrent?

Dave Zatz —  December 16, 2007

According to a few recent stories, including this write-up from Last100, some studios may be intentionally seeding content onto BitTorrent:

pirate-bay.gifWhile the Motion Picture Association of America is uploading fake torrents of movies to discourage torrent use, mainstream television show producers are engaging in flirtatious trials with torrents as a viable new way to promote their programs and reach new audiences. Broadcasters aren’t posting their shows directly on PirateBay yet, but they are talking informally and giving copies of shows to a friend of a friend who is unaffiliated with the company to make a torrent. The Weeds show producer Jenji Kohan hinted at both her approval of the leaks and the reasons behind them […]

Unlike, music and movies which have historically relied on the sale of physical media, most television shows are disposable and don’t end up in syndication or as DVDs on our shelves. So, it’s a reasonable strategy to give away episodes as a means to draw in new viewers – whether the giving be done on a website or via BitTorrent. Those services have made a viewer out of me — Torrents for Dexter led to a Showtime subscription (good for them and Comcast) and catching up with torrents of Traveler led me to watch the show real-time with commercials. (Though the mini-series non-finale was BS, and I want all my time back.) Not to mention, if you’ve been keeping up with ZNF lately you know, I’m now a Burn Notice fan thanks to web-streaming via Hulu and awaiting Season 2 – which I’ll watch live.


Canadians looking for alternative ways to consume their media are having a pretty good month… Though much later than their southern US neighbors, in the last three weeks TiVo, Xbox 360 movie downloads, and now iTunes television downloads have been made available. iTunes TV purchases run $1.99 CAD which closely mirrors the US dollar. (For comparison, not everyone is pleased with Microsoft’s Points exchange rate.)

In other digital TV news, dedicated video download STB Vudu ($399) is also offering show purchases for $1.99 USD. However, until they significantly drop that hardware fee they won’t have many takers.


More news came out today on both Hulu and NBC. First, Last100 picked up on a new site called OPENhulu which allows anyone to access Hulu content. No beta invite required. Read all the details on the Last100 post, or just go straight to the site and start watching shows. Only some of the Hulu content is up so far, but it’s a good start, and genius Matt Schlicht promises to keep adding. (Please don’t sue him, Hulu…)

Meanwhile, while NBC’s joint Hulu venture with News Corp is going well, other aspects of NBC’s business are not. Word has it that NBC is writing refund checks to its advertisers for missing ratings guarantees. Ouch. Remember when NBC was must-see TV? Dave and I compared notes and he says he’s still watching 30 Rock and Journeyman on the network, while I’m hanging on to Chuck and Scrubs. I guess there’s not a whole lot else on NBC worth watching. I was going to try out Heroes, but after hearing that season two hasn’t been that great, I’m not sure I’m willing to invest the effort.

Finally, back in the good news column, several folks wrote today about NBC starting to offer content through SanDisk’s Fanfare service as of this January. The content will be DRM-protected of course, but you’ll be able to watch it on a PC or using one of SanDisk’s TakeTV USB gadgets.

Two good news items and one bad for NBC? We’ll call it a good day.

(Thanks, Todd!)

The Writers Strike Aftermath

Brent Evans —  December 5, 2007

tvfuzz6.pngDue to the writers strike, I’ve been keeping a running tab at how many television episodes remain and it’s beginning to look pretty grim. Here’s a rundown of the casualties and where a few favorite television shows stand:

Season Canceled
24 was set to premier in January 2008. Fox wanted to air all 24 episodes without interruption, and since they haven’t all been filmed, there’ll be no 24 this winter.

Zero Episodes Remain
Heroes, Desperate Housewives, Big Bang Theory, Bionic Woman, The Family Guy, The Office, Reaper, Rules of Engagement, Two and a Half Men

1 Episode Remains
Chuck, Criminal Minds, Girlfriends, Life, Pushing Daisies, Shark

2 Episodes Remain
Back to You, Dirty Sexy Money, Grey’s Anatomy, K-Ville, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Moonlight, My Name is Earl, Private Practice

3 Episodes Remain
Bones, Brothers and Sisters, CSI, Dirt, House, Journeyman, Numbers

For a complete listing of remaining shows, including air dates and information on other shows premiering in 2008, check out the frequently updated Brent Evans Geek Tonic: How Many TV Shows Remain.

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  December 3, 2007

A periodic roundup of relevant news… from our other blogs:

Discovering Discovery Channel

Mari Silbey —  November 14, 2007


The Discovery Channel and Discovery Communications have been on a tear lately. First there’s the company’s original programming, including the continued success of shows like MythBusters and Dirty Jobs (with Mike Rowe, target of many a man-crush). Then there’s the fact that Discovery is the poster child for HDTV, particularly with shows like the miniseries Planet Earth and more Discovery HD content available all the time.

Now it turns out that Discovery Communications is also a pro at multi-platform distribution. According to Rentrak (via Multichannel), video-on-demand access of Discovery programming grew 101% between September 2006 and September 2007. Most of the accessed programming was short-form, showing that Discovery can be flexible with its content, and much of it also was information-based in the areas of military, health and science.

And what about the Web? Discovery’s been successful there too with both tie-ins to product sales and new content initiatives like the cooperative effort with TreeHugger to produce Planet Green.

I liken Discovery to ESPN with its cross-platform success. Few other networks seem to have mastered the new world of media as well.

tv-strike.pngLast-ditch efforts to avert the WGA (Writers Guild of America) strike took place Sunday according to TV with MeeVee. However, those talks didn’t pan out and the picketing began today as predicted.

If the strike lingers, there will be very real consequences to the television shows you and I watch… The effects of which could be felt as soon as this week.

Here’s a quick rundown of how the strike might impact the shows on TV: Plan on very few, new late night talk shows and Comedy Central talk shows. No soaps (guess my wife will be unhappy), plus many shows will air the episodes they have written and produced and then run repeats – lots of repeats. You’ll also see tons of reality programming and not-new movies.

For the fate of your specific shows, read the breakdown at Brent Evans Geek Tonic.