Alias-fans assemble! Cracking idea from Scott Raymond. Quoting big chunks, but it’s worth it:
“With the addition of RSS, BitTorrent could really be taken to the next level, and Id be able to forget about the plumbing of TV altogether. I want RSS feeds of BitTorrent files. A script would periodically check the feed for new items, and use them to start the download. Then, I could find a trusted publisher of an Alias RSS feed, and subscribe to all new episodes of the show, which would then start downloading automatically like the season pass feature of the TiVo.”
He goes on to pitch it to the media owners:
“Illegitimate uses of this system would obviously abound. But the potential legitimate uses are huge as well. For one, traditional content providers (like the TV networks) could take advantage of the demand for their programming by scooping the copyright infringers. If ABC released Alias on BitTorrent with advertising built in, the file could be delivered to their audience very fast, and would cost them next to nothing in distribution costs. The economics of producing video programming would be upended each viewer of the program would, in effect, foot the bill for a tiny slice of the distribution overhead, causing a massive component of traditional media company infrastructure to become obsolete.
It would be an audacious move for an advertising-supported channel. The arguments about skipping ads in Tivo is not necessarily avoided. You can imagine if they did do this, then they’d want you to download a handicapped, proprietary player, that was a player only- with no other button that “PLAY”, keyed to a proprietary file format that they’d use for the media itself.
Would I mind? I dunno… if I got to watch what I wanted. When I had my Tivo, I didn’t really care how the shows were encoded, but that was becuase the entire user-experience was so good. If I got stuck with a locked-up file format, and a bad player; then I’d be annoyed that there was no path for innovation or improvement around the experience.
Also, the argument might be made by the media owners, that if they didn’t lock the goods up, then some enterprising soul would edit the episode for ads and re-release it as a torrent.
Scott ends with a rousing paragraph:
“The result: the TV distribution networks are completely end-run by an ad-hoc, decentralized, loosely-coupled network. And in the process, significant opportunities are afforded to independent content producers of audio and video to reach a mass audience with insignificant distribution costs.”
Sounds very sensible to me… especially perhaps for a large public service broadcaster who doesn’t need to worry about those troublesome ad-revenues… The BBC will probably investigate all sorts of content-management and DRM gubbins in the course of it’s investigation of p2p-distribution (as mentioned by BBCi’s chef-du-digital Ashley Highfield previously) – whereas it has the information resources and the talent right now to quickly and (relatively) cheaply do what Scott has outlined.
Dear (Risk-Averse) Auntie: Here is the data. Turn it into RSS, make the links to torrents, let the community of early adopters who are screaming out to help you, help you.
Use these open standards to quickly and cheaply create the loam, and others [cf. Steam] will make great bleeding-edge clients and functionality to navigate your media-commons.