Dear Networks, We Don’t WANT to Pirate Your Shows!

Dear Networks, We Don't WANT to Pirate Your Shows!

Last week Doug wrote about how the push by the movie studios to have consumers feel forced to buy retail DVDs by delaying physical rental availability and making the streaming rental system convoluted and inconsistent is likely backfiring by pushing customers in the wrong direction.

This weekend my family had a show we wanted to watch – Ghost Hunters from SyFy. We had just heard that the show was going to focus on the historic Reed Homestead in Townsend, Massachusetts. That just happens to be within a mile of where we used to live for 15 years until we moved to western NY in 2008. So we were interested and excited to check it out.

Here is a blurb on Reed Homestead from Paranormal Stories:

The two-story, house known as the Reed Homestead was built in 1809 for Oliver Reed Jr. and his family in Townsend Harbor, Massachusetts. He, his wife and four children (the couple had five but only four reached adulthood) turned this federal-style house complete with pine floors, crown glass windows, and a mural on the second floor into a home four generations of the Reed family would enjoy.

Today, the house is used as a nonprofit museum operated by the Townsend Historical Society who acquired the property in 1973. Visitors show up to witness the magnificence of the past including the mural attributed to the founder of Scientific American Magazine, Rufus Porter. It is believed of the 160 murals Porter painted in homes throughout New England the one in Reed Homestead, painted sometime between 1800 to 1835, is one of the most well-preserved still in existence. Of course, others are more interested in its resident ghost.

Tragedy struck one of the Reed children. Hannah experienced the loss of her baby which devastated her. Not being able to handle the pain, she decided to take her own life by hanging from the staircase. It is believed now the grieving mother still haunts the residence turned museum. Noises, door coming off it’s hinges, apparition, and footsteps have been witnessed and heard by employees and visitors. Has Hannah taken her agony with her to the afterlife?

As we normally would, we pulled up Hulu+ on our Roku and sought out Ghost Hunters … and found only the ‘international’ edition, and as ‘web only’. OK … so then we pull out a laptop and start looking around.

SyFy has a website with video clips and full episodes, and they also have shows on Hulu, so we had no idea why only some shows and certain episodes would be available. There was a wonderful feature page for the episode with images and descriptions and clips … but not the full episode.

Undaunted, I simply pulled up Google and typed in ‘syfy ghost hunters season 7 episode 714 ghostly evidence stream online’ … and came up with a load of hits. I clicked on the first one, which brought an aggregator of streaming video download options. I recognized a few names, as did my kids, and wanted no part of them. I headed to a different site that had a few streaming sites I didn’t know supposedly from Canada … and after ensuring all of my PC protection was in place, I clicked a ‘view now’ link which popped up a full video that I hooked into my TV via HDMI.

The show played wonderfully in HD on our big TV without a single glitch or hiccup. It was no different than watching it through Hulu or Amazon or Crackle or one of the NBC/ABC/TBS players on the iPad. My wife said ‘jeez, what are we paying $8 a month to Hulu for anyway’?

A quick search after the show told me that the site streaming the show had absolutely no right to do so (I wasn’t surprised) and was really no better than the sites Doug alluded to where it is simple and easy to get movies/music/games/books/who knows WHAT else!

But like Doug said – I don’t WANT to hit that site or others like it … I WANT to be legit, to pay Hulu, to watch the advertisements that provide revenue to content producers, to do what it takes to reward those who create the product and bring it to the screen.

To be honest, it IS much better and easier than it was a few years ago, where post-airing streams were a rarity and before Hulu and others existed. But once people get used to paying for something either directly or by watching ads, it is critical to NOT send them to the seedy part of town again – because the content providers are JUST getting to the point of making things cheap/easy/convenient enough that people won’t tend to get content illegally as a first tendency.

What do you think? Are content providers doing enough to ensure that you can watch their programs at YOUR convenience rather than according to THEIR airtime schedule?

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.

3 Comments on "Dear Networks, We Don’t WANT to Pirate Your Shows!"

  1. Exactly!  Obviously, I couldn’t agree more.  I think consumers would be okay if there were a consistent set of practices that they could rely on–like the fact that new videos are released on Tuesdays, for example.  Everyone knows that.  Why not a similar amount of consistency with releasing TV shows for streaming?

    It’s not that it’s difficult, Big Media Companies; it’s that it’s *confusing*.  Everyone has a different release strategy for books, music, games, videos, and all the rest, and even within a particular company or streaming utility (like Hulu or HBO+) it varies in a way that, to the consumer, seems totally random.  Do you guys *want* to encourage pirates?

    It’s insane.

  2. N.B.: In my opinion, this is very similar to the iTunes pricing wars that the record companies fought with Jobs.  Brilliantly (in my opinion), Jobs insisted on a one-price model, and millions of songs–billions?–were sold, and everyone knew how much something would cost.  Now?  Now there are at least three price tiers, and from my perspective, it seems totally random which song gets which price.  Why do some back-catalog songs cost you the higher price, while others the standard price, while still others the lower price?  Completely random, from a consumer perspective.

    Love Jobs or hate him, you have to admit he knows how to sell stuff.

  3. My experience is with Doctor Who. In past seasons, BBC would air episodes in the UK first, then in the US several weeks later. They complained about piracy. Now, it’s being aired in the same day in UK and US, but since the commercial breaks are longer, they cut out parts from the US version. So, if you want to watch the show as it was meant to be watched, you have to either wait a year for the DVDs to come out, or pirate it.

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