Hmm, so the video-playing iPod has arrived. And they're selling current episodes of ABC TV shows at $1.99 a pop. Let me lay down some quick thoughts here:

  • We subscribe to basic analog cable at about $50 a month. If we instead put all that money into iTMS, that'd be 25 episodes a month.
  • Weekly shows only manage around 4 episodes per month, so that'd be about 6 shows we could keep up with.
  • Come to think of it, that's probably about the maximum number of on-air shows we care about anyway—everything else comes from Netflix.
  • A season of a show seems to run about 24 episodes, which would cost about $48 through iTMS. The first season of Lost on DVD retails for $59.99, sells for $38.99 on Amazon, as of this writing.
  • The price difference here comes out much more favorably than I thought it would. This would obviously trade immediacy for quality—but that's what you're doing with music through iTMS versus CDs, anyway.

Forgetting for the moment about the tiny screen and low resolutions even on the desktop, it seems somewhat crazy and counter-intuitive to give up several dozen channels of cable television for less than a couple-dozen hours of programming. But I'd bet we give a crap about less than a couple-dozen hours of content on cable anyway.

But, I've gotten more and more convinced that being given just what I want is more valuable than being given large quantities in the hopes that I'll like something in the pile. It's all about intentionality in my media consumption.

Of course, along the lines of what I wrote this week, I'm hoping to see lots of amateur content flowing into this gadget. Of course, 90% will be crud, but there's still the chance for 10% good that wasn't there before.

Archived Comments

  • "Forgetting for the moment about the tiny screen and low resolutions even on the desktop"

    The new iPod, from what I understand has video out built in. Analog TV's don't user super high resolution like HDTV's or PC monitors do.

  • For fear of outting myself as a luddite, our TV is notably non-HD-ready. And I don't mind watching VCD-quality video.

  • I am interested in seeing if video producers will create content that takes advantage of the mobility aspect of the medium. I think it would be interesting to see things like narrated museum tours getting applied to neighborhoods.

    Someone could create an easy to use open source CMS tool for the neighborhood's residents and businesses so that they could assemble and map neighborhood media content (video, images, audio stories). If you planned to vist that neighborhood you could supply the CMS server with your interests, click on subscribe, and your personalized video podcast for that neighborhood gets downloaded and sync'd to your video iPod.

    Then perhaps someone else could come along and implement a game on top of the neighborhood content.

  • Looks like someone at Apple is paying attention: the entire first season of Desperate Housewives is $34.99 on the iTMS...


  • Why should someone use this and pay for crappy TV shows twice when they can download better quality versions from somewhere else?

  • Hey, I'm doing what I can to contribute to that 90% you mention... ;)

  • There are things I'd download, especially foreign material. If they put Dr. Who up there I'll get it.

  • This, of course, is another step towards lots of little nice "echo chambers", highly-customised cultural mini-bubbles where debate is absent and everybody is happy and agreeing on everything. The cultural version of metropolitan suburbs. You can't possibly be exposed to anything you don't like (unless it's "promoted" by someone you trust).

    You already see the effects of this trend on political discourse, where the various factions polarise, building their radical, well-guarded communities, agreeing on nothing and unable to understand the other's point of view. "Conservative" values thrive in this.

    "Mainstream" cultural opportunities are less and less, like they were 30 or 40 years ago; then the cause was economical, now it's cultural: people don't want to know more that they already do. Is this just a case of long-run information overload?

    BTW, anything with DRM on it is not going to have my money :)

  • @Giacomo: Eh, I don't have high expectations for anything other than crap (at worst) and tuned echo chambers (at best) from television anyway. I might as well get some decent entertainment from it in the meantime.

    Al Gore just gave a great speech on this, IMHO.