TV Without Advertising

Based on Dish Network adding a commercial auto-skip feature (and the subsequent complaints) and my previous speculations, I thought it’d be interesting to discuss what TV might look like if (when) advertisers stop advertising for everything but live events like sports and news.

Here’s what’s true:

  • There’s more TV shows than ever
  • There’s more good TV shows than ever (and still plenty of bad ones)
  • Because of the segmented market (a.k.a. more and more cable networks), a show can have a lower rating and still stay on the air
  • A TV show can get (more) popular five years after it goes off the air due to DVD sales and the internet (The Wire,  Arrested Development, etc.)
  • If it’s easy and reliable, consumers will pay some amount of money per month ($10 for Netflix/Hulu Plus to $100+ for a cable/satellite provider ) to watch TV shows on their TV and or other devices
  • People don’t want to watch TV commercials (or at least wouldn’t complain if they disappeared)
  • The TV Network financial model is all about selling commercials
  • For live broadcasts, TV quality is still significantly better and more reliable than the internet

Imagine all advertising stops for non-live shows (everything but the news and sports). How else might TV shows make money?

Here’s my idea: Have each user pay $X a month for unlimited video, then pay each show a percentage, based on how much of it the user watches.

A cable box-like device would measure how many M minutes you watch of each show and add up how much TV you watch each month.

That show’s income could = M (minutes of show watched) / T (Total Minutes of TV this month) * $X (the monthly service fee)

In other words, each show gets the % of your monthly viewing fee which you spent watching that show.

Example: The service costs $40 per month, I watch 5 episodes of The Office with each episode being 20 minutes long, and I watch 800 total minutes of TV in the month. The creators of The Office would receive (20 * 5) / 800 * 40 (1/8 of 40) which is $5. With 9 million viewers, these numbers add up quickly. Of course, the company (most likely cable, satelite or dot com) that creates and adminsters such a system would charge an administrative fee (I’d imagine it around 10% – 20%).

Some Consequences / Impacts:

  • The more popular your show, the more money it makes.
  • It’d be more profitable to get users who barely watch TV to watch your show.
  • Built in residual income — if your show gets popular five years after it comes off the air, you still get paid the same amount and can turn a profit. This is basically The Long Tail effect.
  • Contracts structure might be changed so that more actors / directors / writers are paid a percentage of the total income, instead of a one time fee. This better aligns everyone’s incentives for a successful, long running, well written series.
  • Instead of pitching an idea to a TV Network or production company, you could pitch it directly to a venture capitalist (Sillicon Valley Style) or Satellite/Cable/Amazon/Netflix type company. This may lead to more buyers and consequently more shows.
  • This same cable-like box could also incorporate an Amazon / NetFlix like recommendation system for TV. Users can rate and review shows, and receive recommendations on what shows they may like based on how they’ve rated shows to date.
  • This could turn into a Pandora type stream, where everyone has their own customized channel(s) with the shows they like to watch. Would networks still be necessary?
  • Everything but news and sports can become on demand, and there’s no waiting week to week for the next episode of the season.

Max’s Long Day

I co-wrote and edited these two videos.

“Max’s Long Day”


“Max’s Long-OR Day”
(The faster, funnier version with multiple endings and fewer morality tales.)


48 Hour Film Project: Richmond 2010

Here’s my second go around at doing a 48 Hour Film Project. I’m quite proud of this one, even if it didn’t win any awards. If you like the film, please share it with friends.


My 48 Hour Film Project Movie

Last weekend I participated in the 48 Hour Film Project in NYC. Basically, each team gets 48 hours to write, film, edit and submit a 4 to 7 minute film. You draw a genre and are then given a prop, a line of dialogue and a character name and have to work it all into your movie.

We had:
Genre: “Film De Femme” (strong female character)
Prop: Tennis Ball
Dialogue: “Are you sure?”
Character: Ethan St John, President of ___

I proudly present our movie, “Margot”:

Our creative process was:

Friday 10pm – 1am: 8 people shooting around ideas for a film, agreeing on an idea then story arcing it

Saturday 1am – 3am: 5 of us who were going to be writing and acting in it and the director wrote a first draft

Saturday 3am – 5am: 3 of us wrote a second draft while sending everyone else to sleep

Saturday 7am: Start setting up for filming and cast the roles, go through the second draft and make additional changes with the whole team

Saturday 9am: PA’s, PM’s and DP show up

Saturday 11am – 11pm: Film the different scenes

Saturday 11pm – Sunday 10am: Edit the first cut

Sunday 10am to 1pm: Give notes on the first cut and re-edit

Sunday 1pm to 7pm: Fix up the sound, make final touch ups, export and submit the film

I wound up not acting in it, which was okay with me because there was so many other things for me to do. I wound up sleeping 5 hours in two nights.

My favorite part of this is how 5 comedians came together and wrote a dark movie that has very little comedy in it…

Last thought: I highly recommend everyone pick a “48 Hour Challenge” where you have 48 hours to complete a task that would otherwise take a really long time (write a short book, make a music album, paint ten paintings, etc). You’d be surprised at how efficient you can be when you’re on the clock.