There Has to Be a Better Way

In 2003, when the iTunes store first launched, the objective was simple - an aggressively priced, better buying experience to save the music industry from the rampant piracy made so easy by popular file sharing services like Napster.

It's funny to think about it now, but being able to buy any track we wanted at a reasonable price, without having to buy the terrible filler between the "good tracks" was a revolution. This revolution was enough to push people toward obtaining their music legally and this new found ability to pick and choose individual tracks forced the music industry to lift their game too. The ultimate win/win scenario.

Fast forward to 2012. Bandwidth has now increased so much that we can download a TV show in the same time it used to take us to download a couple of songs and once again, people are turning to piracy.

The problem here is that watching TV is actually very inconvenient. Just as our grandparents did in the 1950's, you have to physically sit down in front of the screen at the right time. If you miss an episode, it's gone and you'll have to wait for re-runs or worse, watch it on some website. Throw advertising on top of this and you've got yourself a lousy experience over all. This experience can be made better with a PVR, but it's a bandaid solution, and one that is too easily fooled by Networks changing their programming schedules.

iTunes has solved the "user experience" problem once again - buy season passes to your favourite shows and new episodes are downloaded automatically, free of advertising and ready to watch in the living room via an AppleTV set top box or on the run on your iOS device. The problem is that here in Australia, each of these episodes costs $3. No discounts are given for buying season passes and even the older seasons can usually be found cheeper on DVD. Digital distribution is supposed to be cheaper.

Downloading a TV show illegally isn't as convenient as iTunes but, especially for those of us with nerdish leanings, it's MORE convenient than TV. So as more people turn to piracy, the TV studios find themselves in the same boat as the music studios were in 10 years ago.

The music industry's little experiment with Apple in 2003 proved that people generally wanted to do the right thing. And when faced with a nice user experience and reasonable prices, people would gladly follow their conscience and pay for something they had been "getting for free".

So as I see it, we have 3 options:

1. The lousy old-fasioned TV experience from the 1950's.

2. A better user experience that leaves you with a guilty conscience because it involves piracy.

3. Feeling like a sucker because you payed too much for something you can record for free on your PVR.

There has to be a better way...