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The Cultural Apocalypse Clock Update

CA Clock

Yes, it’s been a while, but they are only so many hours in the day, even for a Pop Cultural Horologist. One way you can help your humble clock-watcher is passing along any bits of news you think warrant a shift of the Hands of the Clock. It might not show up but any help is appreciated.

How Networks Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Download?

ABC, CBS, NBC. Letter combinations that have meant entertainment and news since most of us were in the cradle. Are they about to go the way of the dodo?

It’s like an avalanche. Video tape started the first few pebbles going. TiVo hit the scene and became a verb. Then higher bandwidth and BitTorrent now make video downloading a matter of hours instead of days. More and more studios are setting up their current series and older shows for download for pocket change. BitTorrent is still going strong despite the MPAA suing everyone and their grandpa–literally. The iPod now gives you video in the palm of your hand. Are we seeing a paradigm shift?

Well, big TV/movie studios have looked at the largely failed attempts of the music industry to stop downloading. They want to get in on it before they have to kow-tow to Steve Jobs. Anymore than they already are, anyway. Especially with the video iPod out. And they see the remarkable sales figures their shows get on DVD. But will the big media companies abandon the networks that have served them so long?

CA Clock

The math makes that an easy decision. For an episode of a hit show, for example CSI, it costs around $2 million to produce. It had 29.5 million viewers for its November 10th episode. If they charge two bucks to download the episode and if only a quarter of those viewers buy the episode through those means, the studio makes a $5,500,000 profit. Like I said, it’s the early days, but the download model is starting to be seen as potentially profitable. And how long will it be before ordinary people start getting in on the act of selling their content on a regular basis?

I think this is the start of something big. So I’m moving the Clock back a whole five seconds.

So until next time, do your part to prevent the Cultural Apocalypse. Whatever that might be.