When Piracy is actually an under-served market
I was downloading a pirated tv show today when I realized that yes, I’m a pirate, but I’m also part of a market niche that isn’t being filled. What’s more, I can tell you how to make money off that niche.
Before I go further, let me be clear that I do buy content. I buy books, ebooks, software, and I even buy the occasional DVD boxed set. I also have a subscription to Netflix. The only content I pirate are TV shows – just content that I would get to watch for free anyway.
I can tell you the exact moment I started pirating tv shows. It was during the first season of Stargate Universe, which I was watching on Hulu. The episodes were being posted a week after they aired, which was fine. But then someone at the network decided that the shows would be bumped a month, which is not fine.
I already knew how to find and download torrents but I had never bothered before. I was content to wait a little while, watch ads, and generally go along with the program. But that 30 day wait was too much. I wanted to see what happened next.
So I pirated that episode and the next couple episodes.
Now I get pretty much all my TV content from torrents. It is simply a better viewing experience than I can get from Hulu or Netflix. The resolution is higher and I can rewind fast-forward, jump, pause, etc. And it’s not dependent on a live internet connection.
My epiphany today was that there was money to be made in torrented tv shows. The pirates aren’t the market; we’re the product that can be sold to advertisers. That’s how TV shows are funded, so why not extend the model to torrents?
I was thinking that the network could make its own torrent out of an episode and the ads sold to pay in the show. As soon as the episode airs, make the video available. This will beat any pirated copy.
I would absolutely get the official torrent. Assuming that this video is based on the pre-broadcast source, it will likely be better quality than any of its competition. That would make it worthwhile to suffer through the ads.
Every person who downloads the official torrent can be counted as a viewer and then sold to advertisers. Nifty idea, no?
I’m fine with being the product; I know how tv works. Someone needs to find a way to sell me to advertisers. That way I get to watch what I want and the network gets to make money on me. It is a win-win situation.
In fact, let’s go one step further. Let me sign up for a mailing list and you will virtually guarantee that I will download the official torrent. I won’t even bother looking for an alternative (unless the official one sucks). And now you have me as a captive audience.
What’s even better is that the mailing list will be drawn from not just 300 million American but from 7 billion people on the planet. if you can’t double your audience numbers then you’re not trying very hard. You can also use it to identify countries where you might want to sell the rights to the show. Any country that has a high concentration of viewers obviously has an audience for the show. Ka-ching!
Does anyone know a good reason why this won’t work?
image by Travelin' Librarian