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Media (Apple) Media Television

Can iTunes Resurrect Old Time TV? 214

Posted by Zonk
from the only-the-shadow-knows dept.
An anonymous reader writes "With iTunes selling a couple of popular TV shows now there has been significant hesitation from other television producers to follow suit and put their content on the Web. It has also sparked activity from the actors unions who want additional compensation for what appears online. But there is also existing content that stands to be revived in this new context, older television shows from the 50's and 60's that have been squeezed out of the traditional broadcast by popular shows of more recent vintage. It was suggested to a producer who is presently digitizing 27 episodes of a 1950's show called Captain Zero to offer it up on iTunes for a buck an episode. Is this an opportunity for these old shows to strike while the iron is hot and while the owners of more contemporary content are caught like deers in a headlight? As the Captain Zero article points out purveyors of old time radio programs have enjoyed a significant revival by embracing web-based technology. Why not old time TV?"
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Can iTunes Resurrect Old Time TV?

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  • Public domain, et al (Score:5, Informative)

    by Eric(b0mb)Dennis (629047) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @04:45PM (#13905982)
    Have you seen the bargain DVD rack at your local Wal-Mart?

    You can get entire seasons of old TV for a buck....
    • by Seumas (6865)
      Have you seen the bargain DVD rack at your local Wal-Mart?

      No, I've never actually been inside of a Wal-Mart.

      However, even at bargain bin prices, it's not worth it. $5+ for a movie that's 20, 30, 40, 50 or even 60+ years old is not worth it.
      • by Alex P Keaton in da (882660) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @05:07PM (#13906100) Homepage
        However, even at bargain bin prices, it's not worth it. $5+ for a movie that's 20, 30, 40, 50 or even 60+ years old is not worth it.
        Actually, that is so on topic that it isn't even funny- That is why the online distro is such a good idea. You aren't paying 5$ for the movie. You are paying 50 cents for the movie, and then You are paying for the freight to get it to the store, to heat the store, pay the staff, buy shopping carts, advertise, press the DVD, the DVD case, the shrink wrap and on and on etc etc etc.... With the online distro, you cut out so much of that expense....
        • Yeah, but at $5 I'd say it is worth it when you factor in online distribution means you have to wait for the dang thing to download. Then if you're going to burn a DVD (if you're not blocked by DRM) you have to factor in the time and expense of that, *especially* if you have to transcode. Plus you don't get a nice case or get the durability/playability benefits of a pressed DVD.

          On the flipside, buying a DVD and getting it onto your iPod might prove pretty challenging, so the opposite might be true (that i
          • You know they invented these things called "cables"? With them you can even connect two devices in your house without burning DVDs...
            • Yes, but there are valid reasons for wanting to burn on DVD - for example, if the computer is not in the same room as the good TV, then you'd want to burn it. Or, if you just plain want to watch it somewhere without a computer near a TV.

              Or, you could go all out, build a file server and one media box for each TV you want connected, network then with at least 100mbps-capable NICs and stream the videos from the server. This is technically on the shady side of the law, but if you only use legally-purchased DVDs
        • by laffer1 (701823) <luke@@@foolishgames...com> on Saturday October 29, 2005 @06:44PM (#13906484) Homepage Journal
          And you lose more quality than the DVD. Why? Apple uses an incredibly small resolution for ipod videos.. 320 x 240 or so (from memory). My first computer did 640 x 480 for christ sake. I bought a music video on iTunes adn when i went full screen on my iBook it looked worse than the quicktime file i made from an old vhs of u2 videos. Apple needs to offer a high quality version at higher resolution. I'd even be willing to pay more for it.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 29, 2005 @06:54PM (#13906520)
        > However, even at bargain bin prices, it's not worth it. $5+ for a movie that's 20, 30, 40, 50 or even 60+ years old is not worth it.

        Woow. That's an impressive statement.

        25+ years old: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0079944/ [imdb.com]
        30+ years old: http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0068646/ [imdb.com]
        40+ years old: http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0059578/ [imdb.com]
        50 years old http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0038650/ [imdb.com]
        60+ years old http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0022100/ [imdb.com]

        Saying that any of those movies are not worth 5$ bucks just shows the world what a moron you are.

        Cheers,

        --fred
      • by Blondie-Wan (559212) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @07:15PM (#13906603) Homepage
        $5+ for a movie that's 20, 30, 40, 50 or even 60+ years old is not worth it.

        I'll charitably assume you're speaking from the POV held by many here that copyrights ought to not last as long as they do, and this stuff should enter the public domain and be freely downloadable by this age, rather than the incredibly moronic POV that movies that old aren't worth watching.

        I think if I were to put together a list of my all-time favorite movies, the overwhelming majority of them would be more than 20 years old, and I'm sure the same would be true of any credible list of all-time greatest movies.

      • err... he said "A 'buck'". For $5.00 you can get 5 movies that are 40, 50 or even 60+ years old.
      • Absolutely. (Score:3, Informative)

        by jotaeleemeese (303437)
        We all know that the best movies evar have all been made the last 10 years.

        Kurosawa, Tarkowski, Wells, Hitchcock.

        Seven Samurai, Solaris, Citizen Kane, Psycho.

        They are old!

        Burn them!
    • Yes, but not everything.

      There's a lot out there I'd pay good money to get on DVD, like Get Smart. Unfortunately they won't make DVDs of that series (though 1 or 2 Get Smart movies are printed and some series bootlegs exist).

      I wish that just about everything was available on non-VHS media. Even some shows SciFi series from around 1999 or 2000 are being held back.
    • Yes, but spending 30 minutes to search through them all isn't what I would call fun unless I'm really bored. However, I did find an old Bela Lugosi movie that way. Here is the company that produces most of them, so you can at least see what might be in the bargan rack: http://www.digiviewus.com/ [digiviewus.com]
    • Have you ever felt uncomfortable diving through the bargin bin? I know that there is stuff in there that is sometimes worth getting, but you oftern feel like you are diving only to find the whole bin is filled with stuff you wouldn't want to buy anyhow.

      What would tempt me is if you could buy the film for $1 on an iTunes like site and then get redirected to somewhere that would allow you to buy a better quality version in DVD form.
    • Have you seen the bargain DVD rack at your local Wal-Mart? You can get entire seasons of old TV for a buck....

      When prerecorded tapes first appeared, there was an explosion of video-stores... every one a cash-cow. But, unfortunately for most of those early stores, the consumer base quickly ran through the Joan Crawford ouvre, and its attention settled largely upon new releases, where it remains today. Seems reasonable to expect the same growth profile for these hand-held revivals...

    • Have you seen the bargain DVD rack at your local Wal-Mart?

      You can get entire seasons of old TV for a buck....


      Which means that they are effectively going out of print, and pretty soon you won't be able to get them at all.

      It simply is not worth it to the publisher to sell a DVD collection when people aren't willing to pay more than a buck or so per episode.

      I've looked through the bargain bin. Mostly, they seem to have everything but what I'm looking for, and I expend several bucks worth of my time just diggin
      • Your claim that it's "not worth it" runs directly counter to the example presented: these are NOT clearout sales on stuff that's going out of print, that's the MSRP on many of these DVDs. Dual Sided discs and insanely cheap packaging are our friends in this case, and if it wasn't worth it to the manufacturer, they wouldn't be doing it. For those who've never been in Walmart, he's not exaggerating, you can seriously go into a bargain bin and find an entire seasons of, for example, Abbott and Costello's TV s
        • Your claim that it's "not worth it" runs directly counter to the example presented: these are NOT clearout sales on stuff that's going out of print, that's the MSRP on many of these DVDs. Dual Sided discs and insanely cheap packaging are our friends in this case, and if it wasn't worth it to the manufacturer, they wouldn't be doing it. For those who've never been in Walmart, he's not exaggerating, you can seriously go into a bargain bin and find an entire seasons of, for example, Abbott and Costello's TV se
          • Actually I misspoke, it was Our Gang, not Little Rascals (mostly the same show though). The dual-sided disc which contains almost a whole season is marked (printed on the box, not with a price sticker) MSRP: $1.00
        • I'll back you up because there seem to be a lot of people reading this who have an aversion to "cheap" stores and refuse to believe that something so obvious might be being done.

          Forget WalMart, go to your local Dollar Tree (or other $1 or 99c store.) There are plenty of examples there. Sold in cardboard sleeves, MSRP $1. Mostly obscurer 1930s cartoons, pulp scifi and horror movies, "Superman" serials, and other similar content, mixed with a few more famous items like Abbot and Costello and I love Lucy.

          N

  • ipod... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Brilleklar (924846)
    I really hope they strike when the iron is hot. I would enjoy watching some old shows again, especially those from before my birth.
    • Re:ipod... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SYFer (617415) <syfer&syfer,net> on Saturday October 29, 2005 @04:49PM (#13906008) Homepage
      Could not agree more with the premise. In a world where content is king, it continually amazes me that the vast piles of old TV programming out there can't find a market. Online delivery at low prices strikes me as the perfect delivery channel.

      I assume the overhead is low and, in an era where new, expensive HD content is raising the bandwidth bar, these old 4:3 shows would be light on the pipes and relatively easy and cheap to deliver.

      I for one would happily pay to see old episodes of shows like The Saint or The Prisoner without having to pay for a whole additional tier of cable TV service just so I can get channels like BBC America (and then hope they run the shows).

      Listening to Podcasts like "Soap Detectives" [soapdetectives.com] has gotten me into listening to old radio shows lately and I'm amazed by how entertaining they are.

      On demand, online delivery of old TV content sounds like a sure winner to me.
      • Could not agree more with the premise. In a world where content is king, it continually amazes me that the vast piles of old TV programming out there can't find a market. Online delivery at low prices strikes me as the perfect delivery channel.

        Yes, online delivery seems particularly good for old (or even just unpopular/obscure shows) to be distributed. After all, I'd imagine the reason you can't find those "vast piles" anywhere is that the distribution channels are too tricky and expensive. A lot of mone

  • Well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Billly Gates (198444) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @04:46PM (#13905990) Journal
    Programmers are not compensated for every copy of their software they develop for their employers. Actors are no different.

    Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson got paid an average engineer salary to develop unix, yet only Bell Labs and now the open group make money off of every copy sold. They agreed to work for x amount a year.

    • Actors are no different.
      Aren't different, or shouldn't be different?

      Even if actors' work doesn't require more talent or hard work (which is debatable), they're not interchangable so some lucky ones end up getting rich. I don't think there's any getting around it unless computer-generated "actors" ever catch on.

      • Exactly. These are the standard, royalty-based contracts that are used in the entertainment industry. Artists take the good with the bad. Most end up getting screwed for one reason or another, but the lucky few get decent royalties. The reason for this is that actors, musicians, etc. are hired on an as-needed basis, and are rarely hired as a salary, since they are not needed full time.

        If an engineer wanted to forgo their salary and try to negotiate a royalty-based contract, they are free to do so.

        Next time

      • I don't think there's any getting around it unless computer-generated "actors" ever catch on.
        SHHHHH! Lucas might hear you!
    • Re:Well (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CrankyFool (680025)
      It's a free market. If a programmer can negotiate some sort of royalty/residuals deal, I'm sure we'd applaud her (especially if the software's good). That programmers don't get terms that are as favorable is about as relevant to actors as it should be to us that your average hourly janitor doesn't get health benefits -- it's unfortunate, maybe, but shouldn't mean we should give up our own benefits.

      Plus, in the end, actors' names do have an obvious impact on the financial success of movies (please, lets as
    • Programmers are not compensated for every copy of their software they develop for their employers. Actors are no different.


      So, in other words, since people who create software were dumb enough not ot form unions, actors deserve the same treatment, despite the fact that they do have unions?


      Great idea.

      • Re:Well (Score:3, Informative)

        by servognome (738846)
        So, in other words, since people who create software were dumb enough not ot form unions, actors deserve the same treatment, despite the fact that they do have unions?

        The average actor in the union makes $7500 a year acting, the average programmer makes several times that. This has less to do with unions and more to do with standard contract of the industry. Programmers tend to go towards salary (+ maybe stock options) which is a much safer bet than royalty based pay scales.
    • Re:Well (Score:5, Informative)

      by cgenman (325138) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @05:42PM (#13906221) Homepage
      In the old studio system it was different. You were an actor, you did your schtick, you got a check. If your movie turned out to be the next Casablanca, you got maybe a token bonus. If your movie was a flop, you still drew a nice salary.

      And then that changed, and actors were willing to accept less guaranteed pay for more points. And studios were happy to offer points because it mitigates their risk. This has three effects 1: more and more expensive movies get made, as the risk is artificially spread out over multiple parties, 2: the median actor salary goes down, and 3: actors take a more active role in the production.

      I'm still not sure whether the points system makes movies better, like tipping makes service in resturants better, or if it just means that most actors starve. Either way, the actor's guild is just looking for the same types of income stream with shows online that they get from syndication and overseas views.

      • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rollingcalf (605357) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @06:23PM (#13906383)
        "I'm still not sure whether the points system makes movies better, like tipping makes service in resturants better, or if it just means that most actors starve."

        Tipping doesn't make service better. Go visit a restaurant in a country where tipping isn't done (i.e. most countries outside the US) and you'll see.

        Tips are expected by the staff merely for showing up, so they're not a motivation for better service. Tipping is only insurance against getting deliberately bad service the next time you visit.
        • The only time I see tipping working in advance is when I walk into a crowded bar, drop a $10/$20 bill into the bartender's tip jar (ensuring that he/she sees me) then I get incredible service all night... no more waiting in lines, etc. As soon as he/she sees me anywhere near the bar, it's "what'll you have"... much to the annoyance of the other patrons waiting in line.

        • Tipping doesn't make service better. Go visit a restaurant in a country where tipping isn't done (i.e. most countries outside the US) and you'll see.

          You're generalising all countries outside the US to be the same. Maybe that was the case from your experience, but I went to Italy for a couple of weeks and went to a few different towns, and had exactly the opposite experience from you. Service was terrible to non-existent in about every restaurant we went to, except for a couple of really nice upscale place

          • That's Italy. Maybe they just have bad service and tipping wouldn't have made it any different. Try Australia and Japan - excellent service, no tipping.

            If tipping is required for good service, I guess that means that everybody in the 99% of occupations that don't involve tipping are doing a bad job.
        • My experience, as a Brit in Florida:

          Average tip in Britain is about 5%. Service is awful. Expect to wait up to twenty minutes in some restaurants before you'll even see a menu, and if you're lucky enough to get one quickly you'll still have to wait a similar period of time before you get to order. No leaving cash on the table and walking out at the end of a meal either, you have to obey the rules (which means waiting ten minutes for the bill, then waiting ten minutes for them to collect your money, then w

      • by nathanh (1214)

        I'm still not sure whether the points system makes movies better, like tipping makes service in resturants better,

        It doesn't work when the tipping is expected. It should be volunteered for above average service.

        Despite common belief - expressed below in one of the comments - the USA is not the only country that gives tips. In Australia the typical tip is 10-15%. However the staff don't get the tip for doing their job. They get the tip if they do the job well. Giving no tip is a polite way of sayin

        • In Australia the typical tip is 10-15%.

          Huh? 10% tip in Australia? I don't know where you've been eating, but allow me to assure you that most of Australia's restaurants haven't caught onto that particular fad.

          I go to restaurants pretty regularly in Perth and Adelaide, and occasionally in Melbourne. In all my years of dining in Australia, I can't say I've ever been in a situation where a tip has been expected, or even automatically itemized on a bill at the end of the night. In fact, its only in the last fe
    • Actors aren't engineers.

      No one buys theatre tickets because of the stage crew.

      Ritchie and Thompson may have agreed to work for "x amount" a year, but actors don't. The concept of "residuals" is as basic to them as free coffee, sick days, and Christmas off is to the 9-5 cube-dweller. No one group is better or worse, they just have different and long-entrenched schemes of compensation.

      ...all of which the individuals know about when they start their careers, so I can appreciate the red flags going up in the

    • Sorry, but the comparison doesn't work. You're trying to make sense out of a business that makes no sense, entertainment. The entire business is built on the concept of "get rich quick." It's also built on screwing over the other guy as much as possible, which is the reason why we have actor and writer guilds, and is the reason why most TV programs (and many movies) have tangled webs of rights that make it difficult to easily distribute them when new mediums pop up.

  • What I want: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Seumas (6865) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @04:46PM (#13905993)

    If you want me to be a customer, you need to offer me several things:

    + I don't want to view it just on my ipod.

    + I don't want to be able to view it only with Quicktime.

    + I don't want to have severe DRM limits that hamper my ability to store and watch the content any time I want on any device I want.

    + I don't want to pay through the nose for the content.

    + If I watch it on a non-iPod device, I want higher quality downloads available.

    + You should have at least the selection that Netflix does. Even if you're just the "Netflix of television".

    I'm one of those consumers who is not opposed to paying for information/entertainment/data on any real basis other than I want it to be affordable and flexible. Don't place silly restrictions on me that hamper my enjoyment and don't charge me so much that I have to seriously think if each download is worth it.

    Also, isn't most of the content they're talking about already public domain? Hell, some of it can be downloaded from the Internet Archive already.
    • Public Domain TV (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jonathan (5011) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @04:53PM (#13906027) Homepage
      Also, isn't most of the content they're talking about already public domain? Hell, some of it can be downloaded from the Internet Archive already.

      Not in general. No TV is old enough to enter the public domain naturally. What happened with some programs and movies (even such famous movies as the original "Night of the Living Dead") is that they were never officially copyrighted or were incorrectly copywrited during the time when copyright was not automatically granted.

      • by fm6 (162816)

        No TV is old enough to enter the public domain naturally.

        Or ever will be. Despite the Consitution's insistence that IP be protected for a "limited time" (Section 8, clause 8) we keep seeing retroactive extensions of copyright. Before 1919, the "natural" expiration of copyright occurred after 28 years, with a possible 14 year extension. Since then, we've seen a series of retroactive extensions of old copyrights. Works for hire (which would cover most TV shows) were extended to 75 years in 1976 and to 95 y

    • May I play devil's advocate? Think about the majority of the TV watching public. Many don't care about the things you mentioned.
      If you want me to be a customer, you need to offer me several things:
      That's great, and good points, but if 240 million boobs in the the US don't care, and 10 million educated people like who who understand the issues with DRM do care, I think the 240 million will rule the market.
      Sort of like, If WalMart wants me as a customer they need to offer X Y and Z... WalMart doesn't giv
      • Re:What I want: (Score:4, Insightful)

        by antifoidulus (807088) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @05:13PM (#13906118) Homepage Journal
        Meh, drop the elitist attitude. Some people just don't care about the DRM. Don't call me dumb, don't call me a slave. I saw what was out there, and I decided to go with iTunes. Just because you don't like it does not make my choice any less valid. People on this site can't seem to realize that perfectly intelligent people have opinions and priorities that differ from theirs and then proceed to call anyone whose opinion differ from there "the unwashed masses".
        • I think you are taking it wrong my friend. We are for the most part interested in tech if we are on here, either careerwise, hobbywise or both.
          I don't know much about Ham Radio, that doesn't make me "the unwashed masses" but it does mean that I don't require much from a radio, while a Ham would...
          The same way an auto tech may have opinions on cars that the average driver doesn't... (Even if the driver is doctor or something)
          The same way someone who's main interest in cooking may have differing opinions/m
          • Re:What I want: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Dan Up Baby (878587)
            I hate to break it to you, but not every person "interested in tech" expects to be able to buy things completely without DRM. I, for one, couldn't care less--so long as the license is no more restrictive than the typical iTunes one, or something similar, it's fine with me. I don't expect to be able to burn things designed for an iPod onto DVD--I'll just buy the DVD if that's what I want.

            Oh, and I doubt the obesity rate is higher at Wal-Mart than it is on Slashdot. Let's be honest, here.
    • Re:What I want: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nine-times (778537)
      1. You can view it on your computer also. Or you can play it on your TV by hooking your iPod up to the TV.
      2. The only reason you have to is the DRM. Sorry. But you aren't going to get a store right now that has no DRM-- which leads us to...
      3. Apple can try to be fair about their DRM, but no media company, whether they be music, movie, or TV, is going to agree to online stores with no DRM. Not right now. Of course, it's arguable the DRM doesn't really protect the content from replication, but good luck convin
    • They don't care because they are in business to make money, not to meet every billeted list of everyone in the "me" generation. Several items on your unreasonable list are direct impediments to making money, such as having files without DRM, or making them playable on anything other than Mac's, iPods or PC's.

      And as far as viewing the files goes, if you have a computer capable of running iTunes, you have a computer capable of playing these videos.
  • I've got all the old Commando Cody series on DVD, Flash Gordon, etc. Love that stuff. Plus in black and white the file sizes would be small.
  • Bandwidth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bones3D_mac (324952) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @04:53PM (#13906029)
    The interesting thing with doing this, is that the amount of bandwidth needed for these older shows is far lower than that of the modern programs, such as Lost. Many of these older television shows only need to be encoded in greyscale and given a mono soundtrack. This could be a great, yet, inexpensive way to give the itunes video store some credibility.
    • I think it is a hardware issue though. Until there is a simple way for it to work on the TVs in the house, it won't take off. Even with a Big old monitor, watching TV on the computer isn't much fun. (Then again, 5 years ago I never thought I would have my morning coffee in front of my computer while reading the paper online.. so who knows...).
      This is true of many technologies that could be deployed if we had the infastructure.
    • I'm not so sure. When I was coverting 10 and 15 year-old film to digital, I discovered that the degredation of the film seemed to significantly increase the encoded filesize. MPEG is good at dealing with surfaces, patterns, gradients, stuff like that. Not so much at dealing with random noise.

      • This is true, but wouldn't they have ways to reduce grain and other problems? I mean hell, they fixed up the Star Wars movies for DVD (and broke them in many other areas, but they didn't improve color), I'd imagine they could reduce grain and stuff on old TV shows. However, would this be price prohibitive? They want to sell these shows on the cheap, which they might not be able to do if they have go through and improve the quality of each one. However, IANA Video Engineer or whatever, so I wouldn't know.
      • Well, you have to consider that most of this work is already done. Many of these old shows, including the really obscure ones, have already been cleaned up and put to DVD. Aside from that, the process for video/film restortion is pretty much automated these days. Really, there's relatively few issues preventing these shows from being ITMS ready within a matter of weeks.
    • Re:Bandwidth (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NanoGator (522640)
      " Many of these older television shows only need to be encoded in greyscale and given a mono soundtrack. This could be a great, yet, inexpensive way to give the itunes video store some credibility."

      Hmm... I have a concern about that. Those old B&W shows were also noisy. Noise is the worst thing to encode. (not just video noise, but depending on the period they used film etc...) They may actually have a hard time encoding those shows at a lower data rate because of the added artifacts that the technol
  • I don't know about anyone else. But give me the opportunity to buy Get Smart episodes on the internet*, and I will take it.

    * As long as it doesn't require Windows to do so.
  • So long as it was an expansive selection..
  • Johnny Nuance [typepad.com], a little-seen but well regarded CBS Western from 1958, sounds like a great candidate for the iPod:

    "Although it ran a scant 13 episodes, the western series 'Johnny Nuance' still prompts fond memories among baby boomers who followed the exciting weekly adventures of the treaty-slinging frontier diplomat.

    Johnny Nuance! Johnny Nuance!
    From the shores of Martha's Vineyard he rode his horse out West,
    With a treaty in his holster and a medal on his chest,
    Bringing law and justice to a wild and viol

  • I would like to watch TV shows (cartoons and sitcoms) from the 80s, not just before I was born.
  • by Jameth (664111) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @05:13PM (#13906121)
    They need to realize that, with those old shows, they have a very different market. The amount of people who desperately want their old shows to the point that they'll pay what they would for a recent one is very low, while the amount of people who will say, "Hey that was a kinda cool show. I'd like to have a copy of that for a couple of cents," is very high. And, since the entire show has already had its run and made its money, selling them at $0.25 or $0.50 a show instead of $1 per episode is still making a profit.

    Naturally, I'd consider paying a half-dollar an episode for one of the good slightly old shows, like The Prisoner or The Six Million Dollar Man.
    • Naturally, I'd consider paying a half-dollar an episode for one of the good slightly old shows, like The Prisoner or The Six Million Dollar Man.

      One problem with that is how do you split the money. Unless everything was done as a work for hire (acting, music, etc.), there's a lot of people who are entitled to a share of the sale. It'd be interseting to se what distribution rights were in teh original contracts.

      As a side note, isn't that how the original owners of Caspergotthe rights back - they decided the
  • by The Mutant (167716) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @05:20PM (#13906141) Homepage
    I see a market for this, driven by the need of someone, somewhere, who wants to see an episode of some older TV show, or even a current TV show that doesn't have mass appeal. Appeal that's in the upper 20% of overall demand that is.

    iTunes is a very effective distribution medium, and has helped the careers of many a smaller label / band, and even moved significant amount of back catalog.

    Currently the networks are marketing to the top 20% in terms of demand, and ignoring the remaining 80% because they don't have the broadcast capacity.

    Teaming up with iTunes they do. Another example of The Long Tail [wikipedia.org].

    I see this working.
  • Don't Care (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Jerry Rivers (881171)
    I don't care if it's Quicktime only. I don't care if I can't make a "backup" copy to give to my friends. I don't really even care about the quality all that much because the quality of 50's and 60's tv shows was generally pretty bad over the air anyway. As long as the price is right (under a dollar) and I can get a wide variety of old shows such as Ripcord, The Man From Uncle, Fireball XL5, or even old kids shows such as The Junior Forest Rangers or Razzle Dazzle, I will buy them. Package sets would als
    • I don't care if it's Quicktime only.

      Either you are a Mac user, or a glutton for punishment. I'm guessing Mac user.

      I don't care if I can't make a "backup" copy to give to my friends.

      So I suppose you don't care about being able to make a backup for yourself? I guess you like re-buying your content every time your media fails?

      I don't really even care about the quality all that much because the quality of 50's and 60's tv shows was generally pretty bad over the air anyway.

      You don't really even care about the
      • Get a grip, dude. Remember what we're talking about here. This is not music that you listen to over and over. This is low quality old television shows. They're more suited to one-time viewing than music is because television shows were more plot driven. Once you have seen it, you know the plot, and it's not as good to watch it over and over.

        So I suppose you don't care about being able to make a backup for yourself? I guess you like re-buying your content every time your media fails?

        That's nice for some

  • Let me know when (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Fahrvergnuugen (700293) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @05:35PM (#13906193) Homepage
    I can download all of the Wile E. Coyote episodes uncensored. It kills me that they see a need to hack the shit out of the classic looney tunes cartoons to protect kids from viewing violence. It was okay for a whole generation of children and adults alike and now suddenly it's not okay, so they need to censor them.
    • Re:Let me know when (Score:3, Informative)

      by Manchot (847225)
      Some of those old Looney Tunes episodes are extremely racist. The censoring's not just to protect kids: it's to remove offensive material.
      • by jizmonkey (594430)
        Some of those old Looney Tunes episodes are extremely racist. The censoring's not just to protect kids: it's to remove offensive material.

        Boy, howdie, you said it. Huckleberry Finn, the Revised Expurgated Edition is so much better than the original. And Harriet Bowdler did such a fantastic job of cleaning up Shakespeare. I also limit my movie-viewing to trans-continental airline flights, because they boil down the movie to the good parts and I don't have to watch the "director's vision" filth.

        I'm sorry I d

  • THis show alone could make a shit load of cash! I am talking 50000 DLs per day -- think aboiut it, there are cable channels that show it like 12 hrs per day (sadly those are the 12 hours I am at work and class)

    Also, they could offer both the American and forgin versions, in the UK the show is exactly the same just without the laugh track (acording to a friend who lives there)...this would be an amazing thing if I could buy the whole seriese sands canned laugh.

    • Re:M*A*S*H (Score:4, Interesting)

      by henni16 (586412) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @06:20PM (#13906369)
      if I could buy the whole seriese sands canned laugh.
      Having the seasons 1-8 (9 will be released in Dec, IIRC) on DVD behind me on the shelf:
      you can have that right now.
      I don't know about the RC1 release, but for the RC2s (1 or 2 seasons of mine are the German DVDs, most are from the UK) I can assure you that they all contain a "laughless" audio track.

      Each RC2- season box contains 3 discs with 8 episodes each (sadly, no bonus materials) and sell (at amazon) around 25 pounds(UK) or 20-27 Euro (German, also cotaining laughterless English track).
      Judging from the comments at amazon.com (20$ a season) you can turn off the laughter on the RC1s too; at least on the early ones (I checked season 1,2 and 7; BUT 7 didn't list two english tracks so you might want to take a closer look).

      So you can get them already for 0.85$-2$ per episode,.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The big problem is getting the rights from the copyright holder (and finding the copyright holder!). These old shows were made in a time when broadcast on TV was the only distribution option, and the only thing covered in the contract. To sell by another method you need to get the rights & make a new contract, otherwise you're opening yourself up to a big fat lawsuit.

    Even today, to release recent (1970s) TV shows on DVD, the hardest part is getting the rights to the music used in the TV show.

    Since every
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@@@mac...com> on Saturday October 29, 2005 @05:42PM (#13906219) Journal
    Just like with the music store, the big money is in the back-catalog sales. There are hundreds of thousands of TV shows from the 20th century, and only a few of them live on in syndication the way that the Andy Griffith Show or I Love Lucy have. There's only so much room in broadcast and even satellite TV schedules, so most of those old shows just sit on a shelf, making no money at all for their owners.

    I know there are hundreds of episodes of old cartoons I'd love to get, for a start.

    -jcr

  • I think those rabbit ears will be a big problem on an iPod. You need those to watch old time TV - at least that is my recollection. It was a long time ago. I could be mistaken.
  • Maximum Bob was a GREAT mini-series...something like 7 episodes. I loved every one of them. It show on TV, then sank from sight, never to be seen again.
  • ...Les Nesmond on WKRP in Cincinnati broadcast the great turkey drop during their first season. It might be one of the greatest comic episodes of US television history. Of course we might NEVER see it because of music licensing...

  • I would give my eyeteeth for episodes of Mission Impossible, Secret Agent/Danger Man, and the Avengers. And by "eyeteeth" I mean less than the $10/ep that it looks like Amazon wants for those old series.

    Well, maybe the Avengers isn't that much at Amazon, but gee, I dunno, it seems like such a commitment. Whereas if I bought one or two, I think I'd wind up spending a lot more by Christmas.

    There are a LOT of old shows that have more interest than their contemporaries, yet appear to be almost out of print or

    • Re:eyeteeth (Score:5, Informative)

      by spisska (796395) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @07:11PM (#13906584)
      For what it's worth, my local library (Arlington, VA) has complete collections of the old Avengers, Secret Agent, and I Spy (the one with Bill Cosby) on DVD, plus a lot of other BBC stuff -- Poirot Mysteries, Monty Python, various mini-series, etc -- some HBO series, and quite a few old (and not so old) films. My point is that it's worth checking out libraries in your area before looking into cosmetic dentistry.
  • I'd love the old Dragnet TV series. It never seems to have come out on DVD except for a few of the first black and white ones. I want the one with Harry Morgan!

    I keep hoping it will come back on TV Land or something so I can get it with my Tivo and then record it to DVD or something, but if it were available electronically in a format that I could somehow get to the normal TV that would be great too.

  • by MoNickels (1700) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @07:33PM (#13906665) Homepage
    Sure, there's been a great resurgence of old-time radio. I love the stuff and I have a bunch of it. But let's be fair here: most of it is bootlegged. The original creators are not the ones posting it online, streaming it online, selling it online. It's other people either giving it away or making money only for themselves, with no licensing fees at all being paid to or by anyone. The original creators or performers aren't seeing a dime. So to paint that as the ideal model for old-time television isn't quite right, although it's a great example of what *will* happen if the TV people don't starting putting up a lot of content, and quick, on services like iTunes. The bootleg market for online OTTV (to coin an acronym for old-time television) will soon be so huge there will be no room for legitimate producers--just like happened with today's television, too.
  • Every one of these copyrighteous people is freeing that playable media. As it transmits across dying carrier media, as on the tapes on which so many analog images made it that far, the spirits of those memepools and puddles fly into the next media, across a dimensional boundary. Living in public to document its public life, irretrievably in the public domain once put there by a person. Wave on!
  • by Ranger (1783)
    There are no stupid headlines. Only stupid people. For example: Can iTunes ressurect old time TV?", "How many times should we pay for our software?" "No Porn for You, iPod" Oh, wait there are stupid headlines. Never mind.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Looney Tunes. They're old, and I don't think they are regularly broadcast anywhere. Furthermore, they are short, so you can toss a bunch on your iPod due to smaller file sizes, and actually watch a big number of them before your battery runs out due to their short run time.
  • Looney Tunes DVDs (Score:3, Informative)

    by meehawl (73285) <.meehawl.spam. .at. .gmail.com.> on Sunday October 30, 2005 @12:48AM (#13907563) Homepage Journal
    Looney Tunes. They're old, and I don't think they are regularly broadcast anywhere.

    Funny thing about Looney Tunes, they have been available for years on DVD [amazon.com]. So it was a simple job over the last few years to rip them to a video Archos and enjoy them, Or on a Treo. Or a phone. Or a PSP. I'm sorry for so many people that it's taken the iPod so long to finally get some kind of video playback. Portable cartoons rule. It's nice having complete runs of Simpsons and Futurama ready to go at the click of a button...
  • IPTV (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cybpunks3 (612218) on Sunday October 30, 2005 @04:52AM (#13908142)
    I think ultimately what we need for IPTV is for the internet to become everyone's video collection, everyone's DVR timeshifter. The technology is ripe for that.

    There are many shows that are so voluminous that the only practical way to consume them is with an all-in-one jukebox with a beefy search engine behind it (think google video indexing closed captioning).

    Think of these long-running shows:

    The Simpsons
    Married with Children
    Bonanza
    Gunsmoke
    Doctor Who
    Cheers

    Imagine also being able to dig into old news shows, like every episode of 60 Minutes, 20/20, or Nightline.

    Imagine being able to watch any old airing of the Tonight Show back to the earliest B&W days based on a search for a celebrity guest. For instance, you could line up all of Tom Hanks' appearances and watch his fro shrink and his hairline recede.

    DVD is fine, but it is just not practical to reserve the shelfspace to own it all. And DVDs do little to help you get from "gee, I wish I could see the episode where Ricardo Montalban guested on Gunsmoke" to it actually playing on the screen. You have to go figure out the episode number online, then find the right disc, pop it in, wait through the ads, navigate through the menus, and go. The convenience at the macro level is not there, just as maintaining a large audio CD collection is a drag.

    So much of our content viewing habits these days is a result of search results. That's the whole idea of web surfing. So the ideal video viewing experience, to me, is to sit down casually and just improvise search terms until you come up with interesting enough results. You won't know what you want to watch until you see what comes up. Or you have the preference engine (ala Amazon) do it for you.

    Instead of using the web to index information about media, it could index the media directly and let you jump right into it.

    For instance, let's say you typed in a particular line or phrase like "Do'h" and every instance where Homer says "Do'h" pops up with the timecode right in there. You might even be able to set up in/out playlists for custom highlights reels.

    Really, this stuff is all doable technically. Google video is a good proof of concept. It's purely a matter of working out the DRM and the business side of things.

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