Archive for the ‘Stealing Content’ Tag

Hand Talks Out of Its Ass: Sock Puppet thinks Boxee steals from Hulu.

[Update: Edited for clarity and to fix grammatical errors]

Lately, many people who are ignorant of how the internet and APIs work are showing off their ignorance.

Loren Feldmen does it twice in one video. First by choosing a video host that doesn’t allow embedding (and expecting the internet to still behave like it did in 2006), second by suggesting that Boxee is stealing content from Hulu.

He says it himself at the beginning: Boxee is a browser for your TV. Yet at around the four minute mark he says:

Boxee (now) takes Hulu (ok) AND the content that Hulu cut deals with. Now Lets Talk about the content.

Then he goes on to rant about how taking content is wrong, and that artists deserve compensation.

The problem is: Boxee is no more stealing content from Hulu than Firefox is.

Yes, taking content is wrong. However, no one took anything. You just kinda breezed over that fact.

The content is the exact same content users of the website see in Fullscreen Mode. Boxee is just a browser.

Hulu is still serving up the content and still serving up the ads.

The Sock Puppet thinks that somehow pulling up a website in a different browser makes it “from a different provider”, and that if you use Boxee you aren’t getting your content from Hulu. The rest of his rant is based on this misconception.

Anyway, back to the Sock Puppet:

You guys get so hooked in with the fuckin’ distribution that you forget about the content. The content is having to deal with Charlie Sheen @ $600,000 a week, showing up drunk, so you can fucking watch it on Hulu. Ok. They cut those deals.

OK. There’s so much wrong there. I’ll start with Charlie Sheen. Mr. Sheen works for Chuck Lorre Productions. He does not work with anyone connected with Hulu or it’s corporate parents.

Next, you seem to be using “Content” interchangeably to refer to both “Content Producers” and “Content Distributers”. You’re falling for the same trick the RIAA pulls when it behaves as if they are the ones making the music.

Most television shows are made by independent production companies and are merely distributed by TV networks. (That’s what all those cards at the end of every show are all about.)

The production company gets compensated when they sell (first-)broadcast rights to a block of episodes. Often they will pre-sell the show before filming anything other than a single episode. Often they will seek Network funding to pay for the single episode in return for first pick-up rights. This is what gives laymen the impression that the networks make the shows. The money is flowing from the network, but it’s payment for a delivery. (The network makes money by “giving away” the shows via live broadcast stream, and selling ad time at a rate based on the number of eyeballs the “give away” brings in.)

[This isn’t how ALL TV Procuction is done. Some shows sell all their rights to the Networks including aftermarket (syndication and DVD) rights, others sell their rights to Domestic Television Distributors (who then license them to the Networks), and some shows actually ARE produced in-house (but very little of it is Primetime content). The point is: One all-encompassing label, like “Content” or “Content Provider” gives distributors too much credit and works on the assumption that the producer isn’t going to find a new distributor. (It happens. “Scrubs” jumped from NBC to ABC this year). ]

Anyway, back to the Sock Puppet:

Boxee took TV Shows from the web and put back on your TV

No. They didn’t. Boxee is a browser. It’s a computer program, It doesn’t run on a TV. It runs on a computer. If someone connects that computer to a TV you don’t magically deserve more money because the picture is bigger and the viewer can sit in a comfy chair.

Besides, a digital TV screen is nothing but a computer monitor. Boxee can’t be held liable for the size of people’s computer monitors.

And Now the guys who create The TV

You mean “The guys who distribute licensed shows”

…are saying “Listen. We don’t want it on Boxee”.

How about Opera? Is Safari OK? What about IE?

Dumbasses.

You don’t want it on Boxee? I got news for you. The Makers of that content want it on Boxee, and sooner or later, we’ll have our Nine Inch Nails / Radiohead and they WILL bypass you.

If you’re going to watch TV on a TV, how about this: WATCH IT ON FUCKING TV. IS THAT SO UNFAIR? They’re already dealing with DVRs, OnDemand… they’re paying Charlie Sheen. You’re not.

It is not your customer’s job to support your business model.

If you make less money per viewer because that viewer watched it Via Web Browser vs Via Cable then you got screwed in negotiations.

As we are moving from one type of distribution model to another, all the middlemen are trying to take bigger bites than they used to have.

Content Makers (not distributors) need to realize:
1. the dollar-to-eyeball ratio is the most important metric,
2. the distributers will screw both the people they buy content from AND the people they sell content to, if you don’t watch them
3. the distributers will cloud the subject with red herrings.

People watching Hulu in Boxee rather than Firefox is a Red Herring to distract from the REAL problems with internet video advertising revenue and artist compensation.

If the eyeballs-per-dollar ratio the advertisers are paying Hulu isn’t the same as broadcast/cable/satellite – that’s a problem.

If the eyeballs-per-dollar ratio Hulu is paying The Networks isn’t the same as broadcast/cable/satellite – that’s a problem.

If the eyeballs-per-dollar ratio the Networks are paying the people who actually make the content isn’t the same as broadcast/cable/satellite – that’s a problem.

It’s about the content, not the web site.
The red herring worked. In order to to stress that you should watch it on the Hulu website, The Sock Puppet keeps repeating:

Boxee is just an add-on. A browser. It’s all about the content.

Take your own advice Sock Puppet: Stop focusing on the browser. Stop focusing on the web site. It’s about the content of the stream. Hulu is Hulu in every browser! In Firefox, Safari, IE, or on Boxee; it all comes from the same place and 100% of the in-line ads get passed along. Boxee’s existence in no way lessens the number of streamed ads that get fed to eyeballs.

Hulu’s corporate parents behave as if the point of the endeavor is the website. Content is the bait to get eyeballs to the website (just like a TV network), and ad sales will pay for the website (just like a TV network). Unfortunately, that business model only works if your viewers are coming to see the website itself and only care about the video content as much as the wallpaper and the flash ads.

Advertisers: Hulu can’t deliver on a promise that the number of eyeballs that watched the stream will be equal to the number of eyeballs that saw a banner ad.

Banner ad impressions should be measured independently and sold to advertisers separately from the in-line ads. If they aren’t, then the advertisers should be demanding to know why not. Hulu shouldn’t be bundling all their different advertising methods (banners, pop-ups, in-line) into a single unified price scheme.

If they ARE priced and sold separately, then this is the biggest overreaction to a browser I’ve seen in a long time.

If Hulu was smart, it would license the API for their stream.
It should be done for two reasons: a) to insure proper usage and accurate viewership counting, and b) to allow for a Network TV style price structure where ad revenue for in-line ads would scale up with viewership. The money generated from the website would become “icing on an API cake” rather than the cornerstone of the business model.

Hulu can make more money on a raw stream than their website could ever generate. Remember: It’s about the content. With Boxee, viewers watch shows and ads. What’s the problem?

If you don’t like the dollars-to-eyeballs ratio of streaming your video, negotiate for comparable-to-broadcast rates. Bitching because your viewer is legally watching via a more convenient legally available method is stupid and pointless.

The Sock Puppet finishes up by saying that micropayments are the future, and every show worth watching will be charging. You’ll pay or not watch.

Good Luck stuffing the genie back in that bottle. It worked so well for the RIAA and the MPAA.

.
[UPDATE: Four days after posting, I went back to his site to catch up on the reaction to my Trackback, if any, and found the link gone, the comments closed, and nary a mention of this piece. Read into that whatever you want.]