Thursday, November 16, 2006

Channel 4 to sell digital episode downloads for 99p

Now, on seeing the headline "Channel 4 to offer 99p downloads" while scrolling through my RSS doobery, I have to admit I was slightly excited. Further reading though, as ever, dampens the anticipation.

Each programme will "disappear" from users' computers 48 hours after they start to watch it.

It will be kept in a personalised library until it is first viewed, and then can be accessed an unlimited number of times during that two-day period.

What's the point in not letting users have proper unlicensed videos which they can burn to dvd or do what they want with? It's so stupid. People with a little bit of ingenuity can already download most of the good stuff thats shown on UK tv at uknova. The only advantage this service could possibly give is if the videos were very high quality, and had no adverts or DOGs on screen. Alas i'm pessimistic as to whether this will be the case. People on uknova are starting to capture some things in HD already anyway, and I have a sneaking suspicion these channel 4 downloads will be of similar quality to things previously released, which has generally been a highly compressed WMV file of about 100megs for half an hour... great.

And technically uknova isn't even really illegal, the reason tv networks haven't gone after it yet is because they have a strict policy of only sharing programs which aren't available to buy on dvd. TV companies don't mind if you record a program onto a VHS and lend it to your mate, some like FOX tv even officially encourage it, so they can't stop you from sharing it on the internet which is the same thing.

Basically the tv companies are working themselves up into a big mess. Channel 4 are offering to let customers pay 99p for something they can probably get for free legally. Also though it says things old comedies like Spaced will be available, so you can pay 99p for an episode that you're only allowed to watch for two days, or buy the series on dvd for about £7 and watch it forever...

I should be head of digital media at Channel 4. If anyone from there is reading, my email address is in the column on the right.

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