An Open Letter to NBCU's Jeff Zucker

Categories: New TV Technology

Written By

October 4th, 2007

letters

 Dear Jeff Zucker,

I just read this article in Broadcasting and Cable where you praised AT&T for researching filtering technology that might aid in protecting NBC's (and others') intellectual property and save AT&T and potentially other ISPs some bandwidth.  You called intellectual piracy the new face of organized crime.   For my money you came off about as intellectual as Paulie Walnuts by doing so.

I'm not sure which is true:

  • 1. You do know what the real deal is, and you're just in "protect at all costs" mode
  • 2. You don't know what the real deal is

If it's #1, I do understand.  The real deal is the only reason you care much about piracy at all is because DVD revenue is such a significant profit center.  Ok, that's fine and I don't blame you for wanting to maximize it.  But that revenue?  It's all going away someday.  See ya later, bye.  And you'll be cursing AT&T and cheap bandwidth at that point. 

It's not really that expensive even today to set up a media center with terabytes of hard drive space and store every program you recorded via DVR in digital format on your hard drive forever.  With a little bit of geekdom, or even just a SlingBox hooked up to your DVR, you can beam your content pretty much to any computer.  This sort of technology (the thing you were praising was technology, right?) will only get better, and easier and allow "beaming" content to more devices.   

For now it's still much too expensive and it's still too complex to reach mass adoption.  That's the good news.  The bad news for you is it's all  perfectly freaking legal and it will get cheaper and less complex.  Then what?  Then you won't be happy about embracing technology solutions at all.

Someone like Steve Jobs, who is really playing down his little hobby, Apple TV will make it even easier.  How long can it be before the combo of an Apple TV with a built in DVR will allow me to beam content directly to my TV, any internet connected computer, or an iPhone or iPod Touch?  Is it one year or is it two or three?  No worries, you'll probably still have 5-10 years or even more before everyone has it.  But then what?  No DVD revenue, that's what and all on account of improvements to technology.

What will AT&T do about all these "legal" bandwidth hogs using their broadband connections to watch their content for their own personal use wherever they want?  My guess is they'll be happy people are paying them $35-$50 a month for broadband.  Bandwidth is cheap!  I know it must be really, really, really cheap especially when you buy it in bulk.   We pay our  web host like $5.95/mo. for 6000 Gigabytes worth of traffic.  6000 gig!

On my media server I have about hmmm 1800 hours of video content compressed down to like 600 GB.   That's only 10% of the bandwidth I get for $5.95 a month, so if the $50 I'm paying Comcast a month for broadband - well, I'm pretty sure they'll think $50 a month is a really, really good deal...for them. They won't care if I stream 100GB a month.  I'm already not buying your DVDs anymore, but admittedly I'm pretty far out in front of the curve.

In the meanwhile, I predict the # 1 cause of increased piracy of NBC Universal content is NBC Universal itself.  Here's why: the easiest way to get NBC content onto an iPod or an iPhone used to be to buy it on iTunes.  The second easiest way was to download it via P2P (illegally).  Guess which is the easiest way now?

 
  • Bill Gorman

    My guess is that it’s #1.

    Inertia is a powerful thing. When the money’s coming in from a certain source, the easiest thing to do is fight to keep that source going instead of figure out new sources.

    The whole “Look what the internet did to the music industry, we’re not going to let that happen to us” line is sheer fantasy. It’s just a temporary rallying cry for the lawyers.

  • Bill Gorman

    My guess is that it's #1.

    Inertia is a powerful thing. When the money's coming in from a certain source, the easiest thing to do is fight to keep that source going instead of figure out new sources.

    The whole “Look what the internet did to the music industry, we're not going to let that happen to us” line is sheer fantasy. It's just a temporary rallying cry for the lawyers.

  • http://yahoo.com Eva G.

    I’m still old school, cuz I’m cheap. I have a TV w/ a VCR/DVD player included, so i buy a VHS tape for $1.o7 @ the local dollar store, and program my TV to record the shows I’ll be missing, and just keep recording over the same tape. I won the TV at a work raffle 3 years ago. I’m guessing in the next 5 years I’ll totally upgrade to a more technologically savvy way to watch shows for free on my own time, without paying for a DVR, or Tivo. I’m know it would be through Wi-Fi, and a lap top from Wal-Mar.

  • http://yahoo.com Eva G.

    I'm still old school, cuz I'm cheap. I have a TV w/ a VCR/DVD player included, so i buy a VHS tape for $1.o7 @ the local dollar store, and program my TV to record the shows I'll be missing, and just keep recording over the same tape. I won the TV at a work raffle 3 years ago. I'm guessing in the next 5 years I'll totally upgrade to a more technologically savvy way to watch shows for free on my own time, without paying for a DVR, or Tivo. I'm know it would be through Wi-Fi, and a lap top from Wal-Mar.

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