Hello. My name is Brittany. I’m a writer, I’m Canadian, and I am a TV-aholic. (Hi, Brittany)
The above is an image of my personal (ten year grown) DVD collection. I know, right? And yet, I still find myself asking why I have nothing to watch - geekverse problems. Anyway. You’ll notice that the picture up there is mostly comprised of television shows, which is my main topic of discussion here today. The recent SOPA/PIPA/ACTA shenanigans have left me wondering what side of this seemingly (read: you’re either doing illegal things, or you’re not) black and white area I fall in. And honestly, after much self-reflection and number crunching, I have come to this conclusion: I am a legal pirate.
A legal pirate! How ridiculous does that sound? ARRR, MATEY. But hear me out, dear reader, for I am about to take you on a post spanning a few thousand dollars and a few hundred hours. To make things more palatable, I’m going to stick to one example (a case study, if you will) and run with it: a little show called Battlestar Galactica.
Whoa there, firstly - if you haven’t seen Battlestar Galactica, you should probably just stop reading right here and go buy the shit out of those DVDs (or procure a nice download, if they’re still out there), because you are doing something wrong with your life. If you have, read on! Because you have made the correct life choices, and thus have my respect.
So, Battlestar Galactica. This is a show I heard much about back in 2008, when my sci-fi loving friends were twittering (or livejournal-ing, as the case was) away how fantastic it was. Since I’m open to anything involving spaceships, I gave in and downloaded the first episode. HOLD UP, DOWNLOADED. Calm down, calm down. It gets better.
Four hours after I finished the miniseries (the pilot, to those who haven’t seen it - what is wrong with you) I was hooked, and immediately craved the rest of the season. And I loved it so much, you know what I did? I went to Blockbuster and rented the whole first season. So, to start our math: that’s $5/disc - my first contribution to the money shower I eventually rained upon NBC/Universal and Syfy.
Of course, after the first season came the second, and the third - all of which were rented in a mad frenzy at my local (now closed - adapt or die, ladies and gentlmen!) Blockbuster. Total spent: $75. And then I popped out to HMV to own them for my very own. Now, they were still full price at that time. That’s $40-$50 a pop for each season. My total now: $255. That took me about four or five months, to be fair. But still - $255.
Well, of course, then came the merchandise. Action figures - 13 of them at $20-$30. The minimates - 20 at $15-$20. The Scar replica from ComicCon! $75. The last supper season four poster, limited edition ComicCon run - $30. The books - novelizations, show analysis, season guides - $10-20 a pop! The officially licensed propaganda posters, the Number Six bust, the titanium viper and raider, the mini ships! The t-shirts, the keychains, the mugs! You do the math. Wait - I will. $948, give or take say, $20 - Canadian pricing, and all. After three years of collecting, my total is at nearly a thousand dollars. (Hey, TV is my future job - give me a break!)
And that doesn’t include the DVDs, or the additions to it that occurred after Razor and the fourth season aired. Razor - $15, 4.0 & 4.5 - $80. DVD total: $350. Of course, we have to add in the BluRays, because what girl doesn’t need her favourite thing in ultra HD? $160 later, Starbuck was flying her Mark ii around my screen in glorious high definition. The DVD collection now? $510.
Off of me alone, NBC/Universal and Syfy made a grand total of $1458.00. Off of one person. And that’s not to mention the trip to ComicCon to see the last ever BSG panel, the autographs from cast members at $40 each (I only did that once, it was weird and I shall not repeat that again), or the fan-made memorabilia, clothing, and accessories that I have procured over the last three years.
But wait! I’m not done! What’s the point of all that, you ask? Here it is: the more I talked about Battlestar, the more people listened. My standing record for the number of people in my social circle that I got to watch it is 30. There I sat, downloading episodes I’d already bought on DVD to make graphics, gifs, and videos - all to entice people to share in the thing I’d discovered. In fact, I have three solid, concrete examples of people who went and bought the entire series because I recommended it. There’s another, what, $400 I made Syfy? Ya’ll are welcome.
Do you see what my point is? People like me, we’re out there. There’s thousands - millions of us. We download things. We’re pirates. But we’re pirates that have made the entertainment industry billions. We’re free advertising. We’re out there, pulling people in, getting them to share in our interests and sparking collections of their own. We are doing a job people get paid to do every day - and frankly, we’re doing it better. Think about how many things you own because other people recommended it. That’s how it works in television these days. It’s not the Nielsen numbers (a disgustingly outdated system), or overnight numbers. It’s the nerds on their computers, TVs, DVRs, phones every day, “pirating” for all they’re worth. It’s the everyday Joe downloading an episode to try out a show and see if they like it enough to buy it.
We are standing here, waiting to give the networks money. Here, take it. It’s yours. I will pay you to let me stream a show on my computer at the same time it airs. I will pay you to let me watch it instantly after it airs. I will pay you to let me download it, DRM-free, and advertise how amazing it was to a group of strangers I know are doing the same thing. I am buying into your propaganda and your advertising and your merchandise. I’m here! Sell me things! Don’t make it impossible for me to watch a show because you say I live in the wrong country. The people who create television don’t make it so only a small subset of viewers can see it. They make it so that anyone can experience a part of their imagination for an hour a night. There is an entire world out there, a manipulatable market waiting to give you their money in exchange for entertainment. It’s 2012 - how does no one get this yet?
If I love something, I love it. I’ll spend money on it. That’s the way this whole industry works. Entertainment, it’s up for sale. It’s like making an amazing pair of pants, and then only selling them in one size. Well, that’s bullshit. You make it in a range of sizes, you make way more money. You make your product available to more people than a select few, you make more money. I mean, this isn’t hard. Make things for everyone, sell them to everyone. You can’t tell me you can’t advertise McDonalds, or Apple, or Google in every country - those are the people paying you to advertise their product, and those products are universal. Market universally.
So I am not sorry, dear reader, for downloading all those episodes of BSG. I’m not sorry for having digital copies of every single episode. I used those episodes to advertise an amazing show. And I own two hard copies of each (regular and BluRay, how nice!), so I think that’s rather enough. I have hard copies of everything I’ve ever loved. That collection up there - the neverending one? That thing is worth over $5000. That’s $5000 I, personally, have poured into the entertainment industry - $5000 some other geek like me will spend that will eventually pay my salary, too. All of it came from downloading.
And do not even get me started on my Doctor Who collection.
Portlandia S02E02 - “One Moore Episode”
Decided to do that 500 episodes thingy but too lazy to make a daily list so here’s Week 1 (1st Jan - 7th Jan):
Total count: 36/500
i get so into tv sometimes i totally understand how people go door to door with bibles trying to force their religions onto other people.
it’s like, they just love it so much they want to share it with everyone.
like i just want to put on a nice button down shirt and walk around knocking on doors with dvd box sets. “hello friend, is your tv working? have you seen the good show?”
when i hear people don’t watch a show i’m into i want to save them.