November 8, 2005


Near-Instant Pay Reruns Set for Shows on NBC and CBS (RICHARD SIKLOS, 11/08/05, NY Times)

In separate moves, the CBS and NBC Universal television networks said yesterday that they would start selling reruns of their top new shows within hours of their broadcast for 99 cents an episode through video-on-demand services on cable and satellite.

The move follows ABC's recent deal to make several of its shows available for paid downloads on Apple's latest iPod portable music and video player. This is the first time the CBS and NBC broadcast networks have tried to be paid directly for newly broadcast shows rather than just rely on advertising revenue.

For the Comcast Corporation and DirecTV, the cable and satellite companies whose subscribers will have access to the shows, it represents another step in an effort to appeal to consumers who want more control over where, when and how they consume entertainment.

"This is a powerful breakthrough," Brian Roberts, the president and chief executive of Comcast, said in an interview. "It's a continuation in the personalization of television."

Particularly for a show like Lost, which is like an old movie serial, it would seem to make sense to make it as easy as possible for viewers to get caught up and/or fill in gaps.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 8, 2005 12:49 AM

I don't usually watch much non sports-related TV, but a friend of mine just lent me the DVD set for the first season of "24" and now I'm totally hooked on the series. I'm obviously well behind in the series and I'm also quite willing to shell out rental cash to Blockbuster to keep my addiction going, so I'm sure that people with more money than me would go buy the entire DVD set if they just sold it outright when the season started. People who don't want to pay for the DVDs can still avail themselves of the option outlined above.

Either way, it's nice to have a solution to the problem of missing episodes in a series, other than bumming copies off a buddy. You can only miss so many episodes and still manage to keep up.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at November 8, 2005 2:30 AM

Look at the language used, "...powerful breakthrough...". Breaking through what? That old chimera, progress, equated with the destruction of some kind of limit.

Posted by: Kerry at November 8, 2005 6:06 AM

I noticed an ad for a TV show (don't remember which) touting "fewer commercials." We just signed on to a new (to us) cable service which allows us to preset shows we want to record, no video tape required. We only watch pre-recorded shows now and zip through the commercials. We also rent DVD's of TV shows so we can watch the entire season in sequence and commercial free.

Looks like television as we know it will soon be history. It'll be interesting to see what replaces it.

Posted by: erp at November 8, 2005 8:30 AM


Our Netflix cue was clogged with the first three seasons of "24" DVDs for several months. Friends recommended this as the only way to watch the series and I wholeheartedly agree. Great series if you can get past the highly inappropriate personal conflicts of interest and the completely unrealistic computer network.


Which cable service? I don't subscribe to cable because I find it irritating to pay for it and STILL have to watch commercials.

Posted by: Rick T. at November 8, 2005 9:14 AM

erp: Is it a Tivo or equivalent. A while ago, Tivo changed its programming so that, instead of just skipping 30 seconds, you have to speed through the commercials, but you can still see them. I expect that commercials will change so that even someone using Tivo will be able to recognize the product name.

Posted by: David Cohen at November 8, 2005 9:36 AM

I heard a while back that TiVO was working with advertisers to have five-second spots that appeared when people fast-forwarded through the commercials. Haven't heard anything about it since, though.

Posted by: R. Alex at November 8, 2005 10:56 AM

Here's what I don't get....both Comcast and DirecTV are offering this service to their customers who have the built-in why not just set the machine to "season pass" and record the show instead of paying the 99 cents? Oh, and by the way, these VOD shows will still have the commercials now you're paying to watch commercials.

On the related point of the direction TV is going: don't get too excited about technology that let's you skip or fast forward through the time that becomes the prevelant mode of watching TV, most of the ads will be in the form of product placement within the programming.

Posted by: Foos at November 8, 2005 11:25 AM

I had given up on network television until some great shows started coming out in DVD. 24, Alias, and Lost are all great fun. I would still prefer waiting for the dvd rather than using on demand to avoid ff-ing through the commercials. I do use On Demand for HBO's Rome and The Wire. Action/drama television is better now than at any other time I can remember.

Posted by: Patrick H at November 8, 2005 12:10 PM

Alas, the sitcom is all but dead.

Posted by: Bartman at November 8, 2005 12:35 PM

Patrick H is right. The only reason to watch shows when they come out is water cooler (and blog comment) talk, and if we all stall until the DVD's come out, then that reason is gonen by the wayside as well.

Posted by: Timothy at November 8, 2005 1:08 PM


I just watched the first season of Lost and while I'd never watch it regularly on tv would certainly pay a buch to watch it at my convenience.

Posted by: oj at November 8, 2005 4:59 PM

We have Bright House/Roadrunner here now and I have to say, they are a pleasure to do business with. It really is a bright house especially after Time-Warner.

Our ancient 17 year old RCA TV may not pick up all the features of the magic box properly, but it does what we want. From what I gather TIVO has many more features. We have to fast forward the commercials. It isnít automatic, but there are three speeds and you have to be pretty darn quick to catch the program resuming. Luckily my husband has the vaunted male hand eye coordination and brings in the program first time, every time.

Over several weeks, we watched DVD's of the Sopranos from season one through five. Talk about being punch drunk. I love Silvio and I'm so glad he wasn't killed off. Van Zeldt has the moves down pat. Adjusting his shoulders, his accent. Just fantastic. There were kids just like him in my high school classes back in the days of pre-history.

I was glad to read that others think TV is getting better. I thought I was just getting senile. For many years, I watched virtually no television, then lately things started to appeal and now that we can zip through commercials, bring on the entertainment.

Posted by: erp at November 8, 2005 5:19 PM


The thing with me is that watching a series regularly on TV has become increasingly unlikely precisely because I can watch the DVD set. It saves the trouble of remembering to tune in every week, of scurrying around to locate a blank tape to record every episode with, and of trying to figure out any plot points that occurred during episodes I missed.

A few years ago I might have tuned in every week, but not anymore.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at November 8, 2005 8:09 PM

Rick T. :

Agreed, the show sometimes strains credulity: It's kind of amusing to ponder the likelihood of all these things happening to different people in an actual 24-hour day (including Bauer's daughter, who so far in season two seems to have a knack for witnessing a number of violent acts totally unrelated to her dad's business).

Still, that's really the only negative thing I can say about the series. And that supposed drawback is understandable considering the necessity of holding the interest of a viewing audience, including youngsters beset by TV-induced attention-deficit disorders of varying severity.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at November 8, 2005 8:26 PM