Joshua ©Gary Hayes 2006or get your fix when you want it…This post is a preface to a series of posts about the on-demand revolution that is truly just around the corner – prompted by a small but significant event in the TV industry that happened yesterday and a visible second wave of Advanced TV hardware and networks (Broadband and IP TV). The event sneaked in under the radar – for the first time ever a broadcaster NBC, decided to make a full and legal version of the first episode of a brand new series available on-demand via iTunes nearly 2 weeks before transmission date. Lost Remote covers the item and I am surprised there has not been more reference to this in the blogosphere.

As part of its multi-pronged launch efforts for the new legal drama “Conviction,” NBC is the first network to premiere a new series on the iTunes Music Store ( before it airs on broadcast television. ITunes customers will be able to download the entire episode of this new hour-long drama beginning February 21st – ten days before the series’ Friday, March 3rd (10:00 – 11:00pm ET) debut. Beginning March 4th, episodes will be available for purchase and download for $1.99 per episode the day after airing.

The significance of this is the fact that we are in legal territory versus the millions of TV, Film and other bits of video being illegally shared as we speak. Some people preach that ‘piracy and illegal bit torrent file sharing is good’ because it promotes an ‘if its good then everyone shares it, which in turn makes it easier to get’ mentality – technology leading social change. Just like a good ‘word-of-mouth’ story, anecdote or email ‘humor’ attachments – there is nothing new in this ‘popularist’ social interchange. What will be a far more significant next generation media revolution will be a technique used by professional media makers which is as old as the hills – addiction marketing. “Get people hooked and then start charging.”

The worlds most popular (read: addicted to) podcast at the moment is the FREE Ricky Gervais show. I am an avid listener (read: addicted to) and heard the final installment no.12 of the FREE version a couple of days a go – or so I thought. As the podcast enters into the Guiness Book of Records for something like 4 million downloads, I hear Ricky Gervais at the start of episode 12 talk about a “small fee” for further downloads. The commoditisation of something that I loved to listen to because it was done in the spirit of social sharing, was quite shocking to me. It was a bit like suddenly being charged for the air that I breathe – and making one feel worse because of the dependency you have to admit too. This is the key to the next wave of media addiction of course.

The human condition is highly prone to getting addicted to lesser or greater degrees – media have used this to its advantage for many years. Popular programming with its high value advertising based on the fact that slots can be sold in advance because large numbers of audiences are ‘addicted’ to the experience and therefore can be ‘sold’ those wonderful ad messages (which will hopefully get them addicted to product/service). Before I go on, the best and simplest definition of addiction was from Dr. Joe Dispenza (in the film What the Bleep)

“Well, my definition of an addiction is really simple: something that you can’t stop”

With scheduled TV, the masses addicted to the opiate eye-candy flickering in the corner of their rooms tuned into to get their daily fix. Other ‘story-drugs’ were paraded in front of them around their favourite tuning in times and for some this addiction spread and lasted 3-6 hours a night. A passive, relaxing experience, an exhilirating experience, an educational experience – we all justify our addictions and dependencies don’t we? For those producing professional media and whose livelihood depends on it we shall see a scramble over the coming months for the ‘free-to-try” hotspots out on the pavement, like drug peddlers out on the streets prime positions will be fought over – “have a great time for free”, watch this, listen to that, whatever takes your fancy – the old media companies will need to make vast libraries of content free to the masses for enough to become hooked. The public service companies, especially the BBC will distort the market by offering vast amounts of free content, driving the price of video content down (so no change there then given that this was always the case in the scheduled world). This next wave of addiction marketing could be very messy as the street fills up with not one but many hundreds of ‘professional media pushers’. But one thing is for sure the days of this being the world of pirates and criminals are well and truly starting to end.
Posted by Gary Hayes ©2006