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MacBytes
Feb 6, 2006, 12:54 PM
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Category: Videos
Link: Nets' iTunes gamble paying off (http://www.macbytes.com/link.php?sid=20060206135428)
Description:: Television networks took a leap into the unknown when they started selling their shows on Apple's iTunes online store, but even in these early days, it's starting to look like that faith in digital downloads was well placed.

Posted on MacBytes.com (http://www.macbytes.com)
Approved by Mudbug

Veldek
Feb 6, 2006, 03:20 PM
I must admit that I wouldn't have bet on this as I would almost certainly never buy a TV show to watch on an iPod. But congratulations to Apple that all seems to be going well.

ibook30
Feb 6, 2006, 03:33 PM
I hope this continues!
I hate paying for content via cable TV - then paying for content on itunes, but I love owning it!

nagromme
Feb 6, 2006, 04:16 PM
To me, buying a whole show (all episodes) is beside the point--and pretty rare, I'm guessing. DVDs do that job better already (if you can wait).

And watching on a portable screen is beside the point too. iTunes downloads can be watched on TV or your computer, not just an iPod.

Rather, the point of TV downloads (for me and I think most people) is to catch a show you MISSED.

If you didn't see the first few weeks of a show, then you may never START watching (at least not until rerun season) even if you hear good things. iTunes brings those people in.

If you miss an episode (of a profressive-storyline show like Battlestar Galactica), you may not want to watch the others until you catch the one you missed. Again, viewers are lost, who may never return (or not until reruns). And again, iTunes brings those viewers back.

In both cases, I'm glad for iTunes bringing me current TV shows on demand. It's worth $1.99 regardless of quality, if I'm buying just a few episodes.

And in both cases, I can see the benefit to the network too. Once you're hooked (or encouraged not to "drop out") you'll watch the show on TV too. Ads and all.

Now... add half-price "rental" downloads that only last a week or whatever, and I'm in! Renting music? No! Renting video? Yes!

chicagdan
Feb 6, 2006, 08:52 PM
iTunes downloads can be watched on TV or your computer, not just an iPod.

The quality is so bad when blown up to TV size, you'd be foolish to watch them that way, especially if, like me, you have HDTV and can't even stand standard broadcast TV quality anymore.

I need to go the other way -- upconversion of shows not currently broadcast in HD. Specifically, I need my Battlestar Galatica in HDTV ... why doesn't NBC/Universal move the series to NBC anyway, it's a helluva lot more popular than anything they run on Friday nights.

nagromme
Feb 6, 2006, 09:25 PM
The quality may be "so bad" for some people, used to HDTV and nothing less--but it's plenty good enough for a lot of people, when the goal is to catch up with missed episodes, not to replace other means of TV viewing.

chicagdan
Feb 6, 2006, 09:28 PM
The quality may be "so bad" for some people, used to HDTV and nothing less--but it's plenty good enough for a lot of people, when the goal is to catch up with missed episodes, not to replace other means of TV viewing.

Oh come on, have you actually watched iTunes purchased programs on a TV? Virtually unwatchable. They look much better on an iPod.

sjk
Feb 6, 2006, 10:31 PM
They look much better on an iPod.Well... duh!

chicagdan
Feb 6, 2006, 10:39 PM
Well... duh!

Okay, stated the obvious, but still, I don't think this guy has actually watched iTunes shows on a TV. The quality is truly awful. I can't even watch them full screen mode on my iMac, it's like watching RealVideo circa 1998.

nagromme
Feb 6, 2006, 10:59 PM
No. Until I miss an episode of Lost I don't have a need to. But what I HAVE watched on TV (and on LCD as well) is even LOWER quality video at the same 320x200 resolution.

I'm not saying I don't want 640x480, or better yet HD. I do. Especially if they can pull it off in the same bandwidth and HD storage needed for 320x200. But even if they can't, I want the quality.

Nor am I saying 320x200 is keepsake quality. I already said DVD is my choice for anything I care about permanently.

But I'm saying that the low quality (which also downloads much faster as a result) IS better than nothing if I miss an episode. Just like the VHS tapes people make for me when I miss an episode.

For $1.99, catching up with a show at low quality is worth it. When I miss an episode of Lost or Galactica I won't hesitate, even if it takes my dialup all night to get!

And the quality IS subjective. What you call "unwatchable" compared to High-Def, other people watch on TV and say is just fine. There's nothing wrong with your opinion, but not everyone shares it.

(I'd be interested in data, if anybody tracks this, that shows how many people who download video from iTunes watch it on the iPod, vs. on a larger screen. I have no doubt that many people watch iTunes downloads on something bigger than an iPod--and get enjoyment from doing so.)

chicagdan
Feb 6, 2006, 11:16 PM
No. Until I miss an episode of Lost I don't have a need to. But what I HAVE watched on TV (and on LCD as well) is even LOWER quality video at the same 320x200 resolution.

I'm not saying I don't want 640x480, or better yet HD. I do. Especially if they can pull it off in the same bandwidth and HD storage needed for 320x200. But even if they can't, I want the quality.

Nor am I saying 320x200 is keepsake quality. I already said DVD is my choice for anything I care about permanently.

But I'm saying that the low quality (which also downloads much faster as a result) IS better than nothing if I miss an episode. Just like the VHS tapes people make for me when I miss an episode.

For $1.99, catching up with a show at low quality is worth it. When I miss an episode of Lost or Galactica I won't hesitate, even if it takes my dialup all night to get!

And the quality IS subjective. What you call "unwatchable" compared to High-Def, other people watch on TV and say is just fine. There's nothing wrong with your opinion, but not everyone shares it.

(I'd be interested in data, if anybody tracks this, that shows how many people who download video from iTunes watch it on the iPod, vs. on a larger screen. I have no doubt that many people watch iTunes downloads on something bigger than an iPod--and get enjoyment from doing so.)

How exactly do you watch it on a TV? Video out to a TV, running in full screen mode? How many people have a TV next to their computer so that they can do this? And if they're that techie, wouldn't they own a TiVO?

I'll take a wild stab ... I'll say about half watch it on iPod 49 percent on PC and one percent or lower on a TV.

nagromme
Feb 6, 2006, 11:33 PM
Yes, I output to TV, which all Macs can do. I agree that most people don't have the adapter to do such a thing, and that far more people watch on their computer screen. And what's wrong with that?

The bigger you go, the more you need quality. No argument there. Some people, like you, have huge TVs (or huge Cinema Displays for that matter) and prefer High Def, understandably. Others have posted in these forums that they like iTunes video just fine on their TVs, and I like video just fine at that same pixel size. My TV isn't huge, but much bigger than any of my computer screens.

Also, TVs tend to make computer motion imagery look BETTER in one sense: the image is softer, and you expect that soft look from a TV. This is easily seen by just running a Mac game to TV. Even the old UT99 looks amazingly good on TV! Artifacts are blurred away by the natural fact that TVs have softer/larger pixels. (Which is why consoles can get away with low-res graphics that wouldn't fly on a computer-based game.)

Your "unwatchable" judgment comes from one perspective, and that's fine, but there ARE others.

simX
Feb 6, 2006, 11:53 PM
Okay, stated the obvious, but still, I don't think this guy has actually watched iTunes shows on a TV. The quality is truly awful. I can't even watch them full screen mode on my iMac, it's like watching RealVideo circa 1998.

Wow, that last statement should be the definition of "hyperbole" in the dictionary!

The downloads from iTunes are not "truly awful". Yes, you can see a lot of pixellation/blocking in the movie when you blow it up to full screen, but it's usually in areas of high contrast (black next to some other color) and you can easily ignore it. But it's perfectly watchable at full screen, and it's far from awful.

This argument is the same specious argument that came when the iTMS was originally launched. For people who are audiophiles or videophiles and like to listen to pure uncompressed CD audio or HDTV -- the video equivalent, for all intents and purposes -- the iTMS is going to fall far short. Duh. That is a candidate for the most-obvious-statement-of-the-year award.

But Apple has to balance quality with the speed of download for audio and especially video downloads, and they've done a pretty good job. For those of us who would sacrifice a bit of quality for lots of convenience and no TV ads, the iTunes downloads are perfect.

Personally, I'll sit around and watch a TV if I'm really bored, but I'm not addicted to it, and ads really infuriate me. I'll gladly pay $2 an episode to banish the TV from the world forever. And I'll live happily ever after with what you claim to be "truly awful".

Seriously, if you don't like the quality, don't buy the episodes! But don't be super-duper-shocked when Apple doesn't provide high quality content because it doesn't want to get a ridiculously high bandwidth bill. Just go and sit your ass down in front of your TV and watch the TV shows you want to watch, and don't complain to us when you miss an episode or don't like sitting through ads. I think the success of the TV shows on iTunes speaks for itself.

chicagdan
Feb 7, 2006, 12:03 AM
Wow, that last statement should be the definition of "hyperbole" in the dictionary!

The downloads from iTunes are not "truly awful". Yes, you can see a lot of pixellation/blocking in the movie when you blow it up to full screen, but it's usually in areas of high contrast (black next to some other color) and you can easily ignore it. But it's perfectly watchable at full screen, and it's far from awful.

This argument is the same specious argument that came when the iTMS was originally launched. For people who are audiophiles or videophiles and like to listen to pure uncompressed CD audio or HDTV -- the video equivalent, for all intents and purposes -- the iTMS is going to fall far short. Duh. That is a candidate for the most-obvious-statement-of-the-year award.

But Apple has to balance quality with the speed of download for audio and especially video downloads, and they've done a pretty good job. For those of us who would sacrifice a bit of quality for lots of convenience and no TV ads, the iTunes downloads are perfect.

Personally, I'll sit around and watch a TV if I'm really bored, but I'm not addicted to it, and ads really infuriate me. I'll gladly pay $2 an episode to banish the TV from the world forever. And I'll live happily ever after with what you claim to be "truly awful".

Seriously, if you don't like the quality, don't buy the episodes! But don't be super-duper-shocked when Apple doesn't provide high quality content because it doesn't want to get a ridiculously high bandwidth bill. Just go and sit your ass down in front of your TV and watch the TV shows you want to watch, and don't complain to us when you miss an episode or don't like sitting through ads. I think the success of the TV shows on iTunes speaks for itself.

Wow, you guys are really ripping me ... odd considering that I own 42 iTunes TV episodes (Lost, Galatica and The Office.) My only point was that they look good on iPod, not so good on TV. I thought the OP was criticizing TV on the iPod and just wanted to point out that it all looks pretty damn good on the iPod while there are far superior ways to time shift for your TV. And no, there's nothing wrong with watching them on a computer ... I just don't think the Mac to TV conversion is very popular or practical.

As for your point about missing TV, I have eyeTV and a High Def DVR, so if there's anything I want to see, I see it. Oh yeah, my cable system has inDemand too ... caught all of Sleeper Cell that way.

Analog Kid
Feb 7, 2006, 12:16 AM
The bigger you go, the more you need quality.
To be a little more accurate-- the bigger you blow up the image the more you need quality, or the further away you can sit for the same image quality.

iTMS kinda saved my butt this weekend-- got to the (brick and mortar) video store late and came home empty handed. I managed to download the SNL best of Belushi (I'm still mad about the SNL pricing, but this was special circumstances) and we watched that instead. I don't have a TV, so I play DVDs (and now iTMS downloads) on the power Mac and turn the 23" Cinema around on my desk to be viewed from the couch. We move the couch up, so we're not really watching from across the room.

I gotta say, it wasn't bad. I was worried because I'd previewed parts of it when I pulled it down and it looked blocky-- but once you sit back a ways the artifacts even out and it's quite watchable.

We launched it under QT pro rather than iTunes, just because QT gives a little more control over playback.

Dunno. That's my experience.

chicagdan
Feb 7, 2006, 12:24 AM
To be a little more accurate-- the bigger you blow up the image the more you need quality, or the further away you can sit for the same image quality.

iTMS kinda saved my butt this weekend-- got to the (brick and mortar) video store late and came home empty handed. I managed to download the SNL best of Belushi (I'm still mad about the SNL pricing, but this was special circumstances) and we watched that instead. I don't have a TV, so I play DVDs (and now iTMS downloads) on the power Mac and turn the 23" Cinema around on my desk to be viewed from the couch. We move the couch up, so we're not really watching from across the room.

I gotta say, it wasn't bad. I was worried because I'd previewed parts of it when I pulled it down and it looked blocky-- but once you sit back a ways the artifacts even out and it's quite watchable.

We launched it under QT pro rather than iTunes, just because QT gives a little more control over playback.

Dunno. That's my experience.

Okay, so it's not unwatchable ... it's was hyperbole ... so what? Hyperbole is a perfectly legitimate form of communication ... what are you people, engineers? You want me to speak in nothing but precise algorhythms? I'm an ****** speechwriter, you should expect poetic license out of me.

Anyway, I still think the video iPod is the best use of the iTunes downloads and Apple is selling them to drive iPod sales, not to make the measley nickle per episode that they collect. I had to catch up on early season 2 Lost when I finished the DVDs ... and iTunes came through for me. The quality wasn't great, but I survived it.

And don't be naive. Apple sells lower quality music and video not due to bandwidth concerns -- they could quite easily provide different versions based on bandwidth needs. Rather they are tap dancing with the entertainment industry to avoid giving away too clean a copy. The music industry doesn't want .wav files or lossless floating around, then there would be zero reason to buy a CD. Likewise movie studios and TV networks don't want to provide downloadable DVD quality product because they are greedy and want you to buy low quality now, high quality DVD later.

So okay, the shows I watched weren't unwatchable, just weird and splotchy made worse by the fact that I could watch it in pristine 1080i when I remember to set my DVR ... so call my argument specious if you want ... even though that's not correct usage of the word. Your use of specious is specious!

simX
Feb 7, 2006, 01:04 AM
Okay, so it's not unwatchable ... it's was hyperbole ... so what? Hyperbole is a perfectly legitimate form of communication ... what are you people, engineers? You want me to speak in nothing but precise algorhythms? I'm an ****** speechwriter, you should expect poetic license out of me.

Lol, well then when you use your hyperbole, expect to be called out on it. :rolleyes:

Anyway, I still think the video iPod is the best use of the iTunes downloads and Apple is selling them to drive iPod sales, not to make the measley nickle per episode that they collect. I had to catch up on early season 2 Lost when I finished the DVDs ... and iTunes came through for me. The quality wasn't great, but I survived it.

Well, I don't know if you can call that the "best" use of iTMS TV downloads. Sure, the video looks better, but it's because it's on a smaller screen. It still depends on what you value more. For me, I don't have a video iPod and I wouldn't care to watch the videos on a video iPod anyway, so the best use of the iTMS TV downloads is on my iMac, for me.

And don't be naive. Apple sells lower quality music and video not due to bandwidth concerns -- they could quite easily provide different versions based on bandwidth needs. Rather they are tap dancing with the entertainment industry to avoid giving away too clean a copy. The music industry doesn't want .wav files or lossless floating around, then there would be zero reason to buy a CD. Likewise movie studios and TV networks don't want to provide downloadable DVD quality product because they are greedy and want you to buy low quality now, high quality DVD later.

Heh, I don't know about that. TV shows are already widely distributed via BitTorrent, even without there being high-quality shows available for download from iTunes. Plus, I'm not sure if the program to decrypt the iTMS files works in the latest versions of iTunes, or if it works on videos. Last I was aware, there were some problems with getting it to work with iTunes 4.6, and Apple was also making previously decrypted files not work in later versions of iTunes. There's still a hefty hurdle to get a completely decrypted version of the downloads from iTunes, and it may still well be easier just to record it from television and then distribute it instead.

So okay, the shows I watched weren't unwatchable, just weird and splotchy made worse by the fact that I could watch it in pristine 1080i when I remember to set my DVR ... so call my argument specious if you want ... even though that's not correct usage of the word. Your use of specious is specious!

Heh, well a DVR is another option of course. But that just makes your argument even more specious (yes, specious: seemingly factual but actually misleading; deceptively attractive), because it further nullifies the reason to complain about the quality of iTMS TV shows if you can use a DVR instead. Of course, though, as you point out, if you don't set your DVR correctly, your only option may be to go to iTunes.

I'm not "ripping" you over the fact that you said the iTMS TV downloads aren't super-high quality, or that they look good on the iPod and not-so-good on an iMac/TV. It's just that they're far from "truly awful", and far more than acceptable for some (most?) people.

balamw
Feb 7, 2006, 01:12 AM
why doesn't NBC/Universal move the series to NBC anyway, it's a helluva lot more popular than anything they run on Friday nights.
It's already in HD on http://www.universalhd.com/, just get DirecTV's HD package and you can watch BSG in HD.

B

chicagdan
Feb 7, 2006, 01:20 AM
Lol, well then when you use your hyperbole, expect to be called out on it. :rolleyes:

Go ahead and roll your eyes ... complaining about hyperbole on a bulletin board is like complaining about bluffing at a poker table.

But that just makes your argument even more specious (yes, specious: seemingly factual but actually misleading; deceptively attractive), because it further nullifies the reason to complain about the quality of iTMS TV shows if you can use a DVR instead.

Now that's the most specious argument of the night. What I can record on my DVR is irrelevant to the quality of iTunes shows. I was making a comment about the quality of iTunes video, not complaining about it. Complaining is when you think something is wrong and should be changed (as in Apple's idiotic ProCare program, in which case it would be nice if you got something for $99.) You're making the assumption that just because I think the quality of video isn't high enough to watch on TV that I think Apple should provide higher quality video -- untrue! If only iTunes video is available, I will happily buy it (as I have 42 times!) and watch it on my iPod.

Also, there are plenty of good reasons for me to download programs on iTunes even when I can watch it other ways ... namely to provide programming for my iPod if I have a trip coming up. Can I put EyeTV recorded shows and ripped Laserdisks and DVD onto the iPod or go to BitTorrent? Sure ... if I have all day to rip, decode, encode, etc. iTunes lets me buy and transfer and watch immediately. That's worth $2 to me.

chicagdan
Feb 7, 2006, 01:23 AM
It's already in HD on http://www.universalhd.com/, just get DirecTV's HD package and you can watch BSG in HD.

B

Well, to do that I'd have to move ... my condo association doesn't allow DirecTV disks. Maybe Sci-Fi Channel will go to HD soon.

mkaake
Feb 8, 2006, 09:53 AM
re: it looks horrible

Two nights ago I watched an episode of Monk full screen... and it looked just fine. Actually, it was like watching.... TV.

How did it ever look like broadcast TV??? Well, I don't sit 1 foot away from the screen, of course...

From a reasonable distance (like I would for watching TV), it looks just fine. Guess I'm not a videophile now. Oh well...