Perhaps you have seen this speech Kevin Spacey gave at the Edinburgh Television Festival last month. It’s been making the rounds on tech and entertainment sites, and has more than a million views. But if not, please take four minutes for the pithiest explanation I’ve heard of the disruption that has upended the television and motion picture industries. [Video link]
A few excerpts:
The success of the Netflix model—releasing the entire season of House of Cards at once—proves one thing: The audience wants the control. They want the freedom….
Through this new form of distribution we have demonstrated that we have learned the lesson that the music industry didn’t learn: Give people what they want, when they want it, in the form they want it in, at a reasonable price, and they’ll more likely pay for it rather than steal it….
If you watch a TV show on your iPad is it no longer a TV show? The device and length are irrelevant … For kids growing up now there’s no difference watching Avatar on an iPad or watching YouTube on a TV and watching Game Of Thrones on their computer. It’s all content. It’s all story….
The audience has spoken They want stories. They’re dying for them.
It’s not just drama. Major League Baseball figured out six years ago that people wanted access to their games on many more platforms than the traditional TV screen or radio receiver. They created MLB.com, which allows radio and TV broadcasts of every major league game from spring training to the World Series to be played on any computer, tablet, or smartphone, and fans were delighted to pay a reasonable fee for that flexibility.
If Spacey is right, and I think he is, then the Canadian companies that buy the rights to US content, and then insist that US websites carrying that content block Canadian viewers, will pay a big price for robbing viewers of control.
H/T: Leo Laporte and Christine Crawford
Please don’t think me old, but I grew up in a suburb of New York City, listening to Vin Scully call Brooklyn Dodger games on a radio the size of a bread box, powered by vacuum tubes. The experience was formative in the sense that it left me with the belief baseball games are best seen on the radio, in singer Terry Cashman‘s evocative phrase.
Tonight at 10, I set out from Sydney, Nova Scotia, for the 75 km. drive to my home on a remote stretch of Cape Breton’s Bras d’Or Lakes. Before pulling out of the parking lot, I plugged my iPhone 4 into a Griffin FM transmitter the size of a Bic lighter, opened the phone’s Major League Baseball app, and clicked a tab marked “listen.”
For the next hour, I heard San Francisco radio station KNBR’s Dave Flemming, Mike Krukow, and Duane Kuiper call the middle innings of Game Two of the 2010 World Series with a fidelity more than equal to the old tube radio behemoth. The game played over my car stereo, via the iPhone’s connection to a series of cell towers, the MLB app, and the miniature FM transmitter. Only once did the feed die, when the phone dropped Telus Mobility’s 3G signal for less than 60 seconds in a notorious radio, TV, and cell phone dark zone on the back side of Boularderie Island,.
For the rest of the drive, the game — a splendid pitcher’s duel until the bottom of the eighth — came through admirably, and the iPhone’s display screen kept pace with instant updates to the information-rich scoreboard pictured in the screenshot at left.
No wider point here, except that we live in an era of breathtaking technology, and the 4.8-ounce iPhone is a staggering technological achievement.
Our post on Vin Scully, 81, who just wrapped up his 60th season calling play-by-play for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers (and plans to stay on through next season), elicited some wonderful reader comments.
Enjoyed your reminder of the Koufax perfect game. In my own writing during the baseball season, the game plays the role for me that music plays for many others. Even when it is televised, as it mostly is in this house, it is two rooms away, and the sound of the game (changes in pitch tell me to go see) is soothing as a lullaby.
Unfortunately, current commentators seem more interested in sounding off as if their own opinions are more important than the game (a lot like newspaper columnists that way, I guess), but none of them tell stories any more, just data reports from fact sheets in front of them.
Anyway, it was a pleasure to read what I once listened to.
Frank also sent us the lyrics to a baseball song he wrote.
Contrarian friend Cliff White also likes the sound of a baseball game:
I love the piece on Vin Scully. I’m in no way a sports fan but I remember baseball on the radio from a very young age. There is something about the slow rhythms of game that radio captures and transmits perfectly, but that get completely lost on television. It’s actually two entirely different games.
The record of the Koufax game took me back decades, to when baseball was a major part of Nova Scotia summer culture. And this from a non fan, that’s real power.
It’s difficult if not impossible to catch major leage games on radio in most parts of Nova Scotia, but here’s a little secret to remember next March: $15 (US) will buy you a year’s subscription to the radio broadcasts every Major League baseball game, regular and post-season, with a few spring training games thrown in. Then you can listen on your computer or your iPhone, just like the good old days.
Hugh Fraser, the former press secretary to Premier John Hamm who now toils for Bristol Communications, sent kind comments about Contrarian, and a recommendation:
If you’re a baseball fan, I suspect you’ve already been reading Doug Glanville’s occasional columns in the NYTimes. They are great — insightful and addictive. I’m a big Roger Angell fan and I think Glanville’s baseball writing approaches his.
Anyhow, keep up the good work. Better luck with the Dodgers next year.
Ah, Hugh, Dem Bums left town in 1958. Contrarian roots for the Jays now, and sometimes the Sox, and he still hates the Yankess.
Miles Tompkins remembers how the World Series played out on his family’s Margaree farm in the 1950s:
My mom, who knew more about baseball then my father ever did, came to Margaree from Antigonish in the 1950s. We had a large farm and in the fall there were plenty of potatoes to pick. My mother had two jobs: feed the pickers, and come to the front step at the end of every half inning to give the lowdown on the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Yankees. More then once she saw a bucket of potatoes kicked over after a Yankee home run.
Contrarian reader Stan Jones points out that, with the $9.98 MLB app for the iPhone, you get to choose which team’s announcers you want to listen to. You also get one or two free telecasts every day. By contrast, Stan reports, the NBA app isn’t nearly as good, and the NHL has… nothing.