Has Apple’s Steve Jobs saved network television or simply helped hasten its death?

“Has Steve Jobs saved network television or simply helped to hasten its death? You see – there’s a secret in the television industry,” Peter Rojas writes for Engadget. “Network execs don’t like to talk about it, but it’s there. Quite simply, television works in large part because people are lazy. Take a minute. It’s rough to hear, but they count on the fact that your entropy drives you. Or, more to the point, it doesn’t. Television physics dictates that a channel in motion stays in motion, and television economics have evolved to rely on the fact that people who start watching television will continue watching television.”

Rojas writes, “Consider for a moment that the average US household television consumption per day is a mind-numbing (both figuratively and literally) 8 hours and 11 minutes PER DAY. At Apple’s $1.99 pricing model that works out to an average television bill of $486 per month. Is it possible that people might start turning off the TV if they were charged per show? Is it possible that the economics of television assume a passive audience that’s willing to watch ANYTHING as long as they don’t need to move?”

“In any case, it’s unclear that television can handle per episode sales. Like DVR use, as long as the majority of the people remain stuck to their couches, listening to those insipid jingles, it works,” Rojas writes. “However, as DVRs near the tipping point, DVRs and per-episodes downloads threaten the networks’ bread and butter. Suddenly you’re not only skipping commercials you’re skipping shows and they just can’t have that.”

Much more in the full article here.

Advertisement: The New iPod with Video.  The ultimate music + video experience on the go.  From $299.  Free shipping.

Related articles:
TV network presidents see no threat from Apple video iTunes+iPod – October 27, 2005
BusinessWeek: Apple iPod+iTunes video marks new era for digital media – October 27, 2005
TV Critic: Apple iPod video strikingly bright, crisp, very fluid; TV will have to reorient itself – October 27, 2005
Thurrott: Apple iPod ‘the new standard by which all are measured – highly recommended’ – October 26, 2005
Chicago Tribune: Apple’s new iPod is a showstopper – October 26, 2005
PC Magazine review gives Apple’s new video-capable iPod 5 out of 5 stars – October 21, 2005
CBS News: New iPod shows ‘Apple will continue to dominate portable digital media player market’ – October 21, 2005
Apple’s video-capable iPod and iTunes are first vital link in new distribution paradigm – October 21, 2005
USA Today: Apple’s new iPod + video: world’s foremost portable music players have gotten only better – October 20, 2005
Comprehensive review of Apple’s iPod 5G with Video – October 20, 2005
The Motley Fool: ‘Apple’s new video-enabled iPod is about to save the televised content industry’ – October 20, 2005
Ars Technica reviews Apple’s new video-capable iPod – October 20, 2005
NY Times Pogue: ‘watching video on new iPod’s 2.5-inch screen is completely immersive’ – October 19, 2005
MSNBC columnist: after initial coolness wears off, Apple’s video iPod will wind up in dresser drawer
Apple’s $1.99 iTunes TV show downloads may be ‘the savior of good television’ – October 17, 2005
Apple opens Pandora’s box for the media business, could have profound long-term consequences – October 17, 2005
BofA analyst: Apple video play an ‘evolutionary opportunity,’ 9.3m iPods to be sold this quarter – October 17, 2005
Apple has the potential to change not just the audio industry, but the whole entertainment industry – October 17, 2005
Advertisers welcome Apple’s iTunes Store commerical-free content – October 17, 2005
New York Times writer can’t think different: ‘video iPod may not be ready for prime time’ – October 17, 2005
Cringely on Apple video experiment, future 802.11n Apple Video Express, Sony TVs in Apple stores – October 14, 2005
Podfather: iPod porn is going to be huge – October 14, 2005
Forrester Research: Apple transformed music distribution, now it is doing the same for video – October 14, 2005
Watching episode of ABC’s ‘Lost’ on 2.5-inch iPod screen surprisingly compelling – October 13, 2005
Get ready for the iPod video torrent search sites – October 13, 2005
Apple’s new iMac G5, iTunes 6, iPod video designed to bait Hollywood – October 13, 2005
Apple video iPod+iTunes could create mass audience for video on the go, despite studios’ misgivings – October 13, 2005
Using QuickTime Pro to create videos for playback in new Apple iPods – October 13, 2005
Analyst: Apple has just produced ‘the tipping point’ for entertainment content – October 13, 2005
Apple’s video play likely to unsettle movie, TV, advertising and retail markets for years to come – October 12, 2005
Apple unveils new 5th generation iPod, now plays music, photos, and video – October 12, 2005


  1. I believe that Apple plans for the iPod to be the heart of digital entertainment future. Now befor you laugh, consider an iPod that sits in a cradle that has an internet conection, HDD and a Bluray DVD player. Combine that with Front Row (In the cradle also) and you store everything on the iPod which goes wherever you do. Plug it into the cradle that conects to your Plasma TV and Apple gets it’s wish of not combining computers into the living room. Plus global domination.

    You heard it here first!

  2. I turned my TV off long ago. I hardly watch it except for the odd movie or TV show that I enjoy. Mainly sci-fi or comedies. I like to be entertained and I like the escapism of sci-fi. But latley TV’s full of reality/life style shows that just annoy me. How many more years of Big Brother or Survivor must we endure.

  3. There network is there and ready for users to upload their slice of reality with the aid of pod-casting. A user could potentially upload what ever they like, video, music etc. All that’s lacking is for them to produce this work. And for someone else to create a website that brings all this together, weeds out the good from the mediocre, review it, give a star rating and you’re all set. What we need in order to overthrow the studios is a little leadership and vision and I think we’ll finally have the revolution we’ve always desired. For us by us.

    MDN Word of the day– Hand “Can someone please give us a hand here?”

  4. Yeah, TV is getting worse every year. I can’t stand reality shows, or insipid documentaries on celebrity gossip. The defenders of TV will say, “but… we have Discovery and The History Channel!”… that’s great if you like sharks and marching stormtroopers of the SS, but for the rest of us it’s boring.

    With a per-episode sales model, TV would become a true market, where people would demand higher-quality, being active consumers rather than passive receivers. Shows would be more like HBO, being more daring and entertaining.

  5. The one’s that benefit from today TV non-sence are the makers, the viewers do no even think anymore, even that is dictated bij TV managers.. Long live internet and Apple, that gives us the Think Different way.

  6. So broadcast blocks of TV programming are to individual shows what CDs are to good tracks. Then as went the music industry (no more crappy CDs bought for a single song), so shall the broadcast TV industry.

    What we have to remember (whoever WE is) and what this article reminds us is that 1) most people don’t mute/FF commercials, change the channel or press the off button. 2) Most people are just fine watching person A humiliate person B, be it scripted or not. And 3) most things are made to appeal to most people, so the rest must go along or go out of our way not to.

    This is one more tool to do just that.

  7. You know the brain is _wired_ to look when something moves? That’s how we saw the big cats in time and could scamper up the trees. No wonder people can’t tear themselves away from the tv.

    Sometimes I wonder how much harm tv has done to civilization. I pray for the day when you have to make a concious decision when you want to watch something. Technology (and Apple in particular) has the means to get there. But will it, or will it be allowed to? Sure hope so …

  8. I don’t know, they said the internet would kill off newspapers and periodicals. That didn’t happen. In fact the it brought a new avenue for distribution of information that was much more detailed and dynamic that a static newspaper page.

    Maybe it’ll evolve into a format where you can see and hear the headline and a short blurb on TV but if you want the whole indepth story you can download it for a fee.

  9. pretty sure those viewing numbers are based on Nielsen averages, which aren’t quite so accurate as the networks would have you believe.

    And yea, my tube might be ON 8 hours a day (not likely), but I guarantee you I spend less than an hour actually watching it.

  10. Yeah. Rojas is right about the potential for permanent disconnect once viewers do turn TV off for a while.

    I quit watching TV 30 years ago. Although there have been television sets in my home for various lengths of time over the course of those years, I am nonetheless today at a point where I can barely bring myself to view standard broadcast content on those televisions. Believe it or not .. I now experience extreme displeasure/guilt simply for having allowed myself to view a few repetitions of any given commercial. Currently, I seldom watch.

    That said, I would acknowledge that long periods of not watching TV can leave one in a position of being largely ill informed about most current pop culture .. a circumstance which can potentially have social drawbacks.

    Given that backstory however, I would further observe that I DO find the circumstance of per-episode sales to be very appealing. Needless to say however .. I may still never purchase any notable quantity of TV episodes.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.