A NEW THREAT TO DRAMA
I have been feeling fairly sanguine about the fate of dramatic television, especially with the advent of the boxed DVD set of an entire season of more and more shows. Few people want to revisit season two of Survivor
, but if season 5 of Gilmore Girls
draws you in, you may wind up buying the rest of it rather than waiting for syndication to come around. That's an incentive for producers to make intelligent, unique, lasting shows. Which is good for me, because that's what I want to write.
But a network exec was less sanguine. DVD sales are counterbalanced by MPEG ripoffs. Just as the music industry may be suffering from file sharing programs like Kazaa, there's little to stop people from trading pirated episodes on the Net.
On the other hand, there is the argument that the "slump" in the music industry is just because CD sales were unnaturally boosted so long as people were replacing their vinyl; and that people tend to rip tracks that they would not otherwise have bought anyway. My parents would buy DVD's if they could figure out how to plug their DVD player in (they still don't have Call Waiting); they would never consider ripping off Season Two of Sopranos
. (Nor would I. I don't think people who make a living selling content should steal it, though I'm less sure it's evil to pirate Microsoft products.)
I do think we're going to be seeing a huge rise in the number of TV shows available on DVD, just because it costs almost nothing to package up the content and sell it on Amazon. The marginal cost is tiny. Which is good for all of us TV writers who need to research shows we're spec'ing...