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the cost of who's watching

I was watching a John Oliver clip on the last week channel on youtube when I noticed that youtube was offering season 5 for $24.99.

H*ly Sh*t and WTF!!

A normal broadcast TV season is between 23-25 episodes so to keep the math simple lets say 25 episodes. That means that Last Week costs $1 per episode. One can extrapolate that is about $1 per hour of regular TV where the dollars are divided up between the production company, the distributors, affiliates, residuals and so on. In the regular TV world that cost is paid for by advertisers because they think they are going to make that dollar back through sales.

What is interesting is that in the "over the air" world viewership is determined by systems like Nielsen where viewership is determined by surveys and lots of math. But in the cable and online world it's actual numbers captured by Tivo, and browser cookies. The former being essentially anonymous and the later being breadcrumbs through your day.

So my question is ... is $1 per episode a good or reasonable price? I don't think so. In our house we spend:
  • $75 per month for cable so that we get all of the Disney channels
  • $15 on iTunes all you can stream (mostly music)
  • $15 Netflix
  • $15 Google Play (mostly music)
  • $15 Amazon Prime (mostly shopping but there are good originals)
  • $30 for two Tivo
In the next year or so Disney is going to have it's own stream too.

Now ... let's reconsider that $1 per episode. Assuming that I consume another 20-40 hours a week in media that is not above that would suggest another $160 per month on top of the already approx $150. 

I just watched this tiny house episode and while this young family lives in a 300sqft canvas tent they have a TV and electricity. But they make is sound like they live entirely outside. TV seems to be in it's place as an accessory.

So why does it cost $1 per episode when they use those metrics to charge advertisers for broadcast rights? Nielsen is effectively anonymous but for my $1 the producers have access to my email and phone number. I believe the consumer is getting screwed especially when advertising is replaced with product placement. "hey Bob let's take my Ford F-150 it gets good highway millage".


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