Over the past few weeks or so it seems all anyone is talking about on my Twitter feed is SOPA, PIPA and the effect these bills passing will have on the internet. In parts due to a short attention span and figuring it'll all sort itself out, I haven't really familiarized myself with the finer points of these bills and the consequences of them. But I'm kinda of the belief that they won't stop television piracy. They may narrow the options of where to download a show and make it harder for people to download stuff, but they're not going to stop it.
It's been said before by people far more informed than I, but being an egomaniacal blogger I feel the need to say it again: Hollywood needs to compete with piracy. The internet is different than it was five years ago. As soon as a television show ends, people log onto twitter to discuss it. Television critics publish episode reviews and interviews with the creators the very second an episode finishes airing. When Big Love finished, The Hollywood Reporter linked to their review on Facebook with a huge, ginormous spoiler in the title. Thanks to social networking, the world is getting smaller and spoilers are getting harder to avoid.
This is especially a problem for those who live outside of the country where a show first airs, where they may have to wait until anything between a day and a year to see the episode everyone is discussing on Twitter. And this is where most of the piracy comes from. I'm not justifying this piracy, but with the internet being what it is it's a fact of life at this point and no matter how many bills are passed through congress or how many file sharing websites are closed down, people are going to find a way to pirate.
Hollywood has the power to prevent this, however. Streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Video and iTunes are increasingly becoming a normal way for people to watch TV. Hollywood should embrace it. Social networking is creating a globalized society. And streaming can create a globalized means to watch TV. There is no reason House couldn't appear worldwide on Netflix the moment it airs on the East Coast.
Yet it doesn't.
The conventional reason for this is it would jeopardize the revenue studios make from international sales. I would counter this saying that the people abroad who already watch The Walking Dead on broadcast television would probably continue to do so. It's the people who currently download their TV illegally who are more likely to embrace streaming.
Over the last ten years technology has changed. The way people want to consume television has changed. And yet Hollywood is moving at a snail's pace when it comes to revolutionizing the business model.
The alternative is the business model stays the same. People will continue to pirate. And spoilers from Twitter and The Hollywood Reporter's Facebook statuses continue to punish those who don't illegally download the Big Love finale. Unless they radically limit the ways they connect with others over the internet. As things stand, the current business model is untenable and no one is winning.