November 26, 2006

Downloaded TV Shows Are Disposable, Music Is Not

Last week, due to some sort of conflict between our Motorola cable box and our TiVo, we ended up not managing to record the latest episode of "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit", instead getting a full sixty minutes of the local news. For some reason, the TiVo thought it was on NBC, but the cable box decided to watch a different channel. It'd be something resembling a minor disaster, were it not for the option to download the episode from the iTunes Store - which we did on Friday. But instead of saving this purchased episode to our iTunes library, as we have thousands of songs, when we were all done with it, the show was deleted.

When I look at the thousands of songs I have in my iTunes library, I can sometimes feel guilty that I've only listened to some of them 5 times, when others have been heard a few dozen times, or if I haven't played a particular track in the last six to twelve months. Deleting songs is almost unheard of, particularly if they were purchased off the iTunes Store instead of imported from a CD. But when it comes to television shows or feature-length films, I don't see myself watching them time and time again, which hits a bullseye on why the iPod was initially designed for music, and why there hasn't been a similarly successful device that plays video as its primary function.

I can easily think of some edge cases where it'd be nice to have portable video with me. I can fantasize about bringing my own movies onto plane rides and plugging in to the iPod Video as I catch up on House or Law and Order or a week's worth of Jon Stewart. I can even understand how parents of younger children would download the latest Disney movie and set it on loop for weeks on end. But outside of those edge cases, I'm simply not going to watch TV shows over and over again (the Simpsons potentially excluded) or see 3-hour movies a few dozen times. Compounding the issue, these rich media files could take hundreds of megabytes apiece on my hard drive, far more than the 5 to 10 megabytes needed for the common song.

Ignoring issues like digital rights management, bandwidth and price, I don't anticipate storing my own TV show and film library, either on my computer, or on the TiVo. Music inherently is designed to be played over and over again, until the beats and the words of each track are second nature. TV shows are meant to be seen once, with reruns being a dirty word. If I've seen it once, I've seen it enough times.

Listening to ''Trilogy'', by ATB (Play Count: 37)

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