I’m starting to get TV on my own terms

Back in 2009, I wrote about how I wanted ‘movies on my own terms.’ I came across that blog recently.  I was pleased that things have got better, but I realize that we still have a way to go.

An update on the ‘hardware’ sitch… I still have TiVo and Amazon hooked up together. But now, purchasing is vastly improved, and I can instantly download from my Amazon account to the TiVo and have it appear in the list of shows to watch. Check.

I still have a Mac Mini attached to my TV via a video cable. I control that Mac Mini through screen share.  Yes, I realize I could buy AppleTV to do this, but actually having a ‘full’ Macintosh available is cool. I can stream photo slideshows in a screensaver while listening to Spotify music.  I can easily play DVDs of old family videos. It’s fun.

I used to have a Logitech Universal Remote that controlled the whole shebang, but that collapsed, mysteriously, right around the time they launched a new remote. But the price tag was just too steep — around $250.  I can get up off the sofa for a bit longer.

But here’s where we have a long way to go: global entertainment.

I am one of many members of a diaspora. I still love to watch English TV, news, even weather. (Especially weather!) I remain as massively disappointed in the dreck that passes for programming on BBC America as I was back in March 2009.  I can’t be the only one. In fact I know I’m not.  Almost anyone living in the States from anywhere else in the world still wants to stay in touch with entertainment and news from back home.

So why filter it? Why make us jump through hoops to get it unfiltered? Just give it to us. Unchanged. Just like we’re there. That’s what we want. Not filtered through the lens of some American programming team that thinks we want endless episodes of that idiot cook who says ‘fuck’ a lot… whose name I refuse to even remember at this moment.

Which brings me onto Netflix.

Last September, while out in my garden, I was listening to podcasts of the BBC show “Front Row.” The wonderful Mark Lawson talked to Ted Sarandos, head of content for the video on demand service, about the change in how we consume entertainment. The moment the show ended I bought (just a little bit– wish I’d bought more) of Netflix stock.  Here was someone (Ted Sarandos) who talked about the world as an audience for content. Good content. I got the hint (just a hint mind you) that Netflix had its eye on original programming that would work for audiences all over the world. Bring it on.

Indeed in Netflix’s recent earnings reports, Hastings specifically stated:

We haven’t been specific about what country or countries we’re going to expand to. So there’s a number of players in all the major markets and in the smaller markets. They’re all doing good work. I think what we’ve seen with our success in the UK is that there can be very strong players like the BBC iPlayer and LOVEFiLM and Sky and we can still build a very successful business. And so I think the key is having unique content, a great reputation, a good value proposition. And we can succeed and in many cases the competitors can also. So we mostly focus on finding good markets that love content and that will steadily expand in Europe.

Global programming with good content. Yes, the company has made some dumb moves. (Remember Qwikster?) But like Amazon, they’re willing to experiment. And they’re brave.  I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next.