Category Archives: TV

Skipping the Middle Man

Louis CK is changing the way entertainers distribute material to fans. He’s completely skipping the middle man and getting his content directly to consumers.

Louis CK sells his download-only specials for $5 on website.  Users can pay with PayPal, Amazon or Dwolla. Oh, plus it’s DRM-free, meaning you can copy it, use it on multiple devices, no restrictions.

And like all of Louis CK’s communication with fans, he keeps it real, especially when it comes to making his content DRM-free.

Please don’t torrent or otherwise steal this so I can keep doing things this way.

To those who might wish to “torrent” these shows:

Look, I don’t really get the whole “torrent” thing. I don’t know enough about it to judge either way. But I’d just like you to consider this: I made these files extremely easy to use against well-informed advice. I was told that it would be easier to torrent the way I made it, but I chose to do it this way anyway, because I want it to be easy for people to watch and enjoy this video in any way they want without ‘corporate’ restrictions.

Please bear in mind that I am not a company or a corporation. I’m just some guy. I paid for the production and posting of this video with my own money. I would like to be able to post more material to the fans in this way, which makes it cheaper for the buyer and more pleasant for me. So, please help me keep this being a good idea. I can’t stop you from torrenting; all I can do is politely ask you to pay your five little dollars, enjoy the show, and let other people find it in the same way.

He’s quick to email his followers whenever new material is available. It’s opt-in, after purchasing material from his website.

Screenshot 2014-03-22 at 9

(I purchased Live at the Beacon, though I was more than happy to have Louis email me with updates.)

Here’s his latest email, delivered to my inbox today:

Screenshot 2014-03-22 at 9

Hello. This is Louis CK again. I’m writing to let you know about a new funny thing that is available on my site, louisck.com. It’s called “Todd Barry the Crowd Work Tour”.  I’m not in it.  Todd is.  This is the first thing produced by my site and sold there for another comedian.  It’s 5 dollars as always. and it’s REALLY GODDAMN GOOD.   Here’s some things about it:

Todd Barry is a great comedian.  He has always been one of my favorites.  There is no one out there like him.  There never has been.  He’s hysterically funny.  I’ve known Todd for about 20 years.

About a year ago, Todd had this idea, to do a tour where all he would do on stage is “crowd work” which means casually engaging members of the audience in conversation and culling that for possible laughs and enlightenment. This is something many comedians have done throughout history, to pepper their mostly planned shows with a few moments of improvisational freshness and some sense of being in the moment and in the place instead of just reciting a show.  Some comedians are good at it, some aren’t (I’m not). Some are great at it.  Todd is great at it.  Sometimes Todd comes with me on tour and when we do shows together, I always have the houselights completely down but he has them about halfway up so that he can see who is out there and engage them.

Crowd work has a special feeling to it because you know the comedian has gone off their script, off their own brain insides, and reached out without knowing how it might turn out.  It’s a high wire act.  Of course there are comedians who have rote and hackneyed ways to make this work, like a cheap magician.  “where you from?  Oh okay I’ll talk slower then.”  But a great crowd work comedian just opens his or her mind up and takes in information and let’s their curious and funny nature process the conversation in an inspiring, illuminating and hilarious way.  It’s something I’ve always loved watching Todd do through the years.

So, Todd’s idea was to do a show that is all crowd work.  No “jokes”. No set material.   Just go up there and start talking to whoever is willing and see what happens.  It has a natural tension to it because Any second, the show could just go dry.  But it never does with Todd.

Todd did a Crowd Work tour and it was a success.  So he had the idea to do another one and film it, to create a standup special.  I thought it was a great idea so I offered to produce it for him and to provide it on my site.  We got Lance Bangs to direct it. Lance is a really great guy.  If any of you have seen the Jackass movies, you’ve probably seen poor Lance throwing up while holding a camera.

So what we did was put Todd on the road.  He started in San Diego and worked his way up the coast to Los Angeles, San Fransisco, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, and Anchorage Alaska.   Lance filmed all the shows and some of the travel in between and Todd worked with Gina Sansom, the editor (who did a great job), and put it together.

The result of all this is a really funny and compelling show.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  I don’t think there is anything like it.  It’s not just a standup special with a guy on a big stage doing his well honed hour.  In this show, you’re watching a master at work with no material and it’s just great.  Really great.  Every city he worked in changes the color of each performance because the crowd is the show and each crowd comes from a different metropolitan culture. You learn things from this show like what are people doing for a living these days.  What are the hours of a professional tweeter?  How much does a pipe layer in Alaska drink?  Todd takes all of these people’s lives and plays with them with his unique rhythm and great mind.

Anyway, you really really really should go to louisck.com and buy this show.  It’s five dollars.  It’s funny as shit.  And shit is really really funny.

Thank you for your time.  Oh, also, I’m hosting Saturday Night Live again on March 29th.  Please watch.

Louis CK

If you follow Louis CK or like his work, head to his website louisck.com. It’s a refreshing experience with purchasing media and even digital downloads.

Checking in with TVTag

The TV experience gets a little bit better with friends. Launched in 2010, GetGlue is a social TV app that enables users to check-in to TV programs, Sports and Movies, sharing check-ins with other users and engaging in conversation.

GetGlue was acquired by i.TV in November 2013 and will reportedly change its name to TVTag next week.  A message on GetGlue’s website says “GetGlue is becoming tvtag!”

GetGlue is becoming TVTag

getglue (1)GetGlue launched in June 2010, and is headquartered in New York City. One year after launch, the service was seeing more than 12 million check-ins annually. Today the service has more than 4.5 million users.

In 2011, GetGlue partnered with DirecTV to promote programming and allow users to check-in onscreen. GetGlue has since partnered with a number of networks.

Since its initial round of funding, GetGlue has raised more than $25 million in venture capital.

11 Netflix Shows to Binge Watch

Arrested Development (Season 4 is a Netflix Original)

Arrested Development Netflix Instant Season 4

It’s the story of a wealthy family that lost everything, and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together. It’s the return of the award-winning “Arrested Development,” starring Emmy nominee Jason Bateman and one of the funniest ensembles in TV comedy, who taught viewers the meaning of “never nude,” spread a dangerous amount of misinformation about maritime law, and reminded everyone “that’s why you always leave a note.”

MV5BMTU2MjAxODIwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjE2MDIzOA@@._V1_ 9.2 / 10

Orange is the New Black (Netflix Original) New: Season 2

Screen Shot 2014-06-21 at 3.11.30 PM

From the creator of “Weeds” comes a heartbreaking and hilarious new series set in a women’s prison. Piper Chapman’s wild past comes back to haunt her, resulting in her arrest and detention in a federal penitentiary. To pay her debt to society, Piper trades her comfortable New York life for an orange prison jumpsuit and finds unexpected conflict and camaraderie amidst an eccentric group of inmates.

MV5BMTU2MjAxODIwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjE2MDIzOA@@._V1_ 8.6 / 10

House of Cards (Netflix Original)

House of Cards Netflix Instant

Three Emmy Award wins including David Fincher (“The Social Network”) for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series and nine nominations including Outstanding Drama Series went to this acclaimed political thriller. Lead Actor nominee Kevin Spacey stars as ruthless, cunning Congressman Francis Underwood, who will stop at nothing to conquer the halls of power in Washington D.C. His secret weapon: his gorgeous, ambitious, and equally conniving wife Claire (Lead Actress nominee Robin Wright).

MV5BMTU2MjAxODIwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjE2MDIzOA@@._V1_ 8.9 / 10

Lilyhammer (Netflix Original)

Lilyhammer Netflix Instant

After turning state’s evidence against a powerful Mafia boss, former gangster Frank “The Fixer” Tagliano trades the mean streets of New York for the icy fjords of Norway, forging a new life among the locals of Lillehammer under the guise of Norwegian-American immigrant Giovanni Henriksen. The relative calm suits him at first. But it’s not long before Frank’s ruthless methods resurface, stirring the suspicions of his next-door neighbor, the chief of police.

MV5BMTU2MjAxODIwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjE2MDIzOA@@._V1_ 8.0 / 10

Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad Netflix Instant

Emmy winner Bryan Cranston stars as Walter White, a high school science teacher who learns that he has terminal lung cancer and teams with a former student to manufacture and sell high-quality crystal meth to secure his family’s future.

MV5BMTU2MjAxODIwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjE2MDIzOA@@._V1_ 9.5 / 10

Prison Break 

Prison Break Netflix Instant

When his brother, Lincoln, is wrongly convicted of murdering a powerful politician’s brother, structural engineer Michael Scofield resolves to bust his innocent sibling out of the notorious Fox River State Penitentiary.

MV5BMTU2MjAxODIwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjE2MDIzOA@@._V1_ 8.6 /10

Mad Men

Mad Men Netflix Instant

Set in 1960s New York, this series takes a peek inside an ad agency in an era when the cutthroat business had a glamorous lure. When the cigarette smoke clears and the martinis are set down, at the center of it all is womanizing ad man Don Draper.

MV5BMTU2MjAxODIwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjE2MDIzOA@@._V1_ 8.7 / 10

Lie to Me

Lie to Me Netflix Instant

Loosely inspired by the career of psychologist Paul Ekman, this engaging crime drama focuses on the work of Dr. Cal Lightman, whose knowledge of human facial and behavioral cues lets him determine whether a person is telling the truth.

MV5BMTU2MjAxODIwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjE2MDIzOA@@._V1_ 8.0 / 10

Nip/Tuck

Nip Tuck Nip/Tuck Netflix Instant

A little shady deal here, a little ethical entanglement there — it’s a way of life for Sean McNamara and Christian Troy, Miami doctors who own an exclusive plastic surgery clinic that generates as much trouble as it does cash.

MV5BMTU2MjAxODIwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjE2MDIzOA@@._V1_ 7.7 / 10

Dexter

Dexter Netflix Instant

By day, mild-mannered Dexter is a blood-splatter analyst for the Miami police. But at night, he is a serial killer who only targets other murderers.

MV5BMTU2MjAxODIwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjE2MDIzOA@@._V1_ 9.1 / 10

The Following

The Following Netflix Instant

When escaped serial killer Joe Carroll goes on a new killing spree, reclusive former FBI agent Ryan Hardy is called in, having captured Carroll nine years ago. Hardy soon discovers that Carroll has a loyal following of killers ready to terrorize.

MV5BMTU2MjAxODIwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjE2MDIzOA@@._V1_ 7.7 / 10

BONUS:

Freaks and Geeks

Freaks and Geeks Netflix Instant

A group of high school students in 1980 faces various social struggles. Lindsay Weir rebels and begins hanging out with a crowd of burnouts, courtesy of an invitation from Daniel Desario.

MV5BMTU2MjAxODIwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjE2MDIzOA@@._V1_ 9.0 / 10

Have anything you’d change or add to the list? Add it in the comments.

Get Ready for TV 2.0

Streaming television services like Netflix and Hulu Plus are gaining momentum, moving along the adoption curve – working their way through the early majority – still years ahead of technological laggards.

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on StateCollege.com in Tech Talk, a biweekly column by Eric Zimmett. Click here to view the original column. Eric Zimmett is a tech writer and small business consultant who works at StateCollege.com assisting businesses with how to navigate today’s difficult marketing and advertising landscape.

A Nielsen study revealed that about one-third of Americans have streamed a TV show or movie through a paid subscription service like Netflix or Hulu Plus. And a majority of Netflix users have the service connected to their TVs.
Streaming TV is the biggest threat to the pay-TV model since TiVo, poised to make prime-time television irrelevant and turn the pay-TV model upside down.

Two years ago this month I cut cable and moved into the streaming TV world. Which at first was a bit rocky, but is now a more intuitive TV experience than ever.

With Netflix and Hulu Plus, when I want to watch a particular show, I watch the show. Whether it’s 7 p.m., 9:36 p.m. or 2 a.m. The Colbert Report; Saturday Night Live; Lie to Me; 30 Rock; Weeds; American Pickers; MasterChef; Mad Men; The Office; SportsCenter and ESPN on Xbox 360; or even NBC News, CBS, ABC on Roku Newscaster.

As well as older TV shows like Arrested Development, a new favorite of mine even though the show concluded in 2006. I had never seen it. But with streaming TV, I started with season 1, episode 1 to the last. Netflix announced in November that it is resurrecting Arrested Development in an exclusive deal featuring new episodes of the critically acclaimed series, which was canceled by Fox.

Streaming, on-demand, content increases the shelf-life of television, therefore increasing the benefit to the show and its advertisers. What this means: more viewers for the content and the advertising. An almost unlimited shelf-life. Streaming TV puts the entire television experience – Movies, News, Sports, TV shows – on the user’s schedule, not the network’s. It’s like everything has been TiVo’d for you.

TiVo released data that revealed only 38 percent of viewing by its users was live TV. The rest was recorded video and online streaming content like Netflix, which is now available through the TiVo Premiere box. It won’t be long before streaming content overtakes recorded content, like the two have done to live TV.

Most Netflix and Hulu Plus users are between the ages of 18-34 – dubbed Generation C – according to the Nielson study released in February. The second largest group is users between 35 and 49, then 50 to 64. Which mirrors the adoption curve developed by Joe M. Bohlen, George M. Beal and Everett M. Rogers at Iowa State University in the 1950s. The curve illustrates the adoption of new products and innovations through five stages: Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, Laggards.

Netflix has more than 20,000 titles available to stream instantly and is working to increase its number of television shows, an area in which Hulu excels. Hulu is jointly owned by Comcast’s NBC Universal, The Walt Disney Co., News Corp. and global private equity investment first Providence Equity Partners.

Netflix has inked exclusive content deals including Lilyhammer, which debuted Feb. 6, featuring Sopranos star Steven Van Zandt. Horror series Hemlock Grove, scheduled for early 2013. Orange is the New Black, a comedy project from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan. As well as House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey. To acquire House of Cards, Netflix outbid HBO for the series.

And now dozens of devices are available to stream content, including Blu-ray players; video-game systems like Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii; Boxee Box; Apple TV; Google TV; TiVo Premiere; and Roku. Read my review of the Roku streaming player here. In most cases, users buy the streaming boxes; versus renting a box from cable or satellite TV companies.

Subscription streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus or Amazon Instant Video provide unlimited streaming content for a fixed monthly price. Some cable companies have now started to offer their own streaming content as a companion to subscription offerings, like Time Warner On-Demand, Comcast On-Demand alongside a subscription to their services; or premium cable like HBO GO and Showtime On-Demand. Strictly video-on-demand (VOD) services like Vudu are essentially today’s Pay-Per-View, with each movie available to rent or purchase.

This doesn’t mean an end to live TV content, however. Live TV will be delivered through the Internet and available on-demand after it airs.

Comcast, the largest cable operator, announced in May of 2011 it would begin testing IPTV or Internet Protocol TV. The same content, only, delivered through the Internet.

Comcast began testing IPTV at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and in February introduced XFINITY Streampix, a Netflix-like video service offered as a companion to XFINITY TV.

IPTV can be used for live video, streaming and delayed programming like a DVR. The same technology used by Netflix, Hulu Plus, Roku, live-streaming services like U-Stream and Live Stream.

What IPTV will one day mean for advertisers: data. Think Google Analytics for TV.

The writing is on the wall.

Netflix and its competitors will force cable, satellite and premium cable companies to overhaul the formula and their pricing structure. Turning the entire landscape upside down. Lower prices, more content, delivered IPTV-style.

It’s a monumental time for TV. If cable and satellite TV are scared now, this could very well be the calm before the storm. They’ll be forced to change or fall into obscurity. Like a stagnant MySpace, ignorant to the startup that would become Facebook.

Streaming content has transformed the way I watch TV and will soon change TV forever.

The cable and satellite networks can fight all they want. TV 2.0 is coming. Their efforts are only delaying the inevitable.