I recently purchased an iTunes season pass for Archer, one of the funniest shows currently on TV, and one of the only shows I’ll buy season passes for. I get most of my content from Netflix and Hulu, and I have no problem waiting a few months for some shows to become available. But I need my Archer NOW!
An unfortunate thing has happened with the 4th season of Archer. FX has placed ads for other FX shows at the beginning and end of the purchased episode. One of the main reasons I (and others) purchase content from iTunes is so we don’t have to watch ads. I also noticed something different in Season 4. During the intro montage, the clock that turns into a jet now has an “FX” logo on it. Looking at these 2 changes as a content creator, FX is clearly worried that people buying these shows don’t understand that they’re FX shows, and not another network. Another reason I purchase shows is to not have that damn logo bug in the corner. Since FX has lost that, I assume they’re trying to make up for it by placing the logo and the ads.
On iTunes, the rating for Archer Season 4 has plummeted because of everyone giving 1 star ratings for the ads. The first few pages of comments only rant about the ads, and don’t really say anything about the show. If I was the production company, I would be pissed at FX for doing this. They’re ruining the Archer brand. Is FX doing this with their other shows? I’m not sure.
I feel a similar way about my Hulu Plus subscription. I feel like if I’m paying extra for the subscription, I should be seeing fewer ads than if I was using the free version of Hulu.com. For me, the Plus subscription has made less sense over time because a few of the shows I watch (such as Happy Endings) have been pulled from Hulu Plus, and thus can only be watched on a computer. Since now I’m watching all Hulu content through my computer instead of my Apple TV or Sony Blu-Ray player, I’m not sure what I’m spending extra money for. If there was an additional tier that got rid of ads, I would pay for that. My internet is incredibly slow, and it’s annoying that a 30 second ad sometimes takes 1:30 to play because of buffering or stuttering. I would love to skip that.
Will this be a trend? It’s too early to tell. With Apple’s foray into TV constantly around the corner, the entire industry could get re-invented pretty quickly. For a long time, it was easy for a network to tell how much their shows were worth. In the age of iTunes/Hulu/Torrents, that number is a lot murkier. A few years ago, paying $1 for a TV episode was reasonable. Last year, getting people to pay $2 or $3 to upgrade to HD was reasonable. Now, paying $3 for an HD episode with ads is reasonable (to FX). If there’s not much complaint, we can only assume that more networks will start doing this. This also makes paying customers consider illegal torrents again, as one of the advantages to paying has been taken away. This move by FX also shows the desperation of a TV network clinging to the value of it’s brand in the age of internet TV. It will be interesting to see how other networks react to this move.
What do you think?