Saturday, March 17, 2007

CBC wants to make it easier to ignore their programming on new platforms

I've moved on from stealing my brother's e-mails as blog post fodder to stealthily enticing him to write something on a subject he's more knowledgeable about, so I don't have to do one of my half-assed rants. His post is called Stupid CBC, which I know makes it difficult to tell what he thinks of their new DRM initiative.

But first, the backstory ...

A few days ago, I wanted to post this one segment from the Rick Mercer Report about the problems with the tax e-filing system, and the "new" mail file system: "Simply take the lead wand and touch it to the boxes ..." I don't know, it just made me laugh, and I wanted to share. But while it is available through the official site (see "Canada Revenue Agency: Taking Your Money Old School" under March 13), it isn't embeddable - as I've just proven, it's not even easily linkable - and I figured it was too much bother. It wasn't a House video, so I wasn't quite that motivated.

Yes, that is how lazy I am, thank you very much. But it's also the nature of the web. It's a proven fact: adding a layer of click-throughs cuts your audience drastically. You know why I started adding lengthy quotes from the articles I link to on the TV, Eh site? I knew that fact, and had always meant to write my own little blurbs about the articles a la TV Tattle except that takes more time than I wanted to spend. But Wordpress made it hard to ignore that fact by adding a stats feature that lets you see what links people are clicking on from your site. It became screamingly obvious that the number of people searching for a particular topic and the number of people landing on a particular page dwarfed the number of people who would click one more time to read the original article.

The web is made for skimming, and readers' boots are made for walking. Make it difficult for them, and most'll just ignore your content.

So after my experience with the Mercer video, and after my rant about video incompatibilities on Canadian TV sites, reading this post on the Inside the CBC blog made my Canadian TV promoting soul weep. Apparently CBC is moving towards protecting their online content with DRM (digital rights management - you know, that thing everybody hates about music downloads).

I sent that post to my brother pointing out that Tod Maffin, the blog writer, is asking if that's what people want. My response: Duh. And that would be duh, no, for those of you not keeping score at home. My brother's response is more articulate:
First off, why are they worried about people pirating their little video snippets? Some would consider it promotion. I think before they start worrying about piracy they have to get people who want to watch their stuff first. ... The problem CBC is having isn't with piracy, it's with getting people to watch their damn shows. Why are they spending our tax money on a solution that will make it more difficult for people to see their shows, and will do nothing to stop piracy?
Good question. The only answer I can come up with is that it's another example of the stealth theory of marketing Canadian TV combined with the kind of fear mongering about this scary new Internet thing the recording industry has been promoting for years.