Your TV Tech Fix: Would You Pay a Premium to See a TV Show Before It Aired?

Fifty years ago the mere idea of being able to click a button on a remote control and have whatever you wanted to see appear on your screen instantly was nothing more than a pipe dream. Today, what was once impossible almost seems inevitable.

Video on Demand (VOD) services have been around for a long time, but it’s something I’ve never really gotten into. Back when I had premium cable service and a cable box, I watched a few movies they offered for free (not A-list stuff, trust me), but never could justify the high price of VOD when buying it on DVD wasn’t much more. I always thought people who were big into VOD must be insane.

Of course, I found myself questioning my own sanity after reading that DirecTV will be offering a premium VOD (Video on Demand) service that will allow people to watch a movie as soon as 60 days after its theatrical debut… for a hefty $29.99 fee. At first, I was like, “Psshaw! Who would pay $30 bucks to watch a movie that’s already been in the theaters?” After letting the concept settle in for a little while, I’ve actually started to warm up to the idea.

I stopped going to the theater ages ago (for numerous reasons), so I’m a prime candidate for this, but there are many who still venture out to the theater to catch the latest release. For a single person or couple going to see a flick, it may be cheaper to head to the theater (depending on your ability to pass on the $58 popcorn and $24 128-ounce cola-jug).  For the modern family of four, $30 is steal for a recent movie release, where you’re talking $50 or more by the time all is said and done.

That got me to thinking… if I’d be willing to drop $30 to see a new movie release before it came out on DVD, would I be willing to spend a little coin for the convenience of watching a TV show when I wanted before it aired?

What’s to stop DirecTV or Comcast from starting a new VOD service that offers up new episodes of CSI:, DEXTER, or HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER before the episodes actually air on their respective networks, for $5 to $10 a pop? Not only would it be good for for the pocketbooks of content producers who are continuously battling for whatever ratings they can get so they can try and sell ads to a DVR saturated market, it would also be good for consumers to have the option of directly supporting their favorite shows. After all, ratings are irrelevant if a good portion of your audience is willing to pay per episode. Think about it – FIREFLY and ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT would still be alive today.

I’m usually in the minority on topics like this, but if anyone would be willing to pay per episode for access to TV shows early, it would be the TV addicts that read, well, theTVaddict!  What do you think? Would you pay a premium to see a TV show before it aired?

Share your opinion in the comments section below.

Satisfy your inner geek while fueling your TV addiction… TV Tech Fix is a column by Matt Whitlock, editor of the Consumer Electronics Community (plus several other gadget-focused community websites), and lover of both technology and TV. In this column, he’ll cover a wide variety of tech topics aimed squarely at the TV addicts of the world – from tips and tricks to help you better your TV experience, to gear recommendations, to the impact technology is having on the TV shows we love.

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  • As a student with other expenses, I can say that I would definitely not pay to watch tv shows before time. And I know for sure no one I personally know would either.
    If I was earning though, that’s a different matter. A decent income would be enough to make me shell out a little money to watch a few shows. Shows like Dexter, True Blood and Breaking Bad. I could do with watching most other shows when they air normally.

  • Anonymous

    Honestly, it would depend on the exact price and just how early it was. It would be very different if we were talking months in advance as opposed to a week or two.

  • IAS

    I think it’s a pretty solid idea but one of the biggest things going against it is piracy. The torrent community will probably be thriving on this more than anyone else and beat the likes of hulu and iTunes to a pulp – downloads available earlier and for free!

  • I’d probably just wait for them to air on t.v.

  • Elle

    My first answer was No, but after thinking about it I probably would. As joshemerson said though we would have to be talking months in advance. What changed my mind? Well lets face it, DirectTV and Friday Night Lights!! I already have my season 5 copy on preorder to be picked up tomorrow and will probably have about a quarter to half of the season watched before NBC starts airing it next week. Also, with Dexter and True Blood I cancel my HBO subscription after Dexter ends and order it again for when True Blood starts and watch any other shows I missed on demand while I have it and I am betting for Friday Night Lights fans DirectTV saw the same trend of people ordering and cancelling the network so I guess based on that theory I would have to say yes I would.