Earlier this month we estimated that almost a million viewers get their latest Lost episode through BitTorrent. TV broadcasters are now beginning to realize that making shows available for download is helping their business, instead of hurting it.
CBS’s chief research officer David Poltrack said that online distribution services like YouTube and BitTorrent are friends, not foes.
Poltrack is not too keen on the paid distribution model iTunes offers right now. He thinks that TV shows should be available for free via ad-supported models. In a panel discussion at the Future of Television Forum Poltrack said that “if [consumers] are going to steal it, give it to them anyway. But also make it easier to access and present it better than YouTube or BitTorrent or anywhere else.”
Poltrack is probably right. TV broadcasters should come up with a product that can compete with the “illegal” TV torrents in order to see a decline in pirated downloads. This will only lead to more views per show, and thus higher advertising revenues, like the CBS poll indicated.