Sunday, February 19, 2012

"A Bite of the Apple" - Season One

Have you ever watched an episode of your favorite TV series and wished you didn’t have to wait a week or even a day to see the next one? Of course you have.

And in the future, you may get your wish.

Netflix, the Web-based subscription service for viewing movies and TV shows has become a content developer. In fact, they have two original series, and viewers can access an entire season all at once via the Internet. That’s right. No waiting until next week. Watch every episode of a brand new show on the day it debuts.

“Lilyhammer” is the Netflix hit that is now Norway’s most popular TV series. In fact, it’s already the most watched show in Norwegian television history.

It features Steven Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. Van Zandt also played the mobster “Silvio” in HBO’s blockbuster hit series “The Sopranos”. A million Norwegians watched the first episode of his new show, in which he plays a New York mob boss in witness protection, hiding out in Lillehammer, Norway. His character, Frank Tagliano, chose the snowy destination based on watching the 1994 Winter Olympics broadcast from there. Now he’s an unemployed, immigrant gangster far from his territory in the big apple. If you’re a “Soprano’s” fan, you can imagine the fun.

Although a Norwegian production company produced the show for the Norwegian Broadcasting Company, Netflix helped finance it. And Americans will only see it via the Web, not over the air or on cable. But with Netflix, you can stream it to you big screen.

Hulu, another Internet-based TV entertainment source recently announced its own original series. And YouTube has paid Jay-Z and Madonna to develop YouTube video channels with fresh, unique content.

It only makes sense. If you can deliver entertainment via the Web or some other method, then why pay tolls to cable companies and satellite services. That’s obviously why Comcast bought NBC. They’re only hope for long-term survival is to create their own, exclusive content that people want to watch.

Now here’s an exciting twist to consider. Apple made news this week talking about plans to build on its Apple TV product. It’s an affordable ($200) device that allows you to stream video content from the Internet to your television. Or for that matter, it will mirror you iPad, iPod or iPhone and connect those devises to you big screen, too. So a movie you have on your phone can be viewed wirelessly on the flat screen in your living room or wherever. Apple TV can also connect you to all the content you’ve stored on the iCloud, so you have access to all the assets you own.

Up until now, Apple has made a bundle selling other people’s creative properties via iTunes, where people buy movies, music, TV shows and other entertainment to play on their various pods and pads. But, it’s only a matter of time until we’ll buy  electronic art directly from the artists or their producers.

I wonder if Apple’s next step is to begin generating its own original entertainment to sell with Apple TV. Imagine they hire Ken Burns to produce a documentary series on Steve Jobs and the evolution of his company. Maybe Ron Howard directs a movie based on Jobs’ life. If Mark Zuckerberg gets “The Social Network”, a movie celebrating the launch of Facebook, Jobs deserves an epic drama on the scale of the “Star Wars” trilogy.

At $500 a share for its stock, Apple certainly has the cash to go into the entertainment business. If they’re as good at it as they have been at re-inventing computing and communications, we’ll soon forget about traditional TV.

And if “Jobs” becomes a series, I’ll bet we watch every episode on the first weekend.

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