TV networks are scared to death. They saw what happened to the music industry as it pertained to digital downloads, and they don’t want the same thing to happen to them. Can they fight it? I guess it remains to be seen. But then there’s this from the April 30 NY Times:
"The question probably never occurred to viewers in the 1970s and 1980s, but suddenly it is highly relevant: exactly how much worthwhile entertainment content was there in shows like “Charlie’s Angels,” “T. J. Hooker,” and “Starsky and Hutch”?
The Sony Corporation and its production studio, Sony Pictures Television, which controls the rights to those and many other relics of a distant era of television, have come up with an answer to that question: three and a half to five minutes.
That’s the length Sony has shrunk episodes down to in order to create what the company hopes is an appealing new business in retooling old shows for a new era of entertainment. Sony even has a name for these shrunken slices of television nostalgia: minisodes.
Sony Television is planning in June to introduce an Internet-based service called the Minisode Network, initially offering the mini-shows for an exclusive run on MySpace. (The company may consider establishing a separate Internet channel called the Minisode Network later.)
However and wherever it appears, the network will consist of a lineup of tightly edited versions of shows lifted off the shelves of Sony’s television library. These are not clips of the shows, but actual episodes with beginnings, middles and ends, all told in under six minutes.
As Steve Mosko, the president of Sony Television, described it, “So in ‘Charlie Angels,’ they have a meeting, Charlie’s on the intercom telling them what the assignment is, there’s a couple of fights, and then a chase, and they catch the bad guy. Then they’re back home wrapping it up.”
“T. J. Hooker,” an especially formulaic cop show from the early 1980s, can be seen in short bursts of action as William Shatner interrogates suspects, fires shots and chases bad guys. “Shatner is just hilarious,” Mr. Mosko said.
That sums up the main aim of the minisodes. Nobody expects these shows to captivate anyone with their exciting plotlines, writing or ageless acting. “It’s really campy and fun,” Mr. Mosko said.
What he would like it to be as well is lucrative. Like other holders of vast libraries of filmed entertainment, Sony Television has been seeking ways to squeeze new value out of old assets."
I guess if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Another way of looking at it might be "Garbage in, garbage out."