Fake Steve Jobs/Real Dan Lyons weighs in on the recent round of network TV Web moves: ABC will stream its shows via AOL, NBC will offer free downloads of its shows. FSJ’s conclusion: There’s no way the networks will be able to pull off digital distribution on their own — because doing it well is technically difficult, and because they aren’t creating a single point of distribution, a la iTunes or YouTube. And when they fail, they’ll crawl back to Apple:
So they’ve all been threatening us with this for years, and we’ve told them to feel free and go right ahead, and now they’re finally going to take the bait and go do it. We’re thrilled. They are going to waste hundreds of millions of dollars wading into a quagmire and in two years they’ll be looking for a way to back out while saving face. (Sound familiar?) They know they’re making a huge bet and they know what’s at stake — it’s their entire future. What they don’t realise is that they can’t win. That’s why we’re excited. We’ve needed them to do this. This is the beginning of the end for the TV networks, the last big lurch of the dinosaur as it gets dragged down into the tarpit.
To which we’d only add: Not everyone who works for big media conglomerates is an idiot. In fact many of them are wary of just this scenario. Also, if they’re going to experiment — however expensively — this the time to do it. The music business has only just begun embracing interesting digital distribution gambits — more than seven years after Napster first showed up. At least give the networks credit for trying to save their business before it disappears. The Secret Diary Of Fake Steve Jobs