Futurama, I would buy. Mad Men, rent. Now here's the quandary. My satellite TV already gives me episodes and movies, eg. FX HD, HBO HD, etc. But they're not the current seasons. And I'm outside the US. Do the studios not care about the direct-to-consumer model? Is this iTV hype going to be, as usual, US-only with crippled offerings in the UK, etc...?
I mean, if they are nervous about 99c rentals, boy, do they have no clue what happens on p*bay. Or they're just too worried to think about it.
Granted my satellite TV company (which is paid for) pays the big bucks for US and international (mostly US for English media, as you can imagine) TV shows and movies.
But even then... Think about how Internet streaming already will cut out the middleman, and imagine if the satellite TV companies did not need to manage all that infrastructure (transmission and reception stations, satellites, etc...) ~ I think the content creators are scared of pissing off the content distributors because the distributors in various countries have been their long term customers, not the viewer of the shows.
Like Steve said, studios need to ask, Who is My Customer? Is it my satellite TV company? Or ME? Why the international restrictions? Censorship is certainly a problem (Everything stronger than PG-13 is censored down to that level in Malaysia, and varies on countries across Asia, not sure about the Middle East...).
Where I am now has a developing economy with less than 30 million people. So maybe it's not too important... But let's take Europe, China, India, even the UK, surely these are huge chunks of direct-to-consumer markets with huge potential, and, also, countries which are the biggest file-sharers/pirates when it comes to TV shows and movies*
*On the topic of piracy... It's really confusing. Is it piracy if sometime later in the month my legal satellite/ cable tv station will air the episode (remember the huge delays, this is outside the US)? Is it not piracy if I VPN into the US IP addresses to watch Hulu and whatever, bypassing the geolocation? It's not piracy because I watch ads?
Then, I say, why don't the studios bundle the ads (smart, quick ones) into all their latest shows, for free-to-air TV or whatever, and then just seed that into the torrents? Imagine if HD 1080p and SD 480p official torrents with ads included are seeded on the torrent networks. People could skip through the ads, or they might watch them, in any case no different from TiVO, etc. Most high-level-seeders would not take the trouble to strip out the ads and reseed them because they'd have to fool around with the file formatting and in some cases lose quality with reformatting.
Movies, well, that's slightly different, but is a conundrum by itself. Because tons are being pirated, and so many movies are absolute shite nowadays. I mean, take "Salt". I was like, WHAT THE F**K IS THIS?????!!!??? Glad I didn't pay for the movie. I would have demanded my money back. Brand me a pirate, stealer, criminal. I tell you what's criminal, actually dreaming up that garbage plot.
Steve Jobs should personally sit all the major execs down at a conference table, and fire up some torrents. Then start to really talk about global, on-demand, streaming/downloaded NO DELAY, NO INTERNATIONAL RESTRICTION distribution of TV shows. You want money? Bundle the ads deep into the files. You want more money? Make these shows iAd like if watching through iTunes. Now, do the same for movies, except maybe no normal ads but just really engaging iAds for movies.
People argue to this day how effective iTunes Store for music is. But look at NO DELAY, GLOBAL availability of apps. Sure, people still pirate, but the only way to beat piracy is to offer reasonably priced media or just run it free with ads, people can pay for ad-free versions.
There is a lot of rethinking that needs to be done. Sure, I question my conscience from time to time, but where I am, to pay $0.99 USD per episode is really quite a lot, that's going to be five times my satellite TV bill, for just a single season of a tv series, and the single satellite TV payment is for my whole family..! For at least 20 US-content channels!