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June 05 2008

Fox pulls 35-40% in premiums for Remote-Free TV shows Dollhouse and Fringe. A short blurb explaining a little more about Fox's Remote-Free TV project and how it's going to work.

Also TV By the Numbers has an article talking about if the Remote-Free strategy will work or not.

And here's another story from Hollywood Reporter.

Maybe it's been a long day, but I don't quite understand that first article.
All of this is absolutely fascinating, but the true test will be the ratings. I just wonder how they are going to discern how much of the ratings are due to the remote free concept and how much to the content of the show. I guess they will be looking very closely at DVR usage and how many folk still fast forward through commercials. I hope the technology and methodology that will be measuring that doesn't screw up.
Bleh.

[ edited by dreamlogic on 2008-06-05 08:42 ]
A step in the right direction, really hope this experiment is successful.
The ratings yes but there also needs to be some smart advertising buyers out there who understands what this kind of exposure gives them and pays accordingly.
If I where the letter writing kind of person (and lived in the US and actually saw the ads :) I'd really write the companies with commercials on Dollhouse to thank them for their support.
It's called The Dollhouse now? Man, you'd think we would've known about that before now! ;-)

And I agree, this will be a fascinating experiment. I'm just uneasy that the experimentation must be done with Dollhouse.
5 minutes of commercials per hour? That's pretty cool. If only they could time them right after the moment something complex happens and I need a minute to work it out. Which was pretty often in Firefly, with Mal and his talking without talking.
I wonder how much product placement we'll be getting.
"Gosh, where would we be without the new, improved MindWiper 10000 (TM, Pat. Pending) ?"

"I must say, i'm particularly glad I bought this philosophy of mind, my other one was simply riddled with inconsistencies"
That's gloomy, Simon.

See? This is why I'm uneasy of experimentation.

But at least Saje made me laugh!
A Swiffer or some such ad, if cleverly written, could be quite amusing.
I think it's good for show that "Dollhouse" is part of this experiment for FOX. Because, now, if they were to pull the show, it's not just "oh well, crummy show", it's "our executives came up with a dumb strategy that's now failed". It'll be in the network's interest to give both of these shows every possible chance to avoid looking like this new marketing vision of theirs isn't a success.

As for product placement -- I think that they could go nuts with it without it being over the top. All the Actives workout in Nike athletic gear? You'd only notice if you were looking. Likewise if Boyd drives a Tahoe Hybrid.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2008-06-05 16:05 ]
But the thing about product placement is, they want it to be noticeable even if you're not looking for it.

So Chloe from 'Smallville' doesn't just get in her car, she gets in her Yaris and we don't just see her drive off, we see the badge as she does so, if not every time then often enough that it feels like every time. Previous to that we had Lois buy a new car and IIRC actually list what she liked about it i.e. the character "sold" the car to her passenger. It's pure coincidence that we were there to hear it i'm sure ;).

I trust Joss enough that he won't let it go to those extremes but even he has to pick his fights.
Simon, leading us back to the well used path of 'but someone has to pay or else no show' ?, Product placement or cancellation pick your poison, TANSTAAFL.

Saje, wish ad agencies where half as creative, think of all the opportunities for truly groundbreaking commercials (for real products) like the 1984 commercial that could be made for shows like Dollhouse.
I can think of a few times when some subtle product placement would have actually improved the suspension of disbelief in a show. For me, the most noticeable instance is when a character is using a laptop that is obviously a Mac, but the Apple logo is blocked by some ridiculously placed candle or something. That kind of thing takes me right out of the story.

An example of a time when I thought product placement worked was in Veronica Mars, when they used the Saturn product placement in a joke about all the planet names in the show. It was still obvious, but felt natural.
If it's as subtle as the product placements in Casino Royale then we should be ok. Or not.
Unplugged Crazy: "It's called The Dollhouse now?"

Yeah, Ibsen keeps running into the same problem. Well, he's dead, but I bet it still bothers him...

Re: product placement - having a say in how products are used in their shows was one of the many issues in the recent WGA strike, and in the new contract, showrunners must be consulted when a product is integrated into a dramatic series. I dunno if that means comedy showrunners can be ignored or what, but Joss must be consulted about the use of Kwik-E-Marts and Nail cigarettes in Dollhouse.

Saje, I'm waiting for the new, improved MindWiper 20000, 'cause the MindWiper 10000 caused

Neither foo() nor bar() accomplish anything useful
Action!
href="helloworld/ada.html">Ada
Algol
href="helloworld/alpha4.html">alpha4
href="helloworld/amigae.html">AmigaE
href="helloworld/DProgram.html">D Programming language


some glitches. Hopefully the newest version will have some fixes.
Something has to pay for your free entertainment, people. I'm just saying.
Shit, I thought that was just lunches, are you saying it applies to TV too ? Is nothing sacred ?

Hopefully the newest version will have some fixes.

Yep the newer, improveder MW 20k has most discerning shadowy, illegal, mindwipers salivating QG. I hear they've finally fixed the "tastes great/less filling" infinite loop bug.

(and I hadn't realised that about the new WGA contract, that's good news. Course, there might still be excessive product placement but now it'll be for stuff like foot cream and flip-flops ;)
For me, the most noticeable instance is when a character is using a laptop that is obviously a Mac, but the Apple logo is blocked by some ridiculously placed candle or something. That kind of thing takes me right out of the story.


"Hackers" using Macs always takes me right out of the story ;) We all know they use home-built rigs with a BSD variant or maybe Slackware installed. They don't use Macs and they don't use Ubuntu (although Ubuntu would be certainly be more believable).
I just will myself to believe whenever technology or science appears onscreen. I heckle it later. Uh, unless it's really bad... ok. I try to believe. I have a 10 m radius. If you're within tossing distance of believability, I'll meetcha halfway.

I just try to ignore Willow's hacking. Not that I would know a ridiculous setup from an authentic one, but she was way too conveniently good at getting into systems. Systems that I doubt would even be on a server with internet access.
BTW, I don't wanna free lunch. I just want a lunch that doesn't have little greasy bits of commercial sprinkled all throughout, however many people profit by this system. And I'm willing to pay for unadulterated good food without McCommercials.

I think my metaphor may be breaking down, but you know what I mean. There are lottsa folks that are willing to forsake traditional TV "delivery systems" for newer media in order to get away from The Beast That Is Commercial TV, and they're obviously willing to pay for it - witness DVD sales, pay-cable channels and iTunes, etc. paid-for downloads.

I'm grateful that FOX is trying new stuff in order to deal with this sitch, and I hope it works for them. Looks like they've sold about 70% of the commercial time they needed to, and will hopefully sell the rest soon. I do think remote-free viewing can draw in new viewers for them, and I hope it's enough to make it all work.

Any major that is working to shift to a more-enticing, less-commercial-ridden viewing experience to adapt to the changing media market gets my vote for innovation and waking-up-and-smelling-the-coffee. With the proliferation of promo crap stuck in at the bottom of screens, zoom-ins on Coke cans and truncated shows that pack in the commercials, I don't think I was the only one about to walk away from commercial network viewing.
You said it before I did, zeit, that hackers shouldn't be using Macs. I didn't like it that they gave Willow a Mac for a while. No self-respecting computer user likes those.

One instance of product placement that was blatant, but didn't bug me, was giving Jennifer Love Hewitt's character a Jeep Liberty. They showed it a lot but at least it fit her character, and gave way to some amusing scenes involving her trying to tail someone in a bright red SUV.

I suspect that the Dolls might use foot cream--they don't seem to get any sort of footwear in the Dollhouse... Ah, crap, it will still seem silly.

I don't think that Fox is going to mess with these shows too much: they've invested so much in them already that it would seem silly to screw them up with ridiculous product placement or the like. I have faith.
Willow's hacking was pretty unbelievable but Willow's cryptanalysis was positively fantastic (nope, not in the good way ;). Like with Adam's planted disk that supposedly held military encrypted Initiative files ? Someone like Willow wouldn't even try to break that, she'd know that it (literally) couldn't be done in a hundred years of trying, never mind hours or days.

BSD is dead BTW, just ask any Anonymous Coward one. Real hackers roll their own ;).

(has to be said, a skiddie would probably be better off with some sort of Linux but someone like Willow who we could fan-wank as being a full-on uber-hacker that probably writes her own tools and crafts 6 malformed TCP packets byte by byte in Notepad before breakfast would just need any *nix with a C environment and unabstracted hardware access. Never used it but surely Mac OS X has that ?)
Well if the Slackware install is anything like I remember it being, then its actually slightly more painful than rolling your own. And pain is what Linux installation is all about, right? I know, I know, Red Hat and Ubuntu lost the memo ;)

I accidentally sneezed a malformed TCP packet once ;) I'm not 100% sure on direct hardware access. I believe that for display purposes, only the Quartz compositor gets direct access to the frame buffer of the graphics card, but that just tells you that I care way too much about video cards :) I believe you can get gcc on OS X through the Xcode tools.
Personally, I'm reminded of the Semi-Pro commercials for Miller Lite & Old Spice deoderant. I would much rather view those as an intrusion into the "actual commercial reality" than anything else. Not only are they entertaining, but the networks could find ways to keep the commercial with the show.

For example:

CEO of Dr. Scholl's foot pads & cream needs to rent an Active for the opening of their new product.

During the Dollhouse show, we see an Active be activated for such a thing and then sent to do whatever, character building, mysteries to solve, blah blah.

Two episodes from then, during our "Remote-free" viewing of Dollhouse, a Dr. Scholl's commercial comes on advertising their new product.


Or...

We get to view our Actives (brain-wiped & in character BTW) display products for our viewing. And, since they can be anyone, they can take on whatever personalities the commercials want for them to take. Who wouldn't be interested if Eliza as Echo was trying to sell you a pair of flip-flops?

It could also explain how they raise their money for an underground illegal operation. :)

I think I like this idea best.
I remember my Dad taking me aside and recommending flip-flop salesman as good steady work. "Son", he said to me, "people will always have feet". Words to live by.

There's actually a lot of pretty creative stuff they could do re: adverts etc. I do like that idea of having the actors appear as actives in commercials (probably wouldn't fly for various reasons but it's a nice idea that might even get me to actively seek out adverts). They'd have to choose products carefully though or it wouldn't work in international markets.
And pain is what Linux installation is all about, right?

Pain and pain bragging rights ;).

Tried Slackware back in the day but couldn't even get it to install. Same with Redhat actually (going back a ways, probably around v 4.0). SuSE was the first distro that "just worked" for me so I stuck with that for a few years then onto Ubuntu.

(and I make all my malformed packets wear sacks on their heads, that's how malformed they are ;-)
"Son", he said to me, "people will always have feet". Words to live by.

Not if they run into Dracula with his sword...
That's a great quote, Saje. We may have feet in the future, but toes are an option. Flip-flops won't stay on well without toes. :'/

I also like the idea of the commercials actively trying to brain-wash us into purchasing their products.

There would be calm, soothing music playing in the background. A white misty background on you television.

Adelle's voice or "the computer voice" comes on and tells you you need to purchase a swifer to clean up the kitchen before your parents arrive.

An image of the Swifer merges onto the screen.

The music stops abrubtly.

Last word: Swifer.

You are then returned to Dollhouse.


Now blatently being open about brainwashing would remind viewers how honest they are with their products, and we might purchase one out of spite for trying such a dirty trick.

Pssh. Honesty.
BSD is dead BTW, just ask any Anonymous Coward one. Real hackers roll their own ;).

(has to be said, a skiddie would probably be better off with some sort of Linux but someone like Willow who we could fan-wank as being a full-on uber-hacker that probably writes her own tools and crafts 6 malformed TCP packets byte by byte in Notepad before breakfast would just need any *nix with a C environment and unabstracted hardware access. Never used it but surely Mac OS X has that ?)

Saje | June 05, 21:19 CET

Well if the Slackware install is anything like I remember it being, then its actually slightly more painful than rolling your own. And pain is what Linux installation is all about, right? I know, I know, Red Hat and Ubuntu lost the memo ;)

I accidentally sneezed a malformed TCP packet once ;) I'm not 100% sure on direct hardware access. I believe that for display purposes, only the Quartz compositor gets direct access to the frame buffer of the graphics card, but that just tells you that I care way too much about video cards :) I believe you can get gcc on OS X through the Xcode tools.

zeitgeist | June 05, 21:21 CET

And pain is what Linux installation is all about, right?

Pain and pain bragging rights ;).

Tried Slackware back in the day but couldn't even get it to install. Same with Redhat actually (going back a ways, probably around v 4.0). SuSE was the first distro that "just worked" for me so I stuck with that for a few years then onto Ubuntu.

(and I make all my malformed packets wear sacks on their heads, that's how malformed they are ;-)

Saje | June 05, 22:40 CET


Just wanted to remind you that shipping is prohibited on Whedonseque, boys, and I think computer porn is too. You guys sound like you are beginning to breathe heavy and are making me want to give you some privacy. ;-)
Yeah, those two are total Tophers, if you know what I mean.
Oh Ubuntu, have I ever told you you have a lovely package management system ? And that regular 6 monthly release cycle ... *shivers*.

BuntuSEx86 4 evah ! ;-)

We may have feet in the future, but toes are an option. Flip-flops won't stay on well without toes. :'/

Good point korkster, feet adapt, they don't just stand still. But flip-flops will adapt with them, for instance I envision a strappy bit around the body of the foot or maybe a clever use of sp-velcro (OK, OK, strictly speaking all velcro is sp-velcro but this is super-future-sp-velcro).
Ooh, in that case should we move onto arguing window managers? ;) Are KDE and GNOME (I realize they are full DEs and therefore not so much window managers, so its a little off point... KWIN and... does GNOME use Metacity? Whatever I was really talking about the DEs not the WMs...) getting too bloated? IceWM 4 evah? Sawfish? Window Maker? :) I am, of course, kidding. Bad zeitgeist, back on topic!
Should you stick yourself in timeout, zeitgeist?
I think the only product placement a Joss show ever did was Willow's usage of a mac in season 7. But thats ok, cause macs are generally better.

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