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February 21 2009

The Dollhouse BitTorrent download numbers are posted. Dollhouse is straight in at number 10 in the top ten torrent downloads list for last week, TorrentFreak reports.

With 375,000 compared to 410,000 for T:TSCC in at number nine. Pretty good for a first episode?

Well not really since Fox doesn't track those numbers... and creators don't makes money off of torrents...
I wonder how many of those were from countries outside US/Canada? I'm guessing a pretty big chunk.

Also those numbers are much smaller than i would have thought. Even for Heroes, Lost etc. Thought there were far more people who torrent than that. If those were Oz numbers alone I'd believe it lol. I think there's as many people who torrent as actually watch TV here now.
Do you think they watch the hulu.com numbers? Cuz I have to hulu Dollhouse. I work when it's being broadcast.
For some (read, most) countries, unless you're willing to wait for the show to be picked up, you're options are limited to "don't watch" or "torrent".

For instance, I'm in the UK, no stations have picked it up yet, and there's no guarantee any will. If us brits wish to watch it, we would have to torrent.

While that's not strictly legal, it isn't taking money from Fox, as we can't watch it on their station anyway.

Good boys like me will have to wait patiently for a UK station to pick it up, or wait even longer for the DVD. Or maybe find a streaming version on a website... *whistle*

Sucky huh?

[ edited by adzmodeus on 2009-02-21 00:57 ]
ZachsMind, yes. They watch any official streaming numbers as they have to pay the writers (etc) residuals, along with other licensing etc rights. Same goes for official downloads (iTunes, Amazon).

Hulu is also part owned by 20th Century Fox.
What was the quality of the Hulu image like, by the way? I rewatched part of the 1st ep. the other day on the Fox site and was blown away by how good the image was: just crystal clear.
I agree with Ivalaine. I'd expect to see numbers in the millions just from folk outside USA/Canada. How else can they watch new TV?

[ edited by ruthy on 2009-02-21 01:04 ]
The download figures are actually pretty good. You don't believe me? Go to Mininova, Pirate Bay, isohunt etc and compare the peers and downloads - it's not into the millions per episode. Whilst this isn't an exact science, the fact is 99% of TV viewers watch what is on their TV.
I watched on Hulu because I was at the Marsters event. The image was lovely and clear.

I'm home now. Have to juggle with Flashpoint (which at least is on the CTV site).
What was the quality of the Hulu image like, by the way?

Hulu usually has two streams, one higher quality than the other. I have trouble on my connection using the higher quality stream, but it's always looked pretty sharp. No idea how it compares to the "HD" stream on fox.com itself. (Me, I just generally use the standard Hulu stream piped to my TV from my laptop.)
Do you think they watch the hulu.com numbers?

Well, I thought yes and thatís why I watched the first episode again on Hulu using HotSpot Shield as was suggested, but then I found out that in an appeal to their fans to help the show, the creators of T: TSCC say on their blog , that fans should watch it on Fox.com instead of Hulu, because "Hulu does not participate in Nielsenís online viewership tracking", so I don't know...
Standard def Hulu image is OK. I hulu BSG, House, and now Dollhouse. It's as good as it needs to be on a laptop screen. I've never tried their high def--I still get occasional times (averaging once per show, but really either none or 2-3 times) where I have to pause and let the buffer fill up again.

Unlike Netflix, it doesn't require any particular software configuration on my Windows XP laptop, so I'm happy with that.
Gossi, thanks. I didn't mean to criticize Dollhouse's figures in any way, I'm just surprised.
The idea that Hulu isn't tracked by Neilsen isn't the same as saying it isnt tracked. Of course it's tracked. Why would any concern put their commercial, ad-supported programming online anyplace where it couldn't be tracked? They couldn't even sell ads on it if it wasn't tracked.
Ignore the T:SCC official blog. Despite being hosted on FOX.com, they don't actually understand how it works. (Unfortunately, I'm not kidding).

I wasn't saying anybody was critising Dollhouse's numbers by the way, I was just making the point torrenting of TV is actually a pretty small deal in the overall scheme of things. If you go down a bus and ask people if they BitTorrent TV, everybody will say 'Bit what?'.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-02-21 01:28 ]
I hope that Hulu is tracked, because the quality of the Fox.com "HD" on my computer is terrible as opposed to Hulu. It's fuzzy and jumpy.
Gee, do a Google for -- Hulu Nielsen -- and look at all the stories about Hulu viewership using numbers from... Nielsen.
Pretty good for a first episode?


Dunno. I was bored and did some numbers in my head for the UK. Let say that 10% of the people who download Dollhouse are British (purely on the basis that 10% of visitors who look at Whedonesque are British* - ref: Alexa** - for all I know it could be a lot more) But anyhow with my guestimates that's around 37,500 people. But we've got to factor in the people who watch with their mates, say 50,000 people in the UK have seen it with their mates.

How many of them would watch it on the telly if they already seen a downloaded version? If it's under half would it have a impact on advertising revenue? Would it prevent British tv networks from buying in US shows in the future if they are not prepared to show them straight away? These are the sort things that fascinate me.

*I couldn't find a percentage breakdown of countries that use BitTorrent.
**Yes I know Alexa is a bit or miss but let's go with it for the sake of argument.
Indeed Simon, have there been any studies\ figures\ statistics done on the impact of torrenting on television figures and the subsequent effect on advertising revenue?
Do the TV channels in the UK (or US even), factor these things into their projections- do they see it as a threat to their income?

Do the TV channels in the UK (or US even), factor these things into their projections- do they see it as a threat to their income?


I do not see how they could argue that it is a threat to their income since they stream it all over the web the next day unless you are in a country where you can't watch it legally anyway.

The only argument would be from DVD sales perhaps, but people who buy the DVDs are usually big fans anyways since you can get most series from the library for free if you just want to watch them.

I wish copyright law was like it used to be. You could record stuff and share it with friends, or even have a backup copy if you bought the original.
Now they want money from every viewing if they can get it.

[ edited by Jaynes Hat on 2009-02-21 02:17 ]
Snot Monster From Outer Space & others: "What was the quality of the Hulu image like, by the way?"

The quality of Hulu is as such that I'm finding myself preferring it to 'more questionable means' that I may or may not have partaken of at some time in my life but I did not inhale.

I don't have much of an opinion regarding 'quality' so long as I can tell what's going on. I mean, I watch the Comedy Central stream of The Daily Show and it's utter crap - but I don't complain. Hulu is generally superior to CC's streaming pile of dingo kidneys. UNLESS you're Hulu'ing The Daily Show, cuz I think they use the same stream.

I haven't tried using FOX's website to stream video that I can recall.. mostly because just typing the word FOX makes me wanna punch something. I'll try to get over my ire for Whedon's sake.

[ edited by ZachsMind on 2009-02-21 02:30 ]
UNLESS you're Hulu'ing The Daily Show, cuz I think they use the same stream.

Funny you should say that. Daily Show is the one thing I regularly watch on Hulu, and it was because the picture's so crap on that that I asked about the quality in this thread. But then somebody here mentioned the "two streams" on Hulu so I went and looked at a Daily Show ep and blow me if it didn't offer an "HD" option down in the corner. I'd never noticed before because it doesn't come up until after the "comedy central" logo bit has played.

So, er, check out the Daily Show on Hulu: it's Whedon related because...um...well...
Hulu's quality is decent in my book. The only downside is slower buffering at times, I suspect when their traffic is higher.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2009-02-21 02:47 ]
That commercial was wicked sweet. I sometimes forget how funny Eliza can be. She should do more comedy. Just sayin'.
And I just realized I posted in the wrong thread. Stupid me.
I am almost surprised this link has not been deleted. I mean, are we supposed to be happy that Dollhouse is that downloaded ? It has no whatsoever effect on the future of the show, and it's stealing, and there are other ways to see it if you are abroad (I am personnaly waiting for the dvds). So I really can't seem to care.
I have to say that I'm stealing. I have every intention to buy the DVD when it comes out. But I also want to see the episodes when you guys do, so I have to do what I have to do.
I've always found Hulu to be very good quality and I've never tried the high def version. I don't watch any TV shows on their network sites because they all seem to have problems. ABC hijacks my computer so that I have to manually shut off the entire machine just to get an ep to stop playing, and it seems like FOX hasn't realized that you can't play ten commercials and an episode in the same screen at the same time and not totally stall everything. Maybe there's a way to fix those things, but I sure hope FOX is watching Hulu, 'cause that's where I'll be.
I'm having a viewing party for the first two episodes of Dollhouse today! I'm definitely too impatient to wait for the show to come to UK airwaves (though I am also supporting it in other, network-trackable and revenue-producing, ways).

But I was pretty suprised about the overall numbers too. I thought they'd be bigger - I remember when Lost first came out, and it seemed like there were burned DVDs of downloaded episodes being traded around everywhere!
It's possible to buy the episodes from the US iTunes store even if you're in another country. This does require you to tell a couple of porkies (give a false US address and declare that you won't download it from outside the US when you know you will) but at least you'll be supporting the show. You can pay by buying US iTunes gift vouchers on US eBay at a modest mark-up over the face value, e.g. here:
http://shop.ebay.com/merchant/urphotos4less

That's what I'm doing to watch it in the UK. It also has the advantage that you don't get any channel logos and other on-screen graffiti, which I assume you do with torrent downloads.
I find the comments regarding loss of viewers in the UK from those who download. I've always been intriged at the differences in programme demographics between the US and the UK.

I have no evidence of this, but genre seems to be far more excepted in the UK, Sci-Fi has a long tradition. I really can't see that if Dollhouse was picked by Sky that the approx. 37,500 people who've torrented the show would make the slightest bit of difference to viewing numbers.
I know that Aussies are in the top 5ish of the worlds torrenters. Most people I talk to have either done it themselves, use outdated Kaza/limewire software, or simply get eps from friends who do it for them. And it's not just the younger generations. I see movies and TV eps traded around on dvds by those in their 40's regularly. My mum has people ask her if I have this or that show. (My response is, if you want something illegal, do the illegal thing and get it yourself, unless they're a close friend)

I would also say that the mininova numbers are not truly representative. I've grabbed a file that said it had like 10 seeds and 1000+ peers. utorrent says much higher numbers. Plus add the fact that leechers often grab and run, and can DL the ep in an hour or so, the numbers are constantly at say 80k leechers (listed on mini) for heroes, but there's massive turnover even if the number stays mostly the same.

Here in Oz, Dollhouse was picked up by 10, then Fox 8 stole it (so not fair) and is yet to show it. People say we should get cable TV here and pay for shows, but even if you fork out the ridiculous amount Foxtel costs these days (seriously when did Showtime end up not being in the standard package all of a sudden?) they still don't show the shows on par with the US, and they still screw with scheduling to a point.

I'm still hanging out for them to work out the kinks and legalities involved in letting Hulu international go live.

And as for the US iTunes store, it's certainly far more complex than torrenting, illegal in it's own right, and frankly not much goes to Joss et al., anyways. You have to trust that the giftcard is going to be legit and that you wont get screwed over, it's a huge risk just to try and give Joss just one more ratings and a few cents to share with everyone. If and when Dollhouse hits the AU store, I can always buy it then as a season pass. In the meantime, I will do what I have to to watch my shows. It's not my fault I wasn't born American.
And lets not forget that torrent is not the only way to get your weekly fix of tv-series.
For people's information http://arstechnica.com/web/news/2009/02/global-torrent-connections-mapped-out-by-the-pirate-bay.ars

And although AU only scores about 2% of total BT traffic, I think per capita we're certainly way up there.
I really can't see that if Dollhouse was picked by Sky that the approx. 37,500 people who've torrented the show would make the slightest bit of difference to viewing numbers.


24 got got 750,000 viewers for the week ending the 8th February on Sky One. I'll be generous and say Dollhouse would get the same amount of viewers. If 37,500 people don't tune in cause they've downloaded then thats 5% of your viewers gone. It's still a bit of a loss in terms of ad revenue.
Just do it the "legitimate" way - setup a US iTunes account. :-)

In terms of not get screwed, the standard rules apply. Be careful, choose people with good reputation, and if it seems too good to be true - it likely is.

[ edited by zaphod on 2009-02-21 15:37 ]
Product placement always wins.
I agree with Ivaline. I am sorry, but I just don't think lying about your address and lying about your country makes using the US iTunes account legit. Sure you are giving them money, which if that makes your conscious more clear then I guess that's good. But I don't think it makes it legit.
That's frustrating. I torrent as much as anyone, but when the show is immediately availible on Hulu, with the added bonus of possibly adding to the show's supposed ratings... there's zero point of torrenting. Unless Hulu doesn't work in other countries.

But if you're in the US, use Hulu.
Hulu doesn't, indeed, work in other countries (though, as always, there're "ways around that"). But yep, if you're a fan in the US it makes sense to use Hulu or iTunes or some other measured way of viewing the show, to send the right signals to TPTB.

It also has the advantage that you don't get any channel logos and other on-screen graffiti, which I assume you do with torrent downloads.

Yep. You also very rarely get the end credits. This might sound weird but I like end credits, sometimes they have different but still cool music to the main theme and it also gives you a chance to sort of decompress and mull the ending while still being within the "space" of the show ... Yeah, that even sounds weird to me ;).

Sure you are giving them money, which if that makes your conscious more clear then I guess that's good. But I don't think it makes it legit.

It's not legit. But if no-one's losing anything then it's surely less morally questionable ? I mean, there're all kinds of justifications for downloading TV shows (and I do my fair share, probably a couple other people's too ;) but it seems to me that if whoever's meant to benefit financially is benefiting financially then it really is a victimless "crime".
Hulu doesn't work in other countries. They made a special point of making it work for Dr. Horrible, but then when it was put back on with adds they stopped international viewing again, presumably because the adds aren't targeted to people outside the US. Hulu are apparently trying to negotiate international copyright laws, especially those relevant to Canada, the UK and Aus, but I personally don't hold high hopes that it will change anytime soon.

You can watch it outside the US if you use Hotspot Shield to do so, but from my experience of trying to use Hotspot Shield to watch the first episode of Dr horrible, it was itself horrible. My internet connection was about 1/10th what it usually is, and I saw the first ep in a bunch of 30 second chunks.
All fair points Saje. I understand why people are doing it, and I do think they are doing it for the right reasons.

The thing that worries me about this 'victimless crime' is that our fellow Whedonesquers might become victims themselves, just for trying to do the right thing. By which I mean, isn't giving your credit card details and an incorrect address effectively falsefiying your identity or forgery (not quite sure of the correct crime classification, but hopefully people will understand the point I am trying to make). And that could bring some big players such as Banks or Itunes into the picture all because someone was trying to do the right thing by Joss! ... and that worries me. I personally am not willing to take that risk, however low.

(I am probably just being a huge worry wort and blowing everything out of proportion but the whole Itunes things sits much less well with me than torrenting does!)
Ah no, you don't use your credit card with a false address (I doubt it'd work anyway, credit card transactions usually check against your billing address according to your credit card company).

If I were to do such a thing (and it might, technically, be fraud so i'm not saying I have ;) i'd buy a voucher on eBay from a friendly American and then create an account on iTunes using an address that's not necessarily where I currently am (it might be where I winter for instance. Ahem ;) then use the voucher to buy the episodes. So your credit card is only used on the first (eBay) leg.

It's more complicated though, no doubt, and there's a risk you might get stung in the buying of the voucher. Thing is, if someone wants to get you for it, they'll get you for it (torrenting is very far from anonymous unless you use a very specific setup so downloaders can be and are traced and then prosecuted).

[ edited by Saje on 2009-02-21 18:57 ]
Everybody always thinks of torrenting as loss of revenue. How about the free advertisement? I mean, looking at the numbers there are millions of people that could be watching Dollhouse but just haven't found it. Now, if they torrent the first few episodes and then tune in for the rest of the show, is that really so horrible? And of course there are the people outside USA who either have to wait for indefinite time (up to years) before catching the show. At least here in Finland we often get series on DVD before they come out on local TV.

Also, there is of course the Hulu and iTunes, again for the US crowd only. Sure, they're getting there, but the disregard of global population, the intrusiveness of iTunes client and the prices, I'm not really ready to pay more for downloadable episodes than full seasons on DVD, including all kinds of special features etc. Hulu is much better, I do have to say, but again, the USA only thing... With good torrents out there, why bother.

Finally. Let us take an imaginary situation of a new series scorn by the network, shown at bad timeslot with episodes in mixed order. Now, imagine if people could torrent that show instead of forgetting it. Maybe they would like it enough to buy the DVD:s enough for somebody to pick up the cancelled series and make a movie out of it. Maybe it's just me, but I do think torrents and free advertisement they give for the good stuff is way more positive than the minor revenue losses caused by them...
Saje: but it seems to me that if whoever's meant to benefit financially is benefiting financially then it really is a victimless "crime".

Yes, but that's not exactly the case. Instead of for example the Dutch broadcasters who would have made money on my viewing and the advertisers who would have got me to buy stuff it's going to someobody else.
It's exactly the case now that anyone that should be benefiting is benefiting if you buy it through iTunes.

Unless it's currently being broadcast in the Netherlands in which case, why aren't you just watching it on TV ? And i'm assuming if it's not being broadcast it's at least been picked up ? Otherwise you're depriving some hypothetical TV company of hypothetical future advertising revenues (the simple solution obviously being just to watch it when it comes on TV where you live as well - everyone's a winner).
Yes, it's just some hypothetical TV company I'm worried about. Not that worried though, you're right it's a bit ridiculous.
Were I to thus obtain a television episode, it's no guarantee that I wouldn't watch it again were it to finally grace my tv screen.

And file sharing is still legal in Canada, unless Harper changed it when I wasn't looking.
Right, but again, same as in the US, if you don't have a nielsen box or whatever in your house, you're not doing anything to their bottom line. Frankly I think that's as big a defense as any other for torrenting if their is no streaming option in your country. Whether you watch it or not, their viewer numbers won't change. so they're not losing any revenue, despite what they say.

If there is one victimless crime when it comes to torrenting, it's TV eps if you can't stream in your country and you don't have a ratings box. You aren't actually affecting their revenue, no matter what they like to lead you to believe otherwise. Music and movies on the other hand...
Yep, so long as you also watch it on TV if it ever comes to your country. And even then, only if it's on a commercial station (if the BBC bought Dollhouse for instance then so long as I don't have a BARB box - and I currently don't - i've effectively already paid to watch it and wouldn't affect the ratings anyway). I.e. that aspect isn't about ratings, more about reducing ad revenues by not buying the stuff you might have bought if you'd watched the ads.

And file sharing is still legal in Canada, unless Harper changed it when I wasn't looking.

File-sharing might be legal (it is in the UK) but surely breach of copyright is as illegal in Canada as it is anywhere else in the western world ?
I understand that it would not be 100% legitimate to use the US iTunes store when not in the US if that was what one did - that said - your purchase *would* be counted by the network when deciding whether to keep a show running for oh, I don't know, a full season? Given that it's Joss, that it's FOX, and that there is a history of things not going the right way ...

(MOWE this year for example - it could have been the new Alias if given a chance to develop)
...that said - your purchase *would* be counted by the network when deciding whether to keep a show running...

Yeah and that's principally why I might have (hypothetically ;) followed that course of action (i.e. in order to try to affect the situation now, when it might do some good, rather than in a year or whenever the DVD's released).

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