Monday, September 24, 2007

Memo To NBC

Ever since Vagabondblogger was one of the top ten finalists for the Project Runway Fan Blog last season, she kept receiving surveys from NBC about what she watches on TV. Since she's no longer in the States, she doesn't really watch TV like most American viewers. She downloads shows (sometimes whole seasons - not available in Cairo,) from iTunes, and watches them on TV via her Apple TV.

Since NBC sends Vagabondblogger e-mails regularly asking her opinion about their inconsistent programming, here's a question they don't want to ask:

"Vagabondblogger, how do you feel about our decision to try to squeeze you dry when you download our shows?"

Gordon Ramsay couldn't have said it better when he found out the nature of the restaurant atmosphere in his newest show, Kitchen Nightmares. Vagabondblogger feels the same way regarding NBC 's behavior in it's contract dispute with ("bringing it to the people")

"Fuck me!"

NBC and Apple got into a snit recently, when it was time for NBC to renew their contract with Apple. Some reports stated that NBC wanted to charge $4.99 per episode (an episode currently costs $1.99), which is outrageous, when you consider buying a full season, vs. buying the DVD set. Think about it. That's $49.00 for ten shows - no way NBC. NBC, Apple play game of brinkmanship

NBC never said that it would pull out of iTunes, but only that it was dissatisfied with the financial terms Apple offered. Then Apple raised the stakes by announcing it would not offer NBC's shows for the upcoming TV season and alleged that NBC Universal was asking for a price hike that would have required Apple to raise retail prices from $1.99 to $4.99.

When it comes to public relations battles, Apple is a devastating counter-puncher. The revelation about NBC Universal's demands is almost certain to rally consumers around Apple. To them, it appears that Jeff Zucker, NBC Universal's CEO, wants to stick his hands deeper into their pockets and Steve Jobs is protecting them.

Another article stated that Apple wanted to lower the price for all shows to .99, (yes folks, that's that's 99 cents per episode). Apple's reasoning being that making each episode cheaper would allow viewers to download more shows, thus exposing them to more options, and more sales for NBC.

NBC didn't buy it, and decided not to renew the contract, which would go into effect in January. In turn, Apple decided not to offer any new shows from NBC. Since Vagabondblogger is addicted to a few shows on BRAVO, and we know BRAVO is affiliated with NBC, will this affect the shows offered on BRAVO, as well? Vagabondblogger believes NBC will try to stick it to us any which way they can.

As a counter punch (and a pretty measly one at that): NBC to Offer Downloads of Its Shows
The service, which is set to start in November after a test period in October, comes less than three weeks after NBC Universal said it was pulling its programs out of the highly successful iTunes service of Apple Inc. That partnership fell apart because of a dispute over Apple’s iTunes pricing policies and what NBC executives said were concerns about lack of piracy protection.

But the files, which would be downloaded overnight to home computers, would contain commercials that viewers would not be able to skip through. And the file would not be transferable to a disk or to another computer.

The files would degrade after the seven-day period and be unwatchable. “Kind of like ‘Mission: Impossible,’ only I don’t think there would be any explosion and smoke,” Mr. Gaspin said.

The programs will initially be downloadable only to PCs with the Windows operating system, but NBC said it planned to make the service available to Mac computers and iPods later.

In a second phase of the NBC rollout, customers would pay a fee for downloads of episodes that they would then own, and the files would be transferable to other devices. NBC hopes to offer this service by mid-2008, depending on how quickly the company can put in place the secure software necessary to allow payment by credit card.

Mr. Crotty said NBC had come across to consumers as “highly greedy” in its dispute with Apple. Apple reported that NBC was insisting it raise the price of some downloads on NBC shows to $4.99 from the $1.99 iTunes charges for all programs.

For anyone overseas, who has tried to download free TV shows offered on ABC, or other channels, it's a no go. They're only offered to people located in the U.S.A. Here's what the NBC message says: "We're sorry, but the clip you selected isn't available from your location."

A sampling of the current iTunes charges for shows Vagabondblogger has downloaded compared to the prices for the full DVD set (no, Vagabondblogger has not downloaded all episodes of all these shows. She has downloaded, in some instances, only the episodes she missed. This is just an example):

30 Rock Season of 21 episodes cost $34.99 - Retail $49.98, available at Amazon for $32.49
The Black Donnellys Season of 13 episodes cost $23.99 - Retail $49.98, available at Amazon for $34.99

House, Season 3, 24 episodes, $42.99 - Retail List price $52.98, available at Amazon for $37.99

Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School 12 episodes $16.99 - (not available on DVD)
I Love New York Season 1, $22.99 for 12 episodes - Retail list Price of $38.99, at Amazon for $29.19
Surreal Life: Fame Games, $14.99 for 10 episodes - (not available on DVD)

Project Runway, Season 3: 15 episodes for $22.99 - (Not available on DVD yet)

Here comes FOX, with an offer of their own: Fox to Offer Season Premieres on iTunes
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The season premieres of seven Fox Broadcasting shows will be offered on Apple Inc.'s iTunes store for free in the latest example of TV networks using the Web to create interest in their shows.

The shows will be available for one week.

Who's smarter here - NBC or FOX?

Vagabondblogger took up the offer from FOX, and downloaded Kitchen Nightmares staring Gordon Ramsay the all time mean ass chef, who says after tasting a tasteless dish, and hearing a fight in the kitchen, "fuck me." Who doesn't enjoy watching Gordon rough up a few insecure people? Or a few snots? Or just anyone who gets in his way? Vagabondblogger would like to see Gordon and Anthony Bourdain go at it for an all time major "Who's the cockiest chef smack-down!" Who knows, maybe it would end up being a love fest?

From the New York Times, To Perk Up a Restaurant, Add Luster Where Lacking:

The thrill of watching Mr. Ramsay is in witnessing someone so at peace with his own arrogance. Adapted from a series he starred in for British television, “Kitchen Nightmares” has Mr. Ramsay trying to turn around nondescript restaurants in about a week by imparting his high standards and dictatorial imperatives.

The subtext of “Kitchen Nightmares” is that ordinary middle-class business owners need brash and brilliant moguls to save them from a sad reliance on their own mediocrity. It is an ugly message that Mr. Ramsay makes undeniably hypnotic.

Lastly NBC, we get The Today Show here in Cairo (Egypt,) "live" on the Orbit News Channel. Here's some more of Vagabondblogger's opinion (cover your ears): How did the power of personality take over the main focus of presenting the news?
1) Ann (I like to pose in my new clothes) Curry: she's one of the most pathetic, smarmy, sorry excuses for a news woman Vagabondblogger has ever seen. When interviewing people, the interviewer asks the questions, while the interviewee answers them. Why don't you give Ann her own show called, "An Interview With Myself, " then you can get rid of all the informative guests who can't get a word in edgewise, and Ann can do all the posing she wants, to boot!
2) Dr. Nancy (I'm so smug) Schneiderman aka let me lecture America about how to live their lives, and yes, I sneer at behavior I disapprove of too:
Nancy just looks down her nose at anything that's fun. She's a stick in the mud who has no idea what "living" is. Vagabondblogger wants to screech like her old Chevy, on a cold morning with a bad water pump when that woman is doling out her patronizing advice.
3) Last, but not least, iVillage sucks! Are you kidding? You made a show with a bunch of losers sitting around a funky amusement park, amusing themselves with what - the funky peadophiliac characters? The presenters are all so full of themselves too (who the fuck are they?) Paaleeese, do the real "village" a favor and can this one.

Oh, BTW, thanks for getting rid of Katie Couric and screwing up Vagabondblogger's life even more. - Now Vagabondblogger can't stand watching CBS News either, which was her favorite. You could have done Vagabondblogger a favor and kept Katie, so Vagabondblogger could just avoid one show (The Today Show) instead of two (The Today Show and CBS Nightly News.)

Here's an article from the New York Times on how TV shows are becoming so popular they have turned into defining samples of a person's tastes, much like music used to be.
You Are What You Watch

Television used to be dismissed by elitists as the idiot box, a sea of mediocrity that drowns thought and intelligent debate. Now people who ignore its pools and eddies of excellence do so at their own peril.

Apparently, that makes Vagabondblogger a Top Chef
in Kitchen Nightmares with a bunch of Mad Men.

On another note, thanks to the operators of Orbit (the Saudis?) for taking Fashion TV off for Ramadan. Every time Vagabondblogger sees this channel, she just wants to scratch her own eyes out!

is the purpose of fashion TV, anyway?


  1. What's the purpose? Either you love it or you don't, I guess, and I LOVE Fasion TV! (Except for the fact that the music is mostly crap.)

  2. OMG! Well, they used to have Fashion TV on at Manti Evi in Baku (Azerbaijan) where we would go to eat. I always suspected the daughter (older teen?) thought it would be good for business. It drove me nuts! All the single guys would have their necks cocked up to the TV while shoving kebabs down their throats. I still have a problem with it - it was traumatic.