Irradiated by LabRat
Most TV is on the package model- you pay to have access to it, and you either watch it when it’s on or Tivo the bits you actually want to watch, and either way you don’t bother with 90% if not more of what you have, technically, paid to watch. In part this is because content is itself so hit-or-miss that many properties simply wouldn’t be worth what they cost to produce if people were allowed to pick and choose according to their interest; neither HGTV nor the Military Channel could likely survive without the other. Your monomania, or quirky sense of humor, or need to watch something at three in the morning while stoned, subsidizes mine.
Pay-Per-View is mostly occupied by two things: recent movies, especially those that haven’t had a DVD release yet, and blood sports. It’s reasonable to buy screening privileges, or set up the spectacle of two very well-known and very angry large men beating the snot out of each other, on the assumption that a sufficient number of people would pay specifically to see that, and have this work as a business model.
Unfortunately, it leaves us out. We’re patient enough to prefer to just wait for DVDs if the movie wasn’t so standout as to be worth seeing in a theater, as well as getting our dose of bloodsport when it hits ESPN or Spike rather than needing to find out which of two guys we barely recognize will still be standing the night they actually do it on.
Not only are we- and many other viewers- effectively left out of this business model as a potential market, so are many networks, stars, and models of content production. How much more interesting would the Travel Channel be if part of its revenue model was pay-per-view events designed specifically along the blood-sport model? I can think of quite a few things I’d pay a chunk of change out of pocket to watch, though some of them might require a bit of wrangling and negotiation on the part of networks. I’m sure money would be sufficient motivation for many to smooth those paths, however.
- Jeremy Clarkson and Anthony Bourdain, locked in a room together, for no less than one hour and potentially up to three depending on how long it takes either of their voices to give out. I’m not sure if this would be more entertaining with no alcohol permitted whatsoever or unlimited alcohol.
- Adam Richman of Man vs. Food and the anorexics from TLC. You can take the anorexics to the big-eater challenges or Richman to the eating disorder clinic, I’m not fussy, just as long is neither is allowed to escape until all the carnage is over.
- Martha Stewart Living, with special guest Rob Zombie. If anyone can teach me how to make a rat-fountain with tools available from local craft shops, it’s these two.
- F1 Pinewood Derby. We’ve seen what happens when ferociously competitive suburban fathers make racers for their kids, occasionally on their lunch break from Lockheed. Now I want to see what happens when we drop all pretense and give each Scout their own F1-level funding, technology, and team.
- Pimp My Hoard. If they can’t be persuaded to throw it out, let’s make it awesome. Potential companion event: Queer Eye For The Meth Mouth.
- Steve Irwin is no longer available, but whoever his current spiritual successor is- possibly that guy from the hot-reptiles show- I want to see them take on the Playboy mansion. Let’s study those habits of these elusive creatures and find out what happens when you stick a dart in Charlie Sheen’s ass and put a tag in his ear.
- Mixed Martial Iron Chef. The competition is neat, but it’s getting a bit stale. Right now we’ve got a chef and two sous chefs; let each team bring a chef, two sous, and a fighter from the discipline of their choice to steal ingredients, sabotage, and achieve dominance in Kitchen Stadium for access to resources.
- Special edition of Semi-Homemade With Sandra Lee, filmed in any current or former Communist country.
- Blizzard Underwater Demolition School, to coincide with Blizzcon and the beginning of SEAL training for a season. Several-episode event. First the PvP Arena champs have to survive two weeks of BUDS, then the in-training SEALS have to go through the Arena tournament. I’m not sure which phase would be more entertaining.
- All-Commentator League Sports. We’ve seen them breaking down everything done right or wrong on the field, now it’s their turn to do the running around in polyester. Former commentators permitted: who doesn’t want to see John Madden and Dennis Miller settle it on the gridiron?
- On a special season of Survivor, we have two new teams: TSA agents and Libertarian Party members.