Convenience Tax

Disney’s trial of Internet-available shows netted 3M downloads in the first two weeks. The shows were free, though the article says they’re experimenting with business models and some shows “may” be charged for. Of course they’ll be charged for! iTunes is making $2/show off the same episodes, so Disney wants to know how many of the people behind the 3M downloads will stick around (remember, you don’t know the number of downloaders, only the number of shows they downloaded). Of course, BitTorrent users know that you can get those shows, and many more, from within hours of broadcast for free, stripped of ads, and often in the original HD broadcast format. Disney and iTunes are charging the convenience tax: you don’t get sued (whatever the actual risk of that might be, it’s perceived as a big risk by most civilians) and you just click in an application you already use and it’s right there waiting for you. Disney’s downloads already have ads in them. How much lower will the demand be if you have to pay and get ads? And what will happen to the iTunes deals if Disney and other broadcasters decide there’s money to be made in selling the episodes through their own site? I’d love to know the Disney download figures as they experiment with pricing: watch hitwise and comscore over the coming months. It’s inconceivable they wouldn’t have a report on this.