Friday, July 29, 2005


Warren Ellis posted a note on his [Bad Signal] email list which said, "It's my current understanding that the bittorrenting of 'GLOBAL FREQUENCY' has rendered it as dead as dead can get as a TV series. It seems that people in high places did not take kindly to the leak. I have no further details, so don't ask."

I've held off voicing my opinion of the whole GLOBAL FREQUENCY business here on this blog, but have posted on John Rogers' excellent site and corresponded with him (as well as others) about it.

I just have this to say: Is Warner Bros nuts? Are they such control freaks that they can't see an opportunity when it emails them? The press alone on this whole fiasco (if indeed it is a fiasco - this still could be a manipulation on WB's part) has been staggering, including reports across the blogosphere, email campaigns, and a feature article in WIRED.

So let's recap shall we?

1. Warner Bros. cancelled a pilot before it ever aired because it didn't fit with their overall marketing plan. David Janollari regreted the decision, but had to look at the big picture for his net. Fair enough. The pilot was shopped around then shelved. A write off for their taxes.

2. The pilot was digitized and placed on the net. We don't know by whom.

3. The pilot was downloaded via bittorrent to rave reviews all across the internet. Google those reviews if you want to read them. We're not talking hundreds of downloads - we are talking thousands of downloads. Remember that the one person who downloaded the movie represents about 10,000 people who can't download the movie due to computer restrictions / equipment and/or they are unaware of how to get it. I think to date it has been downloaded about 5,000 times. [Please correct me if I'm wrong]

4. We now essentially have an audience that have downloaded the pilot, spread the word about it, and increased awareness of the pilot about a thousand fold. John Rogers saw an increase on his blog to about 10,000 hits in one day.

5. Then those people who downloaded the show, have been very vocal about their WANT to see a DVD for sale. They have actively campaigned to get them to release a DVD with commentary and behind-the-scenes features and interviews.

Let's state this again: They want to buy the show. Even though they have already downloaded it.

This flies in the face of everything that Hollywood THINKS it knows about the internet, piracy and downloading. You have a built-in audience that doesn't want a pirated version - they want the real deal.

Hmmm... and yet, THEY DO NOTHING.

[Very similar to what the music industry did and look what happened there].

If I were a stockholder in AOL / Time-Warner, I would pretty pissed that:

a) The company isn't exploring ways to make this write-off turn a profit for me.
b) Isn't exploring new marketing methods that are cheaper and more effective.
c) Isn't capitalizing on the publicity and positioning itself as the company of the future.
d) Isn't thinking of all the merchandising it could do with a product to which it already owns all the merchandising rights.
e) Isn't positioning this "comic book property" they have with their other comic book properties and will be a major component of their business plan for the next several years.

In the business world, GLOBAL FREQUENCY is what they call "low lying fruit", and yet, Warners doesn't want to pick it. Is it ego? Is there some sort of back-end deal that prevents them from saying "yes" to releasing this pilot on DVD because they would have to pay a lump fee or something?

I don't know, but there has to be a better reason than the one given.

In the meantime, Mark Cuban and the other people who are redefining distribution models are building the future...

A future where you "old men" running the company may not have a job.


Assistant Atlas said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
John Donald Carlucci said...

I read the comments from Warren this morning and became very sad.

Sad that the entertainment industry can't see the forest for the trees. That they would rather try to kill new markets because they can't grasp the potential. It is this same myopic view that prevents many projects from coming to market (look how long it took to do decent superhero projects). We nerds thehy laugh at are the market they raid the cons for. The pulps are for the fringe. Superheroes are for kids.


Original DVD boxsets of serial properties are an untapped market that broader minds will sow.

This just makes me more determined.

This is part of the mindset I started ranting about on my site. I'm tired of the complacent and tired community that makes up much of the entertainment industry. It's time to shake it up.

TIme to make some new rules.


Assistant Atlas said...

Hi, I'm Assistant/Atlas, and right now, I'm the closest thing the GF has to what it really needs-- a Hollywood champion [there are like four and they're all wrapped up in other projects].

That's a great GF post you have-- with some very interesting questions that should be discussed.

Here's what I know: Right now, the WB is an angry little weblet. They're not going to do anything to surrender the rights to the Global Frequency until they've beaten back the evil Internet pirates, who are threatening parts of their business model.

They [the 'evil' pirates] are also the people they're trying to market many of their news shows to. [And they, torrent-users, tend to be the MOST desireable ones: 18-29, more influential, tech-savvy, wealthy and likely to plunk down cash for DVDs than average, btw.] I know the WB will be more amenable to compromise when their fall schedule starts to crash and they get panicky. But right now, they're in 'aggressive tv exec' mode for the summer [ie-all our shows and programming decisions are good so WATCH THEM in the fall, ROAR!]

But soon it will be the fall [Sept. is now but a month away], and that's 'Oh my God! PANIC!' time for tv execs. And they won't be so angry then, when we, the hungry public, deliver them a great show as their others fail.

So, I'll be attempting to resurrect the GF from here high in the Assistant/Atlas command center off Mulholland and may be reached at Consider me your Ho'wood Aleph. And right now, I could use some assistance on the Reforming Hollywood front.

To "Help Me Help the Global Frequency", click here.


Assistant Atlas said...

Crap. I meant to say, Click here to "Help Me Help The Global Frequency". Thanks!

Bill Cunningham said...

Lets add another ingredient to this stew:

WB (and Hollywood in general) have just spent a ton of money trying to influence the audience at this years Comic Con. Variety did a big Comic Con issue. Variety's website has a comic book news component to it.

And yet, here we are telling WB what we want, that they can make easy money with this product, and they say, "No!"

Stupid, stupid, stupid...

John Donald Carlucci said...

Actually, this is why I hate when fans call the SD Con the Nerd Prom. I know there are elements to fandom that are painful to deal with (klingon hookers?), but we should a self-loathing that can't help to soak into the non-fan arena.

We can't expect respect for comics if we don't show a respect for ourselves.

They'll take our money, but would rather we stay in the back corner of the room during the parties.

The same can be applied to the internet. Only a geek would understand what bittorrent is, or a pirate. The two terms are both ugly and diminishing. That is why we are loathed or underestimated.


RogerRmjet said...

This is Warner Bros. (and Hollywood, for that matter) for you. Back in 1978, Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz showed them how to make a comic book movie, and it only took them another thirty years to realize he was right.

Another thing we "comic book nerds" keep trying to tell them is that we want a Donner cut of Superman II. We keep telling them what we want, and they keep wondering "what does the audience want?" All they have to do is LISTEN.

Mike Jozic said...

I have to wonder if WB Chairman Garth Ancier is worried that a show like GF may be one more example of how THE WB is a network only for teens and genre shows, an image they want to forcibly shake. They recently ditched the Frog as their mascot saying it, essentially, sends the wrong message to a more mature viewership that they desperately want. They think the shows on the network are viewed as youth-centred and they're upset that a show that had so much forward momentum like Jack and Bobby ended up tanking on them. Me, I think it was the writing, they blame the 18-29 demographic.

At the Television Critics Association media tour, Janollari also said the network now wants to convince viewers in their 20s and 30s that it's reflecting the lives they're living.

I find it interesting that, in a world where we have shows like Family Guy and Firefly getting second lives (granted the latter as a film not a weekly show), and execs like Ancier openly admitting that they shouldn't have cancelled shows like Angel or that they handled a show poorly (and there are soooo many examples of this I won't even begin to list), that we still have all this BS even surrounding a show that people obviously want.

Bill Cunningham said...

I agree with your sentiment re: Garth Ancier and WB's image. However, having been a marketing guy in the DVD entertainment industry, I have to tell you that the best way to let people know you've changed is to SHOW them you've changed. Don't keep crap like ONE TREE HILL, but go with GOOD shows that appeal to the demographic you want. When Fox started out it was all over the map until eventually it settled into what it is today.

GF is a show / concept that is easily within the same demographic of those that watch 24, ALIAS, X-FILES, LOST and others.

If WB chose not to run the show - fine. That's their right...

BUT ---

When an audience says, "This is what we want and we're willing to pay for it", then an entertainment company has to take notice. All anyone is asking for is a DVD for chrissakes - the chance to see the show in a pristine format and understand the creative process through a commentary track and/or behind-the-scenes feature. The examples you name of FAMILY GUY and FIREFLY point to the potential lucrative franchise for the company. This is a no-brainer.

(And having coordinated DVD authoring and replication I know it doesn't cost that much to do - even at the studio level).

If they would just turn their in-house home entertainment publicists onto the story, then they would have to pay very little for ads - the story has so many angles...

And if WB got behind the story -- every angle would have WB smelling like a rose...

And not an egotistical, antiquarian, close-minded shitpile like they do now...

Corey Bond said...

I particularly like the quote from John Rogers on the Assistant/Atlas blog about studios like WB, who put so much energy into trying to punish the "bad behavior" of fans who illegally download material, but do nothing to reward their "good behavior" when these fans respond by wanting to purchase it legally. Especially in light of the Hollywood Reporter article about the response to the Superman Returns teaser trailer (another WB property) shown at the San Diego Comic Con. Fans who weren't there to see it want it posted on the internet, but according to the article, the only sure way that will happen is if someone posts a bootleg version first. Talk about rewarding bad behavior.