Open Letter to Dick Wolf (and the CSI and NCIS Dudes)

Dear Dick and Fellow TV Programming Gods – The future of TV is clear (unless the government, likely the FCC steps in) – IPTV.

Your TV will increasingly be seen as a browser rather than the dumb monitor that it has been since TV started.

You may not realize it now, but if you have Verizon FiOS or any other of the fiber-optic-delivered services, you are already there. It’s just a matter of time before they start breaking it out.

Anyway, in the future, some programmers will be like websites or portals…

It will be completely Choice TV not Appointment TV as we’ve had for lo, these many decades.

I’ll have more on this glorious TV-holic paradise in the future.

But first – my brilliant idea (and no, I’m not claiming to have invented this concept): DickWolf.com or LawandOrder.com. There will come a time when it will dawn on you (if it hasn’t already) or your fabulously wealthy descendants, that you don’t need NBC (or TNT or TBS or USA, and a thousand local stations, et al); that you have a whomping big catalog of Law and Orders, and don’t need NBC or TBS to air them (and then split the proceeds). In fact, you have so much programming that you could have your own cable channel.

But why share the wealth with Comcast, Verizon, Charter, et al? The magic of IPTV allows you to start your own, personal cable network.

That’s right!

What most people don’t understand, including a lot in the industry itself (and any idiot thinking ‘Net Neutrality’ would ever work as they fantasized), is that these big cable companies are nothing more than miniature closed Internet universes. That is, they are nothing more than a jumbo website, they’ve just dumb-downed the GUI on your TV so you can’t see that.

That’s why all that video-on-demand is now proliferating. The program is just a digital file that can be accessed by anyone, anywhere, anytime. And that’s why, increasingly, the cable companies peddle that “You can restart the program….” feature. Couldn’t do that when putting a program on involved slapping a master cassette into a machine in New Jersey and everyone had to turn to Channel 7 at the same time to watch. It can now be on-demand all the time for all those on fiber-optic networks. (I’m simplifying here because there are legal hurdles concerning who owns what programs, which will hamstring this for a while – until greed breaks down the barriers).

So back to you, Big Dick Wolf.

Imagine turning on your TV and first you see something more like a browser. The old electronic program guide (‘EPG’ in industry terms) is gone. You are free as a bird to watch whatever you want. Now, likely, there’ll be some kind of portal alerting you to what’s newly available, and smart algorithms or ads pitching you other things to watch based on your viewing history but you can choose to go anywhere you like. And you’ll probably have your “Favorites” on the TV desktop.

Let’s say someone is having a Law and Order craving. They type in (with a real QWERTY keyboard — make this happen now cable box builders!) DickWolf.com or Lawand Order.com (or it autofills or is a bookmark) and suddenly they have a screen full all sorts of Law and Order choices: original, SVU, Criminal Intent… They can choose by season. They can choose by actor. Oh, that Jill Hennessey was hot, I’ll never forgive Lenny Briscoe for getting her killed… What about guest appearances? Comedian Larry Miller was super-creepy in a pair of episodes. Or maybe, they’re feeling lucky so they hit “random shuffle.”

And to get them to hang around DickWolf.com (because it plays ads on the site and in the commercial breaks), there are extras to be seen: dozens/hundreds of interviews with actors, directors, writers, Dick Wolf youself; commentaries on some programs; specials on the whole Law and Order oeuvre; subject matter grouped marathons; and so much more. (Since the average Law and Order viewer is upper income and bought a Cadillac or Lexus within the last five years… Marketers stampede to place their wares at the site and in the commercial breaks.)

This will happen. The only question is — how long before it does (again, assuming the FCC and various Maoist ‘consumer’ and Internet activists don’t screw it up).

All I ask, for opening your eyes to the glorious IPTV future, is, like maybe, 1% of the gross on DickWolf.com and related properties. I’ll make a deal with you now, I’ll take 0.1% of the gross (not the ‘net,’ I’m onto that Hollywood scam).

Oh, and ditto on the CSI.com and NCIS.com franchises. It’s a small price to pay for the millions that will flow in.

You’re welcome!

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