I’m not entirely sure whether these figures for the number of times certain TV shows and films have been downloaded are trustworthy – there’s an air of ‘and the World Cup Final has 5 billion people watching’* about them – but if they are in the same ballpark as the number of actual download viewers, then it does suggest a possible new business model, at least for TV productions.
Why not create official downloads with advertisements? It’d be something like a distributed Hulu, without the expense of having to pay for the streaming bandwidth yourself. I would expect that people would be more likely to choose an official download rather than a pirated one, and wouldn’t object to sitting through some adverts to watch them – indeed, there’s probably even a way to ‘lock’ the ads, so that they have to be watched, which could also generate viewing figures for the advertisers.
OK, it’s a new field and advertisers probably wouldn’t be paying loads for it, but it’d be an interesting new revenue stream to exploit and getting into it first might be a big financial advantage in itself.
* Most of these figures are usually generated by adding up the total number of viewers who could watch the channels it’s being broadcast on, rather than the number who might actually watch it.