How nostalgia used to be

by Giles Turnbull

I think the most interesting thing about the announcement of new video content at the Apple Music Store is not the fact that there's new content - everyone knew that Apple would expand the content list just as soon as it could cut deals with the TV industry bosses - but the nature of that new content.

In particular, the oldies. The re-runs. The repeats, as we call them in the UK. Shows like Knight Rider, Dragnet, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

A lot of people have been saying how fantastic this all is, although personally speaking I'd switch off the TV if any of these shows came on, so I'm not going to be tempted to pay money to watch them again.

But it's these old shows that are going to be the real money spinners for Apple in the next few years, just as old TV shows have become a money spinner on DVD.

The cost of licencing and converting old TV shows to a suitable digital format is a fraction of the cost of making new shows, or licencing the rights to use shows that are broadcast in peak time right now.

This is money for old rope. The iPod generation is being wooed into spending money on old content it has already seen and in many cases already paid for. Just as we bought CD copies of albums we'd already bought on tape or vinyl, and in some cases then bought the same tracks again on the iTMS. The same thing, purchased three times! That sort of brand loyalty makes record and TV company executives smile.

There's a perceived value in nostalgia. People of my generation get a warm feeling when they hear those late 70s / early 80s new wave hits. And the same applies to some TV shows - give me the Muppets, early Grange Hill, Press Gang, Star Trek and Dr Who for download and I'll start buying, no matter how much I feel like I'm playing into the hands of the Evil Mega Corporations.

But Knight Rider? Are you kidding?

Next it'll be Baywatch. Aaaaagh.


2005-12-07 08:58:09
Hey man, happy memories
A lot of the twenty-somethings that grew up watching reruns of Knight Rider think of it with fond memories, no matter HOW bad the original show was. I just got finished watching the two hour pilot.

It was laughably bad. But still, I loved it. The talking car! The cool buttons! The bad references to "this place called Silicon Valley"!

How can I not?

2005-12-07 10:29:59
Some differences
Distributing television shows on video tape never took off in the States due to cost. I knew a lot of people in the 80's and 90's who would buy PAL->NTSC Converting VCRs to buy American TV shows on video tape in the UK.

I'd rather see the labels putting out older material that hasn't seen the light of day before (Sapphire and Steel finally got out in the States!) than release yet another version of "Top Gun" or "Terminator 2".

Now they just need to work on price. Those Dr Who discs are rather nice, but way too expensive.

2005-12-07 15:44:40
Some differences
Was it cost, or syndication? That's what creates the delay for shows going to DVD release today.