November 28, 2020

Race to End for ‘Breaking Bad’ Fans Who Got Behind

At the University of Pittsburgh, where Mr. Bauer is studying engineering, students cram into his dormitory lounge every Sunday night to watch the latest episode. But not Mr. Bauer, who was, as of Monday, still about 20 episodes behind. That night, he started binge-viewing so that he can be in the lounge for Sunday’s all-important finale — figuring that if he’s not there to see the ending when everyone else does, someone will spoil it for him.

“My friends are telling me it’ll be the best decision of my life,” he said Wednesday night, without even hitting pause during his marathon to talk to a reporter.

In its final season, “Breaking Bad” on AMC has become the It Show on cable television. All over the country, converts to the series about a mild-mannered teacher turned drug lord have set aside schoolwork, dishes and laundry to try to catch up on old episodes through Netflix, Amazon, iTunes and other Internet services.

The hype around hit television show finales has always been intense, but what has happened with “Breaking Bad” exemplifies a twist in the relationship between the parallel universes of live, linear television (the kind symbolized by Comcast and DirecTV) and on-demand TV (as embodied by Netflix).

On-demand services are typically thought to hurt live television viewing. In this case, they are fueling it.

“Breaking Bad” made its debut in 2008 to an underwhelming 1.2 million viewers — which would have caused many programming chiefs to drop it. But the show dodged cancellation and slowly built a following — especially once the old episodes were made available en masse on Netflix.

By mid-2012, about 2.6 million viewers were watching live episodes; now, as the ending approaches, that total has more than doubled to 6 million, which might be small for a network television show but makes “Breaking Bad” one of the biggest phenomena on cable.

“What’s remarkable about this show is we’ve created urgency to see it,” said Charlie Collier, the president of AMC, which has been running a marathon of every episode since Wednesday.

DVDs and, before that, VHS tapes have allowed audiences to catch up on shows for a long time — in fact, the popularity of “Family Guy” DVDs were partly credited with the 2005 revival of the once-canceled Fox animated comedy. But binge-viewing behavior has become much more pronounced in the last few years, mainly because Netflix and services like it have made it so easy to do.

Last Sunday, as “Breaking Bad” was finally winning the television industry’s highest honor, an Emmy award for outstanding drama, the show set a new ratings record for itself — 6.6 million, according to Nielsen — making it the biggest program on cable that night. At the same time, many people were just starting their marathons. According to Netflix, each day for the last two weeks, the most-streamed episode of the show has been the very first one, during which Walter White crystallized methamphetamine for the first time.

The show’s creator, Vince Gilligan, credited the Internet when accepting his Emmy. “I think Netflix kept us on the air,” he told reporters backstage, adding that he did not believe that the show would have survived more than two seasons without the audience and revenue lifts that Netflix provided, along with online chatter. As first reported by AdAge, the network sought $300,000 to $400,000 for a 30-second ad in the final episode. AMC confirmed on Friday night that the episode was sold out. The network declined to comment on pricing, but assuming it achieved $300,000 a spot, it will be earning more for the airtime than even the highest-rated network dramas normally do.

“It’s a new era in television,” Mr. Gilligan said, “and we’ve been very fortunate to reap the benefits.”

Mr. Bauer is ready for the finale — as of Friday afternoon, he had only five more episodes to watch, and he was saving them for Sunday.

Justin Carroll, a bank employee in Lexington, Ky., started to binge a little bit earlier — Sept. 12 — because he “wanted to be part of the discussion” with his friends.

Judy Weinstein, a human resources consultant in Sherman Oaks, Calif., started on Sept. 22 because of media coverage of the show and a crucial endorsement from a more personal source: her spin class instructor, who would “come to class every Monday morning and talk about how she couldn’t sleep the night before after watching,” she said. Ms. Weinstein is glad she did — although after she finished her marathon on Thursday, there was one downside. “In retrospect, it is a difficult show to binge-watch because it just keeps getting darker and darker,” she said.

Mr. Collier of AMC said that social networking Web sites had amplified all the chatter about the show. (Nielsen estimates that the average person’s Twitter message about a TV show is seen by about 50 other people.) “Word of mouth is still a great thing,” he said.

Netflix’s licensing contracts do not cover the eight most recent episodes of “Bad,” so for those, new fans must rely on AMC, an online rental service or a less legal route. AMC’s marathon has been a big draw this week. In prime time, it had 1.0 million viewers on Wednesday and almost 1.2 million on Thursday. (The totals will increase after digital video recorder viewing is factored in.)

Perhaps aptly for a show about a meth dealer, Melodie Holmes has noticed its addictive tendencies. Ms. Holmes, of Kitchener, Ontario, said she and her husband “generally watch two episodes a night, and look at each other seeing whether or not we could stay awake on a ‘school night’ for more,” she said. More often than not, they stayed up — and now they are all caught up.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/28/business/media/breaking-bad-race-to-the-end.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Fine Print Blurs Custody Over Online Images

World Entertainment News Network, a news and photo agency, announced this month that it had become the “exclusive photo agency partner” of Twitpic, a service with over 20 million registered users that allows people to upload images and link to them on Twitter. The deal allows the agency to sell images posted on Twitpic for publication, and to pursue legal action against those who use such images commercially without its permission, according to the agency.

“There has been much unauthorized use of Twitpic images which we shall be addressing without delay,” said Lloyd Beiny, the agency’s chief executive.

World Entertainment News, whose photo business revolves largely around shots of celebrities, says it is interested only in the photographs posted to the accounts of people like Britney Spears, Russell Brand and Demi Moore. But the scope of the deal is not clear, and professional photographers are worried that it could allow the agency to profit from any photo posted to Twitpic. Others say Twitpic’s move shows the tenuous control people have over what they post through Internet services.

The extent of that control is typically laid out in the terms of service that users agree to when they sign up for Internet services and smartphone applications. But the more such services people use, the harder it becomes to keep track of the things to which they are agreeing. And of course many terms of service, which are heavy on legal language, include clauses that assert the company’s right to change them without notice.

In a recent episode, the television show “South Park” poked fun at the tendency to consent to such agreements without reading them, when one character discovered that he had inadvertently given Apple the right to surgically transform him into a “product that is part human and part centipede, and part Web browser and part e-mailing device.” In the real world, there has been more discussion of what users could be risking than concrete examples of problems. Much attention has been centered on privacy concerns and the confusing aspects of companies’ privacy policies.

Professional photographers in particular have worried about their work being distributed in ways they would not approve. Protests over changes to Facebook’s terms of service in 2009, which seemed to give it rights to users’ content even if they discontinued their accounts, caused the company to change its copyright language.

The Free Software Foundation, a digital rights group, recently raised concerns over Nintendo’s 3DS, a hand-held gaming device that can take photos. In the terms of service, Nintendo claims the right to use content from its customers’ devices in a variety of ways, including marketing materials. In a statement, Nintendo said that it did not use access to user content without permission, and that its terms of service were “consistent with industry norms.”

The agreement between Twitpic and World Entertainment News, said Dan Bailey, a professional photographer from Alaska, provided a solid example of what people have been worried about.

“The agreements always make people nervous, but nothing was done with them,” Mr. Bailey said. “But for a company like Twitpic to come along and say that they can sell your photos, that’s unreasonable.”

Twitpic did not respond to multiple requests for comment, and neither company has made the details of the agreement public. Mr. Beiny said in an e-mail that the deal covered only the accounts of several hundred celebrities. He declined to comment further.

World Entertainment News forged a similar deal this year with Plixi, a smaller online photo service. In an interview with the magazine Amateur Photographer, Mr. Beiny claimed a right to all photographs uploaded to the service. He told the magazine that though World Entertainment News might try to sell “extraordinary” photographs of any kind, its primary interest was celebrities. The deal was terminated when Plixi was acquired by Lockerz, which said it was uncomfortable with the concept.

World Entertainment News would not say whether it intended to pay celebrities for their Twitpic photos or how they might opt out. A representative for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” said that Ms. DeGeneres, a regular Twitpic user, had not been consulted about the agreement. She added that Ms. DeGeneres would stop using the service.

An alternative site, WhoSay, sprang up last year to let celebrities retain greater control of the material they post to social media sites. Twitpic’s terms of service say the site’s users retain ownership rights to the content they upload. But it also claims “a worldwide, nonexclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and Twitpic’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business.” The terms do not distinguish between the rights of celebrity and noncelebrity users.

Though Twitpic is the most popular service for posting images to Twitter, several others exist, including Posterous, yfrog and Twitgoo.

Carolyn E. Wright, a lawyer who writes a blog about legal issues related to photographers, said there were significant differences among the policies of Internet services. Users simply have to read the agreements they are clicking on, she said.

“You’re acknowledging those terms of services, you’re bound by them,” Ms. Wright said. “Even if you don’t read them.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=41e450f60a2a7c1fb43a6ec4205b9bb1