I don't know if it's a generational distinction or just individual preference, but when I watch TV I want to watch it on TV. On the big set in the warm room with the comfortable furniture My daughter is platform agnostic, and would just as soon watch a show on her phone or computer. I'm not averse to either, but I don't see the point. When I want to watch a program, I want to watch it, not glance it or pause and fiddle with Twitter or otherwise fritter away my attention span. The days of turning on the TV to see what's on, like lowering yourself into a tepid bath for a soak, are long past. I want to watch This Thing. And last night, that thing was Louie, season 4. Neil Justin, our TV critic, alerted me to the Season 4 reruns on FX's website. I'd seen the first three seasons on Netflix, and the fourth was starting up tomorrow. So let's catch up, shall we?
Step one: call up the website on my phone so I can throw the picture to the Apple TV via Airplay. Oh, clever! It's all upside down. If you turn your phone around it goes upside down again, but then it rights itself. Because Louie's life is like that! Problem: can't be done. The website says I need the app. That's great because I'm always looking for more apps to load on my phone, hog space, bug with review requests, ask for my location, and other botherations of modern life.
Downloaded the app, found the Louie Season 4. The picture is upside down! Ha ha. Wait for it to turn itself around. Click play.
Sorry! First you have to enter your service provider. Find DirecTV in the list. Click.
It asks for your DirecTV password. Everybody who remembers your content provider's password off the top of your head, raise your hand. Showing all fingers, please. Right. So: call up password manager on the computer, get the login credentials, enter them, go back to the Main screen, which is now devoted to nothing but Simpsons. There's no way to get out of it. No menu. Swiping hither and yon does nothing. Quitting the app does nothing. So I delete the app and download it again. Enter credentials. Find the ep - they're all out of order - and click play.
Sorry, your package does not include this channel.
Really. So FXonDemand or FXNow or whatever it's called is so gosh-darned special it's in the premium tier, or the tier right between Lots of Channels and Oh Lord So Many Channels Plus Starz or something.
Well, maybe it's on iTunes at a reasonable price. Huh: $33.99. I balk, because I'd watched 3 seasons on Netflix for the price of Netflux, and while I enjoyed the show, in retrospect I wouldn't have paid $125 for the batch. That's the price of all six Star Wars movies on iTunes now, in HD. The SW price is ridiculous, but the Louie show consists of a big schlumpy guy walking around New York having Situations, and there's not one large space-battle. I'd pay $15 for the lot.
This is where some people all of a sudden say "to hell with it, I'll torrent." It's thievery, of course, and the people who say "I'd pay $15 but I don't have that option so I'll steal it" think it's defensible or don't care one way or the other.
Gave up and went to bed. This morning I learned the show is available for streaming, free, on Amazon Prime.
So what's the cost of the show? The price of a sliver of Amazon Prime, the price of a portion of the 3rd Gold Family Plus Package that lets me see TV content on an app, the $34 Apple wants, or the infinitesimal price I will pay should it run on Netflix some day? The answer: all of the above.
It does make you nostalgic for the day when all the TV came free and you had three options and nothing repeated until July. But not really. Those days wouldn't have a show like Louie.
(PS Yes, yes, TV wasn't free. The companies baked the price of advertising into their goods and services. But you know what I mean.)