In a much-linked-to interview with the South Park creators
, they say they have no problem with people downloading the show.
My first thought was, "but doesn't that cut into their profits?", but then I realised I hadn't the faintest idea how the creators of TV shows get paid for their creations, or how much. Or if it's even "profit" we're talking about.
Selling movie tickets is a business anyone can understand. It's essentially no different from selling potatoes. If people buy more tickets, the film earns more money*. Same with DVD sales. Sell a billion tickets at five dollars each, and somewhere along the line, $5,000,000,000 is changing hands. But how does TV work?
Does a TV series get bought outright for a flat fee, as in, Matt and Trey get a million bucks for a season of South Park and that's it, no matter how well or how badly it rates? And if it rates through the roof and the TV network makes extra money by charging advertisers extra, Matt and Trey get no more? But they use that as a bargaining chip next time around and demand two million? Or do they somehow get a financial share of the show's ratings success?
And what's the difference between something like "South Park", which is relatively cheap to make, and the creators can presumably do most of it themselves and deliver it as a finished product, and something like "Heroes" where a huge cast and special effects and location shooting mean that it costs millions per episode and the studio is making a big investment in your project before it can even get started?
* I'm aware by the way that Hollywood uses occult accounting methods so that no film ever makes a profit on paper and that just because you created a film that made a billion dollars, it doesn't mean you ever get a cent. That's not the point.