New York Times reporter David Carr (12/19/11) takes a look at comedian Louis C.K.'s recent decision to webcast his own comedy special:
A scabrous and successful champion of the everyman, Louis C. K. decided last week to go direct with his fans: no cable special, no middleman, just a simple download for $5 on his website to see his comedy show Louis C. K.: Live at the Beacon Theater.
The show could be viewed as the consumer wished, with no rights protection or expensive subscription. A buy-it-and-watch-it proposition, no cable company involved. He was also, of course, enabling people to watch it free–without digital rights management, it was there for the pirating–and some went right to the torrent sites and did so.
How many people did? Close to 200,000, which means the comedian could earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $750,000. But more interesting was his take on the modern media landscape:
"OK, so NBC is this huge company and they have all these studios and these satellites to beam stuff out," he said, "but on the Web, both NBC.com and LouisCK.com have the same amount of bandwidth. We are equals and there are things you can do with that. This has been a fun little experiment."
That, in a nutshell, is what the discussion about net neutrality should be about.