TV, eh? podcast episode 38 – She Sells Sanctuary

Episode 38: Listen or download here or subscribe via iTunes or with any other program via the TV, Eh? feed

nup 139321 0216(1)Amanda Tapping of Sanctuary is our guest this week, talking with Diane about what’s coming up in the next half of season three (premiering April 15 on Space), season four now in production, and the charity Sanctuary for Kids.

After some digression about the leadership debate and Aaron Sorkin, we chat about the WGC screenwriting award winners, the huge numbers for The Kennedys premiere on History, and the premiere of Canadian Pickers.

In our new Viewer Mail segment (ok, a Listener Comment), we close with a discussion on the possibility of a direct link between content creators and audience – eliminating the middleman of the pesky broadcast networks – spurred by a comment to the last podcast by Russell McOrmond.

Your hosts


11 thoughts on “TV, eh? podcast episode 38 – She Sells Sanctuary”

  1. No comment on the 30min a week or 60min every two weeks during the summer. I guess it would all be about whether there was time specific news to talk about. I suspect the longer show twice a month would be easier on the two of you.

    I’m so excited to watch Sanctuary on Friday. I caught Kali (Parts 1-3) by accident when visiting my mother (She’s a major SF fan — 95% of her TV watching is the Space channel!). I became a major fan, and bought the DVD’s to catch up on the first two seasons and continued watching the third season on Space. I plan to buy the Season 3.0 and 3.5 DVD’s (Or together if they release at once — no idea of their plans) even though I’ve already watched many of the season 3.0 episodes more than once.

    And that brings me to the question about $money$. I, and many other people who want to drop cable, aren’t doing it because we don’t want to pay for content. I would be perfectly happy to redirect the money I previously paid to Rogers directly to content creators. Cutting out the middle man *should* create efficiencies where the creators get more money, not less.

    So what about Sanctuary. A complete 13 episode season was less than $25 — and maybe the 20 episode season 3 might be $30 (or 2*$25). I’d pay an extra $10-$20 on top of that to get technology new (AKA: DRM-free) downloads of the episodes at the same time the are broadcast — and get the DVD at the end of the season.

    This shouldn’t have to be an either-or situation. Maybe some of the current deals have the networks getting exclusive rights, but is that actually making the shows more money? Would having a non-exclusive deal be better? These are important questions to ask that I don’t believe are adequately being asked.

    Amanda spoke about how much money the dedicated fan base was willing to donate to charitable causes. I think it can be taken as a given this fan base would be willing to pay for the show if offered in better ways.

    I also don’t think it can be taken for granted that legacy TV networks have much of a future. The “Value for Signal” heated debate is based on the fact that advertising revenues are moving online, and there is less and less money coming into the networks. As the pricing of channels go up with the inevitable passing of “value for signal”, expect the money available from the networks for any type of programming to plummet. Scripted series, especially the more intelligent stuff I like, will be hit before sitcoms and “reality” TV.

    Enough of that for now. Off to watch a PVR’d episode of Endgame…All your fault you know :-)

    Oh, and sorry for generating comments as large or larger than the posts — you know how I am…

  2. Ha, long but thanks as always for your comments Russell. What shows get from iTunes/Hulu/etc is still peanuts compared to the budget of a prime time TV series. Sanctuary tried the direct to audience model first and didn’t recoup their costs. There are web series doing great things on less of course. But if you’re cutting cable at this point you’re sacrificing legal access to some content, and your access to televised shows is being subsidized by those people still paying cable and watching ads. Right now the model’s not there for wholesale creator-to-audience access. Will that change? Sure, but I don’t think anyone has the answer yet.

    Did you see this?,0,6967255.story

  3. Just came by to listen to the Amanda Tapping interview and was pleasantly surprised to enjoy the whole podcast; great job. You are correct Diane; SyFy broadcasts Sanctuary in the states.

    Russel, Sanctuary tried that with the webisodes. Martin, Amanda, and Damian had originally wanted to cut out the middle man and have the show broadcast on the web where all countries could see it at the same time and they didn’t have to deal with network notes. Fans were very excited and could not wait for it to start. I can not speak for every one of Amanda’s fans, but most were happy to pay to download DRM-free files of the show. Unfortunately, not every person who wanted to watch and enjoyed the show felt the same way and it found its way to illegal downloads. Martin, Amanda, and Damian have all talked about the experience in previous interviews and public appearances. They were forced to take the show to television for the reason Diane mentioned. They could not continue to make the quality show they wanted because they did not get the money to do it. Granted, this was years ago and as Anthony mentioned the technology has come a long way since then. Perhaps Diane or Anthony can do another interview with Martin (or any of the Executive Producers) on this issue. I would love to hear their view on it and any further insights they have on the issue.

    I see Diane has replied while I was typing this up so I’ll stop before my comments become as long as yours. :P

    Cheers and thanks again for an interesting podcast.


  4. Thanks a lot Jan – your comments add a lot to mine, which were based on an occasionally faulty memory :) I’d love to do a follow up interview – I’ll try to get one of the producers to speak about this soon (and the show as it is now, of course).

  5. I would love to hear interviews on this topic. The future of television, including questions about whether it has a stable future, seems like an important topic.

    I think we may be talking about different things, but it is all interesting.

    I’m not suggesting an all-or-nothing scenario, but making shows available to the widest audience possible – and offering the widest possible ways to help finance.

    The show is already available via cable/satellite in a few countries, for free from sites like and then some long time later available for pay as a DVD. My suggestion is to capture more money by going beyond those options, not cutting any off.

    Lets take my scenario. I’m currently paying for a $70 cable package (the smallest I can get that includes Space, where most of the shows I like are including Sanctuary and Dr. Who/Torchwood). Roughly there are about 7 shows that my wife and I watch regularly that run in parallel (IE: more different shows when you consider that 13 episodes doesn’t cover 52 weeks). If these shows are making the creators a lot less than $2.50 per episode from cable distribution from me, then there is an inefficiency in the system where allowing those of us who want to switch would make more money for creators.

    I don’t think it is fair to say that it is *me* that is giving up legal avenues to access content if I drop cable. It is a matter of the content creators or distributors not being willing to accept my money. Blaming the customer for problems in the production/distribution system isn’t helpful.

    I can watch Sanctuary at for free for now, but is that really making the Sanctuary folks money? Will this service continue? Why not offer a higher quality service for pay for those of us that want to pay?

    There will always be people who ignore copyright law and unlawfully share content. While DRM is marketed as reducing this, there are no peer reviewed studies that confirm this. If done, studied based on real-world technologies would confirm that DRM increases infringement. DRM has no impact on those wishing to infringe, as they most often will never see the DRM (only one person globally needs to unlock and share). DRM only has the impact of lowering the value of the content to a potential buyer, discouraging sales.

    An example is the mention of iTunes which is not an option for me as it is incompatible with the technology I’m willing to own. We don’t have this brand dependency problem with television, and it doesn’t make sense to introduce these for digital distribution. It may benefit the anti-competitive practises of a few technology companies, but it harms content creators.

    Mentioning Hulu and other services unavailable to Canadians doesn’t introduce any options.

    Sorry if I’m heading off topic, but DRM is a topic I have spent years doing presentations on. See

    My most recent presentation was in front of a parliamentary committee, and if you view the video you might recognise that I’m holding up a Sanctuary Season 2 DVD set.

  6. Russell, the point is none of your online, legal options are making the creators enough money to produce the show, not even if you pay an extra $10 or $50 or $100 (and who else is willing to do that? And how many people would have to be to equal the million per episode for a House or CSI?) Check out that Hulu story – it’s illustrative even in Canada in that even a money-generating web model doesn’t make enough money to offset the loss of TV revenue.

  7. Diane,

    I take your point, but I’m talking about something different. You are suggesting that we live in an all-or-nothing scenario, and I hope this is not the case.

    Hulu has so many things wrong with it that don’t address the issues.

    Some customers will be accessible via traditional BDUs, and some will not. I’m making that transition away from a BDU, and others I know are as well. This is a trickle at the moment, but this may change: and now is the time for content creators to be thinking about this.

    Legal online distribution doesn’t have to replace traditional BDU. It only needs to replace unlawful options and “why bother watching” options.

    When I drop cable I’m not likely to take up the unlawful options, and far more likely to just stop watching many of those shows. There is enough content available to me in convenient ways — there is hours on alone. Not same quality, but there appears to be price, convenience and quality trade-offs I’m forced to make.

    Note: My mother says she has to pay about $80/month to watch Space. Every other channel she watches a few things on are available for free OTA, and that is the smallest package that includes Space. Does that make sense to you? It sure doesn’t to me — and I’m going to investigate what her options are for something cheaper. Including maybe just recommending she wait and buy DVD’s.

    Where are the a-la-carte options for those of us that would be satisfied by individual stations if that was offered? A compromise between per-show paying and the outrageous pricing/etc we have with Cable?

  8. I’m not saying we live in all or nothing, I’m saying those who cut cable and want to watch shows that air on television through other means are being subsidized by those who do not cut cable. Nothing wrong with that. Anthony and I have gone on and on about the need for legal means of watching shows online. Your original question was about creating a direct creator-to-audience link, and those avenues exist only when the creator of the show is the owner of the show. If you meant “creator” as in the networks and studios then yeah, we’ve talked that to death. More iTunes, more online, more Netflix, less restrictions.

  9. Regarding the shorter weekly versus longer bi-weekly show…whatever’s easier for you.

    Personally, I like the 1-hour (give or take) weekly podcast, but I’d hate to see the podcast go the way of the dinosaurs because you and Anthony are crunched for time.

  10. Thanks Jerry and Russell for answering the question even though I forgot to put up a poll. I will next time … unless I forget :)

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