Free content

Up to this day, the telenovela has a traditional business model, supported by the audience and credibility of the work to sell commercial spaces. Simultaneously watching an original chapter on television with most of the country, time zones considered, is part of the value that the telenovela offers. However, publicity suffered an 8% drop in 2019 in relation to 2018, according to the Globo Group 17 May 2020 report in the newspaper Valor Economico (Valor Economico, 2020). As this book is being published, we are in the midst of the COVID pandemic, where the resulting drop in publicity may be even more significant. On the other hand, Globoplay, the digital content platform of Globo Group, had a 55% increase in profits from 2018 to 2019 (Jardim, 2020). As of September 2020, the platform offers and streams content from cable stations of the Globo Group as well. Information released by Globoplay before and during the COVID pandemic states that telenove- las, as a whole, never left the top ten most-seen contents of the platform, which includes original and international series and films. Therefore, it was the platform’s decision to provide 100 telenovelas from the TV Globo collection as part of their catalogue during the pandemic in 2020. Globoplay already provides online streaming of TV Globo linear programming for free, but once telenovelas prove to have value as part of the menu offered for subscription, a new way to profit with this content will emerge and free sharing of chapters by fans may become a problem. Also, according to Kogut (2020), Viva, a cable television channel that reruns telenovelas, leads the audience in cable TV. “Nostalgic people celebrate. Fan clubs are also resurrected (in social media). Everyone knows the outcome of these stories, but that does not diminish their power to attract viewers.”

Most television stations use content identification tools, such as video fingerprinting, to remove pirated material from free sharing sites. The goal is to concentrate and control the audience in display windows planned by producers, exhibitors, distributors and corporate television. It is a difficult task, as new content-sharing websites constantly emerge. The amount of shared content makes one wonder if it is possible to battle what has already become a cultural practice of society. A whole generation is already familiar with finding the content they want, whenever they want it, without worrying about whether sharing is lawful or not. Some countries are stricter than others; in Brazil, despite it being an illegal procedure, there is no significant repression of the practice. Sharing content can be associated with freedom or, from a corporation’s point of view, piracy.

Yochai Benkler (2016) wrote about degrees of freedom and power today against the backdrop of the internet’s restrictions and possibilities. He draws attention to the power of the Netflix platform, whose business model is that of subscription to the content menu, which pressured the World Wide Web (W3C) to adopt Digital Rights Management (DRM)1 as the standard for HTML5,2 a way to inhibit piracy in streaming content. This way, the company now controls who can and cannot see its content. More than a question of legitimacy or legality, Benkler (2016) regards it as a matter of power through technology. For the researcher, there is a new balance of cultural power - and the end of one of the mechanisms that made the internet a place of social, economic and cultural decentralization. For Benkler (2016), we are watching the internet become, in many ways, mainly the desire for control - a mass media.

Muanis (2018) considers that the practice of hinge-watching is not so new and gives as examples watching multiple episodes of a series from DVDs and the illegal download of episodes followed by a marathon. These practices created a new model of distribution and enjoyment of the audiovisual product, and were absorbed as a business model by platforms.

Free sharing of commercial content is not always done by people aiming at a profit. Television networks cannot and should not assume that all so-called pirates are enemies to be fought at all costs, or they will discharge part of their audience. Often the objectives of those who distribute free content owned by a TV station are quite different. At the same time, it is difficult for a corporation to create differentiated strategies on content sharing websites. A team would have to analyze the material to find out what may be a clip in honour of the main couple of a telenovela, which helps to promote the work, and what is simply a chapter shared in full. In any case, there are several strategies to circumvent mechanisms such as video fingerprinting, which can be seen in the amount of material that continues to be shared; for instance, blurring the edges of the images and enlarging it.

Graziela (2007), writing about fansites, notes that the logic of sharing programmes is based on donations. Fans provide links for viewing or downloading episodes, information related to characters, the universe of the series and derivatives. The more a fan contributes, the more they will be recognized. Mauss (2004) studies form and reason for exchange in archaic societies and suggests that we adopt, as a principle, giving in a free and obligatory way, giving as much as we take, always giving back. “A considerable part of our morality and our lives themselves are still generated with this same atmosphere of the gift, where obligation and liberty mingle. Fortunately, everything is still not wholly categorised in terms of buying and selling” (Mauss, 2004). This relationship between fans, mentioned by Graziela (2007), which resembles the principle of the gift, excludes producers of content and holders of the rights oflhe work from the negotiation.

Fans produce and share content, targeting fans like themselves. They do not necessarily want to get the attention of the television station. The dedication of fans to the fictional universe is not transferred to the producers. Graziela (2007) reveals the conflict between fans who share the programmes they love and producers who try in every way to prevent this from happening, even resorting to threats. The researcher mentions, as an example, an international television series that was negotiated for Brazil and the clash between the foreign producers and Brazilian fans who shared links of the episodes on a social network. As long as the audience and sales by windows/territories are part of the remuneration model of audiovisual content, there will be an imbalance of interests between fans and producers, causing friction.

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