That's all great that your freinds are using cheap equipment to make small time videos (no disrespect intended). But videos for DJs that most of america has never heard of and doesn't care about, local commercials, and youtube videos doesn't exactly translate into a multi-billion dollar entertainment industry. YouTube and ESPN video clips have been around for quite a while (at least in tech terms) and they have failed to be disruptive to the traditional model. Clerks and ND might be indie, cult favorites, but on their best day they never garnered the attention of an Avatar or even a John Carter. Think about that. John Carter, a universally labeled flop and a horrible 2 hours of film if ever there was, grossed nearly 8x more than ND. Why? Well - my belief is that independent movies and art house cinema just don't garner the maintstream's interest. And independents such as your friends just don't have the financial backing to produce something like Avatar. Or John Carter. A music video is a far cry from a full length feature film or even 60 minutes of well produced television. And again - no dispresect - they'll never get the backing to produce something like Avatar. or John Carter. Or Game of Thrones. without a business model that provides some reasonable degree of certainty of financial success.
I agree with you that quality can't be ignored nor the need to generate profit.
But Avatar is interesting in the context of cable/sat. It was so successful (box office, Blu-Ray/DVD) that it didn't need
either. You can buy it from iTunes or Vudu and probably others. I imagine at some point it will be rentable this way too.
It is arguably the only really successful 3D movie. It single-handedly started the 3D TV wave.
What if it wasn't available on cable/sat but only on the internet? That could change the paradigm quickly. I'm sure these movie companies have no problem with cable/sat as it's just another delivery path along a long chain and why pass up a buck? But if the paradigm changes I'm pretty certain they could care less. George Lucas and Cameron have enough clout to do anything they want.
So I'm thinking big movies are the least impacted by cable/sat.
Then take just about anything on SyFy. We always imagine greater
... and never get it. Most of the movies they create look like they were filmed by a community college film class. Looks to me like a few decent cameras and Macs and a little skill is all it took. Obviously didn't spend any money on special effects, sets/location, story, or actors.
Surprisingly there are some really good things being made by the pay-movie channels. Game of Thrones, Dexter, Strike Back, True Blood, Homeland, Borgias. All of these could easily make it on their own A La Cart. Only thing preventing it is that the non-cable/sat distributions are one or more seasons behind. I don't think any of them are all that closely bonded to the network that carries them - except for contracts, etc. The creative people behind those will likely go on to create new series that are associated with different distributors.
The opinion in my house is that all the good stuff could easily be prosperous independent of any broadcast method. We would gladly pay for them directly and drop sat.
There is a set of programs we watch that are good enough to watch but not good enough to pay much for - and we find that just about all of them are OTA.
In our view it wouldn't take much to push the paradigm switch in our house. If Apple or Intel or anybody does it right then we're sold.