Un­der­ground lovers

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Television - TIM MARTAIN

CHAN­NEL 9’ s an­nual rat­ings mag­net Un­der­belly is now start­ing to throw its weight around online.

The lat­est sea­son, Un­der­belly: Ra­zor, is set in Syd­ney in the 1920s, fo­cus­ing on the gang wars fu­elled by com­pet­ing broth­els and sly grog shops.

The first episode was viewed by more than 81,000 Tas­ma­ni­ans on WIN and 3.4 mil­lion peo­ple na­tion­wide.

On Nine’s online catch-up site, FIXPlay, it was viewed an­other 150,000 times.

Cap­i­tal­is­ing on the pull of online view­ing, Nine is also sup­ple­ment­ing each week’s episode with a range of ex­tras: short be­hind-the-scenes fea­turettes, sneak peeks at new episodes, cast and crew in­ter­views and his­tor­i­cal doc­u­men­taries about the true story be­hind the se­ries.

The short doc­u­men­taries have been viewed about 20,000 times each.

Now that it’s so easy to watch online con­tent on in­ter­net­ca­pable TVs, it will be in­ter­est­ing to watch for any in­creases in catch-up view­ing.

These tele­vi­sion net­work web­sites, with their stream­ing con­tent and exclusive ex­tras, might be­come the new bat­tle­ground for free-to-air pro­gram­ming as the era of down­load piracy leaves the tra­di­tional broad­cast me­dia scram­bling for a new fund­ing struc­ture to sup­port it­self.

Even the for­ever-free YouTube has started run­ning ad­ver­tis­ing to help sup­port its op­er­a­tions, much to the dis­gust of many reg­u­lar view­ers, but peo­ple are get­ting used to it – af­ter all, the money has to come from some­where.

It’s a clever piece of logic, re­ally: if you know lots of your po­ten­tial view­ers would pre­fer to turn to the web to watch a show in their own time in­stead of watch­ing it on TV, why not drive those view­ers to your own web­site by mak­ing it eas­ier to get the con­tent there than on Bit­Tor­rent? That way you can still sell ad­ver­tis­ing and re­tain the view­ers.

The Ten Net­work ( TDT) has been work­ing hard on this front, too, not just mak­ing the bulk of its pro­gram­ming avail­able online and in high qual­ity but also of­fer­ing exclusive online ex­tras like the short ‘‘ what do the nurses do when Nina isn’t around?’’ com­edy sketches to go with its pop­u­lar se­ries Off­spring.

Even SBS has launched its new online ser­vice, SBS On De­mand, to re­place its dif­fi­cultto-nav­i­gate pre­de­ces­sor.

We live in an age in which view­ers have come to ex­pect every­thing for free, online, right now, and try­ing to fight that trend is be­com­ing more and more fu­tile.

If the free-to-air net­works can some­how har­ness that down­load/ online cul­ture and find a way to make it pay for it­self, that would be half the bat­tle won.

Im­proved catch-up sites with ex­tra con­tent are a good way to build some brand loy­alty.

Short­en­ing the of­ten lu­di­crously long waits be­tween the show’s over­seas pre­miere and its even­tual screen­ing in Aus­tralia wouldn’t hurt ei­ther.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.