Doc­tor in­jects piracy an­ti­dote

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Television - TIM MARTAIN

ONCE again ABC has proved it is well ahead of the curve when it comes to adapt­ing to the on­line me­dia land­scape.

Only days af­ter an­nounc­ing it would fast- track the lat­est se­ries of Doc­tor Who to our screens – mak­ing fans wait only one week be­tween the UK pre­miere and see­ing it on ABC1 here – Aunty has fol­lowed up with a real coup.

Hard­core Who­vians were able to get up at 5.10am last Sun­day and watch the lon­gawaited new episode on iView within min­utes of its UK pre­miere.

That’s right. No wait. At all. The only way to see it sooner would be to be in Lon­don to watch it on BBC One.

Now, the thing about Doc­tor Who is that fans are ex­actly the kind of heav­ily ad­dicted trag­ics ( I in­clude my­self in this) who ab­so­lutely hate hav­ing to wait to see new episodes.

ABC has come to the party in the past, al­ways en­deav­our­ing to get new episodes to our screens as quickly as pos­si­ble.

Sadly, in the con­text of free- to- air TV, wait­ing a week isn’t con­sid­ered to be that long. But this time, ABC lis­tened to its view­ers.

The iView on­line ser­vice is not a slave to the dark arts of sched­ul­ing, so why not just put the episode on­line as soon as pos­si­ble rather than six days later?

I don’t know how ABC got per­mis­sion to do it but they put the episode up on­line right af­ter the fi­nal cred­its rolled in the UK.

Not only does this mean fans are grate­ful for not be­ing forced to wait but it also cir­cum­vents piracy.

It sim­ply makes no sense to down­load it il­le­gally now be­cause it’s lit­er­ally eas­ier, faster and more con­ve­nient to do it legally.

This is ex­actly the kind of think­ing that all free- to- air net­works should be adopt­ing as they strug­gle to re­tain view­ers, many of whom would rather just down­load what they want to watch so they can watch it in a timely man­ner and in their own time.

I’m sure ABC’s lack of com­mer­cial con­sid­er­a­tions makes it an eas­ier process be­cause the com­mer­cial net­works are still reliant on sell­ing ad­ver­tis­ing to fi­nance ev­ery­thing they broad­cast.

But what this lat­est iView ex­per­i­ment has shown is that if you give view­ers a le­gal op­tion that is ac­tu­ally prefer­able to the il­le­gal one, they will take it.

News Lim­ited CEO Kim Wil­liams raised the ire of the web re­cently when he took aim at on­line piracy for rob­bing creators of in­come and the pub­lic of greater pieces of en­ter­tain­ment by un­der­min­ing the abil­ity of creators to be paid for their work.

Mr Wil­liams was sav­aged in so­cial me­dia, mostly for his sug­ges­tion that in­ter­net ser­vice providers should do more to po­lice the il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties of their users.

But he did have a point: piracy costs creators and pro­duc­ers a lot of lost rev­enue and when a se­ries fails on TV be­cause ev­ery­one down­loaded it, the pro­duc­ers are that much less likely to be able to make some­thing else.

What ABC has done is prove the best way to fight piracy is to make it un­nec­es­sary. The stum­bling block is that com­mer­cial net­works would need to make sure this tac­tic is fi­nan­cially vi­able. But surely it’s worth think­ing about, right?

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