Doctor injects piracy antidote
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?