Get­ting the

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TELEVISION - TIM MARTAIN

FAST- TRACK­ING is such an abused term in TV pro­gram­ming these days that you could be for­given for pay­ing no at­ten­tion any more when the big net­works use it.

But the peo­ple in charge of sched­ul­ing our favourite shows seem to be grad­u­ally get­ting the idea that view­ers refuse to wait months at a time to see some­thing that has al­ready pre­miered over­seas.

ABC led the way this year with its bold ex­per­i­ment of show­ing the new sea­son of cult sci- fi se­ries Doc­tor Who on its on­line iView ser­vice the in­stant the fi­nal cred­its rolled for each episode in the UK.

The gam­ble paid off, with phe­nom­e­nal on­line rat­ings for Doc­tor Who on iView as fans showed their sup­port for a plan that meant they didn’t have to spend a week or more in fear of read­ing or hear­ing a spoiler some­where.

The other free- to- air net­works are a lit­tle more slug­gish in fol­low­ing suit but they seem to be warm­ing to the idea.

The com­mer­cial net­works’ idea of fast- track­ing has tra­di­tion­ally meant some­thing along the lines of ‘‘ you only need to wait one month in­stead of six months af­ter its US pre­miere date!’’, but as peo­ple in­creas­ingly turn to il­le­gal down­load­ing to avoid the long wait, the fast- track­ing needs to get faster if the net­works want to re­tain view­ers.

Nine is tak­ing some ten­ta­tive baby steps in the right di­rec­tion with its new Tues­day night com­edy line- up.

Each new episode of sea­son six of The Big Bang The­ory hits Aus­tralian screens three days af­ter its US pre­miere, new episodes of 2 Broke Girls one week af­ter their US pre­miere and Two and a Half Men three days af­ter its US pre­miere. Not so bad!

Ten is also show­ing signs of im­prove­ment with the hit se­ries New Girl screening five days af­ter each episode’s US pre­miere, and the lat­est sea­son of NCIS six days af­ter its US pre­miere. New episodes of Emmy- mag­net Mod­ern Fam­ily are lag­ging be­hind, screening about 10 days af­ter their US pre­miere.

But while the com­mer­cial net­works have all made fairly en­try- level ef­forts at fast- track­ing, the gold star has to go to the pay- TV net­works, which are show­ing how it should be done.

On Show­case we have Sons of An­ar­chy sea­son five screening a mere two hours af­ter each episode’s US pre­miere, Board­walk Em­pire sea­son three screening 5 ½ hours af­ter US re­lease, and the seventh sea­son of Dex­ter screening a slightly less im­pres­sive three days af­ter its US pre­miere.

Se­ries three of The Walk­ing Dead screens on the FX chan­nel 33 hours af­ter its US pre­miere and each new episode will also be avail­able to down­load on iTunes the fol­low­ing day.

On Fox8, new episodes of Grimm will screen within 36 hours of the US, Gos­sip Girl within 12 hours, The Vam­pire Di­aries within seven days.

With to­day’s speed of global com­mu­ni­ca­tions and data- trans­fer, there is no rea­son for hav­ing to wait longer than a cou­ple of days for any new pro­gram from the US or UK to reach Aus­tralian screens. Aus­tralian TV net­works seem to be fi­nally fig­ur­ing this out, and hope­fully they can com­mit fully to real fast- track­ing be­fore all their view­ers aban­don them.

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