Download of the Daleks
So here’s something really cool that the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC, not to be confused with the American network) did. While the ABC is not broadcasting Asylum of the Daleks until sometime next week, they arranged to show the episode online through their iView service immediately following UK broadcast.
Here’s an article explaining that. Surprise, surprise, 80,000 people—about 10-15% of its audience—watched it online at a ridiculous hour of the morning for them.
It’s a fascinating tactic, designed to curb downloading and torrenting by providing the episode as soon as possible. And it’s something I think BBC America and SPACE could learn from; but it does require a bit of a paradigm shift.
BBC America and SPACE have already managed to curb downloading by showing the episodes the same day as it airs in Britain. I’ve talked to different people at both SPACE and BBC America over the past couple of years and they’ve all mentioned to me that their ratings are always higher when they show day and date with the UK than when there’s a 1-2 week delay. A good chunk of the audience are happy to wait a few hours to watch the episode. Any more than that they download.
But here’s my question: could they be even higher still if they followed the ABC’s practice and showed that night’s episode online immediately after UK broadcast with limited commercial interruption (like a series of ads before the episode)?
To my mind there are three reasons why people download stories right now in North America:
1) immediacy - having it right away. And I mean right away, like immediately following UK broadcast if not sooner.
2) convenience - having it in a format they want to see it in, ie. without commercials or (during series 6) that stupid introduction.
3) portability - being able to watch it on a computer or on a HD TV or DVD player that reads formats like .mkv or DivX files.
If they showed the stories right after UK broadcast online, that takes care of 1). If they did limited commercial interruption or put them at the start of the program, that takes care of 2). And in this age of AppleTV and web-ready TV, we’re getting perilously close to achieving 3).
So could BBC America and SPACE do this?
I don’t know. The ABC have a ratings model where their online viewings get added to their television viewings. (The BBC does this, and as the article says, many American networks are moving this way). I don’t know if cable networks like SPACE and BBC America work that way. Also, both North American outlets are commercial stations; they couldn’t just show it with no ads, and to do it with limited advertising would almost require a special sponsor for an online channel…which may not be so easy to sell.
But I think this is the way to go for broadcasting Doctor Who in the future.
Posted by Graeme on Tuesday, September 4 at 9:22 am