The ABC has finally announced it will show Doctor Who, starting in May (I’m betting 7:30pm on Saturday or Sunday nights). Meanwhile a new study has shown Australians increasingly downloading TV programmes via the Net, and I think it correctly identifies the cause: viewer frustration with the time the networks take to broadcast overseas programs.
In the case of Doctor Who, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation showed the first episode only about a week after its British premiere. Likewise, Channel 10 is showing new Simpsons episodes shortly after their US premiere. There is no good reason Australians to have to wait weeks or even months.
I don’t think we’re yet at the stage where downloads are in the mainstream, threatening TV ratings (and therefore risking shows never being funded to be made). It’s mostly geeks and hard-core fans (or both) who have taken the trouble to figure out how to use BitTorrent and find the downloads. And the hard-core fans will tune in when it airs on TV anyway.
But as the technology improves and broadband spreads, it’s only a matter of time. Broadcasters need to realise consumers don’t want to wait. We’re in the global village now, and if our neighbours are seeing new episodes of our favourite shows, and the worldwide media are buzzing about it, then we want to tune in too.