There is a great article about the future of acquired programming in Australia, with Bittorrent gaining more users every day. If you are a familiar with the situation, there will be a lot in there that you already know. What you couldn’t possibly have known is that Australia (according to the article) has the most profitable TV industry in the world, or that Aussies are now the greatest Bittorrent thieves downloaders per capita in the world. Read the full (quite long) article here.
In related news, TorrentFreak are reporting that Mininova had its 2 billionth torrent download today, only 7 months after hitting the 1 billion barrier.
The Hollywood studios need to take a serious look at the way they sell programs internationally. At the moment it is a case of “sell program to foreign broadcaster, and then its their problem”. I understand that the earlier a channel wants to air a show, the more it costs. This pushes broadcasters to later air dates, viewers to Mininova, and the show to lower ratings, meaning the foreign broadcasters don’t want to pay as much next time around, basing prices on ever-decreasing ratings.
If this were the other way round, and broadcasters were incentivised to air acquired programming closer to its original airdate (as Sky One try to), there would be less downloading, and more buzz about new shows, worldwide, at the same time. Simple as that.
People download because it is getting easier all the time, and they don’t want to read about a show in the papers or online and get spoiled before they even get the chance to view it themselves, as happened this week with the London Metro and The Sopranos Series finale.
And as I have said before, nobody feels the same stigma as when downloading music, because most (in the UK and throughout Europe) feel they are doing their bit by paying their TV licence. Commercials are evil to most UK viewers, not the necessity that allow broadcasters to bid for the big budget shows in the first place.
In the long term, I see a situation where, as they do with movies, Hollywood sell their TV shows online, and build up their own buzz with press junkets and TV/billboard marketing, and maybe even advance DVD sales.
The internet has created an almost untenable situation where you cannot stop anybody on the planet watching anything they want at any time. The only way Hollywood and foreign broadcasters can fight back is to legally give it to consumers faster, more reliably and in a higher quality than any 15 year-old kid living in his parents basement in middle America. Right now broadcasters are struggling to adapt to that task, and it is killing ratings worldwide.