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Doctor Who Travels Through Time To Stop Australian Pirates By Giving Them What They Want

from the sonic-screwdrivers-can-do-anything dept

For the longest time, we have written that one of the biggest reasons people pirate is because they are potential customers who are underserved. As creators have come to this realization, they have been better able to capture revenue from those customers as their needs have been met. One entertainment industry that still seems to be struggling with this concept is that of television. While networks have made great strides in providing more online content for viewers, many networks still insist on absurd restrictions and windows, even when they make absolutely no sense. Yet, some are learning.

HuwOS sent in news that ABC in Australia has learned that waiting a week after the UK airs Doctor Who to release any version in Australia is a recipe for piracy. As a result of this realization, ABC has decided to release episodes of Doctor Who on its ABC iview service mere hours after the show airs in the UK and a full week before it airs in Australia. In a world that seems to pride itself on 8 day or even one month delays (I'm looking at you Syfy), this is simply unfathomable. But not for ABC's Brendan Dahill.
ABC1 controller Brendan Dahill said the decision to air the show online before television was motivated by a desire to reduce piracy, as well as fulfill the needs of drooling Whovians, who have waited almost a year for the new series.

" Piracy is wrong, as you are denying someone their rights and income for their intellectual property," Mr Dahill said. "The fact that it is happening is indicative that as broadcasters we are not meeting demand for a segment of the population.

"So as broadcasters we need to find convenient ways of making programs available via legal means to discourage the need for piracy."
Imagine that. Providing convenient and timely access to content reducing piracy. Most shows, particularly popular shows like Doctor Who, tend to show up on less legal services mere minutes after airing for those tired of waiting for the networks to catch up with their needs. Waiting at least a week after airing in another territory to make the show available would definitely result in a good number of potential viewers having already seen the show prior to legal options becoming available. Yet, making this move toward reducing piracy by making content available, ABC will be capturing more legal views and the revenue that comes with it.

One can only hope that other networks learn this lesson at some point. Yet, that may be a bit of an uphill battle as Brendan notes.
But he also acknowledged that the ABC did not have to compete for ratings like other channels, allowing it to make broadcasting decisions that provide convenience and choice for its audience.
Funny how that works. When you are not bogged down by often unreliable statistics like ratings, you can provide services that your customers want. Its this rethinking of what brings about success in the digital age that will truly maximize revenue.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    The Logician (profile), Aug 30th, 2012 @ 5:20am

    This incident serves as a simple yet effective demonstration of how adjusting business policies and procedures to reflect actual consumer demand is both profitable and reduces infringement in a positive way. It is unfortunate, however, that most such networks and entertainment companies are not likely to learn from this experience.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2012 @ 5:27am

    > When you are not bogged down by often unreliable
    > statistics like ratings,
    > you can provide services that your customers want.

    Holy simplified economics, Batman! It should be clear
    to everyone that many companies in ABC's position
    have two kinds of customers: advertisers and viewers.
    Finding the optimal strategy for maximizing income
    is then not (necessarily) just "giving the viewer
    what he wants".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Aug 30th, 2012 @ 5:30am

    iView (Oh and how Apple Inc hate that name) is an absolutely wonderful service by our national free-to-air broadcaster and has nearly every single show ever show on the service available at minimum 1hr after it is aired for a period of at least 3 weeks (sometimes forever).

    Though admittedly it is streaming it at SD resolution (640 x 320+) using same flv format as youtube an at around 1Mbs ~ 600kbps so it isn't 720 or even 1080p quality which is what the actual over the air broadcast is done at it is still better than nothing.

    The reason it's at SD is a few reasons the main one being that within Australia ISP's have data packages that are capped at specific amounts (anywhere from 10gb per month to 100Gb) and at 1.5Mbs on a good day [especially in the country areas away from capital cities) so this service does cost, though some providers like iiNet do place anything from iView as free (no download charge) so maybe one day when our NBN fibre system is in place send the stream at a good 1080p (& in 3d) definition.

     

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  4.  
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    IronM@sk, Aug 30th, 2012 @ 5:31am

    ABC is not a commercial station

    It's worth noting, Zach, that the ABC in Australia is not a commercial station. All content is purchased/licensed/produced with a budget provided by the federal government.

    With this in mind, the ABC doesn't have to be concerned about cannibalising their TV ratings/audience/advertising partners because they do not run any advertising to support their content. Thus the conversation about what they potentially lose/gain by doing this is moot.

    I can guarantee you will never find any of the commercial stations in Australia willing to provide the same service as it would piss off their advertising partners.

     

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  5.  
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    justok (profile), Aug 30th, 2012 @ 5:34am

    It's all a bit piracy wiracy.

     

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  6.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Aug 30th, 2012 @ 5:38am

    Re:

    A caveat.. the ABC is not just a national carrier but also a non profit, mandated by statute authority that does not allow advertising or endorsement of services/products on any of it's services (radio, film, TV, web, shops) in any way shape nor form.

    It's very similar to the British BBC. So has no commercial responsibility to provide for advertisers concerns and instead its actual major stakeholders and shareholders are the Australian Public.

    Oh and for all those parents out there it is where Bananas In Pyjamas came from ;)

     

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  7.  
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    Lauriel (profile), Aug 30th, 2012 @ 5:41am

    Re:

    Agreed. iView is the best for (legal) streaming. Channel 10's service is poorly executed, and the others aren't even on the map. The ABC get digital media.

    That said, they don't have the same structure as commercial channels, so I'm not sure it can be used to demonstrate financial viability for purely commercial, non-subsudised channels.

    And I'm looking forward to Dr. Who. :)

     

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  8.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Aug 30th, 2012 @ 5:42am

    Re:

    It's pretty damned close though. Don't give viewers what they want and you have less viewers and thus less people to advertise to.

     

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  9.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Aug 30th, 2012 @ 5:46am

    Re: Re:

    Well 10's is not too bad I agree , though SBS's system isn't bad at all though 7's and 9's (does nine have one???) is CRAP!

    Looking forward to it too, been watching the good Doctor since Pertwee on a B&W box hiding behind the lounge cushions ;) {Tom Baker is still MY Doctor though Tennant I think was fantastic)

    So you think They will kill Rory? Again! muwahahahaha

     

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  10.  
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    Kurata, Aug 30th, 2012 @ 5:50am

    This reminds me of a manager at a manga publishing company. I asked him why they didn't want to publish newly translated chapters on the internet for a paid service, or free with ads or something.

    He answered he was afraid of piracy. Meanwhile, I answered that piracy hadn't waited for them to publish stuff on the internet, and he had no answer to give me.

     

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  11.  
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    Lauriel (profile), Aug 30th, 2012 @ 5:56am

    Re: Re: Re:

    After they made him a mythological character and man of mystery? Pft!

    Also been watching since Pertwee, count Tom Baker as my Doctor, and think Tennant was brilliant (and sexy).

    And now.. back to your scheduled Techdirt programming. :p

     

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  12.  
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    The eejit (profile), Aug 30th, 2012 @ 6:06am

    Re:

    It's a big ball of timey-wimey, piracy-wiracy....stuff.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Josef Anvil (profile), Aug 30th, 2012 @ 6:07am

    Re: Huh???

    "Finding the optimal strategy for maximizing income
    is then not (necessarily) just "giving the viewer
    what he wants"

    Holy Batshit economics!

    How is not giving the viewer what he wants, not optimal? Keeping all eyes on your monetized content is the goal presumably. Soooo not streaming your monetized content to viewer who will just watch it elsewhere on the web is smart how?

    But but but... They need to pay. Wait, it's paid for already. Ummmm we haven't figured out how to better monetize the streaming service? Ummmm it's just not right? What about the children?

     

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  14.  
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    Wally (profile), Aug 30th, 2012 @ 6:38am

    Re:

    "iView (Oh and how Apple Inc hate that name) is an absolutely wonderful service by our national free-to-air broadcaster and has nearly every single show ever show on the service available at minimum 1hr after it is aired for a period of at least 3 weeks (sometimes forever). "

    Please tell me it's not region locked :-) I want my Dr.Who in the US. If not, when does it air in my time (Eastern Standard).

    "Though admittedly it is streaming it at SD resolution (640 x 320+) using same flv format as youtube an at around 1Mbs ~ 600kbps so it isn't 720 or even 1080p quality which is what the actual over the air broadcast is done at it is still better than nothing."

    Doesn't matter, my AMD 64870G APU powered laptop scales this quite nicely. Has HDMI on it.


    "The reason it's at SD is a few reasons the main one being that within Australia ISP's have data packages that are capped at specific amounts (anywhere from 10gb per month to 100Gb) and at 1.5Mbs on a good day [especially in the country areas away from capital cities) so this service does cost, though some providers like iiNet do place anything from iView as free (no download charge) so maybe one day when our NBN fibre system is in place send the stream at a good 1080p (& in 3d) definition."

    *friendly ribbing on* That's what you get for living in a country that doesn't allow a region-based oligopolies =P *friendly ribbing off*

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2012 @ 6:40am

    Re:

    Derp derp derp derp...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Aug 30th, 2012 @ 6:56am

    Re:

    many companies in ABC's position
    have two kinds of customers: advertisers and viewers.
    Finding the optimal strategy for maximizing income
    is then not (necessarily) just "giving the viewer
    what he wants".


    This is a monopolist's viewpoint. It assumes that neither the veiwers, nor the advertisers, have other options.

    The veiwers will leave and find what they want through other means, legal or not. When the advertisers see that viewers are leaving, they'll stop buying ad space with you and go where they can reach their audience.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2012 @ 6:57am

    Re: ABC is not a commercial station

    I think one of the primary reasons for this move being good is something like letting people researh on the data for piracy in Australia: If they can prove a reduction in piracy from moving the window, it can become a huge success. The advertising partners are mostly extremely conservative and want proof of the positive effect before risking money on the wild wild interconnected datanetworks. If this is a success and they can proove a success in Australia, this move has the potential to become a killer of at least the broadcast windows.
    I am of the opinion that if a few geeks would donate a freeware version of the same kind of software they use on twitch, own3d, livestream and several other completely legal technology pushers, this has the potential to have a very positive effect on how the advertisers think. We already saw the mothership, CBS, opening up for a cooperation with Twitch.tv on sharing commercials in april and I think that might turn out to be one of the best investments they have ever made since twitch.tv has some very skilled programmers on their staff.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2012 @ 6:58am

    I find it fascinating that he described piracy as both wrong and as a need.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    frosty840, Aug 30th, 2012 @ 7:01am

    Re:

    Got to disagree with this...

    There's only one customer, the advertiser. Given this, the optimal strategy would surely be to maximise satisfied, and therefore susceptible, viewers, and therefore be able to charge a premium to their advertisers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Aug 30th, 2012 @ 7:04am

    Re:

    What can bring you more reliable ratings statistics? Nielsen ratings extrapolated out? Or actual counts from online streams?

    My guess is the old method of viewership stats collected was filled with inaccuracy and, with the way Hollywood does it's math, significantly overblown. And when better data collection comes out it turns out that tv shows weren't really reaching the number of eyeballs that they had been selling to advertisers all along.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Big Al, Aug 30th, 2012 @ 7:06am

    Re:

    " many companies in ABC's position
    have two kinds of customers: advertisers and viewers."
    just as well the Australian Brodcasting Corporation (ABC) doesn't have any advertising, so they only have to worry about one kind of customer. But I won't be getting up at 5 am to log in to iView - that can wait until the evening :)

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Wendigo, Aug 30th, 2012 @ 7:08am

    Re:

    Nice...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    gnudist, Aug 30th, 2012 @ 7:12am

    Re:

    So it's like sex with midgets?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Aug 30th, 2012 @ 7:16am

    "Piracy is wrong, as you are denying someone their rights and income for their intellectual property," Mr Dahill said. "The fact that it is happening is indicative that as broadcasters we are not meeting demand for a segment of the population. So as broadcasters we need to find convenient ways of making programs available via legal means to discourage the need for piracy."

    This statement sums up all of TechDirt.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2012 @ 7:20am

    Re: Re:

    Reduce the eyeballs watching the provided content and the advertisers will jump ship.

    Your opinion is very short term and is not going to be a viable strategy for long term planning.

    Yes, the advertisers pay the bills. The number of viewers watching are what draw the advertisers. Increase the viewers and the advertisers will follow.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2012 @ 7:20am

    I never understood why it's piracy to make a copy of a program they just aired over public airwaves! Strange!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    The eejit (profile), Aug 30th, 2012 @ 7:40am

    Re: Re: Re:

    And you cannot do that by giving customers what they want...why, precisely?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2012 @ 7:41am

    FTFY

    "When you are not bogged down by often unreliable statistics like ratings, you can provide services that your viewers want."

    The viewers (the audience) and the customers (the advertisers) are not the same thing. Ratings relate to advertising prices and therefore advertisers (someone has to pay for the yachts).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2012 @ 7:44am

    FMOPFY (Fixed My Own Post For You)

    "When you are not bogged down by often unreliable statistics like ratings, you can provide services that your viewers want."

    The viewers (the audience) and the customers (the advertisers) are not the same thing. Ratings relate to advertising prices and therefore advertisers (someone has to pay for the yachts).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Ed C., Aug 30th, 2012 @ 8:46am

    Re: Re:

    Interesting point. Nielsen probably extrapolated their numbers to the entire demographic population--either regionally or nationally--by assuming that the entire demographic--or some unreasonably large percentage of it--watches TV. However, some people don't watch TV...at all...in any format. Some dropped broadcast in favor of DVD sets. Some only watch news or other non-produced broadcast. And with the increased diversity of entertainment options, those numbers are growing.

    So, yes, broadcasters probably have been ignoring their streaming stats because they clearly show that Nielsen's numbers are far divorced from reality--something that many outside of the industry has know for decades.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    Rob, Aug 30th, 2012 @ 8:51am

    BBCAmerica has done the same thing

    It was only a few years ago that I had this same issue with Doctor Who. It would air in the UK weeks before it was available here in the USA. Of course many people downloaded it off the internet for free minutes after it aired in the UK. Why would anyone wait weeks for it to be broadcast here.

    Now I noticed last year BBCAmerica started showing episodes only a few hours after they aired in the UK. I guess they learned. Saturdays new episode will air at 9pm in the UK then 9pm the same day on BBCAmerica. Lesson learned BBCAmerica. Well done!
    I bet the cut the piracy by %80.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Ed C., Aug 30th, 2012 @ 8:56am

    Re:

    Yes, Politish is a fascinating dialect of Weaselese.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2012 @ 9:00am

    Want my money? Here are the conditions I dictate:

    shortlist of 'do not want':
    - unskippable trailers:
    I bought it, so I don't want to be forced to view your advertisements. If you wanna advertise, pay for it, don't sneak it into the product I bought. I don't intend to pay for your advertisement.
    - piracy warnings:
    When i go shopping i'm not subjected to a mandatory lecture about shoplifting before i'm allowed inside, each time i visit the store. Any sensible business deasn't treat every customers as (potential) thieves.
    - scheduled releases windows:
    If they can see it in country X at date Y, I wanna see it at date Y in my own country. releasing at date Y+1 or later devalues your product to 0.
    - DRM: This is basically a built-in expiration date. You'll never convince me that your drm servers will be up forever.
    When i buy i buy, when i rent i'll go to the videorental shop. Don't try to camouflage long term rental as a sale.
    Furthermore it unnecessarily restricts which devices I can play it on. Which is a major inconvenience. Inconvenience devalues your product.
    - region locking: only helps to enforce release windows and enables price discrimination.
    - movies that weren't made with an effing cookie cutter
    - hollywood accounting: You're screwing artists, actors, musicians out of money because they didn't negotiate % of gross. When i spend my money I expect everyone who contibuted to get his fair share.

    That being said I'll go back to reading one of the thousands public domain e-books on my reader while I wait for common sense to dribble it's way into the hollywood. More than enough to keep me busy for life, since i'm not optimistic about them actually wanting to do bussiness with me.

     

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  34.  
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    Duh-lek, Aug 30th, 2012 @ 9:06am

    Re:

    OBFUSCATE! OBFUSCATE! OBFUSCATE!!

     

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  35.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 30th, 2012 @ 9:25am

    Interesting. When there's an experiment that may contradict the established "knowledge" about piracy and release windows they magically don't have detailed ratings for the audience and so. Makes one wonder if they really want to reduce piracy or the goal is an entire different thing...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Aug 30th, 2012 @ 10:44am

    Re: ABC is not a commercial station

    It's worth noting, Zach, that the ABC in Australia is not a commercial station. All content is purchased/licensed/produced with a budget provided by the federal government.

    Yes. I made this mistake a year or so ago on another article. Australia's ABC is not affiliated with ABC/Disney.

    It's akin to PBS in the US or Britain's BBC.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2012 @ 1:09pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Of course 7's, 9's & 10's are crap! They're commercial networks, and want to prove that online streaming's not worthwhile.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    MrWilson, Aug 30th, 2012 @ 1:53pm

    Re:

    Piracy - noun, The act of doing anything the rights holder doesn't like.

    - From the IP Maximalist Dictionary

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2012 @ 2:20pm

    UPDATE

    In a press release, ABC TV has acknowledged the error of their ways and not only fired Bredan Dahill, they have blacklisted him in the copyrighted works industry (world wide). ABC TV sincerely wishes Mr. Dahill and any family or friends he may have to be set on fire.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2012 @ 6:07pm

    Re: BBCAmerica has done the same thing

    At first I saw your name and read it as "Bob"...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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