TV Network 'Leaks' Its Own Shows On BitTorrent

from the catch-up-television dept

To be honest, I’ve never quite understood why TV networks and TV producers were so freaked out about online file sharing. After all, they already made their content free to view via television — and adding more ways to see that content should only increase the value of the shows. That’s especially true for shows that people want to stay up on and not miss. The more ways people can see it, the better, because it keeps them engaged and coming back for more. And, after some initial false starts, we are seeing some of that with things like Hulu. But, unfortunately, Hulu is still quite closed off and limiting (regional limitations, streaming — rather than downloads, and some content disappears).

Others, however, seem to be grasping the value of making the content more widely available. A reader using the name PCVirus, sends in the news that down in Australia the TV network Nine Network has been leaking full, high quality downloads of the show Underbelly 2 via BitTorrent, right after the show airs. The network folks note that they see it as “catch-up television”; making sure that fans don’t miss an episode. Not only that, but they encourage fans to share the show via whatever file sharing system they like. The only questionable thing, though, is the claim that the content will “stop working once the season finishes airing.” Not quite sure how that works, but even that seems pretty lame. They’re doing that because they’re afraid it might cut into DVD sales, but as we’ve seen over and over again, if you give people a reason to actually buy the physical product, plenty of people will. So, make the DVDs include tons of extras — and maybe some other types of benefits (opportunity to appear on the show?) and fans will buy.

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Companies: nine network

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Comments on “TV Network 'Leaks' Its Own Shows On BitTorrent”

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hegemon13 says:

Why "Leaking"?

Why are you calling this “leaking”? That implies an unofficial, underground, accidental, or deceptive act. This is deliberate, official, and approved by the network. Why not just say they are releasing it? The association of “leak” with BitTorrent only perpetuates the myth that BitTorrent is only good for illegal or unethical uses.

eleete (user link) says:

Re: Why "Leaking"?

Hey Hegemon, Mike didn’t say it, the article said it, the link in Mikes article says “Full Underbelly 2 episode leaked for Bit Torrenting…by Nine!”

I assume that was because another person made an x-rated version of one of the shows and the TV station denies any knowledge so it is unclear who actually uploaded the video to the torrent site ? One of those, probably was them but might have been a viewer kinda things. In Mike’s headline, you can see he used quotes to show his skepticism too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Why "Leaking"?

Because. Mike is just a blogger with a point of view. Anything he writes is colored to match his world view. i happen to share his view. I unlike Mike just think that the truth is better served by people who do not lie to make a point.

Actually, since the article is cited as using the same language, his reference is correct. Also, in all technicality, it is a “leak” because it was not distributed through official means, and more likely than not, not officially recognized as an official medium of delivery and/or product release. It is just as when a musician “leaks” their music by going through unofficial channels or by not directly acknowledging the action.

Anonymous Coward says:

Underbelly: the original

Underbelly is based on true events between some crime families in Melbourne. The first series of Underbelly was not allowed to be broadcast in the State of Victoria (where Melbourne is) due to the real life crime families being prosecuted.

Because of this failure to air the series in Melbourne and the HUGE demand from Melbournians to see the programme, it was downloaded in huge numbers from P2P sites.

Longfellowx (profile) says:


Do they release/leak the shows with embedded commercials? If I were running a TV network, that’s how I would work the system. High quality (even HD-quality downloads) with three-four minutes of commercials. I know that will make a lot of folks cringe, but that’s a business model networks already stand behind. I’m surprised one of the American networks haven’t tried this already.

Haywood says:

Re: Commercials?

I could live with that, I’d skip through them, but they would have fulfilled their responsibility to the sponsor. The main reason I download TV shows is scheduling conflicts. Networks deliberately run good shows in the same time slot another network has a hit show running. Most of the remaining time slots are filled with game and reality shows which I’d turn the TV off before I would watch. Downloading lets me watch all the choices in a time slot, at a time convenient for me. I spent a considerable amount in hardware to make viewing with a computer as convenient as a DVD player (actually easier I can store days woth of viewing on my HTPC hard drive)

Kirk says:

Re: why not?

I totally agree. Take NBC’s “The Office” for example.

They have a huge online community: Webisodes, Dwight’s blog “Shrute Space,” and Dunder Mifflin Infinity. They could use that network to point members to the newest torrents (CwF.) Heck, they could even put it out while the show is playing.

They could put ten-second ads between every scene, or use custom ads with remixed content; even if I were watching on my hacked dTivo, I probably wouldn’t bother to skip.

They could make a few different versions (read: targeted advertising) based on users’ profiles without diluting the torrent pool too much.

They could put bonus material in there too, like all the deleted scenes they put on the web. Or they could make a few different versions of the show, targeting the content as well as the ads. Alternatively, they could solicit feedback from their users to see which version most people thought was funnier, and learn from that. And if the content was customized in that way, water cooler conversation would drive more traffic to their site the next day.

Sure, some will clip out the ads and repost, but the network is in a position to provide the customer with the easiest solution, in which the torrent file comes to your inbox at a time when no other version is available. No amount of search filtering can beat that. I would never go looking for a torrent of a show that was delivered to me.

Wow! I should be in charge. MY NETWORK, PLEASE!

Fred Mastro (profile) says:

I hope they change positions.

I can’t agree more with this. Just recently a friend was telling me about the TV Show “My Worse Enemy” and to me it sounded like something I might want to watch and actually wanted to watch. So I started to DVR the show, but it was already a few months in.

So I thought well I’ll go download and watch the first 5 or so episodes that I missed and catch up. Because I hate watching a show from the middle, other then a sitcom. So I went on the NBC site and look for the episodes, but they didn’t have the first 5 episodes. They start at Episode 5 or 6 only, and then only have snippets of the previous ones.

So I went on bit torrent sites, only to find no one shared out the first episode. Then I thought I’d try Hulu and they didn’t have the first 4 episodes.

So what the hell? Since I can’t watch the show, I deleted the DVR shows and canceled the recordings. If I can’t catch up then I’ll never watch it. If they would have made the content freely available after it aired, I would have watched all the episodes in question and then would have caught up on the DVR shows, and then started watching them live.

So yes they are shooting themselves in the foot, because now I’m done with the desire or interest to ever see the show.

Kirk says:

Re: Re: OH NO!

Now Mike (see Sec230 article) is linking to links to infringing content. Mike: please report to LAX where you will board a plane to Guantanamo for your infringement hearing. If you have anything to say in your defense, the CIA recommends you say it before you are taken into custody.
I totally agree. Take NBC’s “The Office” for example.

ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

This has been going on for years

The content creators (as opposed to the distributers) have long recognized the value in releasing content to attract viewers. It’s no accident that so many shows are “leaked” before they air. I’m thinking especially of the Sarah Connor premier, which was re-edited at the network’s request, but the original edit showed up on the torrents. (Or so I heard.)

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