Hide Techdirt is off for the long weekend! We'll be back with our regular posts tomorrow.

TV People Realizing That The Internet Is Global

from the shocker dept

It’s kind of amusing to read this NY Times article about how the producers of Doctor Who had the brilliant idea of showing the latest season in the UK and the US on the same day this season, rather than showing it in the UK and then delaying the US release for a while. It’s typical that TV shows are released at different times in different countries, which is a massive frustration to fans, and generally encourages more file sharing in that people want to know what happens (and what others are talking about online). So it took a huge revelation to realize that perhaps these kinds of regional differences in release schedules is pointless. That realization is good — but what’s amusing is how it’s made out to be such a big revelation, when it’s something that plenty of people have been talking about for years… and wondering why the TV folks took so long to figure it out.

Filed Under: , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “TV People Realizing That The Internet Is Global”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
xenomancer (profile) says:


At some point we need to figure out how to consistently get a contingent of well informed consumers and/or consumer advocates to spam the people just breaching these massive epiphanies with GOOD ideas. And when I say spam, I don’t mean unsolicited direct communication (they’re immune to that…), I mean ‘hack’ their ‘random’ selection process for test audiences and questionnaires. The sickening part is that not only are these TV dweebs just coming to terms with reality, but they take credit for discovering the basic infrastructure they work next to like a typical egocentric five year old figuring out an automatic car door window. I would have far less of a problem with usurped credit if it didn’t take decades of public outcry to accomplish in the first place! For all of their statistically derived ‘public opinion’ they seem keen to ignore the rest of the population sampled. Sure, this may open the door to shows with ratings in the trillions if someone misses a decimal place or two, but we would still be better off without misinformed morons turning bad statistics into worse decision making.

*steps off soapbox*
*hands over bullhorn*
*receives a cookie*

Zacqary Adam Green (profile) says:

As an uninformed US citizen with only passing familiarity of how the BBC operates, I have to ask: what motive does the BBC have to limit file sharing of Doctor Who? Aren’t they a public broadcaster, funded by TV licensing fees, and they don’t have to assure advertisers that people are watching the broadcast? Isn’t it in their best interest for as many people to watch Doctor Who as possible?

What am I missing here?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Replyin’ to this because I got into a huge “debate” (read: argument) over this with a TV license inspector (yes we have them) when I was away at university.

TV licenses in the UK are required if you are actively watching “live” broadcast TV. So if, I dunno, Doctor Who is going out on the BBC and you’re watching it on the TV in your house, you need a TV license. If you’re watching a Doctor Who DVD, you don’t need a TV license.

Basically if you’re picking up a channel as it is currently being broadcast, you need a license. If you’re watching DVDs, videos, playing consoles or using your TV for some other purpose, you don’t need one. This particular issue got my goat a while back because the inspectors going around my campus were bullying people into thinking that you need a license if you watch any form of moving picture, including youtube. It’s bollocks; watching TV as it’s aired is all you need one for, and that includes internet services like the BBC iPlayer.

ethorad (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yes, if you’re picking up a channel as it is being broadcase then you need a licence. Not just watching it, but recording requires a licence as well.

It also seems that if you don’t have a licence you shouldn’t have anything able to receive signals – ie don’t tune your TV in, don’t plug the aerial in, and don’t install the TV receiving software on your computer. I think if you have a TV all set up and plugged in without a good explanation the authorities are likely to determine that you should have bought a licence and fine you.

I don’t really know how it works with the new technology though. You need the licence to receive TV signals – even if you only ever watch Sky and never watch terrestrial broadcasts. You need the licence if you watch or record the live signals. However, you don’t need a licence to watch pre-recorded stuff like bought DVDs or catch-up stuff like the BBC’s iPlayer.

So how do services like Sky+ fit in? If you only ever watch things using Sky+ (ie on demand, not as broadcast) do you need a licence?

Seems that you don’t – but I can see you having to argue that in court.

That Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The have lucrative deals with cable stations in the US for the right to air the show.
They have laws that control the images, music, likenesses of the people and they have to meet those contractual requirements when exporting.
There is also the DVD/BluRay sales, and digital download sales to be made.

In the land of DVRs and HTPCs they fear fans will get high quality files and ignore their other offerings.

But then I saw several seasons of Dr Who on Amazon Goldbox today for 32ish… down from the $80 retail price.
I have to believe they are more popular at 32 than 80, and at that price most Who fans, even those who dared to download, would be counting pennies to be able to buy the box sets.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:

There is also the DVD/BluRay sales, and digital download sales to be made.

Don’t you mean digital rentals? I’m not aware of any place that sell DRM free video downloads, and as long as the videos have DRM, you will never truly own them. Your ability to play them only lasts as long as you can get a valid license file for them.

Big Al says:

Re: Re:

While the BBC are publicly funded, they also make a lot of extra money licensing their shows to other networks. That’s the extra money to produce decent drama and documentaries rather than second-rate ones.
They do get technically get paid by the eyeball for shows they license out, so it is in their commercial interest that the other networks attract large viewing figures so that they get more money to plough back into producing decent TV.
Less sharing (by releasing simultaneously both sides of the Atlantic) is definitely in their interests.

MrBeck (profile) says:

Re: Why the BBC care

The BBC care because the sell the shows to the US. If the US watch the shows via some other means, the value goes down so the BBC make less money when they come to sell the show. Why they don’t offer a subscription for internet TV I have no idea. Teh licence fee is about $20 per month so a sub of the same price would seem reasonable.

Silver says:

Too little too late..

As soon as we had the capability to get around regional restrictions with the internet, the TV industry should have noticed and should have changed right away. Instead they fought and cried and screamed at piracy..when they could have done the smart thing and released the same show, everywhere, at the same time.

Charles says:

This is probably another can of worms altogether regarding digital copyrights and such things, probably off topic but what about geoblocking shows on network websites? what’s the point?

It’s hilarious because i have access to all of these networks in my cable package and can watch these shows if i schedule the right time to sit down and view them or if i remember to record them and yet THEY (these websites like the american ABC, NBC, CBS even Showtime, HBO etc.) are blocking my internet service provider from accessing on their websites based on some ridiculous regional copyright nonsense.

I don’t get it… the people in these corporations and businesses don’t know right from left at all and I would wish that they wake up and smell the coffee for a change.

No wonder people are downloading all the time coming back to the topic of this post and especially when productions are aired at different times globally, talk about think skulls.

Nick Coghlan (profile) says:

Nope, they still don't get it.

Australian free-to-air telecasts of Dr Who are still delayed a week since they want the UK to be first, but want to air it in the Saturday prime-time slot in Australia.

So, no, they still don’t get it. They’re still missing the main benefit offered by DVRs and file-sharing: watching TV shows when it suits you rather than some exec’s idea of the best time to reach their target demographic.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Nope, they still don't get it.

The Australian ABC has been annoying Whovians (pissing em off totally) for the last few years.

Not only do we get the Episodes of Doctor Who weeks (sometimes months) later, we also get a cut down version of the “making of” confidential show that on UK/US TV is approx 45mins per episode whereas in Australia its only approx 15mins. The phrase “Exterminate” comes to mind when thinking of ABC programmers and buyers

Though talking of the newest synchronised release of season 6, there are also three other reasons, other than ‘torrents’ why it was done as it was.

1/ First time EVER that Doctor Who had a specific storyline wholly set in the USA (and filmed there too) allowing the new US audience to have more ownership with the franchise

2/ The storyline for the first 1omins of the show was set on the 22nd of April 2012. Might seem insignificant but as per first episode season 5 (and previous) the show tries to start on that specific timelined date

3/ the most significant reason for synchronisation for FANS across the US and UK and that pisses any AUST/NZ [or other countries] off is… SPOILERS!

It was the #1 Trending topic on Twitter when it was shown. It is all over Tumblr and Facebook with people talking about the show and gifs/jpgs being published everywhere. And believe me any Fan of the show (I go back to Jon Pertwee era myself) looks at these sites and reads about it. SPOILERS ARE ANNOYING!

Luckily I myself saw the first episode the day after it came out in the UK/USA. It came to me in a time-shifted package I sent to myself next week 😉

Peet McKimmie (profile) says:

Re: Re: Nope, they still don't get it.

Just FYI, here in the UK we get either the long or short version of “Confidential” depending on the scheduling; usually we get the full 40-45 minute version with the original showing of an episode, but only the 12-15 minute version with the repeat.

And, trust me, you’re not missing much. When you compare a 45-minute “Confidential” to its 15-minute counterpart, the extra half hour feels like “filler” and archive stuff not actually directly related to the episode.

Anonymous Coward says:

It is easy to sit back and play armchair quaterback over decisions made within segments of the entertainment industry. The assumption by many QB’s seems to be that portions of the industry just do not get it. The internet has turned, for example, the television broadcast industry into one huge, worldwide market, with throngs of fans scattered throughtout the world.

Maybe there is merit to some of this, but as industry outsiders it is not possible to have a firm grasp and/or insight into all of the factors that go into the decision making of broadcasters. It seems reasonable to assume that contracts stretched across international boundaries have an impact. Broadcast preferences in one country may not be sufficient to generate ad revenue that makes the effort a worthwhile endeavor. Language barriers may likewise present challenges that are not easily overcome. Local customs or societal mores may serve as an impediment.

Thus, while it is easy to lob grenades over the transom at broadcasters, there may very well be significant obstacles that must be overcome.

“I want it and I want it now” may be the mindset of some consumers, but this does not mean that this mindset is as easy to meet as some may want to believe.

Nick Coghlan (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Oh, I’m perfectly away of the way that existing obligations can limit an organisation’s ability to adapt. The NY Times, for example, can’t go “stuff it, we’re going digital only” because they’d have to fire too many people (i.e. all the ones paid for tasks solely related to printing and shipping dead tree editions), would likely breach standing advertisement contracts, would definitely breach subscription agreements with recipients of the hard copy edition and probably a whole host of other issues.

Companies can even do it to themselves, with requirements for internal processes that must still be followed even when they no longer make sense, and even the people that know better put up with it because they have more important battles to fight.

This is why merely *knowing* about The Innovator’s Dilemma isn’t enough to avoid it. Locking in multi-year contracts is just part of doing business, but when the technology is changing rapidly, that contract which seemed like such a boon when it was signed may become a liability just a year or two down the track.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: BBCA

No BBCA in HD here in Philly either, altho some eps are available OnDemand (Comcast) in HD…the latest episode is.

Last season is available in HD on demand. Well, most of them, it’s quite stupid: 2 through 6, 8 through 11, and 13, so I had to watch 1, 7, and 12 in standard def on my HDTV with my HD box from Comcast. Why the hell aren’t all of them there?!

*cuddles Comcast hate*

Anonymous Coward says:

So stupid. They’d do better if they just released an official download/torrent with an internationally acceptable ad at the beginning and more tacked on during or after the credits. For a streaming service ads can be as targeted as possible, geographically and in consumer-taste. Just put a trailer for next weeks episode at the end. Viewership rises and they make more for ads.

The purchase of home media isn’t that old, and it doesn’t take a genius to see that it can’t be assumed a reliable income into the future. If this is what they’re trying to protect, then good luck to them. It won’t work.

Jon Lawrence (profile) says:

Re: Re:

What is this “internationally accepted” ad you speak of? 😉

It does not exist. There’s a large # of reasons that international sales are just that, sales to territories. And while money is one of them, regionalization (think, digital personalization) is one of them. Subtitling, dubbing into other languages, culturally acceptable ad sales materials, etc. are others.

Now, that’s not a defense of the way thing are now, but there really truly *are* things that can and should be “value adds” in regional sales of content in a global market.

But generally speaking, regional distribs/resellers (if you will) of content are far further behind the tech curve than we are; so to suggest these newer digital models to the middlemen (who really can add some local value), really threatens their own businesses, and on top of that, they’re not technically capable of delivering to their broader audience in ways that provide good experiences to their audience and still satisfies tracking and reporting (at the very least, even forgetting DRM, which the US rightsholders are, of course, unwilling to do) requirements.

Anyway, it’s a little thornier than we’d all like it to be for sure. It will, eventually get sorted out.

MrBeck (profile) says:

Re: Re: Google

Apparently there is this company on the internet that is has been somewhat successful selling ads internationally and supporting their services through these ads. I believe they are called Google. I believe broadcaster=dinosaur and that alone is the problem. They had a good run, as did the buggy whip makers and now they are about as useful. The only thing keeping them alive are the millions spent on lobbying our “public servants” to strangle competition. Whatever the solution I find it very unlikely the current crop of broadcasters and content “suppliers” (they don’t make it, and the people who do are beginning to discover they don’t need them) will be part of it.

Anonymous Coward says:

In the UK we get stuff from America very late. As an example of something I recently started watching, Boardwalk Empire only started airing in the UK a couple of weeks ago. “Up” was released on May 29 in the US, in the UK it came out in October. Which is kinda silly since there are basically no changes that need to be made. It came out in other countries dubbed (and with in-movie graphics changed) before it came out here.

The problem with this is that the internet has made hype global. 20-30 years ago, a movie could come out and you’d hear that it has good reviews or whatever, through the news, but that’d be it. Then you waited for it to come out in your country and went to see it. Nowadays, you see trailers for it before they start airing on TV, you hear people discussing and raving about it, you see entertainment headlines talking about how great it is, your friends in other countries go to see it and come back talking about it and so on. And given that it’s so damn easy to pirate a film, that’s the option people take rather than wait months for this thing that everyone’s been talking about.

For TV shows, it’s even worse in many cases due to region codes. Mystery Science Theater 3000 is one of my favourite shows, for example, and it hasn’t ever been released on region 2 dvd. So I have to use an unlocked DVD player and import DVDs, which is a hassle.

What confuses me even more are when companies set up a free streaming service, then block other countries from seeing it, even if it’s ad supported. Channel 4 in the UK, for example, has a youtube channel with basically every episode of every popular show they’ve done on it, but you can’t access it outside of the UK. This seems particularly silly since the episodes come with adverts in them (before it starts and one or two half way through) which, if I understand youtube’s advertising properly, could easily be changed for region specific adverts depending on where the user is watching from. There’s literally a world market out there and it’s being ignored by the people who could make money from it, so they’re being beaten to the punch by the people who ensure no one can make money from it.

Peet McKimmie (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The point is that they want to sell the shows in other regions, and the TV companies will only buy them in those regions if they will bring eyeballs to their (and *only* their) advertisers.

A TV company can’t be successful telling its advertisers “Oh, by the way, the folk *really* interested in seeing the show you’re buying advertising in will already have seen it on YouTube”.

The eejit (profile) says:

No, the governemnt mandates the BBC’s annual budget, which is covered by taxpayers (and yes, the TV Licence is a tax), and then a not-for-profit group known as the BBC Trust decides what amount goes on which programming.

Doctor Who has a pretty small budget, and it’s still that largest SFX budget of any BBC show. Since Doctor Who began rebroadcasting, the writers (Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat) have always wanted it to be a simulcast. The biggest hurdle to that was, atypically, regionalisation issues. The sole exception to this was America, where no-one wanted rebroadcast rights for the first two seasons.

I fully agree with having a localised version for most territories available for torrent, of just the episode, with the extras being on DVD/Blu-ray.

Patty (profile) says:

Re Dr. Who

I found it amazing that the BBC spokesman complained about piracy when piracy is the reason Dr. Who is so popular all over the world. Once again, the execs focus solely on what they think they have lost while ignoring the huge gain in the numbers of viewers garnered through bittorrent. I don’t have TV so I downloaded it. (I go back to the Baker era meself.)

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

Thoroughly Confuzzled....

Ok Mike, you simply have to stop using titles like this for your articles. I had to stare at the title for a few minutes and then pause and wonder what the hell happened to my browser.

Just how the hell am I supposed to tell the difference between The Onion and TechDirt if you title and write articles like this????

Now Im not even sure how to comment on this crap. My common sense is completely thrown out of whack now. Ummmm yeah the internet is global. Soooo that means that TV People all over the globe now have a HUGE and NEW market for all their OLD content. Who gives a crap if the ad revenue is a fraction of what it used to be when you can rake it in for content that you haven’t been using for DECADES.

Instead of whining about piracy; but… but… but…PIRACY. I’m surprised that at least one of those greedy f*cks hasn’t said; but… but… but… new revenue on shit we aren’t even using.

Jesse Townley (profile) says:

I'm so stoked!

That the BBC released the new episode within a few hours of the UK release over here in the US. I’m so bummed when my European friends talk about the latest episodes, while I know that I won’t be able to see it for months.

This time around, I went to my cable services on-demand function and whammo! Watched the 1st episode within hours of its release.

About frickin’ time.

Next task: slashing the prices of the Tom Baker DVDs. I would buy all of them IF they weren’t $25+ a pop. Fuggedaboutit!

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...