TV Piracy

5 10 2006

There is a story below that shows the extent of TV piracy as of the start of the 2006-2007 TV season. My thoughts after the guff.

Web piracy hits foreign broadcasters – Reuters

Nothing seems to be safe from entertainment content thieves who now are causing even the international TV sector some major headaches.

Broadcasters are increasingly irked that expensiveHollywood TV shows are being downloaded off the Internet andexploited by pirates long before their scheduled broadcast intheir territories.

Piracy has forced the film sector to close the windowbetween domestic U.S. and international debuts. Now the samething is happening on the TV front. The debut in Australia ofthe CBS drama “Jericho” within hours of its U.S. bow a couple of weeks ago likely will pave the way for more “day-and-date”launches in foreign territories.


In fact, British broadcaster Sky One recently refined itsdeal with News Corp. sibling 20th Century Fox Television to airthe next season of “24” within a week of its U.S. broadcast.Research has identified “24” as the single-most illegallyviewed TV program on the Internet in the U.K.

“It’s so heavily serialized that it’s addictive,” saysDavid Smyth, Sky One’s head of acquisitions. “When you arefinished watching one episode, the only thing you want to do iswatch another.”

Added Fox executive Marion Edwards, “The feeling is that ifyou can tell somebody you can watch it legally within a week,rather than choose to watch it illegally, that people will respond.”

Although this is a step in the right direction for Sky One, I can’t help but feel they are fighting against a tidal wave of piracy that I have been warning has been coming for 6 years. It started with 24 over 56k dialup, and as bandwidth has increased, so have the opportunities. And to be honest, its the quality of serialised storytelling that 24 brings, that has ushered in this new era.

Another factor to take into account is that people don’t feel like they pay for TV, and so don’t feel the same guilt/shame/fear of reprisal that they would get from stealing movies and/or music. Even those that pay £500 a year for Sky digital don’t feel that TV “costs” them anything, such is the way it is drip fed into our lives. and what Sky one have done here is quite unique in that they have a show with an exact timeslot for 6 months, meaning they know exactly when they are able to schedule 24 episodes in a row. Other foriegn broadcasters aren’t that lucky, relying on the haphazard scheduling of US networks to work out their own scheduling patterns. I can’t see an easy answer for this in the short term.




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