Is ABC Starting to Understand BitTorrent Demand?

Interesting news coming out of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) shows that maybe BitTorrent pirates have a point when it comes to not waiting for TV shows. In an attempt to dissuade Aussie punters from torrenting the show, ABC has announced it will offer this weekend's new Doctor Who episode on its iview service as soon as it finishes airing in the UK.

TV shows are often the most popular torrents out there, and the resurrected sci-fi series Doctor Who has an ardent following. Since it rematerialized onto our screens in 2005 it has rapidly gained a substantial and ‘hard-core’ following world-wide.

But thanks to Twitter and Facebook, as well as the more old-fashioned forums and email lists, a storyline can be ruined by ‘spoilers’ emanating from those in regions who gain access to the show first – a recurring theme of the BBC show over the last years.

It’s about time someone started paying attention to the concerns of fans – something we pointed out back in 2008 – so ABC’s decision to place the show on its iview service is strongly welcomed.

“Piracy is wrong, as you are denying someone their rights and income for their intellectual property,” said ABC1 controller Brendan Dahill.

“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,” he added.

The Dr Who show will be available on the iview ‘catch up’ service moments after the episode finishes airing in the UK, although those who prefer to watch on their TV will still have to wait until September 8th. While fans would prefer it aired sometime on the Sunday, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

This is not the first time a sonic screwdriver has been pointed at a broadcast schedule. Transatlantic Whovians got a taste of same-day showings last spring, and will do so again this year. For others however, FACT’s actions against the expat-focused site UKNova over the weekend could not have come at a worse time.

Will ABC’s actions pay off? We will wait and see.

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