The producers of the Australian TV drama, The Slap, have taken on a Netherlands torrent site and won. The site was used by about 40,000 citizens of Australia and New Zealand to “share content that was not commercially available for viewing in other countries”. Now, Australians overseas will need to either wait for the DVD to come out in their respective country or find another torrent site to go to.
The ABC geo-blocks iView content so that overseas audiences can’t view. The rationale is that if audiences can download content online, for free, then they won’t bother buying the DVD. The only problem is that TV viewers around the world are fragmenting into the downloaders and the DVD buyers. People who download, don’t buy DVDs and people who buy DVDs, don’t download.
Australian producers need to adjust their business model accordingly. Why isn’t The Slap available on iTunes or an online ABC Shop? Not months after the buzz has subsided but the night after the Australian broadcast. Would producers not make more money via online channels than with DVD sales? TV is evolving and the beauty of iTunes is that you can realease episodes one by one and not have to wait for the season to finish before distributing it on DVD.
What lessons can be learned from the music industry’s struggle with piracy? Is it really illegal to download a show via a torrent in the UK if the show is available, for free, to watch anytime, on iView in Australia?