Why Doctor Who On ABC iView Won't Matter

Today we got some fabulous news. News we've been looking forward to for months. The tipping point: the ABC decided to stream a major show online before it sent it out over the airwaves on traditional channels. It's a huge win for fans of cult sci-fi mainstay Doctor Who, and it's going to go a long way to solving the piracy problem when it comes to importing television, but it's still not going to solve the problem that is Australians pirating the show. Here's why.

People are still going to pirate Doctor Who in Australia. I'm sorry, Mark Scott, but it's true, and it's because of the iView platform.

Despite the fact that you're being particularly kind-spirited by giving us all new episodes of Doctor Who a week earlier than we might have got it before, only an hour after the BBC does and well before America will, people want more. Not more content, though. They want higher resolutions.

You see iView only spits out video at 640x360 pixels with a bitrate of 650Kbps, and even I have to admit that it's a pretty terrible experience for those using iView on a gaming console, or even on an iPad or iPhone with a Retina display.

There's no way the ABC can improve the quality of content it streams from iView right now due to budgetary constraints around streaming content. That's on top of the money the ABC is paying to keep the show around on iView for 14 days, which can't be cheap. We have to remember that Aunty gets its cash from the government, a budget that has to be shared across the whole of the ABC.

So now we're confronted with a problem. So-called "resolution junkies" are still going to wander right by the iView platform in favour of BitTorrent because they can download the episodes directly to their devices in 720p.

This iView effort by the ABC is wonderful for most, because it gives us what we've been longing for: fast access to content from abroad. Now that the ABC has shown that it's possible, it's time for other networks to get their act together and bring high-resolution catch-up offerings to market. I'd even pay a fee, and I know a lot of others would too.

I really encourage Whovians to stream Who from iView if you can. Show the industry that this strategy works so that the ABC have the data to convince other networks to try it.


Comments

    I'm sure someone just said in the other thread that iView comes in 720p

      I view isn't 720p, no way no how.

      Yep, that was me. It isn't, I checked. It streams at 650kbp/s according the the Wikipedia page. The resolution may indeed be "HD", but the way the h.264 codec works, it would need a bitrate of at least 5mbp/s before it would look close to the quality of the available HDTV mkvs/mp4s.

    Also I fully expect iView to have a meltdown when Doctor Who is first released. This is where ISP content hosting is the way to go.

    Not sure about everyone else, but I for one download movies and TV shows for the ease with which I can access them later. For example, I have Game of Thrones on BluRay and 1080p on my computer.. where do I go when I want to re-watch an episode? The 1080p using my media centre of course... I just go to the file and hit play, as opposed to navigating through god knows how many menus, watching unskippable ads and messages to not pirate (even though I fraking paid for the damn blurays)... not to mention the annoyance of different episodes being on different discs that need constant changing... I realise this is a limitation of the media, but when its so much easier to just save everything on a 2TB HDD... well, that's why I do what I do..

    If Game of Thrones became available on iView that wouldnt change my behaviour either, since iView will only host the episode for so long... what do I do when I want to re-watch at a later date?

      You buy the show if you want to rewatch it at a later date. When it gets released on amazon.co.UK or DVD.co.UK or zavvi etc

        Reread the first paragraph of his comment...

        yep.. i missed the first ep of howzat so i torrented that.. for the sake of completeness even tho i watched part 2 on broadcast i downloaeded that so when i want ot watch in the future i have it

      I agree with the crap you have to go through to watch a bluray, Clearly I have paid for the bluray so why lecture me with Copyright and pirating laws. Also i dont appreciate advertising on them (yeah sure put a sub menu like Special features with trailers etc but dont force me to watch them)

    There are two parts to this, content and quality. For me, the ability to watch the story unfold is far more important than the quality i.e. the number of pixels the story is told to me in. Sure, it would look better in HD and even better in FullHD, but I still get to see the story told to me a lot sooner than I would otherwise.

    It's a bit like saying I won't read this book until they release it on better quality paper. Enjoy the content and worry about the quality later. It's Doctor Who! How many people only watch a Doctor Who episode only once. It's unlikely that we will see something released that quickly in HD for quite some time. Stop whinging and appreciate this for what it is.

    I agree with this article - as someone eagerly awaiting the new season, torrenting the episode as soon as it gets out in the US seems the more 'logical' choice, if you can call it that. I don't feel like waiting a full week for the episode (I know, I'm impatient!) as I've been waiting over a year. What's one more week? Well, as a Tumblr user, I'll know all the details straight away, and I really don't want to be left behind. Sure, i could blacklist the tag and get away with most of it, but like I said, i don't want to be left behind. I will still probably download it so I can make gifs and rewatch a million times, but I'll give the streaming a chance. I might be pleasantly surprised ..

    Well, if you had a decent TV to watch it on it wouldn't matter... I watch it on my PC using my main monitor, which is a Samsung LED LCD tv. With it's smoothing function or whatever it is working in the background, iview looks fantastic at a big size.
    That said, I stay away from this new version of Dr Who anyway.

      Which doctor (sorry) is your fave... I sort of like all of them for the diversity?

        Jon Pertwee had his moments, but Tom Baker was easily the best IMHO.

      Actually, yeah, iView looks pretty good on my 40 incher, primarily because it's watched from a distance.

    Come on author, you can't have it both ways. It's unreasonable to expect that we can have the streaming service of our dreams AND our favourite TV show being fast-tracked to us all in one fell-swoop. A week ago we were being told that we were going to have a week's delay between UK broadcast and local broadcast. We were happy with that. Even that was an improvement. And today, we hear that it will be streamed a mere hour after UK broadcast, and you're still complaining? Come on, we've got a good deal, and we aren't paying a cent for it. Be more grateful of what we are being served for free.

    The ABC won't ever show Dr Who in anything other than SD, full stop.
    What a watse, especially when the torrent will be available in HD and surround sound the week before.
    At least the ABC are trying, ch 9, 7, & 10 still treat their viewers to months old versions of Downton Abbey in ad-riddled blocky SD that totally trashes a superb quality show...
    The only problem rearing it's ugly head is how much longer can us ex-pats get our daily fix of hd uktv now that Uk Nova has been shut down?

    From personal experience, iView is best consumed through PS3. Fairly sure upscale's it and you benefit. It definitely looks better then through PC, XBMC or TV on a 50" TV.

    This article demonstrates to me the reason why the media companies don't have any faith that providing the content online will change anything. ABC are providing Dr Who to the limit of what they can do within budget adn thier available tech resourses. It is perfectly clear that it is not good enough. FFS, be happy to get it at all. I love how you all seem to expect it will be provided free, forever in the highest quality format available. Content provided free will never be provided forever, otherwise no one will make any money off it.
    I think I will retract my previous arguments about providing the content will reduce piracy. No matter what get done people like Samantha and Citizen will always pirate it and think it is a god-given right.
    I personally am a gigantic Dr Who freak adn will be watching it the moment t is available on iView, I will then by the box series when it is available so I can re-watch it.

    It's a step in the right direction. For that we should be grateful.

    As was stated at the end of this article; support this effort and we may (may!) see the wider commercial industry opening their eyes and finally thinking outside of their decades old distribution methods.

    It's always best to see Amy Pond in HD! <3 Nothing less. What's the point?

      That's one pond I wouldn't mind swimming in.

      Gotta love the redheads!

        Just make sure it's not Gillard

    I will DEFINITELY be watching on iView via my XBOX 360 :-) but not at 5.00am lol

    This was my biggest concerns wit this announcement. I've used iView before to watch IT Crowd but found the poor quality really annoying. It's not as big a deal for a short comedy show but for an sci-fi action drama it would be extremely disappointing.
    Step in the right direction though.

    Am i the only person in the world left who likes to sit down and watch something on television as part of a weekly ritual with my family?

      We do the same; we just watch a downloaded video or DVD at the time of our choice, rather than being tied to the network's chosen broadcast slot. Though a PVR helps too of course.

    Yes, BBC broadcast HD and we get 360p. Better than nothing, but on a 40"+ TV it looks crapola. We are basically doing a bit better than video resolution. Why can't we at least get 576p?

      Costs I presume. Everything is expensive in Australia.

      Haha, that's the opposite of what I just said above... it looks fine on my 40" - I watch from a distance of maybe 2 metres. Most of the pixellation is not extremely noticeable, especially once you get into what you're watching.

    This won't stop people from pirating it. The industry still don't get it. But it's a good move.

    I think we owe it to ourselves to watch this on iView, even if you do also download a higher res version. We need to show the industry that this sort of thing gets a good response. It needs to be encouraged, and then it'll improve.

      good point.

      Yes.. I will stream it just so they see it recorded on their database that another person watched it :)

    Wow the resolution snobs come out in droves, is better picture quality nice, yes, but id take quota free, legal, and prompt content first.

    As Nathan suggested, ISP level caching would be great , it would save the ISP and the broadcaster money (a few dozen TB would be cheap compared to the data usage of all their users on those services esp if they were already offering them quota free), but the content rights owners would have a fit.

      ABC video content IS "ISP cached" in most cases - it is delivered via akamai, and the akamai head end stacks are "two hops" on average from your connection, deep in each ISPs private network. If the ABC did not do this it would kill their peering links (even 650kbps is heaps when thousands of people do it at once!). iView is unmetered on some ISPs because the akamai URLs where the abc content lives are on are "uncounted" in Radius via layer 7 IP smart metering that "watches" your IP traffic for "triggers" (creepy ...). This is how much download and streaming media is done - about half of ISP traffic to you is cached via CDNs (eg iTunes, microsoft update, images from news media sites etc etc). Some media use CDN other than akamai, but in Australia this is a often a bad idea due to how our networks are peered (Google has some direct peering links to Aussie ISPs and its own CDN for this very reason, think youtube).

      This largely explains the bit rate limit by the way - the ABC must pay the akamai per GB transferred to you, in the order of cents per GB. Note this is WAY cheaper that directly peering traffic, which is in the order of dollars per GB "on demand" or thousands of dollars per MBps per month for "uncapped traffic". In the USA this is all much cheaper, because the internet has a fundamentally different structure (basically, more real players peering "for free" rather than a bunch of "nanny capitalism" ISPs leaching off regulated profit margins).

      Reality is stranger then fiction my friends, and more interesting :-)

        Then there's always IP multicast once NBNCo sort their sh*t out.
        Already available via ADSL, but not really used.

    What do you want for free? Call me old fashioned, but to me it seems reasonable that if you want a super-high-quality version of something that is otherwise made available FOR FREE and STRAIGHT AWAY with NO ADS, you should fricking pay for the Blu-ray. The ABC didn't have to fast-track the show, they could have broadcast it a week late and told fans to suck it. They've done the best they can with the technology available; whingeing that it's not HD is entitled and reductive.

      But even the paid-for content is low quality and low on content.

        Problem with this statement (apart from DVD isn't available immediately) is I can get a high quality copy of this content almost immediately after it is aired for free - it's just that it's a torrent and considered "illegal".

        If the pirates can give us what we want, and (if the mainstream press and rights organisations are to be believed) make a considerable profit out of it, then why the hell can't other 'legitimate' organisations??

        As so many others have opined - if we could get this content immediately as it airs and in high definition from legitimate sources we would happily pay for it.

      Good point, now if you'll just let me know where I can buy the blu-ray on the air-date?

      Regardless, I for one will certainly stream Dr. Who off iview rather than torrent now.

      BluRays have no ads? Hmm, I guess those anti-piracy things are more PSAs.

    It's not just resolution but convenience.. Sure.. you can stream in most places these days but I want it on-demand. BBC iPlayer comes close to fulfilling that for me for some of the content.. but not all of it.. they only put on so much content. Take "Misfits" for example.. they only have the first season that leaves you in a kind of cliff-hanger.. what am I supposed to do now?? Wait in hope that they release the next season? I don't think so.

    Content delivery in the digtial space is in its infancy but if they think that giving us low quality, snippets of shows is going to satisfy those same people who are already very tech savvy (enough at least to know what iView even is) are going to sit and wait patiently for it to get developed and not pirate in any shape or form of it, they are severely naive.

    I have a 60 inch led and iview via Xbox looks great. If you want the best result but it in blueray some time next year. The original doctor who is black and white and some epps are missing so you just see little pictures with some one reading the story.

    Im super happy it's comming out a week early as its more of an event now.

    Abc Is free so let's be glad not sad ey

    The future is p2p, there's no way around that, because more people will be watching online. We just need to work out how corporations can benefit from that. It may be subscription-based, it may be ads, it may be pay-per-view, or something we haven't thought of. But to combat piracy, it needs to be both cheap and fast.
    iView is great for now, but it will be useless in a few years when EVERYONE watches content online.

    Dat POND!

    So it's still the same low resolution pixelated crap as always? Thought so. Well that'll have the torrenters leaving in droves and rushing to iView because it's legal and approved? ABC and the rest of them need to lift their game and provide a quality alternative. They're just wasting their money and kidding themselves if they don't.

      Life just isn't good to you, is it Mick. Poor fella.

        I have been in Canada since June 2011 - just checking if things had improved since I left. Guess I'm not that poor a fella. Happy iViewing folks.

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