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 640×360 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.