Australian Television Is Still Woefully Broken

Read this press release we got this morning from Foxtel and the SyFy channel, and tell me that we're not still living in a content backwater.

Here are the first few lines:

Top-rating SF program Continuum returns for season 2, first on FOXTEL Australian television premiere: Thursday October 3, 8:30pm EST
One of the top SF programs of 2013 returns for season two as SF acquires the exclusive Australian broadcast rights to Continuum.
Rachel Nichols (Criminal Minds, Alias) stars as Kiera Cameron, a cop from 2077 who finds herself trapped in the present day. Following the dramatic events of the season one final, Kiera must work with Alec Sadler (Erik Knudsen; Jericho, Scream 4) and detective Carlos Fonnegra (Victor Webster; Castle, Melrose Place) to destroy Liber8 and preserve the future of earth.
Continuum S2 premieres on Thursday October 3, 2013 at 8:30pm EST, first on FOXTEL.

You might have missed the important bit: Season 2 of Continuum will start exclusive to Foxtel and SyFy on October 3, 2013. Normally, that'd be great news. I have been hanging out for the new season of Continuum, it's a great show and Foxtel and SyFy are to be applauded for airing it. The problem is the timing.

New episodes of Continuum will air at the start of October in Australia, but the season will have already ended in the US. In fact, season 2 of Continuum will end in the US on August 4. By the time it even starts in Australia, the spoilers and episodes will be online for everyone to see and pirate for a whole 32 days. Even then, the series won't be dumped all at once for people to binge-watch, it'll be spaced out over 13-weeks, so by the time the second season ends in Australia, we'll likely be staring down the barrel of the third season in the US in 2014.

Sigh.

It's worth pointing out that none of this is the likely fault of Foxtel or SyFy. Foxtel in fact made life easier for us technologically-savvy folk this morning by announcing Play: an online streaming service. That's likely where I'll watch the new season of Continuum. The problem here is most likely because of people over in the US hoarding content away from international territories until the last moment of air time before allowing it to leave the country and be broadcast elsewhere.

What these executive content hoarders don't understand is that people will likely use the fact that they can't see it legally as an excuse for piracy, when in fact there's never an excuse for piracy. Just like there's never an excuse for speeding. If you get caught, it's an offence and you'll be punished.

Australia is still sadly relegated into a content backwater by these content hoarders, and it's sad that despite the wonderful advances in streaming we've seen as early as this morning, we're still getting screwed out of day-in-date releases of awesome content. A screwing we just have to toughen-up and live with.

Continuum hits Australian screens on October 3 on the SyFy network.

Image: Showcase


Comments

    It still baffles me that hardly any of the free to air tv channels broadcast in 1080.

      Because a Large Majority of Digital TVs contain SD Set Top Boxes. If you bump up Ch10 to HD then the SD Settop Boxes wont receive it anymore,
      In 3 years people will probably say the same thing in regards to 4K Shows

        Blame the govt for handing out SD boxes to pensioners at a couple of hundred dollars install cost each.

          The last costings that I saw indicated that the "couple of hundred dollars" to which you refer was actually a lot more. Conroy's own estimation was an average of $350.

          More to the point, the total cost was to be $69.5m for 77,400 devices and that provides an average cost of $898 per device.

          Last edited 30/07/13 3:34 pm

            where's your data from?

            This is from the Auditor General last year:

            "As at 1 March 2012, 85 326 services have been provided to eligible customers at a cost of $37 million to DBCDE"

            so unless they uninstalled 8 thousand units and charged another $32 million to do it...

            http://www.anao.gov.au/~/media/Uploads/Audit%20Reports/2011%2012/201112%20Audit%20Report%20No55.pdf

            I should add that the $350 is from a budget of over $308 Million for a possible 800,000 eligible households.

            Last edited 30/07/13 4:05 pm

              From Conroy. Those were his costings!

                oh, well.. that explains it.

                I'll personally take the Auditor Generals word for it.

                  I agree, but I was not aware that the Auditor General had conducted an audit.

              Would have liked a bit of that pie.i can only assume it included antenna installation.otherwise $50 for the box and I'd charge $100 install. 3 a day,3 hrs work,we all win

                no doubt. If you like getting paid 3 months after doing the work, Federal Government aren't so great at paying contracts in a timely manner. Too much red tape.

          The boxes being rolled out are Bush BHAS01UR or Hills HD94003C

          Both are HD. The scheme explicitly states that the boxes must be HD, and SD boxes were not considered by the procurement board during the tender process.

        I think there is also the fact that they can pump an extra channel through the spectrum space that they own if they only broadcast SD.

        And I don't know about you guys but I would much rather have riveting channels like TVSN and Extra over HD content any day (I am of course being sarcastic here)

        Last edited 30/07/13 1:52 pm

          I think it has as much to do with the cost of the equipment infrastructure as much as distribution. I have had it confirmed that nearly all of our major sporting events can be shot using HD cameras but broadcast in 576i (except foxtel).
          There is a lot more costs in the chain between capture to distribution, and free to air are treading water financially

      Agree why buy a HDTV if nothing is transmitted in 1080. :(

        So you can download everything you want in 1080 and go from there, obviously...

        that's a cyclical argument. Why broadcast in HD if no one has HDTV?

          Um....almost everyone has an HDTV now?

          At the very least more than enough folk to make it worthwhile.

            I remembered there was a few HD channels which were basically 1080 versions of the other channels but as the number of channels increased, these were taken out and replaced with alternative 720 programming. Perhaps if they opened up further channels? Unlikely though.

            Thanks for that insight Shpeshal Ed, it's a pity it completely missed the point of my statement.

              Clearly, what was your point? A cyclical argument that doesn't exist?

                you need to take into account the comment I was replying to, and see that my comment was refuting the validity of beejays. It was not a comment on the amount of HDTV's on the network.

        Wrong older 80's shows in 4:3 are being transmitted later at night.

        Because I buy bluray movies of course!

      The problem with 1080 is the statmux. That is, each station is broadcasting three or four different streams within the one frequency they have licensed. You just can't squeeze 1080i and a bunch of SD into the channel, so they just dropped everything to SD quality.

      Two things can fix this, neither of which is easy. One is switching to H.264 rather than the current MPEG compression (won't happen for a long, long time because all the hardware is MPEG), and the other is using the old analog frequencies so they effectively gain more bandwidth.

      By the time either of these options is possible, we'll be watching all our TV over the Internet anyway, and it already uses H.264 compression.

        And once you get past that, there's still the issue of crappy reception, and in WA that's a pretty common thing - and worse during bad weather.

        Call me old fashioned, but the static white noise of analogue was a lot nicer than the choppiness and stuttering of dropped frames on a digital signal.

          thats known as the digital cliff, you either have nothing or a perfect(or close to it) picture, with analog for most people you got something, even if it was grainy, but re above, h.264 is long way to go but once the analogue tv is switched off that will free up some bandwith
          ps that Go channel(ch99 sydney) is shocking picture quality, almost every time the scene pans the picture turns into a macro block mess of goop! i only watch FTA movies on the hd channels i.e 7mate/onehd/gem etc

      Another issue mentioned relates to the new "Foxtel Play". It states quite categorically on the site that SyFy (and some other channels) are not available for viewing on a PC or Mac.

    So if I speed then I can Pirate.. Boyah!

      Yeah, one day you're gonna kill someone with all your reckless pirating.

        Say whaa..?? He's feel rightfully maligned and is fighting back against our nation's competitors who'd seek to gouge us and relegate us to the Television Global South. Keep it up Travd. You sir are a patriot!

        And anyways, fuck the Seppos. They dicked us on our woefully lop-sided Free Trade deal and they're continuing to dick us on TV. If people like Travd want to 'get their's', and it's affecting the largest competitor to our nation's own struggling industry, good on 'em I say.

    Gotta pull you up on this, Luke: the channel on Foxtel isn't called "Syfy", it's called "SF".

      Perhaps Luke meant that the Canadian show is actually paid for by SyFy...

    At least get the name of the channel your bad mouthing correct. Hint it's not SyFy

    Gave up on FTA TV long ago.. lack of quality programming, lack of HD content.

      Who cares about HD when it is so heavily compressed it looks like shit anyway? I'll take uncompressed SD over your HD any day of the week. And Foxtel is not FTA, you pay money to watch their advertisements.

        HD, when it is transmitted here is indeed heavily compressed. Eg. The Liverpool vs Melbourne game last week. Whether it is to save cost, or to make use of the limited bandwidth of already overloaded media satellites over australia, 1080 in australia is nothing like the HD you get on channels in the US. In the US, they are far less compressed or do other cool stuff like ESPN who use 720p at 60fps. Australia is definately a backwater in quality and timing.

          Hardly. Interestingly, when we were going HD the UK actually asked their poulation what they wanted most from ditigal TV and it turned out most just wanted a clear picutre, so they initially decided to just go to SD digital. I have found that I am of the same opinion and that HD doesn't improve the experience for me one bit, even though I have a full HD monitor to watch it on. But the stuff I was referring to was downloaded HD, not broadcast. Compare a downloaded movie to the Blu-Ray version and it's chalk and cheese.

          Australia is a backwater in just about everything you can name. It's appalling and embarrassing and they wonder why we are the pirates of penzance.

          So why are they going to try and push 4K on us when 1080 is a sad joke in this country.

        Same crap, except you pay to watch it.

    I'm glad things like this are being talked about. However I don't agree with the comment that we have to toughen up and live with it.

    As long as people keep 'living with it,' then it will just keep happening. I live in Australia. I love Continuum and am completely up to date with Season 2. I won't sit through it again full of commercials when it finally reaches Foxtel, but I will buy the DVD set when it is released.

    Content providers need to understand that we are in a connected world. If they want us to watch their shows on THEIR terms, then they need to make them available when we want them.

      Who cares? You watch it when it comes on. If that's in October or next year, what difference does it really make? I wait until the DVDs are available locally for the shows I like. Often that means waiting months after the series has finished it's run on TV and as much as two years after it went to air in the States. So what?

        I care. Hence why I posted. Just because you don't care doesn't mean there aren't plenty of people that do.

          Obviously you care, what interests me is why. I don't see what difference it makes, you do. I'm interested in teh reasons behind that.

            One reason to care is if you have friends or co-workers or even just people on discussion boards who like to discuss interesting TV shows when they first air, rather than waiting months/years until you've caught up.

        Or you take the faster, easier, cheaper, better-timed illegal option whose only drawbacks are that it's immoral (LOL) and you might get caught. ...Again, it is to lol.

        These fuckers really need to wise up. Laws are a social contract. We obey them because it works for us. When they don't work for us, we don't obey them if we can get away with it. And at the moment, it's VERY easy to get away with it.

        Needs to be a Steam-style TV solution. Game piracy is fast and easy, but my Steam collection is insanely massive, with a very significant portion of my disposable income sunk into it. Gee. I wonder why I buy things on Steam instead of pirating them. Could it possibly be because I get a better quality product more conveniently at prices that are reasonable?

        I wonder what would happen if TV shows tried that. As it is, they lose on convenience, quality, AND price.

        Fuckers need to learn to pick their battles.

          How about you obey them becaus eyou understand the reasons for them? If I'm hungry and I see a 3 year-old with a doughnut, I know I can get away with taking it from him and eating it myself. Does that mean I shoudl just go ahead and do it? No, there is a moral component here that you are happy to ignore.

          What if everybody was just like you? What if everybody illegally downloaded your favourite show and it tanked in the ratings? It would get axed because every show needs to make money to continue to be made. So in reality you are relying on the vast majority to do the right thing and pay your way for you. You're nothing but a leech, immoral and uncaring.

            You didn't read past the first couple of paragraphs, where he proposed a more convenient alternative method of users paying for content, and described how much of his income he's paid toward an example of this system.

            But yeah, he's obviously a leech, immoral and uncaring.

            I know this was written a while ago, but what the heck.
            People like you are one of the reasons why the competitive market fails us and continues to use such old fashioned methods, because you set there happily taking it, like you owe them something. Its 2013, not 1995 and the market needs to realize this, they need to stop stifling progress because its new and risky, they need listen to the customer, and they need to give us what we want not TELL us what we want. We aren't cut off from the world anymore, we can see someone in America getting a better deal then us, and we're rightfully feeling ripped off.
            What if Australia had been refused VHS back in the day on the basis that it took money away from the cinema? If people are pirating something, there's a reason for it, and even the people behind media are realizing this. As the creator of steam once said,
            “if a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24 x 7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the US release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate’s service is more valuable. Most DRM solutions diminish the value of the product by either directly restricting a customers use or by creating uncertainty.”

    Seriously, you had to wait to see that to know our TV situation here is crap.

    Oh look, Vikings is coming to free air...on look, you can download the entire session now...Hmm, I wonder which I will do...

      Where/when is Vikings coming to FTA?

        From the ad that I saw the other night it's coming to SBS and I guess in the next few weeks.

    And did you notice in the Foxtel Play article the sneaky little attachment on the SyFy channel's logo?

    "Not available on PC/Mac"

    So you can't even watch it there. Awkward.

    Australia is a chubby, sticky fingered kids strolling through the video shop of Television shows getting distracted quite often in the Reality TV section.

    There should be enough space for the 1080p channels to co exist for the settop box users too #broadcast1080palready

    Is the US SyFy channel a Hulu channel? Wonder if this show will be on Hulu plus?

    Ditched Pay TV ages ago and have watched many shows that aren't even on the AU TV horizon, some were full season too. VPN is your best friend nowadays and the answer to Australian Television programming stupidity. They want you to watch their shows but they can't figure out that you need to spend money to make money...!

      I just wish I could get HBO Go, then I'd be happy.

    I haven't watched FTA TV in years - I only watch it for Tour de France and World Cup (and a few rugby games here and there). Otherwise I have over 100 TB of space which has over 200 TV shows in 720p and around 2000 movies in 1080p. <3 sickbeard/couchpotato/sabnzbd.

      All paid for, no doubt, although I suppose your parents pay the broadband bill.

    There's not enough bandwidth for the FTA networks to broadcast in 1080p. If they did that, they'd have to close probably 1 or 2 of their SD channels to cater for it (as well as their current HD 720 channel).
    If they ever go to MPEG4 encoding, that will change. But then everyone with a TV or STB that only has a MPEG2 decoder will be screwed.

      Yay, someone who gets it. MPEG2 compression = low def for the same bandwidth. If they can use H264/H265, then we might get somewhere.

      But then again, shit content in 1080p is still shit.

        Yeah - get them to re-invest in hardware to support those standards. Never going to happen because content is king and he demands exorbitant royalties.

    In all fairness to Foxtel Luke, they get Dexter, True Blood, Game Of Thrones, Ray Donovan and many other same day. Usually within a couple of hours.

    Cut them SOME slack.

      Not The Newsroom apparently (showing ine th US; August for S2 in Australia The Punch(?) noted) despite it being advertised in their "within 38-hours"guff.

        Nope. The punch got it wrong.

        http://www.foxtel.com.au/whats-on/foxtel-insider/hbos-the-newsroom-season-2-express-from-the-us-within-3-hour-215712.htm

          Then I am incensed, incensed I tellya, that iTunes doesn't carry it (or the US iTunes for that matter). Woefully broken,

    "but the season will have already ended in the US. In fact, season 2 of Continuum will end in the US on August 4." - this is not true according to wikipedia.

    "Season two premiered in Canada on April 21, 2013, UK on SyFy UK on Thursday, May 23, and the United States (SyFy Channel) Friday, June 7." - it only started on 7/6/13 in the US. Continuum season 2 will finish on 4/8/13 in Canada though.

    "By the time it even starts in Australia, the spoilers and episodes will be online for everyone to see and pirate for a whole 32 days." - where did the 32 days come from? Days between 3/10/13 and 4/8/13 is almost 2 month, way more than 32 days.

    Last edited 30/07/13 1:49 pm

    I just wish Newflix would have current seasons of TV shows... then i'd have almost everything I ever want in the one place.

    Good article, straight to the point and spot on.

    When will these US TV companies stop doing stupid exclusive deals and/or making everyone wait excessive time periods to watch these TV shows?

    Give me the ability to buy the TV episodes I want to watch in a timely fashion, they'll get their money and I'll get the content the way I should be able to get it.

    It's sad that we Australians have to pay for Usenet or Proxy services rather than paying the people that produce the shows themselves. Let us put the money where it's supposed to go!

      If it means so much to you, why not just wait and pay the approriate companies what they're asking? Clearly you are simply justifying your criminal behaviour.

        Perhaps because the market has spoken? Clearly you are simply an apologist for corporate opportunism.

        Seriously, when people say that 'the market will decide', this is how it looks. The market doesn't decide that the price is too high by not watching something. If people aren't watching, that means it isn't any good. The market decides that the price is too high by watching, to show that the product is worth watching, but by not paying.

        This should be valuable insight to anyone who actually thinks that the market should adjust. The problem with that is that people who tend to say that like to think that they aren't actually part of the market and shouldn't have to adjust, and that everyone else should adjust.

          Ignore MotorMouth he's an apologists for a a lot of shonky companies. One of his pets is apologising for the Europeans ripping us off blind on car prices and likes to bring in moronic comments about blue collar workers in the US getting paid less than here as an excuse.

          Yeah, mea culpa on that, I was running late for work.

    Trust me... broadcast television is very much behind the times when it comes to technology, i used to work for the formally #1 network in Australia and we had only just (2011) started downloading content from content portals from the likes of Disney and NBC Universal. Before that a tape was shipped to our offices in LA and then played out over the digital video network in real time... serious stone age stuff. Hell when i started there all our promos had to be played out over the DVN in real time with clappers and all. It's all about return on investment, sure the networks could throw out all their broadcast encoders and replace them with shiny new MPEG4 encoders but not if it means they broadcast the same content in a higher resolution... no way... what will happen is they'll fork out for them, and then we'll have 4 more home shopping channels...

      It has far less to do with ROI and far more to do with the difficulty of implementing new procedures when you are on air 24/7. If something ain't broke and there is even a tiny risk associated with making a change, they just won't do it.

        See you would think that would be the case but it isn't... those decisions aren't made by the broadcast department, they're made by finance. The technical group asks and the finance group says no. Believe me I've run many a perfectly reasonable project up the flagpole only to have it knocked back. It's very much part of the reason I don't work there anymore.

          That's not true at all. We have CS6 available to us but Engineering won't install it in case it stuffs something up somewhere down the line. i.e. The money has been spent, Engineering just won't do the install.

    Although, even the US had to wait quite a while to get Season 1 of Continuum. You could try and but it through iTunes CANADA.

    Don''t hate me.

    If Continuum was a half decent show, I'd probably care more about this... but as it is.. it's just not that great. Oh I enjoyed the premise of it.. I tried (really hard) to get into it.. but it was just another drama wrapped in the facade of a scifi show..

    Australians in general appear happy to watch prime-time, cheaply produced talent shows and reality TV, rather than good drama. We are a victim of our own collective viewing apathy and if we stopped watching the crap, depriving the advertisers then the situation would change. (that includes Foxtel. Just turn it off...) I suspect however, we will be in the backwater for a while.

    One of the best ways to legally watch US shows is to use a US web proxy and watch US catch-up TV.

      Australians in general appear happy to watch prime-time, cheaply produced talent shows and reality TV, rather than good drama.

      It seems like that because that's all they play, but it's driven by the fact people who want more than that have abandoned free to air TV. Game of Thrones is really popular here but if you go by the TV guide reality cooking shows are the only things Australians want because the people who watch Game of Thrones don't watch any of the channels in the TV guide.
      You talk about depriving the advertisers but that's already happened. Look at the decline of the quality of commercials. The second you move away from our highest rated shows you get garbage that usually would have been reserved for a 3am slot.

      Personally I don't think there's any going back. The quality of free-to-air dipped to a point where I stopped watching years ago. If they somehow managed to up the quality between then and now I wouldn't notice. It's like a restaurant that has such bad food you never go there again.

    I am taking a note out of the governments IT pricing enquiry to legally get around geo blocking for all content in my house now.
    Foxtel has long been overpriced for old content.

    There's no excuse for pirating, but the incumbents certainly give us plenty of reasons.

    BTW Luke, copyright infringement isn't an offence. It's not criminal, it's entirely civil, with the exception of sharing on a commercial scale for profit.

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