Posting a TV show online: When Should It Be Done?

Today, I was going to post a review of the new TBS (or is that tbs) show Neighbors from Hell, which debuted there last Monday. Well, clearly this post isn’t about that because, without beating around the buch too much, it isn’t online in legal form, well, not exactly. Apparently it is on iTunes, but being the true geek that I appear to be, I run Linux, which iTunes doesn’t support and probably never will.

So with no premiere episode to watch (yet), here are some thoughts on when TV shows should be put online for folks to watch.

The folks over at the MPAA and RIAA would have you believe that putting anything online, hell, even not putting it online is an invitation for anyone and everyone to “pirate” it for their own nefarious purposes. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. If I wan’t to watch a TV show online it’s because I want to watch it whenever I damned well please. Why should I have to schedule my time around the whims of the network? I shouldn’t, and for the most part, I don’t.

Anyway, networks are discovering (through the handicapped genius that is Hulu and the absolute genius that is Netflix) that allowing consumers to view your stuff online is actually a good thing. Not only does it do wonders for older stuff, but even new stuff as well as people are much more likely to watch a show they missed online rather than wait for a rerun. The Economist recently did a special report on the current and future state of television that is well worth a read.

Enough reasons though. When is a good time to put a show online. Let’s start by assuming it’s a new show. In that case, the obvious answer is straight away! As stupid an idea as it sounds, the +1 channels found on Sky in Europe are one of the best things ever. Sure all they’re doing is shifting the entire channel back by an hour, but how many TV shows have you come across that you just missed? It may be just beginning on the +1 channel!

Seeing as +1 channels are rare here in the States, the next best thing is putting the show on-demand or online. Putting it up straight away will pretty much thwart any reason a so-called “pirate” has for putting it up instead. Besides that, you can make some advertising revenue from your own site (or on another if your prefer).

If putting a new TV show online straight away is the best time, what about older series? The obvious answer is also, straight away! As you’re probably aware, you can pretty much find any TV show online if you do a bit of searching. Sadly [] is no-more after getting busted on sham charges and just like a game of Whack-A-Mole, about a dozen clones popped up to replace it. For legal purposes I probably shouldn’t encourage or condone you to seek out these means, and I’m not, I’m simply explaining the current situation.

With older shows, the arguments are exactly the same as the new ones. Why force consumers to seek out their favourite stuff by “illegal” means. Give them what they want! The customer is always right after all!

As for animation, Hulu has a rather good selection. It’s not ideal, with a lot of anime both popular and otherwise, like Ikki Tausen, seriously? The kids networks are also fairly decent. I have more experience with Cartoon Network, but Nickelodeon and Disney also seem to be fairly up to speed on getting their shows online ASAP.

The explosive growth in video-on-demand in recent years will hopefully mean that all TV shows will be online soon after they are broadcast. The notion that online viewing pulls viewers away from broadcast or cable viewing is nonsense and the sooner the networks get over it, the better.

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