As much as networks and channels might want to ignore it, a very large percentage of people who watch certain programs do so by downloading them via BitTorrent. This is, in a very general way, piracy, since the downloaders neither pay for the show directly (through after-the-fact pay services like iTunes or Amazon) nor indirectly by paying for a cable package or something like Hulu, since it doesn’t have everything people might want to watch. However, the people creating these shows have to know and recognize that their fan base consists of lots of people who torrent and quite of few of those will surely buy other products related to the show. If only there were a way to combine these things?
Well, now there is, and the BBC is heading in that direction, at least for a special offer. To commemorate 10 years of the revived Doctor Who, the Beeb is offering a 10-story “box set” available only on bit torrent for $12 globally. This set won’t just be episodes; there will also be some special features content including the Doctor Who: Earth Conquest documentary about last year’s world tour, as well as current star Peter Capaldi discussing some of his favorite episodes. This kind of BitTorrent Bundle is something Radiohead has done for music, but it’s completely new in the realm of TV.
This could conceivably be huge for both the show and for television as a medium. So many people who are fans of Doctor Who in countries outside of the United Kingdom watch the series through downloaded, digital means. The show does well terrestrially but its viewership and fanbase are much larger than people who have a cable package that includes BBC America. And there are people in the world (like me) who want to pay for stuff but who also appreciate ease of delivery; perhaps this will be the first step to the torrenters out there being able to buy an episode immediately after it airs in the UK, cutting out the need to pirate.
The episodes in question are a mixture of super awesome and super terrible, but it’s a good smattering of the 10 years as a whole, I suppose. They are:
Series 1: Rose
Series 1: The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances
Series 2: The Girl in the Fireplace
Series 3: Blink
Series 4: Special – The End of Time (Parts 1 & 2)
Series 5: The Vampires of Venice
Series 6: The Doctor’s Wife
Series 7: The Rings of Akhaten
50th Anniversary special: The Day of the Doctor
Series 8: Listen
Not sure why any bundle would include “Vampires of Venice” or “Rings of Akhaten,” but I didn’t decide things.
What do you think about this news? Is BitTorrent or sites like that the wave of the future for content distribution, in a world where (much to my chagrin) DVD and Blu-ray are going the way of the dodo? Express Yoself, Madonna style, below.