The HoS reports:
An explosion in online piracy has forced New Zealand’s free-to-air TV networks to fast-track the screening of top international shows.
Superhero drama Heroes and British car series Top Gear topped the list of the most illegally downloaded TV shows in New Zealand last year, with millions of copies hitting cyberspace as soon as they were made available overseas.
As a result, those shows and others including House, Private Practice and Survivor are aired within days of their international release.
And that is the logical response. We live in a borderless world and if people can read online the latest Heroes episode is out, they want to see it now – now in six months. If NZ is only a few days behind few will pirate it, but if it is a choice of waiting for months or downloading a copy of something that will be free to air anyway, people download.
As a matter of principle I will not download movies, as they are distributed in NZ within days of overseas release, and you have to pay to see them.
I have occassionally downloaded a TV show if it either does not show in NZ at all, or the wait to see it will be too long. I always watch it again on the TV once they do show here also. At present I haven’t downloaded a TV show for months – partly too busy, but partly because TV networks here are screening them faster.
Tony Eaton, the executive director of the Federation Against Copyright Theft, says that the authorities in New Zealand had yet to conduct extensive research into illegal downloads.
“Our primary focus has been the film industry but in saying that we have turned our attention to television more,” he said.
“It makes sense for networks to make shows available as soon as possible on television here.”
Good to see FACT agreeing.
The trend may explain why the big two free-to-air networks offer legal downloads of top shows for a limited period after they screen on TV.
“It may be that online availability of programming is actually having the effect of boosting television viewing – that is certainly the case with `catch up’ television,” said Richards.
I have no doubt this is the case.