Poll: why do you download TV shows?

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Derek loves nothing more than punching a remote location into a GPS, queuing up some music and heading out on a long drive, so it's a good thing he's in charge of CNET Australia's Car Tech channel.

Last week we asked you, our dear readers, where you obtained TV content from and a large proportion of respondents sourced at least some of their TV viewing from illegal sources. This naturally begs the question: why?

Why do you download TV shows?

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There are plenty of reasons that one could use — at least to yourself and friends, if not a judge or jury — to justify grabbing a whole bunch of TV shows via BitTorrent.

One of the most frequently cited reasons is the poor scheduling by commercial free-to-air networks. For instance, The Sopranos, The Wire and Weeds screened on Channel Nine, but the starting times were invariably late and often variable from week to week.

At times, episodes may have been screened out of order, repeats shown for no particular reason or shifted at short notice onto an alternative digital channel. A counter argument to this is that we should be thankful that we're seeing these series on free-to-air television, whereas those in the States have to sign up for premium cable packages.

Another common complaint is that it often takes months for series to be shown locally, by which time it's as easy to stumble across a series-ruining spoiler as it is to find a torrent for said series.

Other common factors raised include the price of pay TV or a particular channel package in Australia and the lack of HD availability locally.

Let us know your thoughts in the poll to the right and the comments section below.

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Chandler posted a comment   

The media industry needs to get with the times. If the money they spend on copyright protection went on building a system for digital distribution, they'd probably be laughing all the way to the bank. Case in point: since getting heavily into Steam (a PC game digital distribution system), I haven't copied or downloaded a single PC game (true fact!) - the idea even makes me feel a little guilty now.

Availability of shows via streaming sites and torrents is so rampant and easy to access these days: if you see a show or ad on TV and think "I'd like to watch that show", you can go and steam or download every aired (and even sometimes unaired) episode, sometimes months or even years before it'd be released here in Oz.

A lot of the good shows also get shown at bad times, and hence don't get watched - not so much an issue myself as I generally don't watch any live TV (I use PlayTV - although that has its own issues), but for others airing times can be a constant thorn in the watchers side.

Speaking of PlayTV (and also digital set tops / TVs): the (free) EPG: the bane of anyone wishing to record. It is rarely up to date - shows frequently run over, start late, or sometimes don't even air due to adjusted programming. 15 years ago I can understand the TV guide from the Sunday paper being incorrect (and stations even apologised for it at times!), but this is a broadcasted digital guide. It can and should be up to date to the second! It isn't, and we don't even get an apology these days...

Ahh... Pay TV... years ago it was touted as TV without ads... look at it now! Hundreds of channels of repeats spattered with only a little less advertising than Free to Air (albeit a little less annoying advertising too). The only content I personally find worthwhile on Pay TV are channels like Discovery.

A bit of a rant, but I feel it raises quite a few issues with the current state of Australian Television (at least in my opinion...).

Thanks for reading :)


kalval posted a reply   

Completely agree, I use media centre for my recording, which automatically gives a buffer zone of a few minutes for Australian television, however I find that I still miss large chunks of shows because of the horrible scheduling.

If there was a digital distribution system I'd be all over it. I think an app store based one (zune & itunes) would be very popular and very profitable. You could even have a free/cheaper ad supported version and the full cost ad free version like many of the apps for smartphones have.


smartalec posted a comment   

The Main reason I download is the complete lack of good HDTV content in this country, all the good shows (NCIS, homeland etc) are shown exclusively on the SD channels only, while the HD channels screen Antiques roadshow and other crap that nobody wants to watch anyway. I want to be able to watch the good shows in HD, and the only way to do that in australia is to download or wait until it becomes available on blu ray.


DPAust posted a comment   

1. Ability to watch it when I want on whatever device I want
2. Not having to wait for it to be aired in Australia
3. Catch up on a series I have missed, ie, someone tells me this show is good, but it's midway through first season or beyond. No problem, I can just download the ones i have missed.
4. No ads, I also subscribe to Foxtel and am sick of the ads on a service I am paying $100/month on. If it weren't for the Live sport, it would be gone.
5. It's easy! Setup RSS feeds in uTorrent and it downloads straight to my media server, ready to watch.
6. Is in a format that allows it to be added to my media centre and categorised the way I want it.


aznfratboy posted a comment   

Many reasons

a) Australia may have the worst scheduling rules in the world. How a show that is listed to start at 8:30pm be able to start at 9:12 and the channel face no type of sanctions whatsoever is beyond me. Letters and Numbers hasn't started later than 6:01 and finished no later than 6:31 in the 18 months or so it's been on, so why can't the main three channels maintain that same standard?

b) How a show is able to be cut from the sometimes already shorted 38 minute episodes just so channels can squeeze in yet another news "update" or a promo for another pointless reality TV show again is stupid.

c) The constant rescheduling of American TV shows. Some TV shows rate off the charts, NCIS, Modern Family when it started, Revenge, Big Bang Theory, yet their timeslots move constantly. Revenge is in it's fourth? Fifth episode in and it's already been pushed back half an hour so the guys from My Kitchen Rules can take 4 and a half hours instead of 4 hours to cook a pasta dish. (PS If I'm sitting at a restaurant and waiting 4 hours for my food, I'm getting delivery from the hotdog stand outside and eating it in the restaurant, dirtying the tablecloth and then critisizing the chef for a dish they did not cook.)

It's a simple process for Australian TV channels, if you don't want people to flock to torrents, cut the 'reality' crap, 5 nights a week, two hours a night is simply too much to watch people lose weight or pick their nose or build a house. Try airring more American shows, and on time. When you say 8:30, start it no later than 8:35, sitting at the TV at 8:45 watching a fat guy staring into space silently trying desperately to search his 15 word vocabulary for a synonym of "good" makes life not worth living. Then keep it on, don't air 3 episodes and then replace it with someone else unless with good reason (no new episodes yet, another 9/11 MJ death-like event). Barring the aforementioned changes being made, I don't see myself torrenting any less.


Jive Turkey posted a comment   

a b c d e
non-availability on Itunes
changing the country of Windows to get access to TV shows on Zune has some negative side-effects

Basically it's because TV studios make it hard to obtain shows legally.


kalval posted a reply   

Just out of interest what are the negative side effects? As a windows phone user nothing would please me more than being able to buy my shows from zune. I'd prefer this to pirating them but the options just aren't there.


Jive Turkey posted a reply   

It's hard to explain because it depends on the apps that you use. Generally speaking, any app can use the location specified in Windows to customise features, but most of them don't (for me at least).

The few apps that do, however, can get annoying. Anything like time zone, currency, content restrictions, or DRM can change which could cause problems if you're not paying attention to which country you're set to. It could be something as simple as the time/date being wrong to being restricted from playing the video game you spent $100 on. For Zune itself, you have to have a separate account for different countries.

Fortunately, you can easily switch between countries with just a few mouse clicks and a restart, so it's worth giving a try. It may be a terrible experience for you, or it may be just what you're looking for.

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