But Television Is Free?

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Television may be free but what happens when you don’t actually watch shows on Television? TV stations are still basing most of their decisions on ratings when hordes of people have turned to the Internet to consume their television content when, where and how they want to both legally and illegally.

Almost one-third of Australian adults admit to routinely using illegal download services to watch TV shows and movies – and that number is much higher in younger people. More than half of 18 to 24 year olds do it, according to the latest industry research – Pirate hunt: is this the end of Australia’s love affair with illegal downloading? By Kelsey Munro

The illegal side of this new way to watch television is especially prominent in Australia. The legal options that viewers in the states enjoy are slowly making their way to our shores with the recent release of Australian Netflix and homegrown alternatives such as Presto and Stan but the offerings are limited. The Catalogue of the Australian Netflix pales in comparison to the offerings on the American version. According to Lifehack Netflix America has six times as much content as the Australian version.  The main problem that delayed Netflix’s expansion to Australia and causes the library to be significantly smaller is that the Australian rights for a lot of shows are locked up in long-term deals with our TV stations.

The existing broadcast rights are burdening consumers as well. For example Australian Game Of Thrones fans used to be able to purchase the new episodes for a few dollars shortly after they aired in the US but Foxtel changed their deal with HBO to become the only legal way to watch Game Of Thrones in Australia. Thus anyone who wants to legally watch Game Of Thrones must pay monthly for the entire Foxtel suite which is a minimum of 45$ a month plus 150$ in installation fees. This has left many Australians disappointed and left them no way to continue watching without using illegal means.

“They’ve (TV Watchdogs) been toiling in vain to stem the onslaught of viewers flocking to free streaming websites in order to enjoy the latest episodes of “Game of Thrones”, “30 Rock” or “Dexter.” The watchdogs can’t possibly keep up—they’re overrun like a hobbled survivors fleeing a horde of zombies on AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” – TV and Film Piracy: Threatening An Industry

Until these problems are addressed Australians are going to continue to pirate television. Why a deal cannot be made between the legacy media companies such as TV Stations and new media providers such as Netflix or iTunes to let people pay watch what they want is beyond me. This issue is becoming even more important with the threats of new piracy laws looming on the horizon so hopefully it is resolved in the near future.

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