Did the BBC and BitTorrent Just Add Another Twist to the Cable Cutting Game?
Well now, things are getting really interesting out there in television-land. I’m trying not to snicker too loudly, but what with the dickmonsters like Comcast and Cablevision who love to dole out those 5-hour afternoon “window” appointments, and those ridiculous padded crapbundles, it’s a little hard to hold down the racket. Oh, we’ve been Netflixed up for a while now, and there’s iTunes, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon streaming, and you must have heard HBO and Showtime are going rogue? Well, fire up the popcorn machine, because the BBC and BitTorrent just threw another wrench into your beloved cable provider’s junked up basement hell.
In a nearly unprecedented deal with BitTorrent (one Canadian series was distributed back in 2008), BBC Worldwide has partnered with the content distributor to make a bundle of Doctor Who episodes available to download. The $12.00 package includes nine episodes and a two-part special, put together to mark the March 26th ten year anniversary of NewWho, kicked off by Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor. Episodes include “Blink, The Empty Child,, The Doctor Dances, The Girl in the Fireplace, The Doctor’s Wife” and “The End of Time;” users can also download a free video marking the anniversary, hosted by the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi).
For BitTorrent, which has partnered with music artists (Thom Yorke, NiN) to release their material, a big broadcaster like the BBC could be just what they’ve been looking for to hit the next level. The distributor appears to be following the trail blazed by Netflix and Amazon, and this year will begin production on original series (“BitTorrent Originals”), the first of which is a dystopian science fiction show called Children of the Machine, set to debut this fall. In a little bit of a twist on the Amazon model, the series pilot will be made available for download free; if you like it, you can choose to pay $9.95. Then — like Kickstarter — when the funding goal ($250k) is reached, the series will be completed and you’ll be able to download the rest of the episodes. As TechHive notes, BitTorrent isn’t necessarily striving to stop piracy, as much as provide an alternative to illegal downloads.
It’ll be interesting to see if the BBC makes more programming available, or other major broadcasters go the bundle route, but whatever happens, looks like that cable stranglehold is ever loosening.