Hidden Down The TV Guide #8 - Sky: The Empire Strikes Back

We all know that home taping is killing music. We also realise that illegal downloading from fileshare sites and torrents is frankly, well illegal. And just to make that clear here is a polite reminder that such things are bad, bad and bad:

We also know that people who make TV and Film release their wares at different times in different territories. There's a US première, a UK première, a Chinese première and then there's the DVD première, the blu-ray première, the satellite/cable première and finally the terrestrial one. Speaking legally and personally, I owned a copy of Zhang Yimou's Hero for nearly two years before it came to UK cinemas because I bought a Chinese release because of this circus of release dates.

It's all marketing. It's why we get directors cuts, commentaries, special features, out-takes and steel-book editions as the large multinational company gets blood out of the recessionary stone. Sure, they have every right to exploit their product to make as much money as possible but for decades this situation has meant we wait and wait for things that our international friends get much earlier.

This pushes keen viewers into the arms of other solutions. Which brings us to Game of Thrones, the estimates are that six million US citizens illegally downloaded this series last year putting it ahead of Breaking Bad (four million) and The Walking Dead (three and a half). Now Season Four is lurking around the corner having a crafty fag before it unloads it's carnage on the happily anticipating audience, and the show will be shown in America the day before it is shown in the UK.

Previously, the UK channels have hidden behind piracy warnings and license agreements and chosen to not give the viewer what they want. This time, Sky have been clever and have chosen to give the viewer more opportunity to do the right thing. The short gap between prime-time premières, the availability of the episode on streaming by the end of it's HBO showing, and, most cool, an actual simulcast of the first episode at 2 am when it shows on HBO. imageLet's hope that this does set a precedent and that Sky and others continue to be so smart. It can only reduce piracy and increase profits, whilst making the audience more loyal and well served. So in a very rare case, we say well done Rupert and your minions, we applaud your smarts....

Game of Thrones starts Monday 7th April on Sky Atlantic at 2am and will be available on demand from that time

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