Agents of SHIELD Takes Jump in Filesharing — ABC’s Policy Outdated?
January 27, 2014

Interesting example they use in this analysis of ABC’s online streaming policy. Basically, the channel has decided to enforce a delay. Previously, ABC shows were available to watch online for free (through Hulu or ABC.com) the day after they aired. Now, it’s a week. While the studio likely wants to drive customers to pay outlets, the end result is that viewers are turning to free but non-legal methods. Easy availability is key, and promptly.

So, for example, when it comes to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (a show that’s of middling quality, thus one many people might watch but not want to pay for), the enforced delay meant that episode 11 (post-delay) was streamed almost 6 times as much as episode 10 (pre-delay). As TorrentFreak says,

The increase can in part be explained by the streaming delay, as there was no significant increase in regular TV ratings or talk about the show on social media.

… In fact, all ABC shows saw an increase of at least 50% or more in BitTorrent downloads compared to their last original episode.

In this particular case, the show went from #60 in worldwide downloads to #4.

Streaming data for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Of course, ABC has every right to do whatever it wants with its content, but assuming that customers will passively accept decisions that result in worse experiences for them is no longer a smart or valid thing to do. Customers have options, and even though they’re technically illegal in many cases, this “crime” is perceived as the moral equivalent of speeding, something almost everyone does without much worry. Viewers just don’t see why they shouldn’t be able to watch what they want when and where they want, particularly since the series was shown for free in the first place.

4 Responses  
Dwight Williams writes:  

Also, another possible contributing factor: hasn’t the UK’s participating network in airing this series been delaying their catching-up with the US/Canada viewing audiences?

James Moar writes:  

Yes, Channel 4 over here are delaying until they can do a complete run without breaks after showing up to episode 10 — we don’t have US-style on-off scheduling over here, so I guess the channel’s more reluctant to show it that way.

Dwight Williams writes:  

I sympathise with both the audience and the network on this one, James.

Living in Canada, of course, we’re more easily subjected to having our viewing schedules synchronized with the US networks when it comes to US-produced shows.

Hannah writes:  

I haven’t seen AoS since December. As far as I know, Coulson is kidnapped. I’m losing the will with this program.


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