Under pressure from broadcasters, the Belgian cable operator Telenet has cancelled a plan to offer new episodes from US TV series on its VOD platform brand within 48 hours of the shows appearing on American television.
Within hours after the operator had announced the intention to launch the service on September 24, to be called Series – hot from the US, broadcasters protested claiming such a service would hurt their business. Telenet wanted to offer series including Grey’s Anatomy, Lost and Desperate Housewives, which usually get shown much later on broadcast TV.
Because of the ‘good relations’ Telenet enjoys with the broadcasters, the operator dropped the plans for the time being. The cabler already offers movies on-demand, while a number of broadcasters have their own branded on-demand services on the network with a variety of programming available, both free and for pay – for subscription or on a transactional basis.
It is our take that a service as proposed by Telenet is the ideal answer to the growing problem of illegal downloads and file sharing on the internet. At the moment, every new episode of a major US series is viewed illegally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of times. Being a major broadband provider, Telenet knows exactly how much of the traffic over its network concerns such activities.
By offering brand new programming in a legal and easily accessible way, this can help battle piracy. Broadcasters that are dependent on third party programming will have to get used to the fact that they have no exclusivity. In the case of movies, there are already a number of windows (DVD, VOD, pay TV) before they can show them.
Of course the broadcasters themselves can also decide to run such a VOD service. See also our story about the top list of TV series on file sharing.