The Handmaid’s Tale is my most anticipated television show for 2017. I didn’t know it was going to be a show until January, but upon hearing the news I was thrilled. I did searches every few days to check if Australia had a distributor, and I participated in more than one Twitter discussion about its Australian home. There was a general agreement (as much as there can be on Twitter) that it should end up on Stan, which has built its brand on fast-tracking shows from the United States.
As the premiere date passed, there was still no news. Someone asked me if it could end up on Amazon, and I said maybe. Prime Video carries Hulu’s cult drama The Path, and they have worldwide distribution for American Gods. My next reply was something along the lines of “I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up on SBS,” which is exactly what happened. This was followed by the news that we would have to wait until July to watch any of it, which is when this piece started forming in my mind. SBS isn’t the only network that’s doing this sort of thing: Ten gets some attention in the piece, and Foxtel waited nearly three months to start airing the latest season of The Americans. It seemed things were going really well for a couple of years in terms of access, and they’ve dropped back now that the television landscape is becoming more crowded. There’s more competition in the marketplace, so television stations need to convince people that they’re worth watching. Making them wait a coupld of months for one of the year’s most highly anticipated shows isn’t the way to to do that.