The sixth season of The Good Wife “premieres” tonight on Channel Ten at 9:30. The US premiere was only two and a half weeks ago, and three episodes have aired over there as of last Sunday. A two and a half week wait isn’t that long when it comes to Australian Networks airing imports after the United States, but compared to the less than 24 hours it took for Homeland to reach Australian airwaves on Monday, it’s too long. Similarly, Channel Ten was eager to premiere two of the new shows of the United States 2014-2015 television season, Scorpion and Madam Secretary, both of which started before The Good Wife even though all three shows premiered on CBS on either the 21st or 22nd of September.
What is frustrating about this is that The Good Wife has just started its sixth season and already has an established audience. Why is it so difficult for them to fast track a show with an established audience when they’re bringing new shows, with a higher likelihood of cancellation, as soon as they possibly can? Furthermore, Madam Secretary is paired with The Good Wife on Sunday nights on CBS, because they believe the shows will attract similar audiences. It would have made sense for Channel Ten to adopt a similar tactic, as it can use an already established audience to build an audience for a show that is perceived to be similar. Better yet, these two shows would also fit well with Party Tricks, Ten’s new Australian political drama starring Asher Keddie. Once again, even though the wait is only 16 days, if the wait was less than a week, there would be less incentive for Australian fans of The Good Wife to pirate the show. And Ten is not the only network doing this.
Channel Seven has the rights to the ABC Network’s How To Get Away With Murder, which premiered to 14 million viewers, and broke DVR records with an additional 6 million people watching the recorded show within a week. When are Channel Seven airing the show? Next year, presumably after the Australian Open is finished. The best way to capitalise on internet buzz is to premiere the show as soon as possible after it airs in the United States. Admittedly Seven has better ratings and attracts an older demographic than Ten and are therefore less susceptible to losing viewers to online piracy, but fast tracking these shows would still lead to them making more money from advertising. Similarly, the fourth season of Scandal, one of the top ten dramas in the United States, debuted nearly two weeks ago and Seven is yet to air the third season. I’m fairly sure very few Australians are aware that the show exists, but those who do have probably already seen the third season anyway.
The Foxtel channel Showcase fast tracks Game of Thrones, Mad Men and other premium dramas that air on HBO within 24 hours of airing in the United States; the summer drama The Leftovers has already completed its first season and is premiering on Showcase later this month. The Comedy Channel fast tracks John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight from HBO within 24 hours (this is one of my favourite shows right now), but it took them three months to air the most recent season of Louie. As stated earlier, Ten fast tracks Homeland, a show that used to be fantastic, but won’t fast track other favourites. This is a widespread problem that isn’t limited to free to air networks but also channels that people pay to watch. Australian networks need to respect established audiences for their imported shows and fast track those shows. It will increase their viewership and reduce the impact of online piracy