The Dreamy Future of Movies and TV Online

While reading about the new History Channel series Life Without People (brief review: fun, highly derivative of the excellent World Without Us, but the movie-guy narration is ridiculously overblown), I happened upon a reference to the seventies BBC TV post-apocalyptic TV series Survivors. It turns out that they’re in the midst of remaking the series–they’re currently shooting season (which, in BBC terms, probably means six episodes) two.

I really dig post-apocalyptic works of art, so I immediately went looking to watch the remade series. I read on this (Official? Unofficial? Hard to tell) blog that season one was available on iTunes. Great, I thought, I’ve got some travel later in the week, I’ll plunk down my 20 bucks or whatever and download them.

Alas, “Survivors” is not available on iTunes Canada. Nor, as far as I can tell, is it available on the American or Canadian Amazon sites. I’d gladly pay for the show, even with iTunes’s imperfect system, but I can’t. What’s left? Illegally downloading the show using BitTorrent.

The Excellent Yet Distant Online Content Distribution Model

This is, of course, a very common complaint. Over the last decade, as Cory Doctorow likes to say, content producers must be ““dragged kicking and screaming to the money tree”. Farhad Manjoo reflects this ethos, and describes some of the reasons behind it, in his latest Slate article:

In my dreams, here’s what it would look like: a site that offers a huge selection—50,000 or more titles to choose from, with lots of Hollywood new releases, indies, and a smorgasbord of old films and TV shows. (By comparison, Netflix says it offers more than 100,000 titles.)

Things, of course, are even worse up here in the Canadian digital ghetto.


  1. Regional distribution contracts are the leading-edge example of broken old business models. They made some sense when you needed the ability to physically distribute products (books, records, movies, etc.) in different countries.

    So different book publishers, record companies, film distributors, and so on signed contracts with rights holders to get some money for the grunt work of promoting and distributing their works in different countries or regions, or collecting royalties, etc.

    But now we have the insanity of Apple and Amazon and others having to negotiate separate contracts with perhaps dozens of different publishers, or performing rights organizations, or whatever. How much simpler it would be, and how much better for us customers to be able to spend our money, if there didn’t have to be a different iTunes store for Canada and New Zealand and Belgium and Austria and Japan. How much engineering effort has been wasted in making the iTunes Store manage all that complexity?

    How many people will never be able to buy some of this stuff because the contracts aren’t even worth negotiating for their region? How many have been teed off, or dissuaded from buying entirely, by the nutty region coding on DVDs that prevents a disc purchased in Singapore from playing on a regular North American player — even if the disc is only on the market in Singapore in the first place, with no competing North American version to “lose” the sale?


  2. Re: “I read on this (Official? Unofficial? Hard to tell) blog” – we’re proudly 100% unofficial, although we’re often frighteningly well informed…

    Yes, series two of the new BBC version of post-apocalyptic show Survivors will be six episodes long, just like series one.

    So, there’ll be at least 12 episodes in total that you’ll want to lobby the BBC to licence for the Canadian market.

    1. Thanks for that. I know, it was the level of information that gave me pause about your officialness.

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