The Frustration with UK Broadcast Delays

After several months of waiting, The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow have all been broadcast on Sky 1 - in the UK, that is. Each of these programs returned to air (or in the case of Legends of Tomorrow, premiered) in the US around 6 weeks ago.

It’s frustrating, of course, to be so far behind the majority of a community; it limits the ability for one to take part in discussion, because you’re so far behind, and increases the potential for spoilers ruining the experience when the show does return.

Because of this, then, it’s likely that the majority of the audience will turn to a more… buccaneering method of watching their favourite shows.

What’s becoming evident, then, is the fact that delays like this don’t really help anyone; it’s frustrating and inconvenient for the fans, and it eventually begins to actually damage the platform for the broadcasters.

A good example of this is Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD; its broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK has been a rocky one. Despite very high ratings for its initial premier – notable being broadcast only three days after the American release – there was a notable decline in ratings over the course of the rest of the season. In part, that’s because of undeniably rocky levels of quality in those early days, but it’s far more easily attributed to the variable scheduling the show received; it wasn’t uncommon for there to be a break in the broadcast every couple of weeks.

Hoping to avoid this, Channel 4 held back the broadcast of the show for a month after the American premier – the idea being that, if they could air each episode in a row, they’d be able to maintain their viewers each week. Of course, though, the majority of the people who were interested in the show had pirated it by this point, meaning the show ended up with increasingly poor ratings.

Now the show has been moved from its prior 9pm Friday slot to 9pm Sundays, on E4 rather than 4 – it’s slowly limping along still, but one gets the impression that 4 only continues to air it for contractual reasons. I’d be surprised if the fourth season of the show was aired at all at this rate.

It’s painfully clear to see, then, that this practice simply isn’t helping anyone. It’s detrimental to the viewing experience, and it results in lower ratings for the broadcaster. In an ideal world, then, it’s something that’ll be changed.

For now, though, we’ll just have to keep waiting…

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