Digital Life

Why isn't The X-Files streaming live on Tenplay?

The truth is out there – it'll have been out there for a week by the time we see the new X-Files in Australia on Sunday night.

Mulder and Scully are back together for a six-episode revival of The X-Files – the premiere screened Sunday night on Fox in the US, but Ten has decided to hold over the first episode for a week in Australia. Ten says it's lining up a "super Sunday of programming" for this weekend, which seems to be TV-speak for "we're holding The X-Files back as our secret weapon against Seven's Australian Open final on Sunday night".

The truth is already out there, but there's no point in looking to Network Ten for answers with <i>The X-Files</i> ...
The truth is already out there, but there's no point in looking to Network Ten for answers with The X-Files delayed for a week. 

We're actually two episodes behind on The X-Files, as the second episode screened in the US on Monday night. Ten is screening the second episode next Monday night but it isn't planning a double episode to get us back in sync with the US, so the entire season will run a week behind the US (actually it's more like six days once you allow for the time difference, as Sunday night in the US is Monday morning here).

All the talk of fast-tracking US shows in order to appease Australian audiences and combat piracy clearly goes out the window as soon as it suits the networks to screw us over. High-quality copies of the first two episodes are already floating around on the internet and it's child's play to download them. Australia's laughable piracy crackdown will do very little to change this.

Aussies aren't just downloading The X-Files because they're impatient, they're also trying to avoid the spoilers which inevitably pop up online after an episode screens in the US. It's difficult enough to declare a media blackout on Monday afternoons during Game of Thrones without trying to go an entire week without someone spoiling The X-Files' plot twists.

In Foxtel's defence it simulcasts Game of Thrones on Monday morning, and then repeats it Monday evening because most of us can't drop everything and watch it live in the middle of the day. No-one is expecting Ten to screen The X-Files on Monday mornings, but the network does have the ability to release it on Tenplay at the same time as it screens in the US.

It's been done before, with Homeland screening on Tenplay on Monday afternoons a few years ago. Running only 15 minutes behind the Sunday night US broadcast, it let Australians watch Homeland online hours before it screened on local free-to-air television or appeared on file-sharing sites. The ABC does the same thing with Doctor Who, releasing it on iView early Sunday morning to coincide with the UK broadcast schedule.

It's possible that Ten doesn't have the rights to simulcast The X-Files as it did Homeland, even though both shows are distributed by 20th Television. If Ten is serious about appeasing Australian audiences then it needs to push harder. Releasing The X-Files on Tenplay first might cost the network some free-to-air viewers, but it's better than losing them to the BitTorrent channel where they're not watching the ads. 

OzTam has just announced plans to measure catch up TV ratings as of February, so it's time to stop treating catch up TV as an afterthought. The networks talk big when it comes to embracing the internet, but it's time to deliver. There's no excuse for making Australian viewers wait a week when the truth is already out there.

19 comments