Wednesday, June 11, 2014
THE IRONIC CONUNDRUM OF THE WALKING DEAD
I hope you had a relaxing Easter break. Some chocolate too. Jesus was all about chocolate. In moderation, of course.
After the frenetic pace of the last few weeks, I took the opportunity to unwind a little. Like most people in the modern paradigm, my relaxation included catching up on some unwatched television.
In my case, I have a severe addiction to the American post-apocalyptic survival series 'The Walking Dead'.
You would think this would be an easy enough craving to satiate. It's a hugely successful program, watched all over the world and spoiled by millions of Facebook comments with as much vigour as the plot ruiners of 'Game of Thrones'.
Unfortunately, you would be wrong.
I started with the most obvious means: DVD. But no, the latest season hasn't been released on DVD yet. The slated release is in five months. Blergh.
So, much as the idea of owning digital files gives me anemia, I checked iTunes. The new season is there and available. For $20 more than the DVD costs, and you need to have high speed internet to download it. Which my holiday location doesn't.
And so, just out of curiosity, I checked Netflix. Could I be tech savvy and organise an American proxy server to access the streaming video service, thus scratching my now festering 'Walking Dead' itch?
No. Even Netflix, based in the U.S.A. doesn't have the latest season yet.
But then, a beacon of hope. A ray of light.
The pay-TV service here in Australia, Foxtel, is screening the new series.
This was it! My moment had arrived!
Foxtel still operates its service like a traditional broadcaster. Only the premium service offers 'on-demand' viewing. Which means, if you have missed an episode, there is, like the world of Sheriff Rick Grimes and the survivors of the zombie apocalypse...no going back.
Thwarted. Frustrated. Confused. And all I want is to LEGALLY watch the show which I have supported for three seasons via DVD purchasing.
Why? When all the possible portals exist for loyal viewers to connect with the programs they enjoy, why do they make access so difficult?
Is it hubris? Or stupidity? Could this be some elaborate exercise to help me understand the desperation of the scavenger, and so deepen my empathy for the tribulations of the 'Walking Dead' survivors?
There are a number of supposed legitimate answers. The most commonly cited is that the delay in other release platforms gives AMC, the show's producing channel, the chance to exploit the programmes's popularity with its direct subscribers and premium (i.e. simultaneous release) partners.
So, in short, money.
AMC needs to justify it's subscriber fee in North America, and premium licensing fee worldwide, by restricting access to other viewers who engage with the show via secondary platforms.
And this is the ironic conundrum of The Walking Dead.
The people tasked with providing the show to its devoted audience are ensuring that it cannot be seen legally by many who want it. In doing so the Walking Dead is actually empowering, by ceding the moral high ground, the illegal means to watch the show.
Yes, 'The Walking Dead' is, ironically, actually giving LIFE.
When will they learn?
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