This weekend The Guardian ran a story about Breaking Bad, the hit US series which is into its 4th season on US network television but which has yet to be picked up by a big network here in the UK. The reasons for this anomaly — as was the case with now-legendary TV drama The Wire — are many and varied, as the Guardian article admits.
What it is oddly not-so-clear on, is how UK viewers are getting their hands on Breaking Bad, regardless. According to the story:
Unwilling to wait for a UK TV channel to buy the rights, fans have flocked to streaming sites like Netflix, which cruelly only gives you 15 seconds to switch off once an episode has finished before it boils up a teaspoon of the next one’.
The Guardian‘s coverage of Mad Men similarly painted an unlikely picture of UK consumers having to contain their frustrated desires until the latest season premiered on Sky Atlantic. A blog post extorted readers, ‘If you don’t have Sky Atlantic and are facing a long wait for the DVD to come out, there are ways to deal with colleagues who did watch it.’
The word — or words — that no one seems to be mentioning are as follows: bittorrent, filesharing and/or piracy.
In some circles, Sky Atlantic’s attempt to monopolise provision of high quality US drama has led it to becoming known as ‘the bittorrent channel’, with high profile ad campaigns only serving to remind some folk to get their trackers on.
Whilst it’s feasible that mainstream media outlets can’t be seen to endorse illegal behaviour, that shouldn’t prevent them reporting on it — or at least acknowledging that file-sharing exists as a media consumption behaviour.
Maybe it is the influence of their advertisers — many of whom are indeed mainstream broadcasters — that explains UK papers’ reticence around B********* or P*****B**, at least in the context of writing about what we as consumers are watching and where. Odd also that newspapers – still battling for relevancy in a weightless media world — should miss an opportunity to be ‘down with the kids’. As one commentator on The Guardian‘s Breaking Bad piece writes, ‘Oh look, the Guardian finally realised what people have been watching online for the last 3 years. Can’t wait for next year’s piece on Community.’ Denialism indeed.