All television programmers, be they premium or broadcast, have been looking into ways to get more folks to watch their programing on their television sets instead of their computer monitors. Starz has announced a decision which may be designed to do just that.
According to reports, Starz has decided to withhold all of their original programming from video streaming for 90 days, effective April 1st with the start of their new Camelot series. What makes this an item of both news and concern for science-fiction fans is the fact that this will include the new season of Torchwood, entitled “Torchwood: Miracle Day,” which is scheduled to start running on the premium service on July 8th.
That means that if you are not a subscriber to the Starz Networks, then the earliest you could see this season of the extremely popular Doctor Who spin-off would be in November or December of this year. Which month it became available on Netflix would depend on whether the 90 days starts from when the episode airs or when the series finishes its Starz run.
Viewers of shows on Starz who accidentally miss an episode can take heart in the fact that at least they can get another chance in 90 days. At least they have this option, unlike the fans of original programming on Showtime, which bars their original shows from video streaming.
There are many theories regarding what is causing Starz’s decision to take this action. These range from an effort to get folks to subscribe to the premium service to get to see the shows, to keeping current subscribers from opting to get their Starz programming from video streaming for Netflix’s charge, rather than paying the subscription charge for Starz.
Now, I can see both sides of this issue. Starz is investing a lot of capital into this fourth season of “Torchwood,” and they deserve to get the best possible return on their investment because, after all, they are in business to make money for their stockholders.
However, I can also see the problems of the viewers. If they miss an episode of their particular show, they must either make either catch a repeat of the episode that week, or set their DVR for it. If that fails, then they are out of luck and in the case of some shows, like “Torchwood,” that could be a problem as if you miss one episode, sometimes you miss a lot of plot development.
Frankly, I believe this decision is going to take a bad situation for “Torchwood” and make it into an extremely bad one. When Fox turned the show down, and Starz picked it up, it restricted the potential viewing audience for the show as many do not get that particular premium service, because of various reasons, not the least of which is protecting one’s budget in these rough economic times.
Starz decision regarding video streaming is going to do nothing but further hurt the series’ chances of success and make it even harder for fans of Captain Jack Harkness and crew to see the latest adventures of the team here in this country. Frankly, I would strongly urge Starz to reconsider this decision, at least in the case of Torchwood, which is a joint production of the BBC and Starz and allow streaming for it, maybe not immediately, but a lot sooner than 90 days.
Please think about it, Starz!