Daisy lives in Sydney, Australia, but she loves US TV shows and she loves talking about them with others. This is her story.
I run a closed group on Facebook for people to talk about TV show episodes once they have aired. Daisy is a member of this group, as are a number of Australians including myself. We are constantly negotiating a time lag waiting for media to cross over geographic licensing boundaries that exist solely for financial gain.
For anyone not in the know, an Australian accessing a TV show episode very soon after it has aired in the US is unlikely to be through paid (or legal) means. US “prime time” TV shows air between 7 and 11 PM on the East Coast of the USA. With daylight savings right now, that’s between 11 AM and 3 PM in Sydney, in other words, right in the middle of the (next) working day. There are websites that make it possible to live-stream the shows as they air. They are difficult to find and the AV quality is questionable at best. And more importantly, you have to be available at this time of day, which most working adults (including Daisy) are not.
Where are you when you watch your shows?
Daisy: I’m at home. Usually in my room or in my living room
Ok and what devices are you using to watch?
Daisy: Either on my laptop or an external hard drive plugged into the USB port of my TV.
Where are you when you’re using the group to chat about the episodes and on what device/s?
Daisy: I’m either on my phone or my laptop. If on my laptop, in my room, but if on my phone, I’m usually all over the place. At home in other rooms, or I’m out and about.
OK that’s cool because it’s a blurring of the public and private. I’m the same but I’m not allowed to study myself. So the other thing is… when you’re posting/commenting, is it before/during/after watching?
Daisy: it depends. It’s usually afterwards, because I get a bit distracted commenting as I’m watching, but if I’m watching a second time, I may do a bit of a running commentary.
So, if you were able to watch at the same time as the US peeps would you be trying to live-tweet with them?
Daisy: Yep- I’d have ads to live tweet in. I’ve streamed episodes of TV live from the States in the past (when I was a uni student so I was actually home during the day) and I used to live tweet in the ads.
Ah yeah I guess the ad breaks are something we don’t usually deal with when we watch now.
Daisy: Not at all. We watch straight, which is great.
It’s a good thing when you’re just consuming but when you’re trying to participate online [the ads] actually work in our favour. The thing I never liked about live-streaming, besides the fact that it’s pretty impossible to find a decent link, is how poor the quality is.
Daisy: Yeah. It’s usually rubbish, which is why I gave up on it but using social media to promote a show is super important to Neilson ratings and the like.
Yeah, since they started monitoring user engagement during airtime to gauge popularity. [See this blog post for more information.]
Daisy: Yeah- so if you tweet after the fact, it’s not very useful. So help me, if Agent Carter gets canned because not enough people tweet, I will NOT be a happy camper.
I feel like if we can’t be in the country giving Nielsen ratings [through our own televisions] at the very least we could be contributing to the social media hype but even that is difficult to do. It makes me feel so useless as a fan of a US TV show.
Daisy: Yeah- I can’t sit at work and tweet about a TV show I’m not watching right now.
I used to check Twitter when I was having a quiet moment at work and I would get so bombarded with spoilers. CW shows are the worst with it I think. ABC shows seem to be slightly more reserved.
Daisy: Yeah, but if you follow fans who are in the USA, nothing is safe.
The group is made up of so many disparate people who watch at different times, what do you think of spoiler comments versus non-spoiler comments? I know generally if an episode thread goes up it’s probably going to have spoilers but I find myself monitoring even if I haven’t seen the episode yet.
Daisy: It depends. I usually don’t look until I’m either viewing or have viewed, mostly because I’m busy, but I’m not overly fussed if I see a spoiler in that group. You should expect it, really. But if someone just posts on [their personal] Facebook or whatever, that’s dickish.
Tumblr has a big problem with spoilers because of the amount of gifs generated between airtime and view time. Are you a big Tumblr user? Does this cause problems for you?
Daisy: I’m not any more, really. I used to be, but I would go Tumblr-silent before I saw an episode. Way too many things ruined.
I have to say one of the reasons I moved away from that platform was because of the spoilers.
Daisy: Spoilers and some of the fans were just too full-on. That celebrity you stalk on social media is not your friend!
What do you think of the licensing rules that are basically enforcing these restrictions on us?
Daisy: I think they’re rubbish.
Here’s the thing though, Netflix has proved it can make money from using their own distribution system. Broadcast networks are still the dominant producer of TV though.
Daisy: Yep. Rupert Murdoch invested way too much money in his assumption that Foxtel would dominate TV distribution. He’s paying for that now. I’m happy to pay for TV. I’m not happy to be ripped off.
“Happy to pay for TV” means restricted viewing times though. Game of Thrones may air at the same time here as the US on Foxtel but you’d have to be available at home or on the Foxtel Go app (at work?) to capitalise on that. As a viewer you have less autonomy about when you watch it. And that also restricts the device use and location for your viewing practices
Daisy: Not if it was a system similar to Netflix, but uploaded live along with the US.
The library is accessible at the same time no matter where you’re located? So the future of television is multiple [online] libraries like Netflix? (Stan? Presto? What are US alternatives to Netflix?) The issue becomes funding. (Do Netflix have comparable budgets to network shows?)
Is there anything you want to talk about that’s related to this? (This is what makes the research process “collaborative”.) I could have missed something. But the gist is the spatial limitations of being located in Australia when trying to consume TV from another country.
Daisy: Um… I don’t think so. I mean, the reality of the issue is that we live on the other side of the world. Even if we had legal access right away, you’re still limited by time zone unless you’re willing to plan your job around tv? Which is doubtful…
I guess we should consider how much do we have a right to entertainment content? It’s leisure. So it’s not a fundamental need.
For the purposes of this project, Daisy is a pseudonym for my collaborator.