back to article Dr Who shoves BitTorrent in the Tardis

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) will stream the new series of Dr Who mere seconds after it finishes airing in the UK, in an effort to stop avid fans downloading the show. Dr Who previously screened on a one-week delay, but the ABC has told that it recognises fans' urgent need to view new Who will mean …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will it really change anything?

    I doubt this will really affect pirated downloads.

    There's a group of people who just like the ripping culture, and they'll just feel better about themselves downloading a copy of the BBC One stream from distant servers rather than the local copy.

    Also, corporations have a habit of responding to a situation but then getting it wrong in some way that spoils their entire effort. Is there any chance that the Australian version will get plastered with a really annoying DOG or some other unwanted addition, including advertising or trailers for other shows?

    And what is the resolution and bitrate of the Australian streamed file? If it's lower than whatever goes out on BBC One HD then, again, some people will skip it in favour of downloading a ripped copy of the BBC1 HD stream.

    Still, let's hope the servers hold up better than the ones NBC used to stream the Olympics live...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Will it really change anything?

      I expect it will do a lot. Most people pirate because it's the easiest practical method of acquiring content when it's wanted.

      Anime simulcast by crunchyroll has a 60% drop in torrent activity compared to shows not simulcast or shows simulcast on other company sites.

      But then the reason for this is CR does good enough subs (when compared to speed subs) they license a lot of shows (most of the other companies have one or two a season, CR has at least 5 + back catalogue) and they broadcast between sd, 480, 720 and 1080 (some shows aren't in the higher defs as they don't broad cast in them.) The simulcast shows are also aired at the same time as the TV channel in Japan (only the TV channel they're licensed to broadcast in step with though, so for some shows it can be later due to the channel not having the first air rights.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Will it really change anything?

        It usually takes a couple of hours for a show to go from being aired on TV to being available via a healthy torrent (because of re-encoding and the need to build up a decent number of seeds). I could see a lot of people who would usually torrent switching to a streaming service if it allows them to watch a show directly after it has aired in its native country.

        The one problem with this service in respect to Dr Who is that it will be made available at half five in the morning. By the time people get back from work in the evening there will already be a multitude of healthy torrents where the episode could be grabbed in minutes on a fast connection. Any incentive to watch a (presumably) lower quality stream of the show will have disappeared.

    2. John Bailey

      Re: Will it really change anything?


      This is a broadcaster that gets it.

    3. MonkeyBot

      Re: Will it really change anything?

      I stopped downloading South Park when I noticed it was on TV a couple of days after it was broadcast in America.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Aren't you making enough already?

    I can understand making a serie and then selling to several networks, that generates income. I can also see the networks putting the serie either primetime or a good time and infesting it with those annoying commercial breaks (which most people nowadays can skip easily thanks to modern VCR (-like) 's, but alas). I can see that.

    Do note that the latter also gives us access to record said show. And to my knowledge nothing is legally preventing us from sharing such recordings with others. After all; basically anyone could have had access to the original airing.

    But to finish; I can also see producers putting the whole stuff on video and trying to sell it as boxed sets. And that's not even getting into the obvious commercial aspects; toys, and god knows what.

    Isn't it enough already?

    You're going to stream it right away; accessible for all (the whole world) or doing it the (IMO) lame way like South Park does it; one country gets to see it, other's don't (yet)? Really free as in "click here, watch and enjoy" or "click here, wait for $dozen_commercials to finish and then you get to see bits and pieces" ?

    Even so... I don't think its going to stop anything.

    Because being able to download also means being able to watch it when it best suits us; not when $people claim is the best time to watch.

  3. Christian Berger

    I would pirate...

    if I couldn't get the BBC via satellite. Television, particularly satellite television, is a great way to avoid all the problems with copyright. It's a great way to get DRM-free and legal copies of programes.

    1. Mike 68

      Re: I would pirate...

      Watching shows on 'Television' eh? Is that some new thing I've not heard of?

      Weird how far things have gone, where it's now quite unusual to watch TV on TV. So many people I know have 'cut the cable'

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: I would pirate...

        Watching broadcast TV on a TV? Whoda thought it? Last night, returning from pub, the Humax PVR seemed to be on the blink, possibly because someone had set it record a couple of programmes. Reluctant to 'turn it off an on again' in case I ruined said recordings, I did for a moment contemplate plugging my phone into the TV's HDMI socket and stream Newsnight live from the iPlayer website. But then I thought 'that's just silly' and retired to bed to listen to an FM radio.

        Back to the article.... this has been done before, with Battlestar Gallactica and Madmen- at their outset, the US broadcasts were months ahead of elsewhere... by series four, new episodes were broadcast on the same day worldwide, or at least the same week. This Dr Who timing is possibly the closest I've heard of, though.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Note to copyright holders

    This is how you address piracy - you make it easier and quicker to consume content via your means than via BT, newsgroups or any other source.

    1. Thorne

      Re: Note to copyright holders

      5am is all wonderful for diehards but people who sleep in will still torrent it so they can watch it when it suits

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Note to copyright holders

        Or they will just set their VCR, DVD Recorder or PVR.

  5. Lord Zedd

    BT is still the preferred choice

    ABC= Commercial interruptions, watch on their time schedule, watch once.

    BT= No ads of any kind, watch when when you want, watch again any time in the future.

    What is "presumably not so fantastic" about BT again?

    1. Kevin (Just Kevin)

      @Lord Zedd

      ABC in Oz is a government funded station. There are no ads. And it's watch first time on their schedule (1 week delay, usually) and then on YOUR schedule on iView after that.

      One downside is the inability to just download it and watch it on your phone on a train, for instance. That's where BT comes in.

      But Doctor Who on ABC is a blessing if you want to watch it during broadcast.

    2. Alphi99

      Re: BT is still the preferred choice

      "ABC= Commercial interruptions, watch on their time schedule, watch once."

      are you on crack the ABC doesn't have commercial interruptions it is a fully tax payer funded organisation. There are no advertisements on iview. (except for previews of other abc shows)

      I think you are thinking of the American Broadcasting Corporation.

  6. jnemesh

    Nice try, but....

    As long as you restrict viewing to "authorized devices" or make users jump through hoops (downloading plug ins or a new app), "Channel BT" will ALWAYS win!

    I can download ANYTHING that has been broadcast, in ANY country, hours after airing, and guess what? I can play it on ANY DEVICE, ANY TIME, WITH NO RESTRICTIONS!

    Until the broadcasters realize that to compete with this, they have to free their programming from the shackles of DRM, piracy will continue to flourish!

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Nice try, but....

      Well, if you use a different firmware in your PVR, you can watch recorded content on any device at any time. Or, as the article hints at, rip the iView stream. I would imagine that the latter could be accomplished more quickly than BT. But many people won't bother, because whilst it is nice to be able to watch something ANYWHERE ANYTIME on ANY DEVICE, many people will be happy to watch it once, at home, at tea time, and watch it on their TV or computer screen.

  7. Oengus

    About time the networks provided material in a timely manner. 05:10 am is early (especially on a Sunday) but I will be up to watch this. I would be happy to wait until the "next available" regular timeslot for the latest episode (ABC airs Doctor Who at 7:30pm Monday to Friday on their #2 channel - Channel 22). I could wait 38 hours to see it.

    Providing the episodes in the timely manner will mean that many people won't bother to download them from the pirate sites. It is the episodes that are delayed weeks or months that send people looking for them from the pirate sites. I hope the ABC decide to air the complete season in a similar timely manner.

    The best part is that being the ABC (non-commercial, government owned and run) there should be no ads during the show and no trailers as the ABC usually show the eposides without them.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VPN not the only solution

    Actually, so called "geo-locked" content does not *require* a VPN (although this is one method of circumventing the geo aspect). Custom DNS services can also sidestep this with the added bonus that you get the stream at the full speed attainable between the CDN (content delivery network) and your location. VPN performance can vary widely, whereas with the DNS approach, you're not retrieving/streaming via anyone else's network.

    Companies such as UnoTelly offer services of this sort.

    1. Old Handle

      Re: VPN not the only solution

      Interesting. They're not real forthcoming about how it works, but it sounds like it's probably just a proxy, but one that only kicks in for certain sites, not unlike some censorship schemes.

      Or can anyone think of a sneakier way to do this using only DNS?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: VPN not the only solution

        Essentially you use their DNS for your access to the net. I guess that any DNS requests that go near a broadcast provider or their CDN are changed so the originating IP is flagged as belonging to a "permitted" region for that provider (DNS relay?).

        Whatever the implementation is (and it appears to make use of Amazon Web Services) it works like a charm.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: VPN not the only solution

          Technically speaking, that makes no sense. All a DNS request does is resolve a name to an IP address. Your machine then connects to that IP address, from your source IP. Your request to access the website is not "DNS relay"-ed (whatever that means) through any server at all, DNS just doesn't work that way.

          As an example, if my own IP is, and I open a browser to the register, my pc will request the ip for from Google's DNS server (, which will return the IP for the register, which is

          My pc then makes an HTTP request to, and if El Reg check their webserver logs, they'll see that request came from my IP of

          There's nothing within DNS that allows for my HTTP request to be proxied via or anywhere else.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: VPN not the only solution

            Okay, I've had a look at the Unotelly site now, pretty sure what follows is going to be how they make it happen, but I'm not signing up for their service to check. Perhaps someone who already has an account might check?

            Basically you change your DNS servers to use theirs. Then if you request (for example), they return the ip address of a proxy server they own in the US, your PC makes an HTTP request to that proxy server, and that proxy makes a separate HTTP request to, retrieves the content you want, and supplies it to you.

            It's a spectacularly bad idea to use this service. If they control your DNS they can direct you to one of their proxies whenever you visit any site they deem interesting. So you browse to facebook, their DNS directs you through one of their proxies, which logs your username and password. Or Hotmail, Gmail, Amazon, Paypal, your bank etc etc.

            If the logon is performed over HTTPs then in theory you password etc is encrypted in transit, but it would be trivial for them to 302 redirect you to a copy of the logon page on an HTTP site they control, perhaps within an HTTPs frame, so your padlock icon doesn't disappear, and they can record your logon details, before forwarding them on to the actual destination site. Classic MITM attack.

            You could not pay me enough to use DNS servers provided by a company I know nothing about, just so I can watch TV.

  9. -tim

    They did broadcast it to the world

    When you broadcast something half way around the world, it can be picked up downunder but not many people have access to a Parks type receiver and the ability to do noise rejection of the hundreds of other stations that are transmitting on nearly the same frequency but there are some who can.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They did broadcast it to the world

      Right. You've done that, have you?

  10. RAMChYLD

    Channel BT?

    So British Telecom is into the TV On-Demand bandwagon too huh? And they allow Australians to view the service?

    Pray tell, do they allow Malaysians to use their service too? Because last I checked, BBC iPlayer won't let you have a crack at it if you're outside the UK, and ABC iView won't let you have a crack at it if you're outside Australia.

    And as it stands, I waited almost 3 years for BBC Entertainment Asia to become available in Malaysia again, and Essledoc just regenerated into Tennant last fortnight. It'll probably be a while before I can catch up with the rest of the world.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Channel BT?

      At the risk of sounding like a spokesdroid for UnoTelly (just a very impressed customer), it supports accessing iPlayer from locations other then within the UK. On a recent trip to the Americas during the Olympics we were able to view coverage via iPlayer (just as well given the limited local viewing options that we had).

  11. Ralph B

    The Real Solution

    The real solution would be for Aereo to set up a UK office, surely?

  12. Alphi99

    I object to people labelled as a pirate just because they download from iview.

    Good on the ABC for showing some initiative...

    we used to have to wait for months if not years after a show was broadcast in the UK and US before it came to Australian tv.

    I don't see how ripping the files from iView is piracy, you can only view iView from inside Australia. I am Australian and ABC is ad free and funded by my tax dollars which are then used to pay the BBC for the rights to show the show in my country.

    therefore by the time the ABC has the right to broadcast the show, I have already paid to view it. This is no different from getting out my set top box and recoding the show directly from the free to air broadcast.

    I hope the ABC extends this practice to all content... and I hope the reg will refrain from labelling people who use iview rippers are pirates.

  13. Velv

    The Pirate Code (or perhaps they just be more guidelines)

    In the good old ship days, The Pirate Code governed the share of the spoils that went to each member of the pirate crew. One share per crewman, one and a half for "officers" and two shares for the Captain.

    Copyright "Piracy" is not (for most "Pirates") about making a profit - its about watching what you want when you want. Yes, there are many websites making huge profits from piracy. But the majority of the crew make no money out of their "piracy".

    Making stuff available via on demand is all very well IF you've got the infrastructure and service to support it. Have you got a home media that lets you watch the on demand on your TV, and does your "unlimited" broadband service really give you unlimited "downloads" of streaming media (most don't!).

    Will it make any difference? Probably barely measurable.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Pirate Code (or perhaps they just be more guidelines)

      Who are "you" quoting "?"

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Need would be stretching it, but "urgent need"?I like a good sci-fi as much as the next person, indeed, I have watched more Star Trek than could be considered healthy but come on. If someone thinks they need a TV show what they actually need is to throw the TV away.

  15. Drefsab

    I will be downloading doctor who thats for sure, thats because I want to watch it when I want how I want on the device I want. I live in the UK I could watch it as it airs, I pay for the top teir tv package so I could record it on one of my several set top boxes but no.

    My etertainment system will do it all for me. Sickbeard is as we speak searching newsgroups and torrent sites for new espisodes of all the program's I watch (CouchPotato is doing the same for the movies I want as well). When it finds it, its passed to the apropiate download utility (normally sabnzb). This downloads it renames and sorts it and then drops it into a NFS fileserver which all my media centeres look to as well as been available online in a flash video using subsonic.

    This all sounds complicated but it basically means that I have a simple web ui that I tell it what TV and movies I want and it handles the rest. When ever I want to watch something I turn on what ever device, my tv, my laptop, my mobile phone and enjoy as much as I want as often as I want.

    I can do it from home or on the move as long as I have an internet connection/mobile signal. People may say im a pirate for doing that but hell especially with things like doctor who I've paid for access already so I damned well will watch it however I want :)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I remember broadcast TV

    I watch around 40 to 50 hours of television a week. None of it broadcast, all of it from Channel BT. Streaming a programme minutes after it airs will make no difference to folks like me who are happy for shows to be downloaded overnight and ready to view the next evening. Like an earlier poster said, only the die hards will want access to a show at ridiculous hours of the day.

    The great thing about Channel BT, however, is that it makes available programmes from around the world. None of this geo crap.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It will be up to date in the US as well, but I still download. When I had cable, it didn't get the channel that broadcast Dr Who. Now I got rid of cable and the local broadcast PBS Dr Who is a year or so behind.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Step in the right direction

    This is a win/win situation all-round. ABC gets the viewer numbers and many non-torrent/newsgroups customers get the bonus of viewing it earlier. If they do it with more shows, less viewers will turn to finding torrents and downloading other content that they may not have considered before.

    Many will still torrent the episodes for their own reasons though. Be it habit, scheduled downloads from rss feeds or simply to play it back on a platform or interface of their choice.

    Until tv series get released around the world within a day, downloading of tv series will continue. No one likes having to ignore forum threads talking about tv episodes they have not seen yet in case there are spoilers.

    Personally I have downloaded tv stuff for years for a few reason:

    * I got to see shows that were not shown here and sometimes took a year to arrive

    * I often pause, rewind missed bits etc (just been diagnosed with ADHD which finally explains why!) so the xbmc interface (later wdtv and now smart tv) with networking streaming was the best way to watch it

    * I can watch the show anywhere in the house on various devices with no main pc on or no internet

    * Even with catchup tv the quality is downgraded a lot so a 720p x264 file with a media player is still a better option.

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