Supernatural offerings

More Network Ten developments! This afternoon at 5pm, Ten will begin offering episodes of the American horror adventure series Supernatural for download on its Web site.

More Network Ten developments! This afternoon at 5pm, Ten will begin offering episodes of the American horror adventure series Supernatural for download on its Web site.

No BitTorrent required

The season two premiere of the show will be available from the site five days before it is broadcast on television. The download contains promotional ads for Ten, with future online episodes to feature advertising from sponsors.

Those wanting to nab the video files will need to register some marketer-pleasing identifying details such as their name, e-mail address, date of birth and postcode. They'll also see three opt-ins: Ten's terms and conditions, permission for Ten to contact them, and permission for third parties to have access to their personal details.

The downloads represent a step in the digital direction for the network, which will next month unveil a shiny new multimedia-focused Web portal as part of the online strategy I blogged about last week.

So, who will be downloading the episodes, I wonder? The registration process and advertising content will likely dissuade habitual BitTorrenters, who would have obtained the videos some months ago if they were interested (the season two premiere aired in the US in September). But perhaps the simplicity of the download process (that is, there is no software to download, nor torrents to locate) will encourage tech novices to expand their television-viewing habits beyond the confines of their lounge room plasma screen.

It's good to see full episodes being made available, especially before they are broadcast on television. But I still reckon the key to a rosy online future is to provide local content -- that way, Ten won't have to compete with peer-to-peer methods of obtaining TV series episodes. OK, it wouldn't make sense to offer, say, the complete season premiere of a new Australian drama five days before it aired on television. But offering a teaser clip, behind-the-scenes footage, or even the first five minutes as a download would create interest, and allow watercooler discussion in the days preceding the television broadcast.

Does Channel Ten's approach seem like a good one to you? How do you think Australian TV networks should offer their content online? Would you download episodes featuring advertising content? Share your views in Talkback.