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TV as an app: new distribution model threat to studios

updated 08:39 am EDT, Sun June 10, 2012

Australian TV show goes straight to iTunes as an app

An Australian TV production shot by Russell Boyd, the Academy Award-winning cinematographer of the film Master and Commander is set to make its world premiere as an app, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. Users will be able to either purchase the series as a "virtual box set" in an app for $9 or by episode for $1.49 each on iTunes. The show will skip a traditional TV airing or even web delivery in a move that will bypass TV studios altogether.

"That's why I became involved," Boyd told the paper. "I was just interested in shooting something that's going to end up as an app for the iPad. This is a new way of putting stuff out there, a thing of the future -- or maybe of the present."

Watch with Mother was shot in various Sydney suburbs and is a blend of horror and comedy. "The characters are all pushing the bounds of what is credible," says one of the co-creators, Jonathan Kneebone. "You kind of like them, although they're doing something quite awful. The sketch format has a funny effect. Things that are innocent take on dark overtones."

The budget for the mini-series is about as much as it would cost to make a low-budget feature-length film, according to the show's producers -- which means that they will need to get a lot of takers when it gets released in the coming weeks. "Anything between 200,000 and 300,000 people, which is a massive uptake," says executive producer Michael Ritchie. "If we're lucky, the take-up rate could be three per cent of those who see the trailer. That means we need to get about 8 million to 10 million views of the trailer."

The official trailer for Watch with Mother will be released to YouTube this week. Some perspectives on the show from various cast members are embedded below.

by MacNN Staff



  1. facebook_Bradley

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jun 2012


    Target Market

    I can't help but read the article when the producer says, 'Anything between 200,000 and 300,000 people, which is a massive uptake'

    Well, here is one thing the producer needs to consider...adding subtitles or captioning, then that would reach another 50k or 100k people. Just make sure you don't limit the target market but to make it accessible to everyone. A subtitle could be translated into another language which adds to a larger target market.

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple is ready

    Re: "The show will skip a traditional TV airing or even web delivery in a move that will by-pass TV studios all together."

    There you go. Studios are just barely dipping into web delivery now. Fine, except that the web browser as we know it is a dinosaur. It's the wall between us and web content. The boat anchor that drags down the online content experience. The browser was great for the PC era. Not so much for the post-PC era.

    Apple can easily leapfrog all of that. Some time between two and twenty years from now (depending on how much foot-dragging the TV studios, movie studios, and other content creators do), we'll get away from legacy content delivery. No more 4-digit TV channels, no more DVR programming, no more tedious URL-typing, no more lists of hundreds of bookmarks, no more ten thousand-entry Google / Bing / Baidu search results (with paid-for-placement ads in the top ten slots).

    No, that's all eventually going away. And Apple is ready for that future. Right now. Just waiting for the rest of the world to catch up before rebuilding the TV industry in its own image.

  1. charlituna

    Joined: Dec 1969


    an app?

    I don't know how I feel about it being an app. I think I would rather it was just in iTunes. But I do like the idea of saying to heck with the whole network etc nonsense.

    I think though that this might go off better if it was a known entity of some sort. Like say Fox Studios taking Terra Nova, which had supposedly good ratings but was still canned, and continuing production and going direct to online. Same with other cancelled shows like Alcatraz. These shows tend to have a devout following that would go where the show goes. Unfortunately with the way the Nielsen's work that following isn't always accurately reflected in the sample pool and those ratings. Online might have already been a much different picture that wasn't counted with the ratings and could be enough to justify the project.

    And as Bradley said, if they had subtitles etc and think bigger markets like going world wide, that could increase their chance of success.

  1. Loren

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Appointment TV...

    is half dead! Subscription TV would bring back cancelled shows like RUBICON as well.

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