If you were annoyed at having to wait three months for Downton Abbey Season 3 to hit PBS, you’re going to love this news. Apple is set to offer the final three episodes of the season before they air. Could this work for other shows?
The wait was painful but didn’t seem to affect viewership in the least. The premiere pulled in a record-breaking 7.9 million viewers. So what’s with the last three episodes being “leaked” before they play on PBS?
The BBC reports that while the final episode of Season 3 is set to premiere February 17, Apple will offer the final three episodes starting January 29. The catch is you’ll have to buy a “season pass” for the show on iTunes to get them.
All in all, not a terrible deal for those who are already rabid fans of the British show. It was probably an easy decision for Apple to make. The BBC writes, “season two was the best-selling TV series on iTunes last year.”
It’s a novel idea from Apple though I’m not sure how many networks would agree to such a premise. Many have been moving with the times, offering their episodes online after they air, but are still in need of the advertising dollars that come with a regular viewing audience.
PBS president and CEO, Paula Kerger, just recently discussed the wait period with the Television Critics Association. “We’re not punishing our viewers,” she said with a laugh. “At the end of the day, I want to make sure we are putting the series in a place where the most people can find it.” She also said they didn’t want to pit the show against new Fall programming and likened it to the delay of watching the London Olympics which, frankly, most viewers found annoying.
What do you think of the offer? Would you like to see more of this kind of thing? What if you could pay an even higher price to get the entire season on the same day of the premiere? For those who pirate programming because it’s not available fast enough, this could be just the ticket.