Should Programmes Premiere Online Before Being Broadcast on TV?

By Tom Pritchard on at

Earlier today rumours spread that Amazon's upcoming Clarkson-filled car show The Grand Tour might be getting sold off to TV broadcasters, ready to be sent out to TV screens sometime after it premieres on Prime.

We don't know whether that's true or not yet (it could easily be a mere rumour), but it got me thinking. Traditionally the relationship between TV and the internet is that episodes end up on streaming services after their initial TV broadcast. But what would happen if that situation was reversed? What if TV episodes premiered online, then appeared on TV a set period of time afterwards?

Regardless of what happens with The Grand Tour, this is already happening with Red Dwarf XI. New episodes are available to stream free of charge (with adverts) a whole week before they premiere on Dave. The third episode, Give and Take, is up there right now, even though it's not going to be on Dave until 9pm next Thursday

There are a lot of things to consider here. For starters the complete online switch seems to be failing miserably for BBC Three, and then there's the piracy factor to take into consideration. How many of you are willing to wait months for American TV to arrive on a UK channel? I'd wager a decent number of you will just stream or torrent the episode and be done with it.

There's also lost ad revenue to think about, since people can and will use ad blockers when watching online streams. You can't exactly skip adverts if you're watching on live TV, and even if you recorded something for later viewing you can't avoid little glimpses as you fast forward through the ad breaks.

If the Grand Tour rumours are true, I can't help but wonder why ITV would want second dibs. It's going to be a big show (at first anyway), but I'm wondering whether people will actually be willing to wait to watch Clarkson & co. on live TV rather than from a stream.

So I've explained my thoughts, and we'd like to hear what you have to say. Is it a good idea for TV to premiere online? Or is that a completely moronic thing for broadcasters to attempt? Leave a comment below.