The Australian Broadcast Corperation has been a long time broadcaster of the Docter Who television series. During the first seasons of the new Doctor Who series, about 2005 or so, it wasn't possible to watch the episodes via the Internet, unless you went the Bittorrent way. The ABC experimented this season with making the episode available at the same time as the BBC broadcasted it, which is Sunday mornings for us, a week before it was broadcasted via the television.
But why would you want to download the episodes if you know they are broadcasted later anyway?
The technical answers are simple: Because it is possible. Internet traffic is cheap, specially if about two thirds of my cap of 150 Gb per month is generally unused. On the ABC I can see the non-HD version, on the Internet I can find the HD version.
The social answers are about the "feel included" issue: Initially the delay between the availability on the Internet and the broadcast at the ABC was long, weeks if not months. To their credit, last year the ABC reduced the broadcast delay compared with the BBC to one week. But considering that the global social interaction on the Internet happens "now", downloading the episodes to watch them now and be able to communicate on the social media is the only way to not have to feel left out.
And the last is the old argument of "I want to watch it when I can", and added the post 2008 "and where I can". When it is broadcasted, you need to be at home, available, not interupted by various house members of all sizes. The video recorder and digital recorder are a solution for this, but then you still are limited to watch it on your television. These days with iDevices and laptops you don't want to be limited to that anymore. The iView service overcomes this issue partly, allowing you to see it on any device, but it still needs a stable network, not something which 3G on a train trip can provide.
So... How did this experiment from the ABC go for me? For starters, I have watched all episodes via iView and haven't downloaded a single one via Bittorrent. Just like the previous seasons, I have seen them all at least twice to fully understand the story line. I watched the first one on Sunday, sometimes in the morning after breakfast, sometimes after the kids were brought to bed, without having to spend two-three hours first to download them. Unlike the previous seasons, I haven't watched it on TV this time; That really was a new thing.
So, for me the experiment was successful and I hope that the ABC will continue this programming.