I cover The Clone Wars a lot. Many, many people come here to read news about the show, interviews with the creators and voices, and my opinions about the episodes. And by far and away, the question I get asked most often is “What website can I watch The Clone Wars on?”
I don’t like that question because I know that what they’re really asking is: “Where can I download it, I can’t find a torrent.”
I always politely tell them that it’s available the next morning on iTunes for a small fee in glorious HD and that’s far and away the best place to watch it. After that, the two most recent episodes are available on StarWars.com for free. And then I remind them (with links to Amazon!) that the first two seasons are available on DVD and Blu-ray.
To my mind, piracy is wrong. I want to watch this show through legitimate means to support it as best I can and I want others to do the same.
Sometimes, there’s nothing that can be done about it, though, as wrong as it is. Take for instance the Season Finale of The Clone Wars. The first half of it has already aired in the UK. Can you imagine how many links that have been sent to me to download this episode? It’s everywhere. And can you blame people for wanting to see it as soon as possible? This is hands down the best show on television and we’re teased over and over again with it. And it’s not like the presentation suffers from downloading all that much. I’ve been offered HD quality video and my cable isn’t even HD.
But it begs the question, why aren’t they coordinating the air dates around the world to be the same day? That single thing will prevent piracy more than anything.
But that’s not exactly what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about the disparity in timezones in our modern Internet culture and why I’m canceling my Comcast (Xfinity?) cable subscription.
First of all, for some reason cable providers in Salt Lake City have Cartoon Network (and Comedy Central) set far later than anywhere else in the country. The Clone Wars doesn’t air until 9:30 pm Mountain Standard Time in Salt Lake City (and the rest of Utah.) That’s a full 3 hours after it airs on the East Coast. And because we all live online and timezones mean much less unless you’re dealing with business hours I have to completely shut off Twitter and Facebook and everything else because I don’t want to know about the episode. (New episodes of The Daily Show and the Colbert Report don’t even start until midnight. Same with Robot Chicken and Adult Swim.)
Thanks to DVRs and Instant Streaming timezones are now completely irrelevant in broadcast programming.
So if I were Lucasfilm, I’d work hard with the UK distributor of The Clone Wars to make sure that they aren’t airing anything too much before the US. And if I’m Cartoon Network, I would insist that the airing of the show at the very least match the timezone disparity, but in the best case scenario have it playing simultaneously around the country.
And while this is incredibly annoying, this isn’t why I’m canceling my cable subscription either. The truth is I pay well over $60 a month for the most basic cable package a from Comcast that will afford me Cartoon Network. And it’s far too much to pay PER MONTH for one show. I have my internet. I have Netflix. I have Amazon. I have a Blu-ray player. I have an iTunes account. Though it will force me to write my reviews of The Clone Wars the next morning instead of the night of, I have no need for basic cable and I can’t afford $60 a month to watch just the one show.
Perhaps I’d consider keeping basic cable if it were a’la carte. Where I could pick up my local stations, Cartoon Network, BBC, Comedy Central, and Disney for…say… $9.99 per month? That would make it just about worth it for me to keep. But until then, all they’ll get from me is my Internet subscription.
And after next week’s Season Finale of The Clone Wars, unless iTunes gets simultaneous releases with the show, you’ll just have to wait for my reviews of The Clone Wars until Saturday morning.
Cable providers and cable stations need to better understand the consumption habits and desires of their consumers, otherwise we’re all going to be canceling our subscriptions.