An open letter to Canadian Television Network Executives:
Tonight at 10pm, Showtime will begin airing the second season of its critically-acclaimed series WEEDS. Sadly, rather than watching the continuing travails of pot-dealing suburbanite Nancy Botwin (as portrayed by the sublime Mary Louise Parker), this TV addict — along with millions of other Canadians — will instead be watching yet another rerun of FRASIER on TVTropolis.
You’re probably wondering why a TV addict such as myself won’t be watching the drama that the New York Times hailed as “one of the year’s 10 best.” The reason is simple: Showcase, the Canadian Television network that airs WEEDS, has decided in it’s infinite wisdom to begin airing season 2 of WEEDS on August 30th — a full two weeks after the US premiere.
How is a TV junkie such as myself supposed to avoid getting his WEEDS fix when the internet is bursting with fan sites, message boards and other outlets just itching to supply info on the addictive product Showcase’s decision has left me jonesing for?
In case Canada’s network execs have failed to notice, the internet is more than willing to provide what you seem reluctant to dish out. Whether spoiler junkies — and oh yes, I freely admit to being unable to resist anything that offers even the lamest of teases — turn to legal outlets such as iTunes or are driven to more questionable outlets such as YouTube or BitTorrent, anyone with a computer is just a few clicks away from downloading their favorite shows.
And in case you’re not paying attention, that renders you somewhat useless to us.
Case in point, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. When Space — aka Canada’s version of the Sci Fi network — opted to delay airing the second season of the addictive drama until two months after it had premiered in America, many fans (myself included) took matters into our own hands. We clicked on over to iTunes and legally downloaded the adventures of Starbuck and Apollo rather than wait until Canadian The Powers That Be declared we could catch up.
Let’s do the math here: iTunes profited. The Sci-Fi channel profited. And Space? They lost more than a few potential viewers to the internet.
Not so long ago, the Canadian networks could afford to say “when we air it, they will watch”, seeing as they were the only game in town. But that was before the internet. It was before iTunes and YouTube and all the other outlets available to a TV fan who is even the least bit computer savvy. We, the viewers, are now in control, and our motto is “give us what we want or we’ll find it elsewhere.”
It’s time for Showcase, Space and the other Canadian outlets to change their way of thinking. In keeping with Showcase’s catchphrase — “Television without Borders” — it’s time for the networks to provide Canadian viewers with the same programs their American counterparts are getting at the same time. Otherwise, they’ll soon find themselves living Nancy Botwin’s worst nightmare: Having a boatload of product and no one to sell it to.