Can Television Studios Have it Both Ways?

Television studios are leaking faster than the Titanic. Over the past few weeks, some of the fall’s hottest new show — including BIONIC WOMAN, CHUCK, PUSHING DAISIES, WEEDS and DEXTER have all “mysteriously” found their way online. And oddly enough, television executives don’t seem to mind.

In fact, when recently contacted by Rick Ellis of, an anonymous Warner Bros. executive came clean, admitting that he was the brains behind the PUSHING DAISIES leak, stating in an email, “I just thought it was a good idea. Even though… I don’t have any direct stake in the show, it’s a really great project. It’s tough to describe, though, and while it makes great sense once you’ve seen it, it’s one of those shows that will only work if people do tune in at least once.”

In other words, it’s all about generating buzz.

At the other end of the spectrum is 25-year-old Chicago resident Jorge omero, who finds himself facing up to three years in jail for having uploaded the first four episodes of FOX’s hit series 24 before they hit the airwaves last January.

Romero and the nameless Warner Brothers exec did exactly the same thing, and yet the former is facing time beyond bars while the latter might well be promoted should his efforts help push DAISIES to the top of the ratings heap this fall. Television is a big business, after all, with untold millions on the line each and every time a new show is launched and networks willing to do whatever it takes to get you to tune in.

But can the studios have their cake and prevent you from eating it, too? Can they have a double standard which practically encourages their employees to secretly feed the hunger of fans eager to be first on their block to see and comment on the new offerings while at the same time trying to punish Joe Q. Public for doing the same thing?

This TV Addict thinks the answer is pretty obvious.

And having sat through most of the last season of 24, if anyone
deserves to be punished, it’s creators Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran
for giving fans the most tedious season to date.

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  • CC

    I think leaking them is a great way to create buzz. Not only do people get to see it while they’re bored waiting for fall to come, but they can see a new show without directly comparing it to the other fall offerings premiering at the same time. I wasn’t even planning to watch Chuck, but I saw it and am completely enamored with the show now. If it wasnt leaked early I might not have become a fan at all.

    However, execs who have shows that are leaked have to be logical and remember that they can’t expect a fantastic opening rating for the pilot. So don’t put all their hopes into those numbers. I’ll watch when the second episode comes on, but if I’ve already seen the first on the internet why would I tune in on premiere night?

  • Natalie

    As a creator of intellectual property, I have to point out the obvious difference here:

    John Q. Public does not have any rights to the episodes of a television show that have not yet been aired. It’s against the law to post them in public.

    The studio who owns the rights can do anything they want with it.

    It will be interesting to see the outcome of the leakage once the fall season starts. I, for one, am not influenced. I’m not watching advance episodes. I’ll TiVo a couple of new shows that have promise, but I’m not watching any of them until they’ve aired 6 episodes and there’s an idea of whether or not they’ll be yanked.

  • brian maudib

    For the record this article got me to track down and d/l Pushing Daises (wasn’t hard to find).

    Pushing Daises is amazing, and by far the best new show, I just hope it lasts and to be honest this early buzz is the only thing thats going to keep this amazing show from getting caned cause you need to see the pilot to understand it.

    I would of never watched this on TV had I not heard about it and d/led it off BT. I think this is a smart thing to do with the pilot for all new shows, but stop there the pilot episode only, and nothing else. Even imbeded commercials in them and host them on your own tv channels website.

    As for 24 that was 4 hours of programming and they were all coming out on DVD soooo it was a bit different, wouldn’t of mattered as much if it was just the first hour.