We have critiqued the “Downton Abbey” debate here in America for some time now, and the conclusion that we have come to in regards to whether or not the show should be pushed up from January to September (the same time as the show airs in Britain) is pretty simple: while it may sound good in theory, it’s not so feasible in practice. There are a number of factors that have to be considered, but the primary one is a doozy: the show airs with commercials in Britain, and this creates a pair of problems for the commercial-free PBS:
1. The show is re-edited for American audiences, and part of the reason for the three-and-a-half month delay is so that they episodes can be cut a little differently.
2. It is in some ways short-changing advertisers in Britain to pay money to serve ads for a show that is running without ads at the same time on another coast.
On Monday, PBS President Paula Kerger addressed the subject at the TCA winter event, and her philosophy on the issue is rather complicated. She admits that the network has looked into the issue extensively, which makes sense given that it is something fans have clamored to have for some time. However, she also admitted that advertising makes things challenging for a commercial-free network, and also admitted that it may not be prudent for the network to air the series in the fall, where there is more competition from other shows as well as NFL football every Sunday night.
Kerger ultimately compared watching the show in America to what happened with the London Olympics this past summer, where millions of Americans turned up in record numbers to watch, even though they may have already known who won many of the awards.
Ultimately, we still feel as though many of us North American viewers have become spoiled when it comes to being able to watch episodes of our favorite shows earlier than other countries, when this is not really how it works across the board. Maybe, this change will actually provide us an opportunity to actually exercise a little bit of much-needed patience for a change.
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