Has social media changed the way in which we watch TV? The answer at the moment appears to be “definitely,” and when it comes to “Downton Abbey,” it may have created a problem for many viewers were there was none previously. Of course, we are talking about the way in which spoilers are discussed over the internet.
Before Twitter caused people to lose their minds over spoilers, it used to be that the only danger you ran into with spoilers is when that guy at the office you hate tells you what happens on a show thinking that you’ve watched it already. Even still, the odds that this guy would have watched a series that airs in the UK several months prior to the US are fairly unlikely.
Twitter has made watching shows terribly inconvenient when they air in other territories first, and now, it coupled with the news media has made watching a show like this one nearly impossible if you are someone savvy online. Even you are trying hard to avoid spoilers, odds are you’ve seen that Dan Stevens is making headlines across the internet; and if that is all you know, you are lucky. The same happened earlier this summer with stories surrounding another actor on the PBS-broadcasted show.
Of course, there are a number of ways to read the outcry caused in the past week by American “Downton Abbey” fans. One such way is to simply say the following: America are simply acted out as selfish and spoiled viewers, since this feeling of getting shows late is something that other countries have known about for quite some time. Just ask England (who airs “True Blood” months late), Australia (who was airing “Once Upon a Time” this summer), Brazil (who is premiering “Dexter” season 7 early in 2012), or France (who just now is getting “Community” for the first time). Why should the U.S. get treated differently, and suddenly receive episodes of this show at the same time as the original airdate overseas, when so many other countries fail to have this luxury? (After all, Canada gets new episodes of “Downton Abbey” even later than the USA.)
The only other solution here would be to create an international television service where viewers could purchase on-demand products from other countries, but if this happened, networks like PBS would not get the same sort of benefits that they do now.
As annoying as it may sound, we personally have little problem with America getting “Downton Abbey” a little bit later. This gives the editing team time to put together a commercial-free cut of the show, it supports a network like PBS that quite frankly needs the ratings, and as bad as spoilers are, we should feel pretty lucky that such a tiny percentage of popular programming here is not airing in another country at an earlier time.
Ultimately, the one thing we can offer viewers around the world right now is that we’ll try to identify our spoiler articles and the ones that are fine for American viewers. (Sadly, it’s impossible to remember enough premiere dates for other countries to keep this distinction.) With that in mind, you can check out a new spoiler-filled “Downton Abbey” article over here … or not, if you want to remain surprised.