Spitting in the eye of Channel Nine, Star Trek finds a new home after a decade lost in space.
It’s a double celebration in the Turner household this week. For starters it’s ten years since the birth of the Gadgets on the Go blog, which began life focusing on mobility but almost 1500 posts later has morphed into an eclectic mix of all things tech.
Fellow freelancer and long-time Fairfax blogger John Birmingham also clocked up ten years recently, reminiscing about all that’s changed in the last decade. Ten years ago Australia was waiting for the iPhone to arrive, 3G networks were just finding their feet and the NBN was still a twinkle in Kevin Rudd’s eye.
Meanwhile on the other side of the world, a humble online DVD rental service was beginning to dabble in video on demand. Not long after I started sneaking in, bypassing geoblocking and paying in greenbacks to see how the other half live.
Which brings us to the other reason why it’s a big week in the Turner household; at 5pm this afternoon Star Trek: Discovery debuts on Netflix. It marks the first time Australians can legally watch Star Trek the day after it screens in the US – without putting up with Channel Nine’s antics and Sam Newman’s smug face.
Long-suffering Star Trek fans will recall that Nine buried sci-fi in the Thursday night graveyard slot, after The Footy Show which always ran at least 15 minutes late. Newman even mocked Star Trek fans on air when they wrote in to complain about the contempt Nine showed for viewers.
To be fair Nine isn’t alone, all of Australia’s commercial broadcasters are guilty of such arrogance. They deliberately start shows late, make last-minute schedule changes, screen episodes out of order and cram in too many ads – including plastering promos over the show you’re watching.
It’s this kind of bastardry which drove a generation of Australian viewers to the BitTorrent channel, and later to learn geododging tricks in order to bypass the roadblocks keeping us out of foreign streaming video services.
Australian free-to-air television continues to bleed viewers at an alarming rate, but after years of abuse we’re not going back. Watching free-to-air content elsewhere isn’t about saving money, nor is it about being impatient. It’s about refusing to let old world media dinosaurs treat us with contempt.
All Australian viewers want is a fair deal and to be treated with respect. Otherwise more than a million of us wouldn’t happily pay for Netflix every month, even though all that content is available for free on the BitTorrent channel.
Tonight the Turner household is going legit, celebrating Gadgets on the Go’s tenth anniversary by watching Star Trek: Discovery on Netflix and happily cutting Channel Nine out of the picture.