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How do new TV shows get sent to other countries?
August 7, 2014 3:23 AM   Subscribe

According to this entertainment news article, Channel 7 "will screen an episode on December 2 and another on December 3 - just hours after it airs in the USA." What does this process look like?

How does Channel 7 get their hands on the latest, newly aired episode from the US, and what physical or digital format is it in? Is there a Bittorrent-type of file sharing site that only television stations have access to? Is an old school film reel or a DVD sent over on a plane? Is it somehow sent via satellite and someone in the foreign television station has to hit the record button on the VCR?
posted by UltraFleece to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
This isn't a technical issue, it's about windowing. Typically studios that produce television shows want to air in the US first because they will get the most money for the show in the large US market, then they sell the rights to the show a few months delayed to international markets. Content buyers from outside the US travel to LA every May to see the new pilots and decide what they want to buy.

Because piracy has made television available around the world several hours after it airs in the US, studios have started to relax the several months delay to try to stem the tide and capture official viewing.

Television shows have been produced and are ready to air ahead of their US airing, so they likely send digital files over secure connections from the studio to the network in Australia (typically using aspera). They could send tape if necessary. Live signals are sent via satellite or fiber under the ocean.
posted by rainydayfilms at 3:52 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


These days things are in flux. Generally shows are played in *real time* over some long distance medium which is leased by time period. Meaning an hour show will be sent and it will take one hour. Fiber and satellite are available satellite being the most common. As technology transitions more toward a file based world for the broadcasters there are in fact file based methods for transfer too. There is NOT a central repository per se though. It's very much a point to point transfer. Interestingly even most these transfers are done via leased technology (like the fiber mentioned above) so that security is still as reliable as point to point and bandwidth is fast and guaranteed. Definitely NOT done over the public internet for any major broadcaster as of today!

Some major three/four letter networks are experimenting with building what can be easily described as a VPN to more easily accommodate this exact thing but it's still young and experimental.
posted by chasles at 4:32 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Not TV, but probably still of interest: I went to an DoorsOpen event in a restored and operational movie theatre and got to go into the projection room and the projectionist explained all their different methods to us. They show a lot of old movies at that theatre, so they do still do actual film and splicing and the whole bit, but they said for new movies the procedure is different:

They get an encrypted hard drive with the movie on it. The movie is set to only be unencryptable and playable at certain date/times, so that the theatre can't play the movie more than it's licensed to. The big projector machine computer thing had slots where you could just slide these hard drives i like the video game cartridges of old. Once they're done with their licensed showings, they return the hard drive to the distributor.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:23 AM on August 7


They did a South Park documentary on how the show is created, and the ending shows someone going to a satellite facility to upload the finalized master tape to the network for broadcast.
posted by smackfu at 6:41 AM on August 7


Is an old school film reel or a DVD sent over on a plane?

This is somewhat tangential, but this is how it used to be done, I believe. When missing Doctor Who episodes are found, they're usually found in the back of a closet in Hong Kong or Nigeria or wherever. The BBC used to destroy tapes after a while so as to not have to continue to store them. They'd send copies overseas for broadcast and sometimes those copies would get lost/stored somewhere bizarre/whatever only to be found decades later.
posted by hoyland at 7:17 AM on August 7


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