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Drop-Off In 'Luther' Viewership After UK Debut. But Why Make USA Audiences Wait 2 Months?

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act July 3, 2013 at 11:43AM

The highly-anticipated 3rd season return of Luther to BBC One in the UK last night, drew a healthy 5 million viewers.
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Luther
BBC America Luther

The highly-anticipated 3rd season return of Luther to BBC One in the UK last night, drew a healthy 5 million viewers. 

And while those numbers are strong for the Idris Elba starrer, they are actually the lowest for a season premiere in the show’s 3-season history, according to the UK's BroadcastNow, and some 600,000 viewers less that the last episode which aired in 2011.

So there's a slight drop off. Although that's in the UK. I'm expecting a gain in numbers here in the USA, when season 3 of the hit show makes its Stateside debut in September, based on what looks to me like continuously rising awareness of and interest in the series by Americans, as new audiences discover it and catch up ahead of September's return (seasons 1 and 2 are streaming on Netflix, FYI).

I'm actually really surprised that the BBC chose to wait 2 full months after the series' UK run this year, to broadcast it in the USA. That, to me, in this age of access-anything-anytime-anywhere demand for content, is an odd decision. 

For that reason, I believe piracy is likely, as I'm sure all the season 3 episodes will find their way online, on one of many video sharing sites, after they air in the UK, and before they reach USA shores. Distributors and exhibitors of content simply just can't afford to delay the release of, or expect audiences to wait 2 months for something that's already been broadcast elsewhere. It's practically a lifetime in terms of content distribution in this century.

If you recall, what the UK's Channel 4 and the show's producers did with another hot British TV series, Misfits, was to make every episode available to USA audiences within 24 hours after they aired in the UK. Something like that makes most sense to me, and actually could be costly in the long run. 

If I watch it online before it officially airs on television, I don't have much incentive to watch it again, when it eventually is broadcast on BBC America.

Let me make it clear that I'm certainly not encouraging piracy; but it's a very real thing, and content creators/distributors/exhibitors, would be foolish to not take it into consideration when planning ahead.

But maybe I'm just missing something, and don't have all the information in this case.

I did make inquiries to the BBC about this decision, but haven't received any replies yet. If I do, I'll share here.

But this looks to be the final season of Luther as a TV show, as Elba makes a push for a feature film based on the character.

This article is related to: Idris Elba, TV News, TV Features


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