Top TV Premieres Delay Blu-rays

If you watch only two hours of TV this week, make sure they’re the latest David Attenborough spectacular, Life, and the most sublime season yet of Mad Men.

Both launch tonight on Prime: Life at 8.45pm, on the back of a new series of Top Gear; and season four of Mad Men, at 10.45pm.

Frustratingly, thanks to Sky TV’s Luddite attitude towards making its free-to-air channel HD, both are in SD.

Even more aggravating is their belated bows means the Blu-rays won’t go on sale here for several months, once again putting NZ well behind other territories because of broadcast holdbacks.

The reasons for each series taking so long to air here differ. BBC Worldwide shopped Life around to all the FTA networks, hoping for a premium price.

Because natural history no longer has the cachet on FTA that it did before the rise of pay-TV’s National Geographic and Animal Planet channels, hence TV One screening outstanding series like Yellowstone and South Pacific off-peak, the Beeb eventually had to settle for Prime’s going rate – which largely is why Life is screening here 16 months after its first UK broadcast.

Man Men is the victim of Prime’s success. When Prime’s programming inventory was so low, it had little choice but to screen the high-profile but low-rating Mad Men in primetime and close to its US transmission.

But in the last two years the network has fine-tuned its schedule and built up an arsenal of hits, which is why Mad Men lands here seven months after its US run and off-peak.

The fourth season will be released on Blu-ray in the US on March 29 and in Australia on April 6; Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has it scheduled here for May (which is when Roadshow Entertainment expects to offer Life on Blu-ray).

It will include audio commentaries on all 13 episodes, Divorce: Circa 1960s, Marketing the Mustang: An American Classic, How to Succeed in Business Draper Style, and 1964 Presidential Campaign.

Meanwhile, the future of Mad Men is up in the air because key deals have yet to be struck between creator Matthew Weiner and producer/distributor Lionsgate, and Lionsgate and US broadcaster AMC.

But January Jones, who plays Betty Draper, reckons the show will be back for a fifth season.

Hopefully, by then Prime will be airing it in HD. And re-runs of Life. And Top Gear. And True Blood. And …

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2 Responses to “Top TV Premieres Delay Blu-rays”

  1. Amazon UK currently has free super-saver shipping to New Zealand for orders over £25.

    After waiting over a year for the Life Blu-ray to come to New Zealand I finally had enough and ordered it from Amazon UK last week.

    Prime is cutting off its nose to spite its face and hurting its advertisers and local retailers with it. I have no interest in watching something of this calibre in lowly SD, nor do I appreciate being made to wait over a year to buy the Blu-ray simply because Prime is taking it’s time to screen it.

    What I fear from the flow-on effect of NZ networks delaying the DVD/Blu-ray release of shows is that as people turn to buying their shows online because they haven’t been released in NZ yet, a perception is raised that there is no market for TV shows on DVD/Blu-ray in NZ and so fewer end up making it down here. With TV2’s current treatment of Fringe I would be surprised if they even bothered screening season three. One would hope this would remove barriers to the eventual DVD/Blu-ray release in NZ; unfortunately, it’ll probably be taken as a sign that there is no market for it down here, and thus delay the release indefinitely.

  2. I’m not alone in failing to see the attraction of dross like Mad Men
    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/feb/24/mad-men-account/?pagination=false

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