Glee Fast-forwards to Four

Glee is the latest HD show to wind up in SD on Four.

After three seasons on TV3, the high school musical-drama is switching channels.

The good news for fans is season four will screen within a week of its US broadcast; the bad news is MediaWorks doesn’t plan to upgrade Four to HD in the short term.

That means Glee will join the ranks of The Simpsons, Raising Hope, Family Guy, Breaking Bad, Survivor and The Event as top HD properties that have regressed to SD.

It’s not surprising to see TV3 dump Glee after the third season rated so poorly.

But it is surprising to see it back on air so soon – as part of a fast-tracking initiative called Fast Four.

This “sub-brand” will be used to identify foreign shows that screen on Four within seven days of their international premiere. (Ironically, MediaWorks unveiled it the same week Four’s “latest” drama, American Horror Story, premiered nearly a year after its US launch.)

The ‘fastest’ show in the first batch is How I Met Your Mother, which will air here only hours after the US, with Family GuyThe SimpsonsNew Girl and Survivor to follow.

While Four’s goal is to fast-track as much of its American content as possible, it won’t be jumping ahead – instead, more shows will join the Fast Four stable as Kiwi viewers catch up with US audiences.

“We’re responding to a growing international trend to get audiences’ favourite shows to air as soon as possible after they go to air in the States,” MediaWorks acting director of programming Mark Caulton says

“Our audience is very connected to the global entertainment news and social media conversation and given Four’s mandate is to surprise, delight and entertain, it makes absolute sense for this channel to lead the way when it comes to bringing Kiwis the freshest international content.

“The Fast Four initiative means Four viewers can be part of the international water cooler talk.”

The downside of this strategy is Four will mirror US broadcast patterns. When US networks pre-empt or put a series on hiatus, the network will either take a break or run repeats until a new episode becomes available.

The Fast Four logo will be used on-air and online to clearly differentiate new episodes of Fast Four shows, and the season and episode numbers will be given in programme guides to keep viewers up to date.

Despite the HD setback, Fast Four is a long overdue development that hopefully will spur other networks into screening foreign content sooner rather than later.

However, don’t expect to see wall-to-wall, hot-off-the-satellite programming. Four is limiting its fast-tracks largely to comedies because their runs are easier to interrupt than a serialised or more intense drama series.

Secondly, US and UK new TV seasons are at their peak when NZ channels drew least viewers – over summer, when most of us go on holiday.

So the likes of TVNZ and MediaWorks have nothing to gain by rolling out their biggest guns over this period.

Another complication is networks like TV3, TV One and TV2 focus on local content, and also air more Australian fare, whereas Four’s schedule is mostly US, so it’s easier to fast-track series into primetime.

However, TV3 will continue to do it for special event programmes, like The X Factor USA, and says an “exciting” announcement is pending about one of its big new drama series.

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4 Responses to “Glee Fast-forwards to Four”

  1. I wonder what the “exciting” announcement is coming up for TV3? Any ideas, Philip? :)

  2. ““We’re responding to a growing international trend to get audiences’ favourite shows to air as soon as possible after they go to air in the States,” MediaWorks acting director of programming Mark Caulton says”

    Big problem is they have a habit of canning the programme after a few weeks if there’s a hint of a rating drop…

  3. I’ve largely given up trying to watch TV series on the network channels, thanks to their huge contempt for the viewer. Much easier to download the latest shows in HD with surround sound from various online sources.

  4. Really disappointed at programmes such as Survivor, American Horror Story, Grimm, The Simpsons and now Glee going to Four. Will not watch these shows on Four. I am not a huge fan of Glee, but my family are into it. With all of the music and colours this is a programme that must be viewed in HD. It will sound incredibly flat in stereo on Four.

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