Today we truly live in the digital age.
Physical media products have begun their slow crawl to join the eight track and VHS tapes in the grave. From cloud services to video games being downloaded straight to your console of choice, physical copies of multimedia products are becoming less and less common.
One area this revolution has taken hold most strongly is with streaming or video on demand services like Netflix, Hulu and Crackle, which seems to be running on full steam by letting you watch the latest episodes of you favorite shows and films on devices from your computer to your smart phone and a fraction of the price of most cable and satellite packages.
Although business models vary, there is one skeleton in the closet of these services, which is that the content you enjoy daily is available at the whim of the service itself.
Doctor Who has reached new heights of popularity across the world since it’s revival with it’s last series becoming one of the strongest yet in America, showing that despite the nagging whines of complaints and tabloid nonsense that the programme is as viable as ever.
This means that when a streaming giant like the US version of Netflix might pull the plug on the entire back catalog of modern Who on the first of Febuary of this year, it is big news. Maybe not enough to set Twitter on fire, but enough to generate quite a bit of heat.
Petitions have been created, outrage has been posted and shared and tweeted and some folks are holding their plush TARDISes a little tighter at bedtime.
Before you go and commit swearing atrocities that might make Malcolm Tucker blush, let’s take a second to think about this.
First the bad news. It appears this ‘doomsday date’ not only effects Doctor Who, but also almost every other BBC programme on the American Netflix website besides Sherlock. So no Red Dwarf, no Top Gear, no Fawlty Towers and no Torchwood as well.
Thing is this is just a bit of history repeating as there was a similar scare in 2013 and lo and behold, the series and it’s companions were still available to stream until today.
So why is there a date that ticks down to the Doctor’s doom?
Most likely due to negotiations between the BBC and Netflix itself. As much as we would like to think that everything good lasts forever all those good things also cost money and someone must get paid at some point to keep those titles available.
Some have speculated that perhaps the streaming service Hulu has negotiated for exclusive rights as they carry the revamped Doctor Who as well, although this may be bad news for those who do not wish to have adverts appear while getting their Who fix. Hulu uses ads on almost all of it’s catalog, even if you pay for the Hulu Plus service rather then view them for free by predetermined dates.
Most likely this is just a minor bump in the road for Who fans using Netflix in the States and the date plastered on the BBC shows on the website are just there in case by some slim chance they do not renegotiate the rights to stream them there will not be an outcry of unfair practices to their subscribers…