Not being an actual subscriber, I don’t pay much attention to the world of streaming. I sometimes watch a friend’s Hulu and Netflix, and I appreciated that much of classic Who that I couldn’t find at the library was available there. Then tonight, having decided to follow up on an unsubstantiated Facebook rumor, I discovered what many of you probably already know:
50-plus years, 30-plus seasons, 800-plus episodes, all have vanished from the major streaming services.
Part of the reason I am not a subscriber myself is that I don’t trust streaming service. I don’t like paying for things I don’t get to keep; I prefer hard copies I can hold, discs I can put in the machine whenever I want. Particularly since Amazon demonstrated its ability – never mind willingness – to steal back legitimately purchased material from customers’ devices, I have been reluctant to trust these electronic service providers.
And now my distrust is justified, by the BBC of all people – the one network I would have thought knew better.
Never mind that it was Netflix that introduced legions of new fans to the show. Never mind that DVDs are expensive and hard to find, or that Amazon’s selection is vastly inferior. Never mind making the show available to the fans who made it the success that it has lately become. Without a word the BBC slams the door in fans’ faces.
Of course it’s their right. It’s their product; if they want to build up anticipation for the delayed 10th season, or if they want to create demand for their own streaming service – still only a rumor* – they’re entitled to do so. They can do whatever they want.
I’m only sorry this is the latest choice they’ve made. Streaming services are win-win, affordable for fans and profitable for networks. I myself have poured tons of money into the BBC in DVDs and licenced gear. Yet if this is how they thank us, I no longer feel the need to purchase some of the non-DW shows I’ve enjoyed.
Next week, my local DW/MST:3k club is screening “The End of the World” and “The Masque of Mandragora.” The one I’ve seen enough to quote most of the lines myself. The other I’ve never seen. I had considered catching it via Hulu before the night, so that I wouldn’t miss anything when the drunks got loud. Now, I’m out of luck.
Maybe the group won’t hate this one as much as they hated “Spearhead from Space,” and I’ll actually get to hear the dialogue. That doesn’t seem likely to me.
*No release date, cost, or availability info have been provided. In addition, a relevant survey I completed suggested that only past programming would be available this way – no DW, no Downton, no Sherlock. Honestly, what’s the point??