The rules of the TV game have changed , and some of them have even been thrown out the window entirely. Once upon a time (no more than five years ago, really), everyone gathered around the boob tube to catch the latest episode of Lost. But as the series carried on, missing that episode became less and less distressing with the use of DVRs, the advent of torrenting, and the rise of shady, ad-drenched third-party sites streaming live and prerecorded TV content.
The nature of television show premieres has changed alongside these factors, and streaming device-maker Roku contributes to that thread today by debuting the season premiere of WE tv‘s The Divide one week in advance, exclusively for Roku users. The show’s live-TV premiere is officially scheduled for July 16 – the exclusive Roku premiere will be available up until 11:59 p.m. on July 15. But there’s a pretty sizable elephant sharing the couch alongside WE tv and Roku: if viewers have a week to watch the episode on their own schedules – before the traditional pay-TV premiere – can the July 16th live airing even be considered a “premiere”?
Multichannel News reports that Marc Juris, president of AMC Networks’ female-focused subsidiary outlet, said that one motivation to premiere the show early on the device was “the equal ratio of male-to-female users” on Roku.
Way before all of this became the unsurprising norm, now-certified trendsetter Netflix moseyed its way onto the scene and began snatching up increasing amounts of contracts and licensing agreements to gradually convert itself from a powerhouse DVD-by-mail and streaming service to a truly ubiquitous, flexible and versatile product. Netflix then smartly saved Fox’s canceled Arrested Development by commissioning and releasing the latest season all at once in a bundle, effectively bringing binge watching out of the dark and dank wiz-kid pirate’s basement and into a much more acceptable, legal, and profitable public limelight. All of these moves, combined with Netflix and Hulu’s foray into original content, have led companies and services to rethink their approach to video content; Yahoo, for example, announced earlier this year that it has two original series and live concert-streams on the docket, and the company more recently picked up NBC’s cult-favorite Community in a move akin to Netflix’s rescue of Arrested Development.
The Divide, a criminal-justice drama produced by AMC Studios, is the first series to premiere exclusively on Roku.