How Battlestar Galactica Made it in America

  • Jun 30, 2006
  • Buddy TV

The Sci-Fi channel puts out a lot of crap and we all know it. What with those ridiculous killer python movies, repeats of John Edward’s “Crossing Over? and the occasional Dean Cain appearance, it’s really, really hard to take the Sci-Fi channel seriously. This is why when they actually do have a great show, like BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, it is imperative that they pursue every possible avenue in which to prove the show is different than their usual uninspired garbage. The makers of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and the Sci-Fi channel have done just that.

The TV series BATTLESTAR GALACTICA is produced jointly by the Sci-Fi channel, NBC Universal and Sky One of England. It premiered first on Sky One to English audiences in October of 2004 and in the US in January of 2005. An American show is rarely premiered overseas, but since Sky One shared the production costs, it was allowed. It also may have been the key to BATTLESTAR GALACTICA’s success in America.

You see, immediately following the airing of every episode in England, within minutes, the full episodes were available for download in the States on peer-to-peer networks, like Limewire and BitTorrent. At first, this made BATTLESTAR GALACTICA creators Ronald Moore and David Eick furious because, well, its illegal. However, the show received great word-of-mouth via these illegal downloads which, in turn, led to very good ratings when the show, three months later, premiered in the US. The second, unintended, consequence the episode downloading coup was that when the creators realized what a boon the downloads had been to the success of their show, they embraced these alternate ways of reaching fans and began looking for more ways to exploit them.

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The BATTLESTAR GALACTICA teams has since publisized their show in five different, creative ways:

  1. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA has had full episodes available for download on their official website and iTunes.
  2. Producer David Eick has recorded numerous commentaries for different episodes and released them as podcasts on the official site.
  3. Season 2 of Battlestar Galactica spanned twenty episodes, which were released in two batches (Winter and Summer “sessions?), in order to avoid new programming from the big networks. In between the two “sessions? they released the first ten episodes on DVD, calling it BATTLESTAR GALACTICA 2.0 in order to maximize anticipation for the second half of the season. The rest of the second season episodes will soonbe released on DVDs entitled BATTLESTAR GALACTICA 2.5.
  4. To create buzz going into season three (premiering in October), they are producing ten “webisodes?, available exclusively online, that will follow an ancillary storyline that bridges the gap in time between season 2 and season 3.
  5. Both the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA Soundtrack and a recently released line of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA toys have become popular with fans.

The lesson is, as always, there are never enough ways to gain exposure for a TV show, especially a good one. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA is embracing today’s technology in a way most TV shows don’t. Yet.

-Oscar Dahl

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