It appears that Doctor Who fans in America will no longer have to wait months to catch up to the BBC’s UK broadcasts, as the premiere date for Doctor Who season 6 is set for April 23, in both the US and UK.
Continuing the trend from the Doctor’s most recent Christmas adventure, the airdates for Doctor Who on BBC America will coincide with the BBC’s airing of the popular time-traveling series in the UK.
Since the premiere of Russell T. Davies’ revival of Doctor Who in 2005, American audiences have had to wait with anticipation for the new adventures of the Doctor to reach the states, as episodes were already airing in the UK. Whether it be PBS, Syfy (then Sci-Fi) or BBC America, the broadcasting schedule always put the US fans well behind that of their UK counterparts.
For many in the US, this latency was not appreciated and those unwilling to wait for the delayed broadcasts of Doctor Who turned to torrents and other web-based mediums to make sure that they stayed up-to-date with the dual-hearted Gallifreyan’s adventures.
In an attempt to put an end to American torrent-users, BBC America scheduled the premiere date of the Doctor Who Christmas special, “A Christmas Carol,” on Christmas Day – the same as the BBC’s premiere date in the UK.
With this move, BBC America was hoping that the ratings would rise from those not needing to resort to “other means” of obtaining the episodes - and they were correct. Last year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special attracted 727,000 viewers in total, up from 671,000 viewers that tuned into the 2009 Christmas Special.
Interestingly enough, not only did the 2009 Christmas Special on BBC America premiere a day after it had aired on the BBC, but this episode was also the first part of David Tennant’s finale as the Doctor. If a Doctor Who Christmas Special can receive higher ratings than the final episodes of beloved David Tennant as the Doctor, BBC America’s assumptions have proven to be correct.
Of course, one should note that even though BBC America will be premiering Doctor Who season 6 on the same day as the BBC, there will still be a large amount of American fans that turn to torrents for viewing. While the episodes may air on the same day, the time difference between the US and UK is still a great enough for the episode to air in the UK, be uploaded online, downloaded and viewed before the BBC America broadcast even begins.
Additionally, there’s also the aspect of HD viewing. For much of the country, BBC America HD is unavailable. Unless you subscribe to Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications or DISH Network, you’re stuck fulfilling your needs as an Anglophile with standard definition programming. With the large majority of the American Doctor Who fan base being some of the most technologically competent viewers in the country, the ability to have the BBC’s HD broadcast of their favorite show may still be too tempting to turn down.
Still, for BBC America, it’s a start. The move to airing Doctor Who at the same time in the US as the UK will certainly see the series’ broadcast ratings rise. As for HD, BBC America promises that they’re continuing their efforts to bring BBC America HD to other broadcast providers.
Of course, this is the same HD promise that BBC America has been touting for the last three years.
You can view the trailer for Doctor Who season 6 below:
Doctor Who Season 6 premieres April 23 on BBC America and the BBC