The ABC is appealing to its younger audience by releasing all six episodes of Chris Lilley’s latest mockumentary Jonah from Tonga online before it airs on TV.
Lilley has drained another comedy out of his successful 2007 Summer Heights Series with his new creation based on the delinquent schoolboy Jonah Takalua.
The comedy about Summer Heights High’s rebel Year 8 Tongan student will stream on ABC’s online player iView from May 2 to 4.
Jonah From Tonga will then launch on ABC1 on Wednesday, May 7 at 9pm and run for six weeks.
Last year Lilley starred in and wrote Ja’mie: Private School Girl, which was also a character from Summer Heights High, but it had only moderate success.
The strategy of first airing episodes online and releasing all episodes before being screened on TV isn’t new.
Earlier this year, the Nine Network made available online the first four episodes of its Australian made drama Love Child to 20,000 viewers.
In the US, Netflix released all 10 episodes of the second season of the Emmy award-winning production House of Cards available to its customers at once.
The ABC’s decision to provide all six episodes of Jonah From Tonga could have pitfalls.
The show is aimed at the “I want it now” generation of Australians who are internet savvy and are prepared to watch TV shows on tablets.
By making all episodes available at once could have a detrimental effect on the show’s television ratings.
Alternatively, word of mouth could do the opposite and significantly lift Lilley’s favour with the public.
Ja’mie Private School Girl launched with 924,000 viewers and by the third episode viewer numbers had dropped to 592,000 which was about where it stayed for the remainder of the series.
Lilley was confident the ABC’s new strategy would be a winner.
“People consume my shows in different ways – they get recorded and watched back later,” Lilley told Fairfax Media.
“It’s not like event television where you watch straight away to find out the MasterChef winner.”
If successful the ABC could start a trend away from the traditional television model, but not all broadcasters have been keen to jump on board.
Foxtel has copped flak for its release of the new Game of Thrones season that locks out local streaming services such as iTunes until the fourth series has aired in its entirety.
Companion broadcaster BBC3 will follow suit with their own binge weekend, with the entire series available on the popular BBC iPlayer.