‘Watch with Mother,’ a mini-series developed for iPad may have TV networks watching in horror

“In 2004, Russell Boyd won an Oscar for Master and Commander. Lately, the Sydney cinematographer has been working on a show that is more like Morbid and Cadaver,” Sacha Molitorisz reports for The Age. “The show is Watch with Mother, and Boyd was attracted by its bizarre blend of sketch comedy and horror. More than that, he was fascinated by the way it will harness new technology for its distribution.”

“Instead of airing on television, or even the internet, the six-part series will be released only via app and iTunes,” Molitorisz reports. “At $1.49 an episode on iTunes, or $8.99 for the virtual box set on app, the producers are banking on at least 200,000 sales. Free-to-air and pay TV stations will be watching anxiously, keen to see if the radical new distribution strategy works. ‘It’s far too early to call the death of television on the back of one app, but if you have quality content, people will watch,’ says Justin Diddams, a media analyst at Citigroup. ‘Just look at HBO [the US subscription network]. It will be fascinating to see whether this succeeds as an alternative distribution platform for bespoke content.'”

Molitorisz reports, “Watch with Mother is certainly alternative. To be released this month, the series, shot late last year in Sydney suburbs including St Ives, is Freddy Krueger meets Full Frontal. In one recurring storyline called Killer Roo, a kangaroo takes macabre revenge for all the marsupial roadkill on Australia’s highways. In another, a benign-looking music teacher tortures his pupils behind closed doors… Rated MA, the content is too edgy for mainstream TV… In part, the dark material explains the risky, groundbreaking distribution method.”

Read more in the full article here.


    1. Agreed the HBO is extremely over priced, however, you are comparing a series with only Six Episodes to a Twenty-four Episode regular season that has proven viewers.

  1. Essentially, every tv show could set up its own store and provide content via internet; cutting out the cable companies but would it be profitable?

    The Networks also could house EVERY SHOW they produce and do the same. Apple iTunes is a great online store but shows do not need to pump it through Apple for testing the delivery.

  2. I’ve thought for a long time that this is the way forward for producers. The existing method where you try to get a broadcaster to commission a new project is very cumbersome and you can lose a lot of creative control.

    My only surprise is that it has taken this long to happen, but I certainly wish them every good fortune and hope that it works out very well for them.

  3. If this meant that enjoyable tv series like Pushing Daisies, Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, Unforgettable and Firefly could continue outside the whims of networks I’m all for it.

  4. Using AirPlay and an Apple TV, such app-based content could easily be watched on the big HDTV screen. I think this approach to putting apps on the TV screen through Apple TV (and maybe a complete “iTV”) will be an important part of the WWDC announcements.

    Apple doesn’t need to create yet another app store selling apps that are only for Apple TV owners. Apple needs to make Apple TV an “extension” of the iPad and iPhone user experience, through AirPlay. The app runs normally, but has a new enhanced “AirPlay” mode, when an Apple TV is present. When that mode is enabled, the app then works with Apple TV to put the app’s video output on the HDTV screen. The iPad or iPhone screen turns into a custom remote control, designed specifically to control that app.

  5. I think AMC is an even more apt example of the pull of content. I had watched movies on HBO from the time I was a child. So when shows like the Sopranos or Six Feet Under came along in adulthood, I continued to watch. Whereas I had barely ever watched anything on AMC and incredibly well made shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead have attracted and retained my interest and enthusiasm for that network. Content is king.

  6. An interesting experiment and though the content does not sound like my cup of tea, There may be more innovation on that way that lets me choose something I like…. I support anything that increases choice and freedom of speech; Yeah, as an older adult I am always nervous at how “edgy” society will become as more power comes to the artist, but I’m willing to see what happens. With Apple driving change in music, publishing and television, my hope is that more books are written, movies made, stories told, and that the result is more freedom, not less. I think that is the best potential of what Apple has been doing to entertainment. With too much centralized control, I always wonder what books were never written and what stories never made it to the screen because of the narrowness of the marketing arm of the industry. Perhaps some great dramas or comedies that were too much of a niche to survive in the current marketplace will find their place in iTunes.

  7. The realit that people forget is that the networks only make great content so they can sell advertising.. TV networks aren’t actually content companies. They are advertising companies. Companies like HBO do not use that model, hence why they COULD feasibly work on a subscription (and more affordable one) and achieve more volume…

    That’s why everything is up in the air.. Neither
    side is willing to take the risk.. It worked with music as that is a content model, not an advertising or subscription model.. Change is definitely coming, but I think the TV networks are probably more scared to change the model than the music and movie companies were with iTunes..

    1. What most people don’t understand about HBO is that they make huge amounts of money from the cable companies up front, not just the subscription. And the fact that they’re owned by a cable company (TW) means it will be a long long time before they break the model they’re working on now. Don’t hold your breath for them to go a la carte.
      This is definitely the way to go for producers though. The big problem, as always is getting the huge amounts of money they need to produce and advertise shows up front. This is why the studio system exists at all.

  8. Lately, the preferred method of watching TV shows in our house is to buy the season in iTunes and watch on the big screen via Apple TV. The shows can be paused, rewound, played as many times as we want and all without commercials.

    Satellite or Cable box not required.

  9. I hope independent developers/producers follow this lead and release shows only avaiable on iTunes at reasonable prices and that Apple produces som of it’s own streaming videos on all kinds of subjects etc.

    I like the concept mentioned in the article but not the subject matter, so I won’t be buying that one.

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