A RAFT of new television programs will be aired in Australia only hours after they air in the US as TV networks ramp up the so-called ''fast-tracking'' of programs. The cable platform Foxtel will spearhead the move, unveiling an unprecedented slate of fast-tracked content, which will be launched this month.
The Ten Network has also confirmed it will launch shows later this year close to day-and-date with the US. Nine and Seven are expected to follow suit.
It follows a strategic move by the ABC this month to deliver new episodes of the cult favourite Doctor Who to its audience as soon as they have aired in Britain. The ABC is using its online iView platform to make the episodes available every Sunday morning before they air on terrestrial TV a week later.
Foxtel's strategy, which it will take to market under an ''express from the US'' banner, is designed to enhance the service it offers to its customers. But Foxtel's director of television, Brian Walsh, says it is also intended to address the issue of television piracy.
Fast-tracking does not stop piracy entirely, but the shorter the delay in delivering a program to its target audience, the smaller the volume of so-called ''illegal'' downloading.
The first cab off the rank is the first episode of series five of Sons of Anarchy, which will air on Foxtel's Showcase channel from 3.10pm tomorrow, two hours after its US premiere.
This month, Foxtel will also launch Grimm's second season on FOX8 only 36 hours after the US and Boardwalk Empire's second season on the Showcase channel 48 hours after the US.
In October, Foxtel will launch Gossip Girl's sixth season on FOX8 within 12 hours of airing in the US, The Walking Dead's third season on FX 33 hours after the US, Dexter's seventh season on Showcase three days after the US and new episodes of The Vampire Diaries and Hart of Dixie within seven days of the US.
The new series 666 Park Avenue will launch on October 1 on FOX8 and screen within 12 hours of its US broadcast. The new series from J.J.Abrams, Revolution, which stars Australian actors David Lyons and Anna Lise Phillips, will air on FOX8 36 hours after the US.
Ten, meanwhile, has confirmed it will fast-track a suite of its programs when the new US television season launches next month.
They will most likely include Homeland, The Good Wife, Hawaii Five-O, NCIS: Los Angeles, Law & Order: SVU, Glee, Modern Family and New Girl.
A Seven spokeswoman confirmed the network would fast-track The Amazing Race.
A Nine spokeswoman said the channel would fast-track content but was not able to say, at this stage, which shows would be affected.