Studios leaking torrents of an upcoming sitcom: what does Anne Sweeney think about this?

I like it when a meeting ends early and up pops an IM on Office Communicator from a friend in media and entertainment (with a link no less) on something just too strange that you have to ask: “what the heck were the thinking when they did that?” 

This is just too much.

I’ve noted previously how ABC distributed free ad-supported TV episodes via the web, and now this: Lifehacker linked to Smaran’s post on, “an anonymous executive at Warner Bros. admitted to purposefully leaking torrents of the upcoming ABC sitcom Pushing Daises to create excitement about the show.”

“In a recent interview for the Seattle Post, I speculated that it seemed likely that TV executives and writers were purposefully leaking their yet-to-air shows to BitTorrent to build up hype and an audience. It looks like I wasn’t too far off.

“An anonymous Warner Brothers Television executive has admitted he helped leak the pilot of “Pushing Daisies“, an upcoming TV show. His reason? He wanted to make sure the show “got out there,” and wanted to “help the cause.” The executive didn’t upload it himself; he got his neighbour’s kid to do it. And the kid was delighted to, because it pushed up his ratio on some private network.

“You might think, as I did, that someone made this story up. Turns out, the executive used his work e-mail ID (yep, or whatever) when he contacted Rick Ellis of When asked about what made him leak the pilot, he replied:

“I just thought it was a good idea. Even though […] I don’t have any direct stake in the show, it’s a really great project. It’s tough to describe, though, and while it makes great sense once you’ve seen it, it’s one of those shows that will only work if people do tune in at least once.

“Which, by the way, is one of the reasons that ABC and Warners are promoting the show in all sorts of venues. The pilot has been screened at everything from auditions for ABC reality shows to Comic-Con. We all believe in the show. And if I can do something that might in some small way help…I can live with that.

“One last thing…some of this is also about building pressure with the network. I don’t think anyone here involved with “Traveler” was exactly thrilled with the treatment ABC gave the show. But it didn’t really have any champions inside either company. And I suppose all of us are hoping that this show gets the support it deserves.”

Think about this statement: “… some of this is also about building pressure with the network…


Is this marketing gone awry or an interesting way to get viewers to look at a new show?

And I wonder what Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Networks, thinks about this? Sure, viral marketing is one thing, but losing the draw to your portal (not to mention the advertising dollars that support free episodes) and potentially losing the support of advertisers and local affiliates are all together bigger issues. 

Back to work.

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