The Guardian has an article talking about the downloading and sharing of television shows online.
First the music industry was hit by pirates. Now it's the turn of the TV giants, as fans swap whole series online.
Now, within 24 hours of a show being broadcast in the US, people on the other side of the world can see it, too. Dedicated fans of shows such as 24, Friends, Buffy, The Sopranos and many other hit series are using this software.
Rachel and I download Buffy and Angel as soon as someone in the US has made it available. Why? Because we're dedicated fans of two of the best-written television shows currently airing, and we're sick of having the show spoilt by various parties before we get a chance to see them here. US-based media, the local broadcaster (yes, in their "promo" shown just before the show airs, they'll tell us how the episode ends), random people in a cafe who've read the US-based media. They all seem to conspire to tell us that "major character X is going to die" months (or in the case of the local broadcaster, moments) before we get to experience the story unfold. It's like them announcing the conclusion to the latest thriller novel before bookstores here get a chance to stock them.
The quality is sometimes apalling, yes. That's why we buy the DVD (or bought the videos before they started putting out DVDs) when it's released too :) We'd certainly buy the DVDs for the entire current series of Angel and Buffy right now if offered the chance.