Doctor Who leak: Publicity stunt or averted error?

Days after Blu-Ray and DVD copies of the second part of Season 7 of Doctor Who were apparently mistakenly shipped to US addresses, it’s yet to get widespread online distribution, which would seem to break one of the fundamental rules of the Internet. People have ZERO patience with waiting, so what actually happened?
For the record, I’ve got to say that I’m nothing but happy that it didn’t leak. Not that I don’t want to see new Doctor Who as soon as (and as frequently as) possible. I think I know myself better than that.
At the same time, though, the demands of many fans bear a striking resemblance to the Gods Of Ragnarok from The Greatest Show In The Galaxy. They need entertainment… and more of it… and as soon as possible.

And yet, several days after the leak, there’s precious little in the way of available torrents online, although clearly the BBC’s been busy blocking them; if you do search for a torrent around the right terms, you can find ChillingEffect’s Google DMCA takedown notice — but it, too, appears to be notably bereft of links to the new episode, merely plenty of them for the older already broadcast stories.
Wikipedia’s entry was apparently awash with potential spoilers, too. I don’t know — I very much deliberately didn’t look — but without the episode to check against, it’s entirely feasible that they’re all just trolling attempts of varying shades.
Again: I don’t want to know until I get a chance to see it myself.
I suspect most people are like that, but it’s still curious that such a hot property with such a strong online connection hasn’t actually spread wide and far. Maybe there are small scale pirate copies out there, but it only takes one leak to go wide.
Like, for example, the official prequel clip. That one got a lot of publicity. Here it is, in case you haven’t seen it yet. Obviously if you want to save yourself from minor clues, don’t watch this either.

Yes, the BBC did promise to release further exclusive clips if it the episode didn’t leak at all. Yes, there have been online pics of the discs shown around the place (although there is this little thing called Photoshop. You might have heard of it.)
So what’s the deal? Some have speculated that it’s just been a massive publicity stunt to whip up fervour for the season finale, but I’m not entirely sure I buy that, partly because it’s a somewhat hamfisted way to drum up publicity, and one with such a strong potential to backfire on the BBC.
At the same time, though, it’s hard to think otherwise, because every single other thing that exists, ever ends up online for piracy sooner rather than later.
That’s not a model that supports the creation of ongoing content… but it’s undeniably the reality. I guess it’s feasible that only a few discs actually shipped, and as such those with them saw it as a personal bonus rather than an invitation to piracy.
Image: BBC

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