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 the date of those in the US. Channels Nine and Seven are expected to follow.
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. It has proved a hit with audiences.
Foxtel's director of television, Brian Walsh, says it is intended to address the perplexing issue of television piracy.
''Ignoring the audience demand for shortening the delivery windows is only serving to stimulate piracy, which as an industry we are compelled to quash,'' he says.
Research suggests most international TV programs are downloaded from unlicensed sources, such as BitTorrent networks, during the delay window between their US or British broadcast, and when they are aired on local networks.
Fast-tracking does not stop piracy entirely, but the shorter the delay in delivering a program to its audience, the smaller the volume of ''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 two hours after its US premiere. Boardwalk Empire's third season will air on the Showcase channel 48 hours after the US.
In October, Foxtel will launch Gossip Girl, The Walking Dead, Dexter's seventh season and The Vampire Diaries within days of the US. Foxtel will also use the ''express from the US'' campaign to launch two marquee shows from its US studio output deals.
The new series 666 Park Avenue, which stars Australian actress Rachael Taylor, will launch on October 1 on Fox8 and screen within 12 hours of its US broadcast, and the new J.J. Abrams series Revolution, which stars Australian actors David Lyons and Anna Lise Phillips, will air on Fox8 36 hours after the US.
The Ten Network, 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.