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Early-Bird Release

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Sometimes, the owners of a work might release it in another form of media before it makes its "official" debut on television or theatres, either to get people invested or interested in what's to come, or to get people to spread the word through critics or general word-of-mouth.

This is usually the case for a Bonus Episode on a DVD release for a show. Compare Short Run in Peru, where this is the case for works outside their native countries. Contrast Content Leak, where the release is accidental. See Delayed Release Tie-In when merchandise is released even after a work is delayed.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • D4DJ: The first episode was put up on YouTube a week before it premiered on TV.
  • The Doraemon episode "Big G: Master Chef" was released to the internet before it aired on TV, along with "Noby! Noby! He's Our Man; Gone With The Sneeze", though the latter was removed after its TV premiere.
  • The final 3 episodes of Kirby: Right Back at Ya! note  were released alongside the Air-Ride-in-Style 2-parter (aka the first parts of the finale) as a single movie on the "Fright to the Finish" DVD over a year and a half before they aired on American TV.
  • Sonic X: Episode 27, "The Beginning of Disaster" (or "Pure Chaos") was released on the VHS and DVD "A Super Sonic Hero" 3 months before it aired on American TV.
  • In an extreme example of this, episodes 3 and 4 of Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters were released online even before the first episode aired.

    Film — Animation 

    Live-Action TV 
  • All in the Family: The infamous "Edith's 50th Birthday", due to its depiction and discussion of rape, was released for showings in police stations before it was shown on television.
  • High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: Four days before its premiere on the Disney+ streaming service, the first episode was simulcast on ABC, Disney Channel and Freeform.
  • A clip of the final episode of Bear in the Big Blue House was shown at Lynne Thigpen's funeral before airing on TV.
  • It's a Sin: The entire series was put up on Channel 4's streaming service shortly after the first episode was broadcast on TV.
  • Jonah from Tonga: The entire series was available for streaming for one weekend on BBC iPlayer and ABC iview before being shown on BBC Three and ABC1.
  • Married... with Children: The Banned Episode "I'll See You in Court" made its debut on the Most Outrageous Episodes, Vol. 1 DVD before making its TV debut on FX.
  • Nowhere Boys: When Season 1 was shown in the UK, they were released onto BBC iPlayer before airing on CBBC.
  • Donkey Hodie:
    • The first eight episodes were released to the PBS Kids app first before premiering on television.
    • The March 2022 episode releases showed up on the PBS Kids app before airing on TV.
    • The song from "Swoop-a-rino", "You've Got To Do It", was released hours before the episode was broadcast on digital music services.
    • The June 2022 episodes all appeared on the PBS Kids app before premiering on TV.
    • "The Sing-Along Song" from "Piano Problem" was first sung at a White House Christmas event, which was uploaded to the PBS Kids video app, six months before said episode premiered.

    Video Games 
  • Sega Dreamcast: In the summer prior to its official launch in September 1999, users could rent the console, along with Sonic Adventure, for a two-night period from select Hollywood Video locations.
  • In 1984, when Nintendo was still figuring out how to localize the Famicom for a Crash-weary American marketplace, they released versions of several early Famicom games as Vs. System arcade cabinets. The success of these games in arcades, Duck Hunt in particular, proved to Nintendo that their 8-bit games and hardware could be successful in the United States. For games like Wrecking Crew and Balloon Fight, the Vs. System releases were the first releases of those games, period.
  • Super Mario Bros. 3: Over six months before its U.S. release, the game was made available to play on Nintendo's PlayChoice-10 arcade cabinets.

    Visual Novels 
  • Each chapter of every game made by the Love Joint studio has two releases. Unusually, the paid one (to their supporters on Patreon) is released first, and the one for free users is released afterwards.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!: The episode "Blonde Ambition", the first following the Channel Hop to TBS, was available for free viewing on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook for 48 hours before its TV premiere.
  • At San Diego Comic Con in the summer of 1993, three Animaniacs shorts were screened months before their premieres on TV: "Yakko's World", "No Pain, No Painting" and "Potty Emergency", the latter of which had some scenes that were edited from the initial television airing. The first short also aired as a promo a few weeks before the show's debut on Fox Kids, and the second short was also played at Worldcon. Two years later, the short "The Big Wrap Party Tonight" aired as a promo on New Year's Eve two months before it premiered but with the lyrics changed.
    • Like "Yakko's World", the "Brainstem" segment from Pinky and the Brain aired on several WB affiliates, but with Brain's line at the end being altered to "Now, let's get this show on the road. Yes!"
    • Two episodes of the reboot were shown on Twitter the day before their release on Hulu: "Jurassic Lark; Suspended Animation; Of Mice and Memes" for season 1 and "Ralph World; My Super Sour Sixteen; How To: Brain Takes Over The World" for season 2.
  • The Arthur episode "Whip. Mix. Blend./Staycation" was released on a DVD in January 2015 before it aired on television in any country. It made its proper American television debut in September of that same year.
  • The first episode of Big City Greens, "Space Chicken/Steak Night" came out on the Disney Channel YouTube channel on June 8, 2018, while its TV debut was on June 18.
  • Beware the Batman had the last two episodes of season one premiere on DVD in the U.S. long before they aired on CN.
  • The first three episodes of Blue's Clues & You! were released early to Vudu on September 27, 2019 and the second episode was also released on and YouTube on October 28, 2019. The show did not officially premiere until November 11, 2019.
  • The DC Super Hero Girls episode "#HateTriangle" premiered on TV on March 24, 2019, but its on demand premiere was on March 17.
  • Because of Schedule Slip, the Dragon Tales episode "Cowboy Max" premiered on the DVD "Whenever I'm Afraid..." a month before airing on TV.
  • People who had access to the Watch Disney Junior app (now Disney NOW) could watch shows such as Goldie & Bear, Sheriff Callie's Wild West and The Lion Guard 2 months before their TV airdate.
    • This treatment also happened to episodes which get their release dates delayed. For example, the Doc McStuffins episode "First Responders To The Rescue" and the Fancy Nancy episode "Camp Fancy; Nancy's Vanity D'Art", both of which were delayed due to hurricanes, were available on Disney NOW before they actually premiered on TV.
  • The Elena of Avalor episode "Luna's Big Leap" was meant to air on the Disney Junior channel on April 27, 2019, but an encore of the previous episode , "Not Without My Magic", aired instead. While it did come out on Watch Disney Now and on demand the day of its intended release, it's TV debut would be 2 days later on April 29.
  • Green Lantern: The Animated Series: The episode "Steam Lantern" was pulled from the Cartoon Network schedule at the last second on its intended airdate, but that didn't stop them from releasing it on iTunes and Amazon.
  • Kamp Koral: Episodes are released in batches through Paramount+ before premiering on Nickelodeon. The gap can be quite long; for example, the pair "Wise Kraken" and "Squatch Swap" had an entire year (to the day) between their streaming release and TV airing.
  • Kim Possible: The episode "Partners" was released on DVD as part of The Secret Files before it aired on TV six months later.
  • Lilo & Stitch: The Series: The episode "Link" was released first as an extra on the Leroy & Stitch DVD a month before its TV airing.
  • The Loud House:
    • Prior to the series premiere on May 2, 2016, Nick premiered two full-length episodes on and other platforms like iTunes for free ahead of the premiere; "A Tale of Two Tables" and "The Sweet Spot" were released on April 1st, while "Hand-Me-Downer" and "Sleuth or Consequences" came out on April 15th.
    • Similarly, the episode "Head Poet's Anxiety" was released on Amazon ten days before its TV premiere due to being paired with "Teacher's Union".
    • The "Tripped!" special was released to Amazon on May 4, 2018, the day it was originally supposed to air. When Amazon realized that Nickelodeon delayed the special's airing, they removed it from the website until it actually aired a month later.
  • Mickey Mouse (2013): The Halloween Special "The Scariest Story Ever" was released on the Mickey Mouse: Merry & Scary DVD on September 26, 2017 before airing on TV on October 8.
  • Some episodes of Mickey Mouse: Mixed-Up Adventures premiered the Tuesday before their Disney Channel airdate on the DisneyNOW app.
  • Molly of Denali: Several episodes of the show were released on YouTube and the PBS Kids website/app before airing on television.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • "Wonderbolts Academy" was released on a few days before its TV premiere, and on iTunes a few hours before.
    • "Scare Master" came out on iTunes on September 21, 2015, while its TV premiere was on October 31. This is due to it being produced after "Rarity Investigates", which had aired the previous Saturday.
  • PAW Patrol: Mighty Pups and PAW Patrol: Ready, Race, Rescue! were both released Direct to Video at Wal-Mart stores two months before they aired on TV.
  • PBS Kids also utilizes the "channel-related app premiere" method, with them using it to premiere Ready Jet Go!, Pinkalicious & Peterrific and Let's Go Luna!, as well as some new episodes of their other shows that have yet to air on TV. They also did this with the premiere episode of Elinor Wonders Why, and released it to YouTube as well.
  • The Owl House: The first two episodes of Season 2 were screened at The Paley Center on June 5; a week before the official Season 2 premiere on television. They begged fans not to leak or spoil anything, but the fans didn't listen and posted spoilers anyways.
  • The Patrick Star Show: The Season 1, Volume 1 DVD released three episodes before their airing on US television: "Super Sitters", "Nitwit Neighborhood News", and "Mid-Season Finale". They had aired in foreign countries before then, but this marked their first English release.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Several episodes appeared on DVD before airing on TV.
    • "One Good Scare Ought to Do It!" first appeared on The Fast and the Phineas.
    • "Unfair Science Fair" and "Unfair Science Fair Redux" first appeared on The Daze of Summer.
    • "The Doof Side of the Moon" first appeared on A Very Perry Christmas.
  • Rick and Morty: The episode "Rixty Minutes" was released three days early on Instagram in a series of 15-second installments.
  • Rugrats:
    • The episodes "Hiccups" and "Autumn Leaves" made their debuts on the VHS release Dr. Tommy Pickles.
    • "Word Of The Day" premiered on the VHS release "Angelica Knows Best" a few months before airing on TV.
    • "Dil We Meet Again" and "The Magic Baby" premiered on the VHS release Make Room For Dil.
    • Discover America played via Wal-Mart's in-store TV system, Pics Retail Network, before its' TV airdate.
    • In an odd example of this trope, footage from "Tommy for Mayor" was used for the 1999 Kids' Choice Awards victory speech 6 months before it premiered on TV.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: The Season 2 premiere "The Night the Clown Cried" was released on four months before airing on TV.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • "Club SpongeBob" and "Graveyard Shift" appeared on the Nautical Nonsense and Sponge Buddies VHS/DVD releases before airing on TV.
    • "SpongeBob Meets the Strangler" and "Pranks a Lot" appeared on the VHS/DVD release The Seascape Capers months before airing on TV.
    • "New Leaf" appeared on the Karate Island DVD two months before airing on TV.
    • All the episodes on the Bikini Bottom Adventures DVD appeared there before airing on TV.
    • The Season 12 DVD is one of the biggest examples of this trope, with a whopping ten episodes premiering on the DVD before they aired on TV in the U.S.(though several episodes had already aired overseas months ago, some for almost a year).
  • Star Wars Resistance episodes "The Recruit", "The Triple Dark" and "Fuel for the Fire" were all released online on October 7, 2018, the same day the series premiered with "The Recruit" airing on TV.
  • Most episodes from the second and third seasons of Star vs. the Forces of Evil were released on Disney XD's website and app several hours before they aired on TV.
  • Any episode of a series that airs on Disney Channel, Disney XD, or Disney Junior in the age of the Watch apps or its 2017 successor DisneyNOW falls under this, as the episodes that premiere that day are added to the service in the early morning, before any of the new episodes can premiere linearly.
  • Since the middle of its fourth season, the majority of Steven Universe episodes have been released on Cartoon Network's website and video-on before airing on TV:
    • The five-episode Out of This World Story Arc was released online almost a month before its TV debut. However, all episodes but the first ("Steven's Dream") were taken down within a day, which has led people to believe the others were only up by accident.
    • "Lion 4: Alternate Ending" was put up on an unknown cable provider's On Demand service about a month before it actually aired.
    • The last five episodes of season four aired over the course of one workweek, but went up online the Friday before.
    • The first four episodes of season five premiered together on Memorial Day as the hour-long special Wanted, but the first episode ("Stuck Together") was shown online as a sneak peak about three weeks early.
    • The six episodes from "Dewey Wins" to "Kevin Party" went up online over a month before they started premiering on TV two-per-week.
    • The four episodes from "Your Mother and Mine" to "Letters to Lars" were posted two weeks before they started airing once a week on TV.
    • "Legs From Here to Homeworld" was posted five months in advance of the TV airing, one day after its premiere at San Diego Comic-Con 2018. This was likely done to give those who couldn't attend the event a chance to see the episode without being spoiled.
    • The Steven Universe: Future episode "Homeworld Bound" was intended to be attached to a Fathom Events screening of Steven Universe: The Movie, but when that event was cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak closing down theatres and the like, it was instead released on the Cartoon Network website and app on the day it was to have been screened.
  • Young Justice: Similar to the Green Lantern example above, "Before the Dawn" was pulled from the schedule a mere hours before it was to air, but that didn't stop it from getting released on iTunes. It went on to become the top-selling show on the store that day.
  • In general, many Cartoon Network shows in the age of streaming have had episodes first released on-demand or on the app weeks in advance of the linear premiere, such as ThunderCats Roar’s first episodes and Teen Titans Go!’s Crossover with them, “Teen Titans Roar”.
  • In an odd example of this trope, The Smurfs (2021) first aired on the Pluto TV channel for Nickelodeon before its linear TV premiere 2 days later.
  • The first episode of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood was uploaded to the PBS Kids website a month before its premiere.
  • The "Stanley Rides Again" song from Stanley's Dinosaur Round-Up appeared on the Home on the Range Disney Sing-Along Songs video 2 years before it was released.