It seems that every network now broadcasts they’re shows on the web for a set period. In the UK, we have the iPlayer for BBC. The networks provide this service–not to please audiences–but because piracy has forced them to. By showing the best TV programmes on the web, they can still generate ad revenue and make it easier to watch than finding a dodgy download. It’s a great idea, really.
But then you try to use it. I’ve been to the big US network sites and tried to watch their videos, but always get told that they are not available in my country. While visiting my hometown newspaper site, Sign-on San Diego, I read a glowing review of Hulu.com and the future of web tv. But, when I try to view a show, I get this:
“Unfortunately this video is not currently available in your country or region. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
This is where the lawyers got involved, I think. They’re still trying to get ad revenue to feed this. “It will be just like TV, but we’ll put it on the web! People will still see that Ace Hardware commercial three times an hour–but it will be on the web! There is no Ace Hardware overseas? Well, we’ll just let people in the US see it.” They’ve probably not even thought about charging a reasonable subscription price. This is where it falls down when trying to beat piracy.
Since moving to the UK 10 years ago, I’ve become increasingly annoyed that the industrial age companies still insist on making countries outside the US wait for things. A hit blockbuster movie might be release in the UK 6 weeks after being released in the states. By the time it gets here, all reviews have been read and all clips have been seen. All this so they can fly the stars out and do the red carpet thing in Leicester Square?
Back in 1999, the news here would show a story of some UK guys who flew out to New York to see the premier of the “Phantom Menace” since it came out in the UK 2 months later. These guys camped out in a queue for weeks. Imagine their disappointment when they found out how crap it was. But now, this doesn’t happen. Now, people find the pirate copies. They are either offered up by Chinese dealers on the streets of London or downloaded. The same is true with TV.
The net savvy are all caught up on Lost and other TV shows. They are not trying to steal. These people participate in global forums talking about their favourite shows. They are tired of trying to avoid spoilers. They would happily watch some adds or pay a few dollars a month to see something when everyone else sees it.