Territorial Licensing Ruins YouTube | Web Video Won’t Succeed Until Hulu Etc Go Global

1 min read

Web video is growing at a phenomenal rate, but until television and media companies realise that the Web is global and allows people in all countries to watch their content, it surely can’t succeed.

Territorial Licensing

I’ve touched on this subject a couple of times before: when NBC Direct launched, only for US citizens; and when The Daily Show went online, only for US citizens. As a Brit, this is obviously a problem.

Territorial licensing has once again reared its ugly head by stopping me watching any of the new full-length shows or movies that YouTube has started offering.

CBS Shows

I was actually quite excited when I wrote about full-length CBS shows such as Star Trek, The Young and the Restless, Beverly Hills 90210, Dexter, and MacGyver coming to YouTube. Granted, they’re old, but some of them are definitely worth a watch.

Unfortunately, my enthusiasm was short-lived, as the first time I searched for an episode of Star Trek to watch, I was informed that ‘This video isn’t available in your country’. To say I was annoyed is an understatement.

The Screening Room

And then today, it got worse. YouTube secured a free showing of Wayne Wang’s The Princess of Nebraska in The Screening Room. This is a film that interested me, but as usual, I’m not in the right country.

While I understand the reasons behind territorial licensing and only offering shows to people living in certain countries, that doesn’t make it any more palatable when I am prevented from watching a show or movie purely because I happened to be born in the wrong country.

Too Many Examples To List

YouTube is just the latest site to annoy me in this way. Hulu has always been banned for me in the UK, and it’s really annoying to see an embedded Hulu clip sitting on a website taunting me by being unplayable.

Web video is a new medium and we’re currently at the experimental age. Traditional TV companies are just coming to terms with the medium but until they look at the market globally, we’ll never get anywhere.

Forcing Piracy & Workarounds

In an earlier rant about this, I accepted the existence of proxy servers, but why should we all be forced to get around the problem when there shouldn’t be a problem in the first place?

The inevitable consequence of this is that piracy will continue to dominate. If people outside of the U.S. could watch the latest episode of Heroes or Lost online for free then they wouldn’t even be tempted to obtain it illegally via torrent sites.

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