The World Wide Web has supposedly drawn the whole of humanity closer together. Right? In the main, yes, but not in the world of online video where each territory is treated very differently. But that’s hopefully going to change soon, with the first signs now starting to show.
Territorial Rights Licensing
One of the biggest issues remaining in the world of online video has to be that of international rights licensing. While most mediums of entertainment have realized that the world is now figuratively much smaller than it ever has been before, Web television continues to segregate us all.
This is a bizarre situation because online video, as its name suggests, is the one medium that relies solely on the existence of the Internet, and the Internet is a huge reason why the world now feels that much smaller. In the world of online TV, the World Wide Web doesn’t hold true to its word.
Arguing The Case
We’ve discussed these issues in depth on a couple of occasions here at WebTVWire. In September, 2008, I called for a complete overhaul of the territorial rights licensing rules and regulations. And in October, I suggested that Web video won’t really succeed until such change occurs.
The big problem in this area are the huge American networks, who are responsible for a large portion of the quality programming produced on a weekly basis. They want complete control of their content, and so keep it just for American eyes in order to make more money when they sell series to television stations in other countries.
This means Hulu and the Web sites of the individual television networks tend to be off limits to anyone not resident in the States. Which leaves online video fans such as I, resident in the UK, left with very few choices – cheat by using proxy servers, or go without.
TV.com Sets Ball Rolling
TV.com, which has recently evolved from a community based Web site about television into an online video portal, and therefore a rival to Hulu, has now taken its first tentative steps into catering for those of us located outside of the U.S.
According to Contentinople, the CBS-owned TV.com is now offering up selected video clips to an international audience.
Older Shows Just The Start
The selection is presently limited to short-form clips of older shows such as Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place, Star Trek, MacGyver, and Love Boat, as well as full videos of CBS news shows such as 60 Minutes and 48 Hours. Which is disappointing, but hopefully a sign of bigger things to come.
Anthony Soohoo, senior vice president of CBS Interactive’s Entertainment and Lifestyle division indicated this is a possibility, saying:
“Our goal is to make as much content available online as possible. We were able to get the international rights of these clips. At this point, we’re learning to walk before we can run.”
I guarantee that if TV.com does manage to secure the international rights to air newer shows on the Web in their full-episodic glory, the site will get a ton of new traffic overnight. It would no longer be competing with Hulu, but instead challenging YouTube for the online video crown.
Maybe this is where the next big battle will occur, with Hulu and TV.com battling for the page views from Europe and beyond? We can but hope.