Today’s post is prompted by my recent romp around NBC, Universal, and Fox ‘professional’ web video content site, Hulu. From what I could tell it looks lovely, but after 5 minutes of clicking around I realised whilst the site let me join, it won’t let me actually use the service and watch a show.
I have a deep appreciation of international rights issues, and no matter what your future business plan might be (and I admit this is a beta site), how hard can it be to have a disclaimer at the front saying that this is a US only site and content can’t be viewed outside the country. Showtime for years won’t even let you take a good look round their website if your non-US based.
This, in fairness, seems to be a common problem with sites that show ‘real’ TV shows. Pretty much all the sites will let you access their library catalogue, but only let you watch what is cleared for your territory (which quite often is not a lot if you are non-US). That’s outstandingly sloppy and short sited – it just makes me think they don’t understand how to respect their audience.
My simple request would be - if you have the technology to track IP addresses and work out where in the world I am, and therefore not play me an episode of Bionic Woman – why don’t you just use that technology to dynamically only serve me the content I can access. If you think about the functionality when you start building a website it’s a fairly easy thing to do.
This really opens up the discussions about brands and regionalisation (not just in terms of countries and regions, but also cities and towns). It’s something TV, and especially multi-channel brands have been dealing with since the early 90s and now that the web is video heavy finding a fine line between sites localised to maximise footfall, featuring cost efficient quality ‘networked’ programming, but dealing with rights issues as that networked content is also sold to 3rd parties for the numbers to stack up.
That’s a big question, and I’ll be exploring the area in future posts.