On Streaming Sites

This post is inspired by Crackle noticing people outside the US were accessing far too much of their content (which unfortunately included Angel of Death, grrr…) and fixing that ‘error’. For those of you who are lucky enough to be Americans, many streaming sites like Crackle and Hulu are only available to those netizens who live in the US, or have far more available content. Now I’m not exactly 100% informed on the situation, but here’s my two cents/rant.no-workyThere are only two reasons for the region-specific content availability that I can see, rights and ads. Let’s start off with ads. My thinking on this one is that revenue on the web is ad-based, either on views or click-throughs. As such, I could see the region limitation being due to limiting views to the area where the ads are relevant, in an attempt to entice advertisers with a possibly higher views-to-purchases ratio. I can see the logic behind this (admittedly completely made-up by me here) point of view, though considering your potential customers are already net-based, chances are they’d know how to use the web to make globe-spanning purchases if they were so inclined. Which negates the need for limiting views.

hulu-logoNow, rights. To me this seems the more likely cause, though not any more valid than my advertising hypothesis. This stems from the region codes on DVDs, the rights to produce media in each of these various regions of the globe need to be arranged separately. This is why, for example, it took so long to get a Region 1 release of Spaced (demand versus the difficulty of clearing all the music rights again), and why my copy of Battle Royale is region-free and imported from Korea. I see some flaws with this as well.

First of all, the writer’s strike proved quite clearly that contracts already in place for physical media like DVDs don’t really have much say when it comes to Internet distribution. Which would mean that there would be very few rights contracts in place for the web which would need to be fulfilled for other regions (let alone the fact that the argument could be made that the Internet itself is actually a completely separate region, one that would be better served when taken as a whole, and not split based on the geographic location of each individual user).

Also, last I checked Canada and the US are both Region 1, which makes our inability to view these videos based on rights clearance issues even more confusing. My best (jaded) guess is that rights holders, or at least their lawyers are damned if they aren’t going to try everything to squeeze some money out of that damn socialist intarwebs for daring to provide a more widespread and simple method of of access to independent productions.

And today’s Angel of Death has Lucy Lawless, too!



~ by Jerk on March 9, 2009.

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