Geoblock That Kick! - Complications Ensue
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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

A dear friend posted this Toronto Star column about American broadcasters streaming content into Canada, commercials intact.
The key determinant will obviously be money. Once U.S. rights holders conclude that it is more profitable to retain the Internet rights so that they can stream their programs online to a global audience and capture the advertising or subscription revenues that come with it, Canadian broadcasters may find that they can only license broadcast rights with the U.S. rights holders competing directly with them via the Internet.
As content moves onto the Internet, this could present a huge problem for broadcasters that rely on a protected market. The response that we (content creators) hope they'd have is to produce more homegrown content that they could then stream into other markets. But the immediate temptation, once it really begins to hurt, will be to ask for some kind of government-enforced geoblocking. We'll see.

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9 Comments:

If they ask for geo-blocking, how long before everyone in Canada has a tech work-around?

By Blogger Lisa, at 3:58 PM  

Ugh. I really doubt that blocking American content is a smart decision. What are Canadian creatives afraid of, anyway? It is my opinion that Canadian TV is lagging far behind its American counterpart, and will continue to do so as long as we are fixated on "what America is doing to us". It's not like there are a shortage of people who would love to create media in this country.

The internet argument goes both ways: what if Canadian content creators distributed their shows through the internet to international audiences instead of relying on affirmation from an American network? If Canadians can't do that, it's not the government's problem.

So why haven't I heard of anybody doing this? Entertainment ninja-ing is not a one-way street.

By Blogger Blitzen, at 4:00 PM  

To continue...

Do Canadian networks ever grow their own shows? It's not as commonplace in Canada for a network do develop its own property as it is in America.

Why the hell not?

By Blogger Blitzen, at 4:02 PM  

Blitzen -- Canadian creatives aren't the ones who are afraid. The problem is for networks that prefer to buy cheap American content instead of producing their own original material.

By Blogger Lisa, at 4:06 PM  

To answer Lisa's question about a work around, the answer is: "At least 2 1/2 years ago." I watch hulu in Canada all the time.

By Blogger David, at 6:56 PM  

@David: what do you recommend?

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 8:51 PM  

hotspotshield.com

It sets up a proxy with your computer and a US IP address. It also pumps in banner adds. Of course, when I'm watching hulu in full screen, I don't see them. It also allows you to download podcasts not offered in Canada like Bill Maher's.

By Blogger David, at 9:18 PM  

I was attending a panel in Quebec city, a couple of weeks ago, about web distribution strategies. One of the panelists had a quite simple vision about this: "Make your content available and the viewers' life easier, or else they will find their own way. If they can't buy it from you, they'll find it elsewhere and you won't get a dime...". Many producers where angry about this comment. We only a few to agree with this simple fact... It's like region codes on DVDs. I bought a couple series from Europe because I liked them. I paid for them, as long as transport fees. Why should it be difficult to enjoy after that... How is making consumers angry protecting the market?

By Blogger David, at 5:02 PM  

I've often thought, if I'd produced an indy film, that when it came time for DVD distribution I'd take something like Radiohead's approach with their "In Rainbows" album.

Make the video freely available for download.

Ask for a donation.

Get sponsors and pack the video with sponsors' ads at the beginning, "intermission," and end.

Pack the download web site with adds.

It wouldn't be feasible for a big budget film, but it could be for a mumble-core-type film.

By Blogger David, at 7:19 PM  

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