Techdirt reader Santiago Crespo
recently wrote in making a really valid point about all the various authorized online video sites that seem to employ geographic restriction, much to their own detriment:
I live in Argentina, in South America and am an avid Heroes and House follower, but there's a problem watching those shows in our side of the world. Big network subsidiaries offer cable access to American TV shows, but for some unknown reason they can take up to six months to subtitle them in Spanish, and therefore we're stuck watching last season episodes all the time. I don't need subtitles to watch the series, since my grasp of the English language is decent enough to understand what the show is about.
But every time you want to use any legal video site such as Hulu, the NBC website, Sling.com or even some bits of YouTube (Geo-restricted music videos), it will show an error message saying you're "geographically challenged." So instead of geolocalizing ads (as Google does, since I get ads for Deremate.com, a Latin American eBay clone here on Techdirt) they leave me no choice but to head over to the pirate bay to get my fix ad-free.
And even if your comprehension of English isn't good enough to watch the shows downloaded from Bittorrent, every single TV episode gets fansubbed within 24 hours of airing. I think the big networks are wasting a revenue opportunity by limiting who can watch their shows (6 months from now if you have cable) instead of letting you watch them on-line (unlimited audience potential) with some geo-located ads.
It's a really good point. Some of it may be due to rather old school and silly geographic "rights" issues, where certain contracts allow companies to only have the right to broadcast content in certain geographies so that the content owner can try to resell the same content in other areas as well. Yet, by now it should be clear that geographic specific content makes less and less sense, and really is detrimental to the content owners. Rather than making it easier to score big deals, all they're doing is encouraging piracy.