The Worldwide Web isn't as global as some might think - especially when it comes to Internet TV viewing.
As Americans are enjoying the fruits of iTunes' labor, free streaming video on ABC and a whole host of other content, those in other parts of the world are locked out of the viewing - at least legally.
A friend of mine in Ireland was delighted to hear about ABC's stream test, hoping to catch up on some episodes of Lost. He's unable to use iTunes to catch past episodes. The service isn't available to Ireland, and other parts of the world.
Logging onto ABC's site, all geared up to find out what's been going on in JJ Abrams' wacky world, my friend was greeted with that all too familiar to him message "U.S. audiences only."
It's a question of licensing, I understand. There are legal hoops that have to be jumped through. Somebody has to be paid. Someone always has to be paid.
But, since the vehicle for delivery is called the Worldwide Web, one would think the content ought to be delivered worldwide and that networks and delivery companies would be willing to jump through those hoops with both feet to make it so.
On the upside, U.K. viewers do now have a way to catch up on Lost legally, but not free and not thanks to ABC's stream test or iTunes.
If services like iTunes want to make a truly revolutionary change in the way television is watched, they'll make every effort to jump through those hoops.
Millions of potential customers are being locked out at this point, which also means that millions of dollars are also going unrealized.
Just imagine the potential for development if those dollars were included in shows' bottom lines. Good titles that might never see the light of day might just shine. Popular shows that get chopped because of slacking viewer numbers in the States might just rally beyond networks' wildest dreams. The potential for new development of unusual content might increase, too.
The choice to make bolder shows like Lost could become more of a mainstay rather than an exception to the rule. Of course, we'd probably also be inundated with a slew of reality titles, but that's a small price to pay.
Oh, the possibilities.