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Web TV Should Be More Accessible

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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.

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  • Guppusmaximus

    I believe you’re making valid points, I just don’t get ’em… Are you upset because the rest of the world isn’t allowed to watch the episodes for free on ABC’s website? Or do you think they should try to broadcast unpopular shows overseas?

    I am pretty sure there is a ton of content that the UK or Ireland broadcasts that I am not able to view and you are correct…it’s because of copyrights and media ownership. Apple would love to get their hands on the episodes but I’m pretty sure that ABC is doing a “Streaming Test” because they will wanna join in on the capitalization of selling episodes over the internet. Unfortunately, due to this mindset, they are going to test in their own “backyard”. I mean any company would do that to see if it flies…