Thursday, October 15, 2009

On being a 2nd class Internet citizen

I don't want to have to download my favourite shows through spurious channels, but I'm entirely willing to do so when I'm unable to get a hold of shows that are available for free on television.

For this reason, Comedy Central were my internet heroes - unlike most other broadcasters, they had their best content available to stream for free. Every South Park episode was available, with new episodes appearing a few days after the original broadcast date, both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report disabled streaming entire episodes for IP addresses outside of the US, but (bizarrely) the component clips of each episode could be watched in sequence with minimal fussing about. In exchange for this convenience, the viewer had to sit through the occasional ad. This was the perfect arrangement - I didn't have to part with €2 on iTunes for 22 minutes of entertainment, the content provider was getting advertising-revenue for their trouble, and the guilt I felt at torrenting fantastic shows (I helped killed Sarah Conor Chronicles) was assuaged by the notion of "If Comedy Central can do it so can everyone."

That bubble burst on Monday, when I logged onto thedailyshow.com to find an obnoxious message about videos not being available in my country.

Refusing to believe that the party was finally over, I clicked around on some random clips, hoping that this was a mistake, but to no avail. Bracing myself for disappointment, I went to colbertnation.com:

Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!

Gutted, I turned to an old reliable, southparkstudios.com - the studio headed up by two rather cool dudes who have said on record that they don't mind the illegal distribution of their intellectual property. Sure enough, episodes were still available to stream, but the site had been entirely gimped:


The selection of episodes available to download had dropped from 190 (all of them) to five! Five! That's 2.5% of what was previously available. Pretty weak, Comedy Central.

The months of goodwill that Comedy Central has built up by being the only major network to offer so much free content to international audiences certainly won't be forgotten about, but I'm sure that the internet-savvy, casual fans like myself will now turn to BitTorrent/weird Korean streaming websites to get their fix.

Good thing for Comedy Central that there are more people out there who would rather buy the DVDs.

3 comments:

Jacob (ROK Sojourn) said...

I still get everything on Comedy Central's website here in South Korea. I watch the new episode of South Park and this week's Daily Shows and Colbert Reports.

But, there are banners on the website and I do watch commercials. So Comedy Central has advertising agreements in South Korea, which means they are making money. Perhaps they don't offer free television in your country because they can't find willing advertisers?

Sully said...

That's pretty interesting! When I could watch 'em, the ads on Colbert Report and Daily Show were US ads, often for products I can't get (like eSurance - Christ I hate those ads). Most of the time, the South Park ads were the spoof ads that had featured in the show itself.

I'm thinking it's likely that the broadcasters here who air the US shows are responsible, as if CC can manage to find advertising in South Korea, surely they can manage to do the same in Ireland. (It would hardly hurt the Korean broadcasters too much to have an unlocalised version of a US show available for free from the content producers, but I'm that's a postulation based on an assumption about Korean TV, so please set me straight!)

SeanH said...

Sully: That's a bit odd that you got US ads in Ireland because when I was in the UK I used get distinctly British ads. This was in between clips of The Daily Show, I never watched the others.

If you were getting US ads then perhaps they really couldn't find advertisers in Ireland. Lame.