As someone who wrote a guide that enabled people to access overseas media, and following the recent article around Global mode and Media companies threatening to sue ISPs, I wanted to weigh in with my views.
In September 2013, I wrote a series of guides on how to access various services which are region locked. This was created on behalf of Techday for Orcon’s customers. Figures on views on Orcon’s site weren’t provided, but it was obviously enough to encourage them to take the step to provide Global mode, a move which was shortly followed by other ISPs.
The ability to access foreign media services wasn’t difficult, but quite specialist in understanding what needed to be done to access them. By sharing this information, I wanted New Zealanders to have more access, and at a fairer rate than they did.
There is a roaring trade in New Zealand for imported goods, English, South African, Dutch and American food / grocery stores provide our immigrants (and Kiwis), with things they enjoy from home.
Even our own postal service offers the ability to have a US or British Address to enable the importation of goods that wouldn’t normally be able to be sent to New Zealand.
I for one, am a user of overseas’ services. I can get things from there much cheaper than New Zealand, let alone if they’re even stocked here.
Grey imports are encouraged here, it’s a way of getting cheaper goods in New Zealand, and giving us more access to them.
And this is where my confusion with Media companies is. Why is their product any different? Geo-locking is a contractual arrangement between media companies and the production companies.
There is no doubt that piracy has had an impact on New Zealand media companies – to the benefit of consumers. We used to have wait ages for the latest Game of Thrones, yet now (albeit with some technical issues), you can get it at the same time, or the same day as it is broadcast in America. Pirating dropped massively. That’s why I got Netflix a long time ago, I want to watch the content I want, not the content some suit in an office thinks I should be watching…
Yet people can access content that they may never see in New Zealand, hear stories that they may never know. Globalisation is occurring, and it’s happening quickly. Netflix’s goal is to replace TV, just a few days ago, their CEO Reed Hastings said “Linear TV has been on an amazing 50 year run, (and) Internet TV is starting to grow. Clearly over the next 20 years, Internet TV is going to replace linear TV.”
“Internet TV is the way that people will consume video in the future.”
And this scares Media Production companies. It is all about the viewer numbers, rather than the quality of content. Look at MediaWorks’ review of Campbell Live, and the rumours of replacing it with a soap. They’re looking at the numbers, not the quality of content. I for one hope that Campbell Live gets snapped up by Netflix, it’s one area that they lack, and there’s a definite market for it.
For Media companies to even consider taking ISPs to court for making information easier to access seems like the grasping at straws of a dying group of companies. Jordan Carter of Internet NZ agrees that the media companies will be on the wrong side of history.
I wonder why they’re not focusing on using their money to create great content that can be sold abroad. Look how much of a following The Almighty Johnsons have got in America since being purchased by the SyFy network. Surely we can do more of that? Instead of our tax dollars going offshore, buying overseas content, we can use it to create content that can be sold on a global scale.
A revolution is happening, you can either go along with the ride, or stay where you are and watch yourself lose.