Geo-Blocking The Oscars – What’s That All About?


oscar1

Yummy, this looks inviting.

Also known as geolocation, this perverse and absurd practice isn’t just confined to The Oscars of course, as anyone who uses Youtube will be painfully aware. I choose Oscar, as in a moment of misguided magnanimity, I acceded to my better half’s request to watch the show last night, when I’d rather have been pulling my teeth out one by one with a pair of rusty pliers.Who can forget Halle Berry’s toe curling acceptance speech, where she wept most of those five interminable minutes? Or those darling actors who thank every person they have ever known, may know sometime in the future,up to and including their dogs, cats and canary.

halle berry

Shaken and stirred.

But I was there in front of the telly for good or for bad, rooting for Eddie Redmayne yet confronted with an extreme dilemma. I live in Argentina and subscribe to Cablevision who, much to our pleasant surprise were showing Oscar live on TNT,  but with some damned irritating drawbacks. First of all, they were showing the ceremony in bog standard grainy non-HD and to make matters worse, the Spanish speaking TNT presenters were simultaneously voicing over every single word spoken in English by anyone that moved on the screen, including the cringe inducing presenter Neil Patrick Harris (pictured), which in retrospect was a blessing, since most viewers had already crawled under the sofa and vomited at his gags and poor taste in underwear anyway. Is that the best The Academy could do?

neil-patrick-harris-nph-underwear-oscars-2015-billboard-650

What the f***?

But as usual, I digress. I managed to tolerate nearly five whole minutes of the Spanish voiceover, before my patience finally evaporated, evidenced by my other half’s suggestion that we may be able to catch the show online. Why hadn’t I thought of that? A quick search of The Oscars Live brought up a veritable smorgasbord of choices, which all oddly ended up with the ABC network and a home page with the deliciously tantalising invitation WATCH NOW, which is what I clicked next, resulting in something like this:

2015-02-23_14-07-16

Time travel.

I love the politeness of this message, pointing out that I appear to be located outside the United States and that if the malady persists, I’m invited to let them know. Sure will pal, God bless America!

So I then activate my VPN of choice Hola! and hey presto, I’m freezing my nuts off in Wisconsin, ABC is none the wiser and presents me with a choice of camera angles from which I can watch the ceremony. But it’s all a trick and the actual show, including underwear-man-in-y-fronts are not actually being shown live. Sure, you could ogle the audience, nose about backstage or choose the director’s cut and listen to what was going down up on the stage, but that was it. I felt cheated and since ABC clearly held the rights to the show, every other online avenue led me straight back to ABC who weren’t showing the full show online anyway, evidently.

oscar3

Give me one!

So, you’re probably asking yourself, what’s that moaning limey going on about? A fair question that deserves an answer. What ABC choose to show online is up to them, misleading suggestions notwithstanding. However, I would suggest that The Oscars, being an annual love-in, probably never to be seen in its entirety ever again, should be blasted throughout the universe, free of charge, location free, uncensored but with certain health and taste warnings. After all, who could possibly not appreciate Marlon Brando not turning up for his Oscar and sending an Apache Indian instead or Woody Allen, who simply never turns up at all? But that’s Hollywood darlings and it looks like geoblocking is here to stay, sort of.


B9HUo0oCAAAmwnt

You’ve got to laugh.

Clearly ABC and other TV networks pay enormous amounts of cash for shows such as The Oscars, Super Bowl and others and they have the right to protect their advertising/licensing revenue stream, not to mention film studios and record labels. But the internet has changed everything. DVD’s are history, along with their dubious region coding and our always on broadband world has gone some way to level the playing field for us, the great unwashed, loosely described as the consumers.

Since Youtube has now carved out its position as the de facto place to go for videos and Google being its owners, it’s also where you’re likely to come across the most bizarre geolocation issues. Make your own video, add a music track, upload your video, share it with your mates and then watch as Youtube decides that it can only be viewed in Pakistan, Chile and Tasmania, because that’s where the original music recording licenses generate the most revenue, or something like that. As a result, Youtubers (sic) come up with numerous ideas to circumvent this odd policy, such as removing the audio track completely (if Youtube hasn’t removed it already) or if the video track is protected, leaving the audio intact and inserting a still of some blokes sitting around playing with spoons. Daft isn’t it?

Here, try this. Search Youtube for The Eagles, Hell Freezes Over Tour, Hotel California and you’ll probably come back with this:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/7tJ0I2J954A[/youtube]

Then do the same search at Dailymotion and you’ll probably find this:


http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2g479a_the-eagles-hotel-california-live-1994-hell-freezes-over_music

It’s odd isn’t it? And one can only assume that Dailymotion (I can’t seem to get used to that word, as it makes me feel oddly uncomfortable) have a different set of licensing criteria or simply none at all.

But back to The Oscars, if you’re not already bored to tears with the red carpets, ball gowns, platitudes and gushing acceptance and losers speeches, it strikes me as a case of double standards, where a show attended by the rich and famous, whose wealth has been generated by the very same consumers I mentioned earlier, is blocked outside the United States, so that the rest of us have to crawl around nibbling crumbs falling from the top table.

But hey, that’s entertainment folks!

 

About the Author

Marc Thomas

Marc is an avid traveler, motorcyclist, entrepreneur, and gamer as well as the owner of Compufix in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His interest in computers and technology began in the early 1990's when he was introduced by a friend to a Zenith Data Systems computer running DOS. In the years following he has experienced all versions of the Windows operating system, built hundreds of systems, and fixed many more for his customers.

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