Jacob Zinn :: journalist + photographer

From far and wide, still no Hulu in Canada

Posted in Observations, TV & Film by Jacob Zinn on May 18, 2009

While playing Skate 2 online today, I noticed advertisements built into the game, and furthermore, they change with the times.

Previously, in-game billboards showed Eliza Dushku in promotion for Fox’s sci-fi series Dollhouse along with times the show airs. Now they show posters for the Blu-Ray release of Underworld: Rise of the Lycans.

Highlighting the Blu-Ray copy is quite fitting, considering I was playing Sony’s PlayStation 3, the only video game system that can play Blu-Ray movies.

But I noticed another part of the poster first–in the bottom-left corner was the 18A sticker signfying the films age limit. In Canada.

My PS3 is connected wirelessly to the internet and has its own IP address. The company can tell that my ISP is from Canada, and fitting with Canadian content rules, provides approved Canadian ads.

Why can’t they do this with Hulu?

Hulu is a streaming video website partly owned by Fox and NBC and allows visitors to view TV shows from these networks online for free–they just have to sit through a few commercials.

But these are American commercials which don’t fit with CanCon regulations, making the site accessible only in the United States.

There are licensing restrictions keeping people in other countries from getting on Hulu, although they’ve recently made some progress.

Of course, a little tech-savvy goes a long way and there are free sites that can hide ones IP address to bypass such geographical boundaries.

But after seeing EA, the makers of Skate 2 figure out how to keep Canadian ads in Canada, surely Hulu can do the same. Canadian networks such as CTV offer American programs that they show while including commercials for Canadian programs.

Hulu’s been online for more than two years now and it’s still not available to Canadians. If we miss an episode of Saturday Night Live, finding the sketch on YouTube is hit-or-miss as it gets red flagged by NBC rather quickly.

We can’t even see what we missed on NBC.com, because that’s regulated too.

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