Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Spotify for Video

Netflix at home

Although video games are threatening its position (just ask our son, the Skylander), movie watching is still what we consider our primary source of entertainment at home. We may be spending more hours on TV shows, but it is the movies that have all the glamor.
A couple of recent experiences caused me to rethink my movie watching strategy. First, as I mentioned here, we had a nasty night with Batman and it was nasty not because of some evil villains; it was nasty because a scratched rental Blu-ray disc wouldn't let us watch the movie in peace. Second, due to road work, the other week I found myself spending more than twenty minutes in the car as I was struggling to approach our video rental place in order to return a disc.
Obviously, something has to be done here. And we all know what the solution is: what I would like to have, and what most other Aussies I know would like to have, is an all encompassing video streaming service. A video library that would allow us to choose what we want to watch whenever we want to watch it and on our device of choice, but without the need to venture out in traffic and struggle with defunct pieces of BPA rich plastic. A sort of a Spotify service for videos.
Problem is, Australia doesn't have such a service.
But America does. It's called Netflix, and it is so popular there that a third of all American Internet traffic is Netflix traffic. It even demoted bit-torrent from its top spot there. So how do we get from Australia to Netflix?
There are three problems along the way of getting there. First, there are the studios, who are so thick headed they wouldn't dare establish a Netflix like service at Oz (but they will complain about Ozzie piracy!). Second, some studios are already scared of Netflix' power, and perhaps through taking lessons from the way Amazon fooled book publishers they decided to retreat from Netflix and open their own services (e.g., Warner). This leads to frustration: you pay the fees but you can't watch the stuff you want to watch just because it happens to come from the wrong studio. And third, because of this all crazy situation, Netflix is blocked from Aussie access.
Or is it? It turns out that the only thing really blocking Aussies from the promised land of a 12,000 titles long catalog is geo-blocking. All one needs to have in order to override that is an American proxy server or an American VPN service (I have one!); then you need to provide an American address (I have one! Besides, it's easy to make one up). Oh, and a credit card. Any credit card will do, it doesn't have to be American.
That is it - come up with these and you can start awatching. I am severely tempted.

Image by MoneyBlogNewz, Creative Commons license

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