Hey Canadians: No Daily Show for you

by Mathew on October 25, 2007 · 8 comments

If you like satire and you don’t mind staying up late, you’re probably a fan of The Daily Show, that great showcase for the satirical jabs of Jon Stewart. If that’s the case, you might have been overjoyed to hear that Comedy Central (which is part of MTV, which in turn is part of Viacom) recently launched a website with 13,000 or so clips from the show, including some of the most-loved episodes.

Finally, you may have thought to yourself — after months of fighting with YouTube over clips from the show (which routinely appear and then are quickly removed), Viacom has decided that giving viewers what they want over the Internet is the right way to go. Bravo.

The only problem with that rosy little scenario is that Viacom’s largesse — like every other U.S. TV network that has decided to stream popular shows from their website — is completely unavailable to Canadian viewers (and to viewers in other countries as well). You can go to the website and click on a video, but you don’t get anything. To add insult to injury, the pre-roll advertising spot that Viacom has sold for the clip plays just fine, but is followed by a black screen — a screen that might as well say “Hey non-U.S. viewers — look at all the stuff you can’t watch.”

Why can’t you watch The Daily Show clips? The same reason you can’t watch an episode of Heroes on the website the day after it plays on TV, and the same reason you can’t download TV episodes from iTunes: Canadian networks like Global and CTV have paid for the right to broadcast those shows, and would no doubt raise a hue and cry if they were suddenly available for free on the Internet. That might destabilize the entire Canadian broadcasting business model, which relies on access to U.S. hits.

Update: On a more recent visit to The Daily Show website, I was automatically redirected to thecomedynetwork.ca, which carries episodes of the Comedy Central show in Canada (after a pseudo-friendly message popped up saying how “some jerk blocked ComedyCentral.com” and that this was a “load of crap,” but that clicking on the link would take you to The Comedy Network for all your favourites “and a whole whack of homegrown hilarity”).

You can watch some recent episodes of The Daily Show at the Canadian site, but there is only a small selection, in contrast to the complete show archive that is available at the U.S. site. I guess it’s better than a blank screen, but not by much.

  • http://scrawledinwax.com Nav

    Oh… this again. The thing that constantly baffles me is the amount of revenue that Canadian media companies are losing by not cutting deals to distribute content electronically or on their websites. When I miss a show, I also miss the ads. When I want to download an episode of the show to watch on the go – one which I wouldn’t watch otherwise for lack of time – can you really blame me for ‘finding it elsewhere’? Wouldn’t Cdn companies want to find a way to pick up that lost revenue somehow? Or do they insist on thinking of the internet as something that sucks profits away from media providers, rather than an enormous opportunity?

    Funnily enough, it will likely be Microsoft who will be the first to introduce Canada’s first decent digital distribution model when they launch Xbox Live Marketplace here later this year. It figures that no Canadian company would have the foresight or guts to try the absolutely radical idea of selling media online. If only Apple released iTunes in Canada – then it’d be like there was a proven distribution model just waiting for the deals waiting to happen…

  • Mathew

    I agree, Nav. It seems like a pretty major opportunity that is being missed.

  • http://attaboy.ca/ Luke Andrews

    For what it’s worth, I’m in the UK and so far I can watch the clips on the new Daily Show site just fine.

    (That said, the site makes Safari 2 crash. Sheesh.)

  • Mathew

    Thanks for that, Luke. I guess that might be because Britain doesn’t have anyone who has licensed the show for re-broadcast, the way Canada does.

    The crashing thing is a whole different story :-)

  • http://www.edeoplay.com/blog Richard Budman

    Viacom can claim all they want that they get the whole “web 2.0″ video sharing thing – with new sites like dailyshow.com. But until they rid themselves of all the old media baggage type DRM (and yes, Viacom and CTV protecting their Canadian “TV” rights to the DailyShow is a type of DRM) Viacom and all it’s satellite sites combined will never be able to really compete with the truly free YouTubes of the world (which as far as I can remember never restricted any video because I was in Canada.)

  • http://www.digitalmediaTORONTO.com Mike Allan

    Where there is a will there is a way. Now I’m not advocating this, but using a proxy service (like hidemyass.com) and the embedding features on the Daily Show website I was able to snag a couple of videos and post them on a website. They played back fine here in the Great White North.

    Arrrgh matey !

  • Digitally Divided

    I mentioned this challenge to a techical friend of mine. He snickered and said, two words. Foxy Proxy – a Mozilla/Firefox Plug-in resolves the challenge with having a Canadian IP address. For those willing to tinker with some files and settings, you too can work pass these limitations and catch that missed episode that you could have recorded, watched live or downloaded illegally. These people are delusional thinking we actually watch commercials.

  • Andrew Cranston

    It’s not like I want to watch episodes from iTunes for free, I have to pay for them like everyone else. So why am I not allowed, as a Canadian, to purchase episodes and movies off of iTunes? Sure I can watch them for free on CTV but if I want to buy them LEGALLY to carry around on my iPod or iPhone, I can’t because of where I live.

    Come on, Apple, be smart. We’re willing to give you money for this stuff, let us pay you!

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