Why Won't You Sell Me Your Content?

A little while back I started watching Dexter through iTunes on my Apple TV[1]. I soon became a fan of the show, and caught up to its airing on Showtime, a US premium cable network. But that was when I struck trouble.

Although iTunes usual model for TV shows is to make them available the day after airing, Showtime apparently didn’t provide those rights for season 7. There was nowhere else I could go to purchase the show, and living in Australia, I couldn’t have become a Showtime subscriber, even if I had wanted to.

So, despite season 7 airing on 30 September 2012, I’ve had to wait till today when I was able to get the season on DVD—virtually on the eve of the US premier of season 8[2]!

I understand that Showtime have the rights to the show, and I don’t argue that, but why didn’t they want to sell me their content when I wanted it? I can understand keeping it exclusive to get people to subscribe to their network—but that wasn’t available to me. I can also appreciate that sometimes advertisers are willing to pay more for content than consumers, but now the show is available to me I’ve bought it on DVD, meaning Showtime got no more revenue out of me than if I’d been able to purchase it on iTunes[3].

And this story isn’t unique to Dexter. I regularly encounter content whose delivery is delayed to my corner of the world—a world in which the Internet promises a global market—but is unable to deliver due to content owners living in the past.

  1. Through the US iTunes Store.  ↩

  2. Season 8 premiers in the US on 30 June 2013.  ↩

  3. The season became available on iTunes post my DVD pre-order.  ↩