Here, go over to thedailyshow.com, a place where Australians could once go to get a sweet intellectual-funny fix of The Daily Show with the legendary Jon Stewart, a welcome respite from our satire starved shores. After that you could have gone over to the colbertnation.com and have a late-night sip from the Colbert Cool-Aide, getting a strong dose of irony from one of the funniest men alive while catching up on that day in the constant mild-melting oddities of American politics.
But no! NOT ANYMORE. Comedy Central, the US cable channel responsible for these two great late-night shows, along with other gems like South Park, and a whole lot more comedic turds (like the ball-breakingly bad Josh.O). No, if you go to watch the Daily Show online now you’ll be met with a curt “Sorry, this video is unavailable from your location.” Lovely. Yes, they have geoblocked Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, preventing those nasty foreigners from watching their shows for free online, something that remains a fundamental American liberty.
Now, this would be fine, except for two things. The first is the other asshole thing Foxtel and Comedy Central did, which was make the shows too expensive for ABC2 to buy, which they used to do daily around seven. So there is currently no way to watch the shows unless you fork out the approximately two thousands dollars a month to get 120 channels of crime-recreations, shows that make fun of stupid people, and that fucking ‘science’ channel that shows nothing but people moving about oversize-fucking-houses! All to get access to two decent shows.
But again, this would be fine if Comedy Channel (which is the Australian version of Comedy Central) chose to do Australians a service by showing them online, with as many ads as they please. But no, go have a look at the Comedy Channel website. What’s that you say? You’ve been transported back in time to the ’90s Web 1.0 era, when websites were tiny, useless and covered in stupid GIFs and nothing but TV GUIDES.. No, that’s their actual freaking website!! The US can stream entire episodes online through both Hulu.com and the Comedy Central websites and we get a TV guide, a single news item from five months ago about their Twitter page, and Scrubs-themed eCards!? ECARDS?? WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO SOCIETY!?
Then there is of course, iTunes… where one can buy a ‘Season Pass’ for both shows for $20. I thought I’d try this out, it seemed reliable and Apple already owns my soul, so it may as well feed me my satire too. My first download attempt didn’t work, and I wasn’t sure if I’d been charged or not. The second attempt revealed I had been charged, just the download did not work, and had now been charged for a second ‘season’. Excellent. Of course, by ‘season’ they mean 15 episodes. The Daily Show and Colbert Report have four episodes a week, in their last season they had 161 episodes over the year. So for a year of these two shows on iTunes, according to my Nobel-ineligible maths, will cost you a pretty $214… oh, yes.
So what’s my point? Well, it’s the absurdity of people who wonder why Australians pirate so much. Those in the media have a choice today – you can hide your content behind a wall, or you can be relevant. The absurdity of international licensing laws are a big part of why Australians can’t watch the latest 30 Rock or Community immediately on TV, but it’s also the slow-minded TV networks, who don’t quite understand why they’re losing an entire generation of viewers. You can call it entitlement, but I think that’s crap. When culture is viewable and sharable on the internet, it becomes shared culture. It promotes debate and shares world-views, and at the very least allows Australian geeks to share in the stupidity of the filibuster.
It is also the future. Which is something I would hesitate to say about the asshats at Comedy Central. Also, you know, thanks for making the show though…