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Hulu.com Blocks Canadians from NHL Games

The NHL has announced that its content is now available through Hulu.com, the U.S. video site.  The site features full-length classic NHL games, yet is not available to Canadians.  Television shows subject to licensing issues I understand, but blocking the NHL?

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11 Comments

  1. Dwight Williams says:

    Nation-by-Nation
    They’re maximizing the revenue that way at NHL HQ. At least, that’s how it smells to me. Like region-coding on DVDs.

  2. Is anything on Hulu streamed to Canadian IP addresses? Even the Hulu walkthrough — “a brief tour of Hulu.com and its features” says it’s not available for Canada.

    Free proxy servers don’t seem to be overloaded yet, but at the rate things are going, there might be a high demand for those services in the months to come.

    The NHL’s national coverage in the U.S. is relegated to a minor cable network where it draws about one-fofth of the audience of third-tier pro wrestling (local broadcasts in hockey centres are more popular), so the Hulu deal might actually make a difference in its distribution.

  3. I had assumed it was because they NHL would have problems with the CBC over this, but I live in Germany and it\’s not available here, either. Instead of blocking Canada, I assume it\’s only allowed in the US.

  4. Robert Cannon says:

    Bum
    Yeah well, at least the CBC has streamed hockey night for a while, Michael, which has been blocked to us Yanks. All we get is NHL on Versus – which is not over the air broadcast, its not streamed, and I am not sure we can even call it a cable channel. As for now, yes, it has been announced that the NHL is on Hulu, but it aint there yet!

  5. Jeremy Costin says:

    What would make the NHL more special?
    Why should the NHL be more special than anything else with respect to licensing? We have seen regional blocking here with cable, for example, although I receive all Sportsnet channels, I cannot watch hockey on any but the one in my region.
    We have seen extensive licensing schemas set up in professional sports for a long time. We have also seen Gary Bettman transform our national sport into an American short-term profit ability business venture. This shouldn\’t be surprising from the standpoint of a Canadian hockey fan.
    What I wonder about is how this IP-authentication for the purpose of regionalization squares with other technological protection measures and the various caselaw around the world. In other words, we are seeing something here akin to the old cable rebroadcasting over the Internet that was heard in court some time ago. New media rebroadcastability doesn\’t trump valid licensing. But when is that licensing valid and when does it overstep? Is there possibly an argument here that this TPM (Regional IP authentication) is possibly analogous to Sony\’s Playstation 2 scheme? (Sony v Stephens, HCA, Australia)
    What would happen, legally, to someone who does like the Stephens chip and bypasses the regional authentication?
    Is there a non-infringing purpose, as there was in Stephens?
    What exactly is the restriction in the license, and how does one go about becoming part of the privileged class of viewers who can use Hulu? Do they have to be American, non-Canadian, or some other class, and are those legitimate licensed user classes?
    Once that\’s determined, if someone can find a way to include themselves in the class and still not have access, can they legally use a proxy or other workaround, and fall into Stephens reasoning? Although an Australian case, its logic certainly would fit within the interoperability exception for TPM circumvention in the DMCA.

  6. Larry Borsato says:

    It’s simply a licensing issue. Licenses need to be arranged for each country separately, and Hulu is dealing with the US first. So essentially, Hulu blocks any non-US residents from any Hulu content. And as Ken H pointed out, the Canadian licensee – CBC – might have a few issues with that anyway.

    By the way folks, while hockey might be Canadian, I’m fairly certain that the NHL is a US corporation.

  7. Is the nhl currently a us corp? it wasn\’t at inception.

  8. It’s the same deal as with iTunes…last year, the US were getting playoff highlights in the US iTunes Store, while Canada was left hanging. I don’t know why, but it’s the way of the world.

  9. Dwight Williams says:

    NHL Status?
    They’ve got member companies from both sides of the border, and they started out in a Montreal HQ. While much of the HQ functions have moved to NYC, they still maintain Canadian offices by necessity.

    So…I’m not sure what their status is.

  10. RSS-feed Torrenter says:

    OK, so the reason for this is copyright licensing issues. This explanation gets touted out as if that makes it “alright”.

    To me all that does is provide one more illustration that Copyright licensing (at least the way they work now) issues are counterproductive to the common good. The kind of “Balkanization” it creates does nothing but push people into finding other solutions.

    For example, I get all the TV content I want, for free, in high-res without annoying adds, automatically downloaded to my box via an RSS feed monitoring tool and a bittorrent client, as soon as it becomes available. In some cases, I get the content via BitTorrent even before it airs here on the west coast. That’s how fast the stuff broadcast on the east coast gets put on the web and downloaded. Of course this is “illegal”, but I don’t really care. There just isn’t a legal alternative for us Canadians, so that gives me an excuse that what I’m doing, while illegal, is morally justified.

    And yeah… once one gets used to free ad-free content, it will be pretty tough to convince one to fork over X $ per download or sit through a bunch of annoying ads.

    So doing this “US only”, while it may seem like a good idea, and perhaps even the only way it can be done legally with the draconian IP policies content producers live by, is ultimately just creating a big void in the market, which will quickly be filled by less legal services. And it will be pretty tough to compete with those after people have gotten used to them.

    But hey, it’s fine by me really. Thanks to these self-defeating IP policies, I can happily and easily access loads of free high quality “illegal” stuff.

  11. F#ck hulu