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Dexter is on YouTube for everyone, not just the US (Update: Not any more.)


The first season of Dexter has been on free-to-air television in Australia, but no sign of season two and certainly not season three. The show has been coming first on the pay-TV channel Showtime, but with season two already finished, and despite season three already playing in the US, Dexter season three won’t be shown in Australia until January 2009. That is unless you happen to visit YouTube! As the New York Times reported:

After months of experimenting with long-form video, YouTube said on Friday it would start offering full-length episodes of some television shows on its sprawling Web site. The staggering growth of YouTube — five billion videos were viewed there in July — has come primarily from short videos that last only a few minutes. But Internet users are gradually becoming more comfortable watching longer videos online, prompting YouTube’s commitment to the format. “This is what the users want,” said Jordan Hoffner, the director of content partnerships for YouTube. With the addition of TV series like “Dexter,” “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Star Trek” through a deal with CBS, YouTube is catching up to other Web sites that have promoted long-form video for some time. Most important for YouTube’s owner, Google, the longer videos will include advertising before, during and after each episode. Google is under pressure to raise more revenue from the nearly four-year-old video sharing site. …On the CBS page on YouTube, classic TV shows like “MacGyver” are joined by “Dexter” and “Californication,” two series that appear on Showtime, a cable channel subsidiary of CBS. The company is selling its own advertising inventory for the series being shown on YouTube; the two entities will share the revenue.

For Australian viewers, news like this is almost always greeted with the caveat that the service will be geo-locked so it can only screen in the US. Just ask Hulu about that one. However, after reading that the CBS Showtime YouTube channel was completely accessible in Switzerland, I had to find out whether it was it would stream in Australia; and to really test things properly, I chose the first episode of Dexter’s third season which hasn’t screen here in Australia in any legal capacity. And guess what? All 58 minutes of the show streamed perfectly! (See update below.) In a spiffy new YouTube widescreen format, too. In that one click, the tyranny of digital distance has been overcome! Now, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that Showtime Australia ask that it gets geo-blocked in the near future, but for now it seems that there is a completely legal way to watch the latest Dexter and Californication in Australia, with a legitimate revenue stream flowing back to the producers (the episodes have advertising in them) and that’s a price I’m quite happy to pay! I just hope this trend catches on; Australians might even be able to pay for these episodes on iTunes as they’re screened in the US (or am I just edging into the land of wishful thinking now?)!

PS Could a few people reading this in Australia and elsewhere outside the US please click the link and let me know if the episode of Dexter loads for you? I’m curious whether this is a global release or it’s still geotagged somehow!

Update: Eight hours after this was initially posted, the inevitable “This video is not available in your country” message replaced the the Dexter episode in question when accessing from Australia. Apparently it’s blocked everywhere outside the US (even Canada; thanks for letting me know, Karen). However, not all content from Showtime on YouTube was blocked … as far as I can tell, it’s just the recent content and that which hasn’t been broadcast internationally (I can still watch the first episode of Californication, for example). Oh well, it was fun having full access for the half a day it lasted.

Update 2: I spoke too soon; now the only things accessible outside of the US are the promos and trailers. Looks like business as usual, trying desperately to keep the digital globe carved up into arbitrary geographic sales zones.

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  1. Yep, it’s cactus. Except I get “This video is private”, not a geolocation message, but in YouTube there is no necessary correlation between error messages and the actual reasons for access being refused.

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