World Cup: Global Event, Global Network, Local Rights
LONDON – The working timetables of billions are affected by World Cup fixtures at present, especially in England as we wait with baited breath to see whether we can end our ‘nearly, but not quite’ habit of the last 40 years.For this World Cup, the BBC have continued their excellent work innovating with content delivery over the internet and are offering great content including a live video feed of matches. But, they only have the rights to broadcast in the UK so cannot allow this to go to viewers outside the country. They do this by checking your IP address to see whether you are physically in the UK. This is of course only approximate as the IP address we make visible to the public web is determined by a number of factors. In the case of the Cisco corporate network that I am logged onto all traffic clearly comes out onto the public net in the US as I cannot access the video feed. Damn. If this was a deliberate management ploy to stop us watching sport at work then this would be a good cause for worker revolt. But it is just an accident of our technical configuration. Presumably, the converse would apply. If I was logged into a UK corporate network that presented traffic with a UK IP address then I could watch the matches wherever I was in the world. UK-hosted VPN connections for hire, anyone?If you want to check whether you are ‘UK’ from the BBC’s point of view then you can try looking at a highlights video with the video button on a page like this one of the England-Ecuador match. It will either show the clip or explain it is for UK users only.So national broadcast rights, carefully guarded, are the norm in 2006. It will be interesting to see whether things have changed by the London Olympics of 2012 such that an internet broadcaster is legally empowered to show material about a global event to a global audience.