The universalisation of content

Enrique Dans. Professor. IE Business School

7 July 2011

Advances in technology mean that many things no longer make sense, such as the content industry’s obsession with forcing us to consume what they tell us to.

When I was a young boy popular entertainment from the United States or the United Kingdom didn’t get to Spain until many, many months after the event - if it ever made it here at all. I remember that classmates who were lucky enough to go to either country used to bring back music, which we listened to as if we were ahead of our time, and talked about TV series and films that were in fashion there and would eventually arrive here.

Over time this gap has closed as the generally accepted truth that bits are free and cannot be contained has increasingly become a reality. Until today that is. A few weeks ago, Telecinco decided to cancel the series I enjoyed seeing on Monday nights, CSI, which was one of the very few things I still watched on TV besides news and current affairs programmes. It took me very little time to get hold of Plex, a tool which in combination with another, WiTopia, allowed me to simulate a connection from numerous cities worldwide whereby I can now watch CSI, along with more programs as and when they are broadcast in the United States. I just needed to do a mini-marathon to bring myself up to date (Telecinco was quite a way behind) and now I’m up and running. The program is there with the full knowledge and consent of its owners, who simply think that I am just another US citizen.

Telecinco has lost a viewer and my computer has gained one. In fact, my computer is connected up to the TV in the lounge so I watch the program in exactly the same way. Some of the series I watch come with US advertising - that´s what happens when you pretend to be somewhere else: they try to sell you products as if you were where they think you are.

A lot of things no longer make sense thanks to technology. The idea of a content industry and certain politicians wanting us to continue living in a world where the constraints of geographical location are upheld for business purposes is today just plain stupid. Why should we keep trying to stem the tide?

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