US borders are porous. You could take that to be a comment about the influx of people across Mexican border, but it isn’t. I’m talking about stuff going in the opposite direction. Anything that happens in the US media – promotions for films, upcoming seasons for TV shows, news stories, political rallies – leaks out across your borders. It’s like a mass media form of background radiation. A constant chatter of White House press conferences, celebrity legal action, and conspiracy theories that leaks into the media of every other country on Earth. Most of the time is just background noise, but come election time it gets out of hand. The increased news coverage that the campaigning generates on CNN, NBC, Fox News, turns the leak into a torrent. Here in Europe we get updates on the US election with every single news broadcast and we it’s an election we can’t even vote in!
That background radiation also influences Internet sharing. A film or TV show that is promoted in the USA is by definition promoted worldwide. However, the item itself usually won’t be available in other countries for months depending on licensing, release deals, or even just language translation. That leads to simple supply and demand. The networks/studios drive a demand that they can’t supply so people go looking to other suppliers (legal or illegal) who can fulfil their demand. Admittedly this also goes in the opposite direction – I’ve noticed certain high profile US bloggers who have been blogging about new episodes of Doctor Who when I know full well that those episodes haven’t been transmitted over there yet.
I just wish that there was a single legal international service that we could all get new TV shows from at the same time. I’d be more than happy for non-Brits to have access to an advertising supported version of the BBC Iplayer in exchange for me being able to watch CSI, Smallville, and Mythbusters on the day US viewers get to see them. Although it’s not always about the timing of shows. CSI gets shown in the UK by Channel Five, but the mandated pattern of commercial breaks in UK television is different to that in US television. So that nice three act structure gets ignored and with different ad breaks added between, or even during, random scenes. The overall amount of advertising is the same, but the pattern is different.