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BBC Sport Blocks Video Interviews for Overseas Visitors

bbc-sport1.jpgBBC Sport, which has long been a trusted source of football news for years, has scored an own goal with one of their new initiatives.

The site is now embedding video interviews into their football articles (view example). However, visitors from outside the UK are teased with a still from the video but are then robbed with a message that reads “Cannot play media. Sorry, this media is not available in your territory” (see image above).

BBC Sport could have done its overseas visitors a favor by providing a link to explain why the new policy. For example, are the videos not shown because the BBC only holds the license rights for the United Kingdom? Or, are the videos blocked because it’s UK residents (and partly the government) who fund the operation of BBC, and not overseas visitors — and therefore feels that overseas visitors should not see this content?
The “Cannot play media” messages that appear beneath the videos are a poor way of handling the user experience for overseas web visitors. BBC Sport could have programmed the page so that the videos wouldn’t even appear for overseas visitors (and would only appear for visitors from the UK). Better yet, EPL Talk would be interested in reading why BBC Sport has made these changes.

Editor’s addendum: BBC Sport’s Ben Gallop replied to my comment about the above situation on the BBC Sport Blog. Here’s his response:

“The issue about certain elements of our video coverage not being available overseas is not a new one, I’m afraid, and is the result of both rights restrictions (most of our rights deals are UK-only) and the cost of serving broadband streams (the BBC licence fee-payer cannot pick up the tab for costs incurred outside the UK). We are working with our colleagues in BBC Worldwide, who run the international version of our site,, on a long-term solution for the latter issue, which would mean those interviews you can’t currently access would be available on broadband. I’ll report back on that when I know more.”

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  1. Peter H

    April 29, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    The comment from Ben Gallop is rubbish. redirects to for me, in Ireland.

  2. Skip

    March 26, 2008 at 11:08 am

  3. Skip

    March 26, 2008 at 9:36 am

    I live in the UK (Reading) and i cannot even view the sports streams. This has only happened since a few days ago.

    Rumor is that my ISP uses a server outside of the UK, which is total rubbish!!

    I have sent a complaint to BBC and i will post the reply here when received.

  4. Anonymous

    March 25, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    Very annoying and to make it worse we dont even get to read the quotes anymore.

  5. eplnfl

    March 25, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Thanks Jeff and Gaf for your input. While PBS in America is a far cry from the BBC, PBS puts some of it’s product online before it airs on Public TV. I know it’s a world of difference when your talking about sports, but a BBC ad site that is available after a local rights airs could be the compromise. For instance, FSC airs it report and highlights at 10:00pm EST. Say the BBC site makes MOTD available to American views at 11:00pm EST. It could work.

  6. The Gaffer

    March 25, 2008 at 7:37 am


    Regarding the Universal-NBC joint venture, I believe that site is which isn’t live yet. But Universal has a website that launched as a joint venture with News Corporation called

    Unfortunately the content on that site is only viewable by people in the USA, not overseas.

    The Gaffer

  7. Jeff Hash

    March 24, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Actually Lou, the BBC’s rights on Premier League highlights (Match of the Day) can only be shown to viewers in the UK by contract. The league’s highlights for each country outside the UK is handled by the license holders for the games (see the Premier League’s official review show being on FSC and Setanta). While I’m not an expert, I’m going to guess that some of the other issues concerning video falls under that as well.

    The League is concerned that every rights holder gets the most opportunity to cash in on their slice, otherwise they wouldn’t make as much.

  8. eplnfl

    March 24, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Why can’t, and hoping some Brits here can tell me that, the BBC offer a pay site for it’s content. Ok, I know that some of the material is sold off to other overseas rights holders. surely, this does not apply to interviews and preview and recap shows. You would think that the BBC would take a hint from American broadcasts, like the very insightful, NBC-Universal site that is put it’s programing out for free over the web. Ok, I’d have no problem watching an ad or two for programs made available on a international version of the BBC’s media player.

  9. Robin

    March 24, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    If the video also uploaded to YouTube, i think you might want to try this simple hack.

    1. Go to
    2. Type or copy and paste the video address in Translate a Web Page field.
    3. Pick any language because Google only translate the texts.
    4. If the video don’t show up, use video downloader and download it to your computer.
    5. Watch it directly from your computer.

    Not guarantee to work everytime but some territory restricted YouTube videos worked for me.

    Living in all exclusive rejected and restriction country make me need to hack to learn. Sorry. I want information just like everyone.

  10. Matt

    March 24, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    BBC is paid by British public hence the reason why.

  11. Anonymous

    March 24, 2008 at 10:06 am

    I can understand why they do it with match commentaries as they dont won the rights but for the interviews??? Thats just crazy and disappointing. Surely interviews shouldnt be protected content.

  12. dragonki2012

    March 24, 2008 at 9:10 am

    It’s the same when you try to listen to BBC radio, sport radio, live commentary and a few other media features that they offer.

    It’s a shame, really.

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