How not to do geoblocking

I’ll admit that up until yesterday, I was unaware of the CBC Television program The Big Decision.

(Aside: I predict that within five years, every single CBC Television program will be based around Dragons’ Den personalities.)

Anyway, I didn’t know about The Big Decision, but after following some tweet or another, I found myself on the show’s website, and decided to check it out. Here’s what happened when I hit the play button:

In case you missed it, the video thumbnail was replaced by a completely blank rectangle, while a robotic voice soaked in reverb said, “This content is currently unavailable.”

I suspect this is because I’m in France, and the content has been geoblocked. My suspicions were confirmed after I used Sidestep to connect to a Canadian proxy server and was able to view the video without any problems.

Now, my issue isn’t with the geoblocking itself. I completely understand the business reasons why certain types of online content are restricted in this way.

My problem is how The Big Decision‘s geoblocking is implemented.

If I’m being geoblocked, at least have the decency to tell me I’m being geoblocked. Do this:

I’m no UI genius, but it’s not hard to recognize that a completely blank screen and reverb-y robot voice that says, “This content is currently unavailable,” is less than ideal feedback. There’s just not enough information to be useful.

Why, dear robot voice, is the content unavailable? Do I not have the right plug-in installed? Are there gremlins in the CBC’s online video system? Or am I outside of the geofence?

If I’m being geoblocked, tell me. At least then I’ll know when to fire up Sidestep.