For the latest in my occasional series of things that annoy me (aka, signs that I am growing old), I’d like to focus on my internet viewing experience while overseas, and why can’t I watch the footy while I’m sitting in Plovdiv*?
Recently I have had cause to travel overseas again. I have become quite used to the rigmarole attached to the experience, and every time I do it, I’m enjoying it less and less.
But these are first-world problems and I will not bore you with my whinging about being stuck at a window seat next to two travellers who downed a couple of beers very quickly into the flight, swallowed a sleeping pill or two, and then slept for most of the 13-hour journey.
I have trained my bladder to deal with these issues.
What I will bore you with is my inability to watch the footy while I am overseas without paying for it. To set the scene, I spend quite a bit of money, relatively speaking, to enjoy the option of watching sport while I am in Australia.
For those who really love their sport, as I do, you might subscribe to several viewing platforms. The AFL/NRL, rugby and soccer are all offered up by different pay providers. It’s annoying but definitely a first-world problem.
So the other weekend, my team, the reigning 2022 AFL Premiers, the Geelong Cats, led superbly by superstar Joel Selwood, were playing the Western Bulldogs. The timing of the match fell perfectly for where I was in the world at that moment.
But of course, there was no way I could watch it. Legally. And without paying.
Not surprisingly, the match was not being played on the local telly in Plovdiv*. When I went onto the site where I usually watch the game, it cleverly informed me it had detected I was overseas and would not be able to access the match.
I went to the official AFL website which tells me I can watch it if I pay for it. It’s not a lot of money, but it’s the principle. I’m stubborn, and I’m not going to pay twice. What other things in life would we sometimes pay twice for besides bad decisions?
I go online to see if any traveller much smarter than I has worked out a way around this antiquated and somewhat unfair roadblock to my AFL viewing. Everyone says to use a VPN. Especially people selling VPNs.
Sadly, most companies who have become so determined to stop people from enjoying watching their content while overseas have learned how to block VPNs. It’s another dead end in my quest to watch Cats v Dogs. I resort to listening to the radio call which, weirdly, you can access no problem at all. The Cats win.
(I momentarily pondered if I should be more concerned and outraged about how easy it was for companies to track where I was and what I was watching online, but I was too flustered by my inability to watch the footy to take these concerns any deeper.)
It’s not just the footy. Try and keep up with your favourite TV show you’ve been watching at home while overseas – no chance.
And here I was thinking all this great new technology was going to make our lives easier.
Plovdiv is a city in Bulgaria. I haven’t actually been in Plovdiv on this particular journey, but I have been there before. Twice. It’s quite a nice city. I used Plovdiv as my example simply because I like the name, and it sounds funny when you say it out loud. I am certain I could not watch the AFL on my computer in Plovdiv.