Friday, January 23, 2009

Premier League Battle Over Technology Heats Up Part 1

The internet has been the ultimate invention for two things: porn and free stuff. These two things go together well. But, for soccer fans in the US, the internet has been a godsend permitting us to see matches all over the world that we would never have the opportunity to watch because of the diaspora of soccer broadcasts in America. EPL American broadcasts are divided between FSC, Gol and Setanta and the attendant costs of getting just one of these channels. Other major European leagues are similarly split up between the various channels which often are not all carried by a cable carrier.

Thankfully, the internet has permitted the probably illegal practice of streaming these game feeds. There are a number of these sights and new ones are always popping up. So, now I'm able to wake up early Saturday morning and catch a match, which I couldn't do three years ago.

The EPL believes these streaming (piracy) sites are harming its revenue by siphoning off viewers from the parties paying good money for the EPL broadcast rights. This argument is not without merit, but it can also be argued that these sites are actually expanding the market to eyes that wouldn't normally watch these matches.

Who is correct? Probably a mixture of both.

Regardless, the EPL believes it risks losing its business like the music industry and has begun a war against these streaming sites. It's a multi-pronged attack, much like the RIAA assault on ISPs and lobbying of governments.

Frankly, it will likely be a losing battle because the internet will always be a step ahead. An innovation further than law. What the EPL needs to do is figure out how to co-opt this streaming technology and utilize it as a revenue stream. If it can develop more reliable and better quality streams at a cost for viewers it would be much more likely to come out ahead on this matter.

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