The Future of Sports and PPV

Yesterday, we deleted a post by Bruce Bullington because it included instructions on how to pirate Sunday night’s Pay Per View. It put us in a difficult position as we must retain working relationships with some reporters and the events they cover. It also intrigued me as to what the experience would be like.

There are several companies that are streaming live video. We use UStream.TV for our Football and Basketball weekly shows. Others include StickAM, Mogulus, and Justin.TV are some of the other “big” players. It never occurred to me that people would route their TV into their computer, effectively broadcasting to the world. They do!

I turned on the computer and within minutes I was watching the PPV along with 7,000 others according the the site viewer information. I quickly went searching again; their must have been 8 or more sites streaming this one PPV. I got tired to checking sites.

The video was NOT broadcast quality; but it was extremely watchable. In technical terms, the Frame Rate was half or less of television – resulting in marginal viewing of movement/action. Each of these video streams did feature a CHAT ROOM, which at times was far more entertaining that the actual video.

Here’s the problem – this was all illegal. It was illegal for the person who hooked up his TV to the streaming service. It was illegal for the Streaming Company to allow the streaming of a copyrighted program. It was illegal for me to watch; although at no time was I warned that what I was doing might be illegal. I started watching after the FBI Warning was broadcast.

In a digital world, it is far too easy for this to be done. All it takes is an Internet Connection and a TV card. AND THERE IS NOTHING THAT CAN BE DONE TO STOP THIS.

The SOLUTION is to provide a legal option at a reasonable price. Apple did this with iTunes, making it cheaper to legally purchase music that it was to pirate music. The PPV host lost over half a million dollars with the pirated broadcast based on the viewers we counted using the streaming services. How many of those folks would have paid $5 for a clean feed?

I suspect that once Program Content Generators realize they can stop the flow of their product, they will learn how to make money with the free distribution. The networks are already doing this with Hulu and YouTube.