Monday, December 29, 2008

Online Piracy Menaces Pro Sports

Even with football upsets and head coach firings, fans love their sports. But as ticket prices rise, games are limited to specific markets, but audiences mobility continues to widen, sports cannot comprehend how to reach their fans. An out of market fan has few choices to watch a favorite team, while others in market get the same game for free. "The game between the Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys was pivotal in determining playoff teams, and it was the last home game ever for the Cowboys before they move to a new stadium. But because of a long-lasting feud between the NFL Network and many cable companies, many millions of fans could not watch the game on television. Yet they could watch any number of illicit live streams on the Internet."

Streaming is no longer limited to music or movies, but to live sports events as well. "After years of focusing on the pirating of highlight clips and photos on the Web, the major professional sports leagues are finding that pirated feeds of live games are now common and becoming a menace to their businesses, especially at a time when leagues are trying to build their own businesses offering live games on the Internet for a subscription fee."

The choice is clear, keep fighting this hard to win battle to stop illegal feeds or embrace the opportunity. Those reaching out to find these feeds are not current viewers of your games; they are highly motivated fans seeking new options to fill their enjoyment. Slingbox was one means to watch TV from one market when you are residing in another. Pandora's box is already open. If professional sports would bypass subscription revenue for a measurable higher volume audience that can be monetized via advertising means: commercials, overlays, interactive offerings, etc., they could potentially bring a bigger return. Obviously the day will come when these internet signals can be moved to the HD screen in the family room, but until they are why not capitalize on the interest.

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