BBC News ran a story this morning about the growing number of Football Fans who can’t afford a ticket to see a Premiership Game or a Sky Subscription so turn to watching games over the web via unsanctioned websites.
Once again, another example of Internet Piracy being at the forefront of media news. Rights holders in the entertainment industry have of course been fighting the problem for years, but this story just goes to show how far the issue can reach. TV companies will pay huge amounts of money for the rights to screen Premiership matches and, subject to any terms they may have with the clubs, will own copyright in the TV broadcast from which they generate subscription income. All that income needs to fund huge wage bills and keep the vast majority of fans who can’t afford a ticket feeling like they’re part of the experience.
It was only a matter of time! I’d be very surprised if a lot of the Clubs who have their own channles on Sky (Man. United, Chelsea, etc.) don’t start taking a tougher stance on this, but at least they’re being careful about the publicity angle by saying that they’ll go after the websites rather than their users.
Obviously there are two sides to this argument – that it’s illegal to copy or download content for which you don’t have a copyright licence and that season tickets and subscriptions are just too expensive. While the latter may be true, it’s the former that will always win out. Here’s hoping, however, that common sense prevails and fans don’t end up with warning letters similar to those sent out to Virgin Broadband customers earlier this year.
The clubs may end up biting the hands that feed them. On the contrary, however, the machine does need to be fed.