We've noted recently the new focus on how online streaming is causing problems
for sports leagues, who have gone running to politicians
and the courts
to demand they "do something." Over in The Guardian, Seth Freedman is pointing out that, as with many other parts of the entertainment industry, fighting against streaming is bound to fail
, and a better solution is to get your content out there yourself in a way that you can actually monetize:
Sport, like music and mainstream media beforehand, has a stark choice before its governing bodies. If they remain resolute in their determination to follow old-school methods of disseminating their product, they will quickly drown under the deluge of fraudsters and pirates all too eager to capitalise on their mistakes. On the other hand, if they realise that they have to adapt to financially survive, they need to move fast to prevent a potentially catastrophic loss of income.
He notes that at least some leagues have figured this out:
The Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket games are broadcast live and free via YouTube, effectively heading off at the pass any rogue broadcasters seeking to steal their feed for themselves. The IPL authorities have a guaranteed income from their YouTube deal and, with a dedicated millions-strong audience subscribing to their feed, advertisers know how many people they can reach via the stream and how much each commercial slot is worth.
But, of course, others have not:
Yet with all the signs pointing to a brave new world of online broadcasting, the industry dinosaurs continue plodding along the road to extinction. Premier League enforcers boast of their success in shutting down a handful of illegal feeds, but most online sports piracy goes unpunished. With mobile phones providing yet another alternative to television in the race for audiences, there is even more pressure on rights owners to be proactive rather than simply shut the stable door behind the bolting horse.
In the end, it's difficult to see how any sports league thinks it makes sense to spend all this effort trying to fight against giving people what they want, when there are plenty of easy and lucrative ways to monetize such demand directly. It's too bad that so many leagues are slow to realize this.