German Football League To Try Novel Antipiracy Strategy Of Actually Having Legal Alternatives For Its Content
from the whoa-whoa-whoa dept
Of all the antipiracy strategies on offer for the content industries, we’ve always promoted the having affordable, legal, and convenient alternatives as the best of them. As study after study after study has shown, one of the primary motivators for copyright infringement is a lack of reasonable access to the content legally. Why this is such a hard lesson to learn is anyone’s guess.
The popular German football league, Bundesliga, recently, and finally, came to the conclusion that the first step in competing with piracy of its games is to, you know, actually compete with it. The post starts off by mentioning how many of the larger football/soccer leagues are looking at site-blocking as the best tool for combating piracy. Bundesliga, however, apparently only recently realized that no legal alternative for many fans exists.
While several big leagues in Europe would also like to have these kinds of blocking tools at their disposal, it’s blatantly obvious that they can’t compete with piracy if they aren’t offering customers what they want legally. It’s a sentiment shared by Arne Rees, executive vice president of strategy for Germany’s powerful Bundesliga.
“One of the best defenses against [piracy] is certainly having legal product everywhere,” Rees said, as cited by SportsVideo.org. “If a fan simply can’t get you, their mind-set is, I want to watch it, and, if only a pirated stream is available, they will justify that. At the very least. we have to create an environment where legal product competes with the illegal product. The legal product will always be the better product,” Rees added.
The legal ways for fans to get Bundesliga games today is through a complicated series of streaming services across 200 countries that are rife with blackout restrictions, blackouts of the most important matches, or in some cases full restrictions for accessing any games at all. None of this is convenient or done with ease, making the simple matter of finding an infringing stream of a game the superior option. In cases where literally no option is available for a game, the league isn’t competing with piracy at all. It’s not even attempting to.
It’s resulting in sympathy even from some unlikely sources.
A report by Aftenposten last month detailed how fans were shut out of the key match between Everton and Manchester City so turned to pirate streams instead. Sarah Willand, Communications Director at TV 2, said the company understands the dilemma faced by fans.
“We would be happy to broadcast all the matches so that people see everything from the Premier League,” Willand said. “I therefore understand people’s frustration, it’s annoying not to be able to watch their favorite team on TV when you have a subscription.”
It should go without saying that sports leagues and their broadcast partners are in the business of serving their customers, not annoying them. All the scare tactics about how dangerous pirate streams are in terms of malware, or pleas centering around their illegality, aren’t doing much to deter their use. What certainly would do the trick is making sure fans have affordable and convenient ways to access all the content they want, rather than playing some insane game of streaming russian roulette.
This, of course, is completely illegal and to some extent probably hurts the earning potential of the various leagues around Europe and their broadcasting partners. However, it’s clear that the companies involved have the power – if they so choose – to solve this problem by offering all content, to all people, wherever they are, at a fair price.
Given the tangle of licensing agreements across dozens of regions, this is much – much – more easily said than done, few people will argue with that. But the cold, hard truth is that most fans don’t care. If they can’t get matches legally (and particularly if they already have an underperforming subscription service), many will feel justified turning to the high seas.
It’s true: fans don’t want to hear that offering real alternatives is hard because the tangled web of licensing deals struck with broadcasters makes it so. It’s time for leagues like Bundesliga to start serving fans what they want. And it’s nice to see they’re finally realizing it.