English Premier Greed

David JacobsCorrespondent INovember 7, 2008

Aaaaaaaahh, the internet—one of the greatest inventions of the modern world since the computer. Whether you want to buy something online, check world news or even learn something about nature, it’s all available at the click of a mouse or the press of a

"return" key.

Most would agree with the above statement, but the controversy of copyright law regarding sites like YouTube for video hosting has recently had its lid lifted this week.
The English F.A. and Setanta have pursued a court case against Justin.tv.

That website (along with others, but sssshh) contained users who "exploited" its purpose of hosting live webcam streams by pointing cameras at their TV while a Premier League football match is on.

Thanks to sites of that nature, 160,000 people watched big matches like Arsenal-Spurs from their computers last week without having to pay a penny.

Saying all that, it’s quite silly that it has taken Net Result Online (a site which claims to be able to track down peer-to-peer stream sites using complex software) a full year to catch onto Justin.tv and report them to the F.A. and Setanta.

Just some glossary before this article gets juicy:

A peer-to-peer stream is a live channel which works using the theory that if there are more people watching that channel, the quality of the channel improves because they themselves are supposedly uploading the same stream using some of their bandwidth.

I will now take a viewpoint on this issue from both sides, as some sort of Devil’s advocate:

Viewpoint of The F.A. and Setanta:

The English Premier League is the most watched (popular) football/soccer league in the world, probably because there are so many players in it from around that world. What better way to flaunt and show off its greatness by bringing in great international players for millions of pounds at a time?

There’s always a large amount of legal talk and MONEY involved when a channel like Sky Sports or Setanta wants the “rights” to show matches every weekend.


Thus, their argument is that by watching games for free on a peer-to-peer network, vital profits are being stolen from them because THEY paid for the rights to show those matches and subscription isn’t being paid by the "pirates" who broadcast the matches, nor the people watching them online.

Viewpoint of the average English armchair fan:

Sky Sports and Setanta Sports charge very high prices for a service which only allows the broadcast of a select few matches, no more than maybe three to six English Premier League games each weekend from each. Not everybody supports Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, or Arsenal.

What happened to Sky Sports’ "Match Choice" option, where you can watch any Premier League match on that day? Yes, they did it for the UEFA Champions League a few days ago, but refer to my sentence two lines above.


The point from this viewpoint is that it’s unfair that all English league matches apart from a few are given to foreign countries, but NOT to England, the country where the matches are originally being played.

This only forces people to watch games online, most of which ARE NOT BEING BROADCASTED by Sky Sports OR Setanta. So in that respect, what’s their problem with matches that they haven’t bought the rights to broadcast?

My Viewpoint:

I’m with the armchair fans on this one. It’s not fair that all apart from a select few English football matches are never shown IN England! Again, money becomes the root of both greed and evil. The £3million lost through streaming every year—not every weekend—is just a drop in the ocean of money that Sky and Setanta already have.

Come on—even the England matches were at a price rather than keeping it on BBC for free.

You see! Even watching your own country play football has become an issue of money.

I used to have Sky Sports 1 and 3 for a single additional charge. They then took number 3 away but left number 1 at the same price as before. I was not too happy about this. I got rid of it altogether.

I say “Kudos” to people who watch online. I see it as revenge for Setanta and Sky Sports’ greedily high prices and narrow-mindedness. They will not be able to stop the Chinese people who design the software for streaming, or the annoyed football fans who want to watch their team play without paying forever-rising ticket prices.

As I heard from someone commenting on another site about this issue:

“You can plug the leaks in a dam, but the water will always leak through other places.”

If they want to stop this, they should offer the full league. Every game online or on a red-button feature just like Sky Sports used to do, instead of shooting themselves in the foot and selling the rights to other countries. Otherwise, can it really be called the English Premier League???