Major sporting events have long been a money-spinner for pay-per-view television channels, with millions of TV viewers willing to shell out a significant sum of money every year to see the big occasions. The rights and wrongs of charging extra for such entertainment can be debated for hours at a time, but pay-per-view is here to stay, whether we like it or not.
Interestingly, there has been little to make broadcasters nervous about such arrangements over the years, but the Internet may just be making life difficult for them. The proliferation of websites which offer illegal streaming of the big events has encouraged the viewing of top events is likely to cost the TV companies dearly if something cannot be done about these operations.
Over the past two decades, the English Premier League has become the world’s most popular soccer division, and stars such as Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie and Sergio Aguerro have showcased their skills at stadiums from London in the south to Newcastle in the north, and have become recognized in all four corners of the globe. The games themselves attract attendances of up to 75,000, with hundreds of millions more tuning into their TV sets when kick-off time approaches.
A risk worth taking?
Web-based companies that circumvent the broadcasting laws to show matches live are running the risk of prosecution, of course, but the income they receive from advertisers means many of them are prepared to take that risk. Although many of them operate in countries well away from the UK, they could still find themselves in trouble with the authorities.
One thing that is perhaps surprising is the companies that choose to advertise on such sites. Although they themselves may not be breaking the law – this is something of a grey area in some countries – it does come as something of a shock to see so many well-respected organizations becoming involved in such activities.
Some of the Premier League clubs are experiencing a small decrease in attendances at live matches, partly because of the relatively high ticket prices and the continuing recession, but the thirst for their product continues to pull in the TV viewers. The advances in technology have something of a double-edged sword effect on the illegal broadcasting: the specialist agencies which track down and close the sites have become more and more sophisticated in their endeavors, but at the same time the site owners are consistently finding ways to get round the innovations.
David Showell is a big fan of English football, and works for a company that provides matrix structure for the business community. He knows all about the importance of virtual teams and integrated strategies.