Basically, at one end of the equation is some dudes passing a ball around. At the other end of the equation, is you watching that. In the middle, of course, there are the middlemen, and they all want a huge cut for doing absolutely nothing. Anti-piracy legislation is all about protecting the middlemen who realize that they do nothing and they need the government to bail them out.
Beautifully said. That, my fellow hackers, is copyright and anti-piracy legislation in a nutshell - to serve and protect that which provides no value at the cost of depriving everyone else of their rights.
To slightly derive from a well known quote from Henry Ford: If people understood this simple fact about copyright, it would be dead and forgotten before tomorrow morning.
 "It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning."
That's silly. Acquisition and broadcast systems do not run themselves. I think the whole sports business model is exploitative and stupid, but hyperbole like the above doesn't help. Market segmentation is a time-honored business practice, but I get the sense that if the FTC forced the teams/broadcasters to adopt an open-access content model then people would be howling about government interference with private enterprise.
I paid NBA.com for their "broadband/league pass" package once. Never again.
Literally 50% of the games during the first and only week that I tried it were blacked out. I called them up and they refunded me immediately, they knew it was a crap deal.
Now I have resorted to using sites like chanfeed.com and myp2p.pe - the quality lags a bit, but I can get any and every game, for free, all on one screen. No blackouts, ever.
It's time for the NBA to get with the game.
Notice how I started out this comment by saying "I paid..."
We travel a lot for business and would like to watch games whenever we can, either live or tape-delayed. The restrictions, not just at home in Ontario, but elsewhere have meant the packages are close to useless. A horrible way to drive away fans looking to spend on what could be a quality product. The damn strike/lock-out hasn't help either.
I know the volume may not currently be there for it to be hugely profitable, but if the leagues keep playing wack-a-mole with the p2p feeds, the volume and habit may never develop for there to be a new alternative distribution model for what could be a very profitable distribution channel for the sports leagues.
This is what frustrates the shit out of me about EVERYTHING related to TV/Cable. I HAVE MONEY THAT I WANT TO GIVE YOU FOR A GREAT PRODUCT. I know I'm not the only one. WE have money we want to fork over, PLEASE take it. You know it just blows my mind. Everything I've ever heard about capitalism/business/economics/etc. that if there is demand, someone is supposed to step in and provide. Why is it taking SO long for this to happen in this particular space?
Slight rant, I know, but goddamn does it make my blood boil thinking about this stuff.
Yes, because all of that cable and fiber that was run around the city so that you could watch "some dudes passing a ball around" while you are sitting at home didn't cost anything. Or the cameras that record it, or the directors that choose the best angles, or the commentators, etc...
This is a big game a chicken between MSG and Time Warner, and unfortunately the viewer is just an indirect participant. It happens all the time. It's not about middlemen... this is about content producers vs. content distributors. Earlier this year, there was a spat between Fox and DirecTV that got signed just before the deadline. Hell, there was/is a problem with the Indianapolis NBC affiliate and the local cable company.
Since they have news shows locally, they have been regularly calling brighthouse customers to call up and complain that they don't take the NBC deal. It's rather slimy, but it's worked for the last 6 years the channel has done that.
The atmosphere and ambiance of a live sporting event still trumps the home theater experience, but as technology improves, and ticket and concession prices rise, that gap narrows. The reflexive response to protecting ticket revenue since broadcasts of sporting events began has been the blackout. As technology improves, and technical know-how is more widely disseminated, blackouts are becoming less and less effective, as more and more people understand how to get around them.
You're right in that there is value in the atmosphere and excitement of a live game, but surely the price of admission could include more than a seat.
Are there any startups in this area?
A lot of the teams/stadiums know what's wanted, but the number of companies that can set up a WiFi network that works well under the worst possible conditions is significantly lower than the number of companies offering it. And the good ones get bought by megacorp and turned into one that can't.
It reminds me of the older guys at the ballpark that wore those radio headsets for play by play. Glad to see progress is being made, however slowly.
There's special features for when you're actually at the ballpark, but I've never used them.
I had to look this up, but it appears that the price per year for NBA television rights was well under $1 billion/year(http://www.insidehoops.com/nba-tv-contracts.shtml). From 2002 to 2007, TNT paid about 2.2 billion in total. ESPN/ABC paid around 2.4 billion for the same time period. Per year, that's around $300 million each. Even assuming a 50% increase in cost, that comes out to around $450 million/year per network for 2012.
The biggest irony is that the NBA could be making an absolutely insane amount of money selling directly to the consumer. At $30 per month for a 6 month season, all they need to do is sell around 5 million total subscriptions to equal the net income from the television contracts. I'm positive that the NBA could get those kinds of numbers, especially with European or Chinese basketball fans who might not be able to see the games any other way.
All the NBA needs to do is actually make the service work, and provide the games that are already being televised.
Hey if it worked for the Financial Industry, then why not Big Media?
It's a classic case of frustrating customer experiences pushing users to piracy. If the NBA provided a way for me to legally pay to watch every game over the internet, I would gladly do so. In order to legally do this I have to have both a cable or satellite service in addition to a league pass subscription.
I understand that a fair amount of revenue for the NBA is probably coming from the deals it made with TNT, EPSN, and Fox, but a viewer is a viewer, whether they're watching from the net or through traditional venues - why do they care, so long as their advertisers are getting enough eyeballs?
Not "some" all of NBA's TV Revenues come from selling the rights to networks. The networks sell the ads, and they're the ones that care about eyeballs. So the networks care if you start streaming local market games and they're going to try to prevent that. If the NBA allowed you to get your local market games via streaming it would undercut the product they sell to the various networks which is their primary source of revenue.
Seems like a fairly straightforward solution to me. My assumption is that the powers that be aren't technologically sophisticated enough to understand the benefits of it.
This isn't the case, most networks are extremely technically sophisticated (ESPN especially) the misunderstanding here is business related. TNT and ESPN make millions (in ESPN's case billions) a year in subscriber fees from cable operators. ESPN alone makes $3-5 from each cable subscriber in the US (there's about 120M of them) each month. A significant portion of these network's revenues are made on subscriber fees. The solution you propose jeopardizes these agreements for what would currently be a paltry amount of streaming ad revenues.
If they want to cut out two middlemen (the network and the local cable provider) then the NBA must learn to create a steady audience and get money from advertisers, which is a different skill than putting on ball games.
That's pretty reasonable, I'd say. I subscribed to MLB.tv this spring and cancelled after one month because my market was blacked out the entire time. The technology is there, it works, and people are willing to pay for it. $9/mo for just baseball is a better deal for both me and the MLB than $50/mo for 200 channels I'd never watch through a reseller.
I used to pirate music. I'd usually only listen to an album a few times, then put it on the shelf to listen to more new music. Buying a song didn't make sense in that regard. Then the Zune Pass came along, $10/mo for unlimited music, virtually no restrictions. I could listen to a song once or twice, shelve it, and grab another. I got my Zune in 2009, and that was the last time I ever pirated a song. Now if only the rest of the entertainment industry could catch up.
It's obviously not a better deal for the MLB or they wouldn't be blacking out the games. If you're going to make the claim that a company is not acting in its own financial self-interest please show your math. I think people here are drastically underestimating the cost to a sports league breaking cable contracts to better serve high-maintenance customers.
If they make me subscribe to cable - $0/mo forever. How much does the MLB make per cable subscriber is the question I cannot answer.
As this is a digital good that they make no effort to sell to me I cost them nothing to 'pirate' it. Yet, if you can come up with a rational reason for me to stop I may consider doing so.
PS: As a side issue egscans opens a copy of the original version of the comic when you read them which may provide them with revenue, but this is effectively scamming from their advertisers. (or if it's all pay per click it might just cost them bandwidth.)
No business can meet all demands. I think this is what annoys me the most about the "I pirate because I'm underserved" crowd. They act like not getting what you want is unique to our times. Unique to the internet. It's not. People in all walks of life, in all times, have had to deal with not getting everything they want. Had to deal with making compromises.
In this particular case Fred had several options to see the basketball game. He has season tickets. He could have chosen a different way to pay for television (I don't live in NY but I'm assuming it has DirectTV or Dish Network or some other option besides just Time Warner). He made the choice that he made, but was unwilling to accept the downside it came with.
In the business world we call these entitled customers. These are the types of people who bring back clothes 2 years after the purchase and get huffy when the store won't return them.
But in this case, it doesn't matter if the store accepts the return or not, he gets his money thanks to the pirates. When you are competing against free, it's bad business sense to turn away paying customers like this guy.
(The retail analogy is: this guy buys some clothes. He wants to return them, and you say no. The cash register opens and gives the guy his money back anyway. So you might as well take the clothes he's trying to return.)
People expect to be able to get stuff because they know it is available.
If each piece of TV/music/whatever had to be dug out of the ground, or hand-made, at great expense, they would not be available easily. People would want them, but hardly anyone would be providing them.
But that is just not the case here. These things are trivially available. It is that they are being witheld by certain providers -- because the whole market rests on a made-up artificial scarcity. That is the basic underlying physical fact, and people feel it.
If people expect to be able to easily get stuff that is actually easily available, they are absolutely right!
Then Zappos comes along and eats your lunch.
The fact is that this is an outdated business model that is still around solely because of govt control and interference. If these laws were changed, dozens if not hundreds of people from this community alone would be eating their lunch.
> No business can meet all demands.
Absolutely, but it isn't being met. The demand of universal access is being fulfilled elsewhere.
>They act like not getting what you want is unique to our times. Unique to the internet. It's not.
What's unique to our time and the internet is that I can get what I want and it's more convenient than the conventional way.
That's the problem I was trying to highlight, hopefully this doesn't come across as snarky.
So really, his choice is to move into a building with a different cable provider and hope that provider doesn't get into a similar spat.
There is also the psychological effect of a large crowd in a venue showing enthusiasm for the sport. How much fun would a basketball game actually be if there were no crowd cheering and no people present? Athletes might live for the sport, but they get a boost from crowd enthusiasm. This follows on into the remote audience as well.
It would be an interesting (though costly) experiment to see just what happens, on many levels, if you do away with the crowds and just have teams playing in an empty venue, with only online and/or video spectators. I think most people would tune it out and stop watching completely, if not the first time, then soon after.
I bet you're right, but two things: 1) they blackout home-team games that are played away from home, and 2) most people can't make it to every home game. If you're on the verge of making the transition from casual fan to rabid fan, staying in sync with the team by watching as many games as possible. I greatly prefer attending the event to watching it on TV, so in my case access to more content doesn't reduce my desire to go to games. In fact, because I've had access to all their games (through both breaking the NBA League Pass rules by going over a proxy and pirating nationally televised games) I've become a huge fan and attend live games all the time now.
The #1 goal of the NBA is to increase the number of NBA fans. In my humble opinion, this is best done by getting their product, which speaks for itself, in front of as many people as they can. It's also they best way for them to break free from the hold that the major media outlets have on them and control their own destiny by broadcasting games on their own terms.
They are not really into changing their paradigm to suit others.
The International Pass has no blackouts and you can watch the All Star game, playoffs, and Finals. The US Broadband League Pass does not give you access to playoffs or the finals.
That said, Fred Wilson is not paying for MSG technically so it is piracy if he doesn't get it from the MSG network.
I've had to deal with many years of Cablevision fighting higher fees and blackouts from networks in which the fees are later passed onto the consumer. Frankly I have no sympathy.
2. The League Pass is not for home teams. Every team has their own individual hometown deals and they want you to watch it on whatever network they make a deal with. The League Pass does not apply here.
3. Knicks tickets grant you a right to see the game in person and nothing else. Since Wilson is paying the price for season tickets that most spend their whole lives paying the same price for a house in NY, I'd suggest he go to watch them live.
I don't agree with these policies but this is what happens when you let cable companies buy networks. It should've stopped during the Cablevision acquisition of MSG but it has continued onward with Comcast and NBC.
Regional sports networks, especially those owned by local cable companies, love these deals because of the recurring revenue they get from people like me who would otherwise not have cable at all. Comcast Sportsnet in Philadelphia is the only local outlet for watching the Phillies, so I have Comcast cable.
1) MLB.tv experimented with a local area only package here in San Diego last year. $20 / mo for just the Padres.
2) Rather than that, I simply used one of my VPS' in another region to create an SSH tunnel through which to route the MLB.tv signal. They use your IP, not your billing address, to determine access.
HN used to block bait sites like this with a much heavier hand.
Why do you find this insignificant?
So, I downloaded it. And I got caught (via a warning letter from our ISP). Shortly thereafter we canceled our cable subscription.
I cannot fathom why, as a company, you would make it so hard for someone who is willing to pay you for content to get it. I wouldn't have been happy about having to buy it on DVD since I already have a subscription to HBO (and in my humble opinion, their previous original content should be available via on-demand all the time, although I realize that's a pipe dream), but I would have. Instead, they alienated a customer and lost all my money. That was around two years ago, so at $15/mo. (not sure how much of that goes directly to HBO) $360 has now been lost by them/my cable company for that part of my subscription alone.
If they ever allow you to buy into HBO Go (or whatever their online streaming option is called) by itself without a cable subscription I would consider it, but as long as they are stuck in their old-school ways they can forget having me (or most of my friends) as customers.
I know this article isn't about HBO, but I just thought I would point out another example of the way that content producers continue to alienate the people who should matter most: the consumer.
In this case, someone wanted to watch the Knicks. However, he had no way to do so, regardless of how much he paid Time Warner. TW didn't pay MSG, so TW doesn't have a right to show the game. NBA League pass doesn't cover home games, so that option was out too. The only way he could have watched the game legally was to either A) go to the game, or B) figure out some way to hook up a satellite dish with DirecTV (who I think does pay MSG rates for some tiers), or C) rent an apartment in a different cable company's market and hook up a Slingbox (it would have to be his Slingbox and cable sub, not a friends for it to be legit).
With the CD, you have a license to listen to the music. If you download MP3s of the music (assuming the source was identical to yours), all you have done is outsourced the conversion of the CD to MP3 format. The other person may not have the right to distribute those MP3s, but you should have the right to listen to them (however you obtain them).
(The RIAA has argued otherwise - that you just get the physical media with no rights, but I thought they were found to be wrong in court, but I can't remember the case)
If the RIAA had it their way, you'd probably be forced to pay every single time you play a track on your computer or hit the Copy command to put it on your PMP or phone.
I voted with my wallet (the cable companies don't get a dime of my money) years ago. Perhaps this level of stupidity on the part of the broadcasters is what it will take to convince the average congressman that SOPA is wrong.
Similarly, none of us like funding Exxon, but we still need cars.
Cable TV is no more a necessity for the most vast majority of people who oppose SOPA than Godaddy. Instead, it is simply another convenience.
Moral outrage over Godaddy is convenient, but are you seriously arguing that going without cable in order to oppose SOPA would cause one too much suffering?
Losing your cable TV is not one, especially in this day and age of Netflix and AppleTV/Roku direct sports channels.
I've already given up my cable TV, btw. A year ago. Because I couldn't stand Comcast's existence anymore.
That's because they type www.thedailyshow.com and then they can instantly watch the entire week of episodes for free, with Comedy-Central's advertising revenue still intact. The way forward seems pretty clear to me.
It falls down when there is more than one party involved - for example, shows that are destined for syndication or DVD sales.
One example of this is the SyFy channel - they've basically cancelled or let expire all the programs that were being produced by 3rd parties (Universal's "Stargate" franchise, for example) as they paid top dollar for first showing rights, but the 3rd party made all the rebroadcast, serialization, etc. profits.
See also how Netflix is starting to produce their own shows they can totally own and sell direct to customers.
The future has no middlemen, just people making unique products (art, video, web apps, software, etc.) or money of of standardized interchangeable services (distribution, hosting, connectivity, etc.).
It's hard to see why this would be a big deal. Mr. Wilson has been giving money to the companies behind SOPA every month as a cable subscriber, and even more money by purchasing the NBA tier. Indeed, his financial support of Copyright Alliance member and a campaign contributor to SOPA sponsor Lamar Smith, Time Warner Cable, is significant.
>"Our family spends hundreds of dollars a month with Time Warner Cable."[ http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2012/01/screwcable.html]
[Time Warner and Copyright Alliance: http://broadbandbreakfast.com/2010/12/copyright-alliance-pic...]
[Time Warner Cable and Lamar Smith: http://maplight.org/us-congress/legislator/470-lamar-smith]
Who is Fred Wilson and why is it a big deal he allegedly pirated a Knicks game?
The only legal solutions I see would be: a) go to the game, or b) dump Time Warner and get a dish (not an easy prospect in NYC).
It sucks to be a pawn in a larger game...
They decided not to air it for political reasons - Jeremy Clarkson was on the panel and they wanted to keep him off the air during a row about something offensive he had said on another show.
So I got a copy from an illegal source. I still do not see this as stealing as I had already paid for it (via the UK TV License.)
From: But, um, how much are the Lakers – all by themselves – getting from Time Warner Cable for its new regional sports networks? $5 billion.
It seemed to work that way for the Blackhawks.
Whenever I torrent the latest boobtube flick, it usually cuts out 33% of it's total running time or all of the adverts basically.