The Premier League and Football Association have finally caught up to Justin.tv and are threatening legal action to prevent soccer fans from around the world watching live streaming games, according to the News Of The World newspaper.
However as of this morning, the streams are still available for today’s Bolton against Manchester City derby and record numbers of fans may visit the site for the first time because of the publicity created by the News Of The World article (see screenshot above, taken from Justin.tv this morning).
EPL Talk wrote about Justin.tv in September and reviewed how easy it was to watch the England against Croatia game. Plus we detailed how many channels were available and how many users were viewing the match. The News Of The World conveniently copy and pasted my research and included it in today’s story without attributing the source.
According to the News Of The World, recent stats from Justin.tv include 167,138 hits for the Man United versus West Ham game and 148,063 viewers for the Arsenal against Spurs derby.
In May 2007, the Premier League filed a lawsuit against YouTube because of the game highlights available on that website. But what the YouTube lawsuit and threatened legal action against Justin.tv expose is another issue entirely. There is obviously a huge demand for soccer fans to watch their favorite team online, but instead of creating a solution that generates revenue for the clubs and the league, the league is focusing on persecuting the companies that are illegally streaming the games.
Sure, what Justin.tv and YouTube (and hundreds of other sites) are doing is illegal, but the Premier League is in a continuous cat and mouse game that it’ll never win. Even with NetResult policing the Internet to limit the amount of goal highlights shown on YouTube and other sites, it’s impossible for that organization to win.
The lawsuit against YouTube and the threats of legal action against Justin.tv are merely a drop in the bucket. All the legal action is doing is showing that the Premier League wants to protect the companies who have paid large amounts of money for the Internet rights to the league.
The Premier League and its clubs are missing out on a huge opportunity to provide legal streaming of matches as well as goal highlights in a package that would be available online to football fans around the world. It’s ridiculous to think that in the year 2008 with all of the technology that’s available that soccer fans should be prevented from legally watching their favorite team play week-in, week-out.
By providing a legal alternative to watch any or all of the games, it’ll put most of the illegal streamers out of business. We, as human beings, are accelerating toward a world where most of our movie and TV watching are being done online. The concern at the Premier League is probably that providing all of the games by the Internet will reduce the amount of money that networks will pay for the TV rights, but I don’t believe this would happen. TV, as we know it, will continue to be around for several years. Until TVs become obsolete, the Premier League has a massive opportunity to generate massive amounts of revenue from both TV and Internet rights.