Friday, November 19, 2010

Will Pirates Take Rooney's Pay Packet ?

It's great to be part of the new company launched recently by my old colleague and friend, Peter Lewinton (a regular contributor to this blog on rights and IP issues).

You can read more about TVE's investment in KLipcorp here, but suffice to say that I've regarded this as an important missing link in the content value chain.

The scale of piracy online is well documented, but the damage that it does to narrowcasters and major rights owners alike is reaching a critical point.

In some territories the value of core rights such as live football are being diminished since broadcasters are unable to monetise them due to the undermining caused by the pirates.

With boxing channel, Seconds Out TV, if unchecked, Peter and I have seen at first hand how the narrowcasting of boxing events is simply uneconomical due to the scale of the piracy. In other words, online rights for major sporting events has a value of zero.

Considering that most television will be distributed online in the future this is a major, major problem that rights owners are largely ignoring.

The problem doesn't originate on the internet - most pirates take the feed from their digital television service and then stream it out to the web. Many charge a fee for doing this. Technically, there is little doubt that the broadcasters themselves are therefore in breach of their contracts for allowing this to happen, so they have a part to play in addressing this issue.

But the real frustration is that this is a problem most of those involved in rights management are ignoring and hope will go away, rather than doing something about it whilst they still can. Remember the music industry ?

When anyone and everyone is re-transmitting and receiving the Premiership football in the UK online, what value does a Sky subscription have ? And who will then keep Mr Rooney and his colleagues in the style to which they are so accustomed ?

This is an issue that should be at the forefront for anyone involved in television.