The hyper-competitive world of sports TV rights has been shaken up to no end by the evolution of live streaming over the past decade. The growth and popularity of this medium show no signs of slowing down as more and more people flock to the internet to watch live coverage of their favorite sports.
The biggest sports broadcasters in the world are now jockeying for a position online, as well as in the traditional media. Websites like Footybite live stream are inundated every weekend with fans desperate to catch all of the action from their smartphones or other mobile devices.
As the way people consume media content changes, so must the providers of said content. For the most part, the developed world has seen great strides made in the way live streaming is offered to consumers. Most major sports broadcasters now offer, at the very least, a handy website for watching content, and many also provide mobile apps to be used on phones, tablets, and smart TVs.
The revolution has also seen betting companies get in on the act. Bet 365 is one example of such a company that offers live streaming to its users, encouraging them to watch along as they keep up-to-date with their bets.
In the past, the only way to watch the biggest sporting events in the world was on TV after buying expensive TV packages, often filled with the entertainment equivalent of bloat-ware. Tonnes of channels that were of little interest to the sports fan were included in such deals and bundles, and many consumers often didn’t know what they were paying for. This dynamic still exists, especially with older users, but such contracts are rapidly decreasing in popularity among the younger generation.
Many fans nowadays will instead opt for the live streaming only option, something major broadcasters offer in countries like the United Kingdom and the United States. Many providers offer passes for one day or one week and are much more flexible in the way they deliver top-quality sports content to their consumers.
However, for some fans, this is not enough. Everybody wants something for free, and thanks to the live-streaming revolution, they can get it. The problem is that to get something for free; many fans are breaking the law. Since the onset of live streaming, the internet has seen the emergence of a tsunami of illegal live streaming sites. These websites bring with them a myriad of problems for both the broadcasters and the consumers.
The holders of the TV rights, companies like Sky, Canal Plus, and Bein Sports, are losing money every year as young, internet-savvy fans find ways to avoid paying to watch their favorite sports and instead get the content for free. The copyright-breaching websites they visit deprive the rights holders of their income and break the law at the same time.
Some countries take the downloading or live streaming of content in this way more seriously than others. In some cases, the websites are chased down more ferociously by authorities. What’s more, in some countries, even the users are subject to investigation and can receive fines and potentially even prison time if they are caught.
Then there are the other problems that the user can face when watching sport via live streaming on such illegal websites. These sites are often a hotbed for viruses and hackers, and users’ devices can be compromised significantly through visits to these sites.
It is clear that the live streaming revolution has enabled fans to enjoy watching sport in a much easier and more convenient way, and the changes have been mostly for good, but like everything, live streaming has its downsides and problems.
Only time will tell how this movement will continue to develop. Nobody knows how sports fans will be watching the biggest sporting events in the years and decades to come. Those in the know can only speculate.