By Tony Attwood
We’ve discussed several times the fact that just at the time when the media put in bids to show English football matches that were way above anything previously seen, so TV audiences for football have come down.
Several reasons have been mentioned. For example there is the undeniable fact that tastes endlessly change and people quickly move on to other things. Then there is the expansion of football on TV – ultimately there is a limit to how much people want to watch. Next there is the endless jiggling around with kick of times and dates, which does cause a considerable amount of resentment.
Not mentioned by the media, who always inevitably have a biased view when commenting on the media, is the notion that some people are becoming more aware of the way in which broadcast media manipulates the showing of matches to suit its own ends. Time wasting is cut out, and there is no real discussion concerning such issues as the ineptitude or bias of referees, nor the curious antics of the PGMO. Nor do they ever consider that maybe people have had enough of their commentators and pundits whose antics seem to become ever more bizarre.
But whatever the cause the downturn in audiences is real, and the Premier League has decided to do something about it. Not by restricting the number of changes to kick off times, not by challenging the bizarre ruling that says that no live games can be shown at 3pm on a saturday, not by sorting out but by having a bash at illegal streaming.
Now illegal streaming is, by definition, illegal. But history tends to support the notion that trying to stamp out anything that is not only illegal, but also very popular, is more or less impossible. One might think back to the days when pubs in England had highly restrictive opening hours being forced to close at 10pm or 10.30pm. It was a measure that dated back to the first world war when the Parliamentarians and the generals decided that Britain was likely to lose because all the workers were drunk all the time.
So now, without any real research it seems, and working on guessed numbers as to how many Kodi boxes there are being used to watch football, they are going on the attack.
Apparently they are bringing in the police and internet service providers to run the attack, which has so far seen the arrest of five people in relation to the the sale and distribution of Kodi boxes.
And yes the number of court cases has started to rise … from zero to one, as a man from Hartlepool was given a suspended sentence and a fine of £250,000 for attempting to sell Kodi boxes.
Meanwhile in sunny Málaga authorities seized and in less sunny Belfast two business premises were raided and had some computer equipment removed. In court a judge has granted a high court order to allow four internet service providers to block access to certain online servers.
But what is interesting is whether any of this will actually make more people subscribe to the ever more expensive Sky and BT Sprout. History suggests the answer will be no, because by and large people don’t like having their illegal pleasures removed, and in the end both megaliths are more than likely to be forced to capitulate either by offering a better service, or a cheaper service, or ideally both.
As for the technology, all is not quite what Sky and BT would like us to believe.
A ‘Kodi box’ is in fact any internet TV box which has the Kodi app pre-installed. There is nothing wrong with the Kodi app; it is not liked because it can be used very easily to pick up illegal streams. But a car can be used as a getaway vehicle after a diamond heist; that doesn’t make cars illegal.
As the magazine Which? recently said of it, “Subscription sports and movie packages, for example, are only a few clicks and a quick download away – and all for free.” The reason people have been arrested, the Consumers Association points out, is not because anyone has sold a Kodi box, but because they were selling them pre-loaded with illegal apps and services.
Thus a box with Kodi installed is legal. Using the Kodi app illegally to stream subscription content without paying for the subscription is illegal.
So if you own Amazon Fire TV or NVIDIA Shield TV you can install the app onto it by downloading it from the Kodi website which has the memorable address kodi.tv and then choose the add-ons you want.
Doing illegal things is wrong, of course, because it is, well, not to put too fine a point on it, against the law. But fighting against the mass breaking of the law by fining people here and there doesn’t normally “serve as a warning” as the PR people love to say in their childish and simplistic lingo. It just makes more people do it.
The best bet, in fact the only bet, for Sky and the Sprout is to cut their prices dramatically and then put in lower bids for the rights. Clubs would get less money, players wages would come down a bit, and we’d all be happier.
The series on Arsenal in the 1930s is complete and the first five articles in the series have now been completely revised and updated. It all starts with Life in 1930 and winning the first major trophy.