Broadcasters become desperate over declining audiences (and what Kodi boxes are all about)

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 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.

Arsenal History

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.


The index to Arsenal in the 1930s is here.


14 Replies to “Broadcasters become desperate over declining audiences (and what Kodi boxes are all about)”

  1. Seriously doubt any of this will stop anyone. Kodi is actually a free app’ (Not a box) available to download on pretty much every platform from laptops to phones and everything android.
    People blatantly sell them on ebay which surprised me when I first saw them a few years ago but then again as you say kodi it’s self isn’t illegal, streaming live sports without a contract is.

  2. I have an AppleTV box with the Kodi app installed and access to thousands of TV stations world-wide and watch all the illegal live football, films & TV series for free, but I don’t think it’s illegal for me to use it this way (as you say Tony). I might be wrong, but I’ve genned up on this to make sure I’m not prosecutable.
    I also have a VPN on my computer for privacy & security purposes which routes me through the USA, and can view much of the same content from that source.
    I take it for granted that I will watch any football match from more or less anywhere in the world at any time I want.
    The paying people obviously will resent what I do especially as to a certain extent they are subsidising my free viewing, but I’ve had Sky, and since it’s lost much of it’s content to BT Sport it’s not particularly good value any more.
    At the end of the day there’s always the pub.

  3. Leon

    Neither Sky nor BT are value for money, because they have shared content, requiring consumers to purchase two products instead of one.

    Instead of reducing their prices accordingly, both Sky and BT Sprout have increased them

    So, even less value for money.

  4. As a long-term subscriber to Sky AND BT, it’s difficult for housebound sports enthusiasts not to receive both broadcasters.
    Arsenal supporters may have noticed that this season, BT have shown an increased number of home and away games featuring the Gunners.
    It is not cheap to subscribe to both channels, particularly when one realises that the number of viewers far outweighs those attending live games.
    And the arrival of BT has not yet shown that the ending of Sky’s monopoly will reduce subscriptions. 😉

  5. nicky..

    despite not listening to the commentary or pundits on Sky, I still don’t think the BT coverage is anything like as good. Poor camera angles, hopeless supposed HD, and they just put the price up.

    VPN investigation forthcoming!

  6. @Norman14,
    Like you, I do not listen to ANY of the commentaries. I’m not au fait enough to comment on the camera work.
    Trouble is, without the two I would never see any of my heroes! 😉

  7. I’d advise anybody who wants to take this route to do it ASAP before these devices disappear completely, as ISPs are shutting down access to the streaming sites “we” have been using for years.

  8. “But a car can be used as a getaway vehicle after a diamond heist; that doesn’t make cars illegal.”

    I’ve always said that any good defense can bring that fact up(in fact most anything we use in our daily lives can be used as a weapon of crime, do we ban them too?) to bear, but it seems that they can pass any law (especially if it affects them monetary) however silly they want to.

    I think KODI is in software and hardware too.

  9. In the same vein –
    Salesgirl: ” Sorry sir , but you can’t smoke in here.”

    Customer: ” But I bought these cigarettes from this shop.”

    Salesgirl: ” We also sell condoms here, but it doesn’t mean you can start fucking in here!”

  10. For years he thought that he was so damned good at making love, but then…..he found out …
    his girlfriend had Asthma !

  11. Bisexual – (adj)- The ability to reach down someone’s pants and be satisfied with whatever you find.

  12. To put Kodi (it is software) on a box is not illegal. To sell a box, with kodi and the required add-ons pre-installed is illegal. For an individual to install the add-ons themselves on Kodi is not illegal. To watch a stream is not illegal. To provide a stream (of copyrighted material) for someone to watch is illegal.

    Lastly not all of the streaming services are free but they are cheaper.

    The football authorities, Sky and BT have to address the major problem and that is cost. It is expensive to go to games and with football being split across TV providers it is expensive to follow on the TV. They need a major rethink of their business model. People are willing to pay but not to current amounts.

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