Illegal islands in the stream

In an Edinburgh hotel room I watched Mohammad Amir make 73 batting at number 10 to almost defeat New Zealand in an ODI.

I watched the match on an illegal stream; Giles Clarke’s archenemy. According to Clarke, cricket fans who watch illegal streams are defrauding their own sport by putting existing huge money TV deals into jeopardy. The very money that funds cricket and its administration.

If you choose to watch cricket on an illegal stream instead of subscribing, then in your own way that is what you are doing. Now maybe you have a vaild reason like having no money. Or you find subscription TV is little more than a stream of reality TV shows where Americans abuse each other while buying things from storage lockers. Having watched a fair bit of illegal cricket streams, I’d doubt there are many people out there who can afford paying a subscription and still watch illegally.

Watching illegally is really annoying.

When Sachin Tendulkar made his 100th 100, It wasn’t shown on TV in the UK. So I went looking for an illegal stream as he got close. The first three websites wouldn’t work at all. The fourth would, but because of the sheer numbers of people watching, kept shutting down. An ad came up in front of the action several times. The sound and vision were never once synced. The screen pixelated for almost the entire time I watched. And more than once it just randomly paused so I was miles behind the live action.

Watching illegal streams is never straight forward.

But why did I do that day, or for Amir and Ajmal’s partnership, and again recently for Kumar Sangakkara’s flirtation with a double hundred? Because none of those matches were shown on TV in the UK. And I wanted to see them.

I wasn’t trying to rip off any subscription TV company; it was just the only way for a cricket obsessed person in the UK to watch these big moments. There is no reason to show them in the UK, unless Sky had a dedicated cricket channel, so I have to find them elsewhere.
These illegal streams might be pure evil for a cricket board trying to earn their bread, but they are sometimes they only way to watch cricket. And they’re not the only ones.

The youtube uploaders, like the phenomenally proficient robelinda2, place illegally taken TV clips online. TV companies despise them, and see it as stolen content. For cricket fans people like robelinda2 give them cricket gold only a google search away. Robelinda seems to spend all his time fighting with Indian fans or uploading classic and obscure cricket moments. Currently he has over 1700 videos on youtube. Including Martin Love making 146 against South Australia, Devon Malcolm yorking Viv Richards, Rohan Kanhai making 118 for the World XI in 71/72.

How would you see these otherwise?

New fans find these clips and fall in love with the sport. Old fans who have moved on may come across one accidentally and rekindle their love. And for the rest of us who are obsessed it gives us something to watch when there is no live match to watch on TV or illegal streams. Broadcasters could spend hours uploading all the content they own on vimeo and YouTube, but are often handicapped by rights deals or a lack of vision. Instead they spend a fair bit of their time, and some cricket boards time, chasing these people down and taking their videos down.

Then there is the internet radio commentary sites like Test Match Sofa and Pitch Invasion who watch cricket on the TV and commentate on it. It’s not illegal, but certain cricket boards have called it immoral. By that they mean they haven’t found a way to stop it, or make money from it, and that it upsets the radio companies who pay to get into the ground and commentate.
Ofcourse, if you do pay for cricket rights, you also get access to the players and board. Meaning you have to be a bit more safe in what you say and how you say it. Pirate internet commentaries do not. They can be a much more loose, vitriolic and even a sweary form of commentary that attracts a whole new audience who may not like polite talk of cake and pigeons. While the radio stations who own the rights are angry, in real terms this provides them with a competitor for the first time, meaning they have to improve their product. Which is better for the cricket public and the radio station. And most importantly it gives the cricket fan another way of consuming their favourite sport.

Some of these illegal, or immoral, websites and uploaders are doing this for purely financial gain. They are nothing more than theieves who are stealing content. But others are doing it for the love of cricket. Regardless of the intentions, while they make life hard for cricket boards in certain ways, there is no doubt that they all help promote the game of cricket.

How else would we watch ODIs between New Zealand and Pakistan when staying in foreign hotels, listen to commentators swear at shocking decisions or watch clips of domestic Australian cricket from the 90s.

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8 thoughts on “Illegal islands in the stream

  1. Clancy says:

    Who wants to pay for a tv broadcasters sports channel (s) when most of it is taken up with sports that you don’t give a fig for? If I liked footie or darts or motorsports as well as cricket, Sky might be worth it but otherwise…

  2. Angy says:

    Rights management is a joke. Subscriptions are very one-way when you consider that you get access to content not at your own discretion, but at the broadcaster’s. You sometimes can’t even access BBC streams from outside the UK unless you use a third party site or app, so Giles Clarke’s decidedly butthurt attitude towards Testmatchsofa is all the more unnecessary..

    The decision to broadcast IPL on Youtube was profound, but it came at the cost of free-to-air access in Australia because effectively the rights to something as simple as putting it on the internet are the same as the individual tv rights for all the countries on the internet.

    Fans of cricket haven’t yet earned the right to be recognised as a market, a group to which cricket is sold. The only ones with specific purchasing power are the ones who aren’t farmed by tv rights deals. The broadcasters are the real customers in this relationship, which is why it’s so easy to alienate the fans. Being a pirate or criminal is pretty much the only thing you get to be recognised as.

  3. Kunal K says:

    Once again an article about a topic i haven’t read about anywhere elsewhere. thank you!

    i remember paying for willow tv when i was studying in canada to watch an india vs new zealand series in NZ. wickets were falling every 10 minutes and it was great to see.

    you be a memory conjurer, man.

  4. Coachie ballgames says:

    Well said, J-Rod.
    As an American I never would have been able to get into this great sport if it weren’t for shady streams and youtube highlights.

  5. SMUDGEON says:

    agree with everything in this article.

    if it weren’t for illegal streams, i might never have seen Balaji Rao’s knee-catch at the world cup, or Pat Cummins knocking over the Saffas.

  6. I would be happy to pay legally to watch Cricket here in Germany – but they wouldn’t let me do that. BBC shuts down its lines on the radio if the Ashes are on … so what am I supposed to do? Moving to bloody England??? Well okay the market for “Germans who like to watch Test Match Cricket” is for sure a niche …

  7. […] are stealing revenue from the cricket boards that desperately need the cash. To which most fans, including Jarrod Kimber, respond: fuck you, old man: there is no other way to watch certain […]

  8. razvan says:

    i have a subscription for ten cricket here in Romania, so everything shown on theis channel I enjoy it on my tv, for 13-14 USD/month. For the rest, i have to go to illegal streams

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