Sports rights holders, including the Premier League, have taken down the well-known online streaming site Wiziwig.
Wiziwig, which offered illegal streams from a wide variety of sports, including football, has already been replaced by a number of alternative websites offering a similar service.
The Premier League sold the UK TV rights to its matches for more than £3 billion, roughly equating to £6.6 million per game. Similarly, exclusive rights to show goal highlights online were purchased by The Times and The Sun for approximately £20 million over the next years.
With such huge figures involved, it is not surprising that the Premier League has come down hard on Wiziwig. Broadcast revenue has been a key income stream for the game, enabling the world’s biggest football clubs to become billion dollar businesses. If audiences begin migrating to free online streaming sites, a large proportion of the Premier League cash cow is wiped out.
Sports rights holders are facing a similar issue to that faced by the music and movie businesses, where consumer demand is dictating how sporting content is viewed. According to a poll compiled by YouGov and Populus, more than 50 per cent of Americans aged between 18 and 34 watch pirated content. Despite research suggesting that continually shutting down pirate sites has little impact, this seems to be the approach currently being taken.
“Piracy often arises when consumer demand goes unmet by legitimate supply. As services ranging from Netflix to Spotify to iTunes have demonstrated, the best way to combat piracy is with better and more convenient legitimate services,” Google stated last year. “The right combination of price, convenience, and inventory will do far more to reduce piracy than enforcement can.
With the closure of Wiziwig, it is likely that many fans of the site will simply switch to similar alternatives, meaning the Premier League, along with broadcasters such as Sky and BT, must come up with a more consumer-centric solution to online piracy.