Ask a group of Premier League club sup-porters their most pressing concerns surrounding the game and you’ll hear about ticket prices, unacceptable manipulation of the fixture list by broadcasters and a cynical disregard shown, in particular, towards travelling fans. Pose the same question of Premier League clubs and top of their list, by some distance, will be the issue of broadcast piracy.
Piracy, defined in this context as broadcasting material for which you’ve not paid a legitimate rights fee, is not limited to individuals or premises accessing content for commercial use; it can also have international, political implications. The issue was brought into sharp focus through a London conference speech made by Yousef Al-Obaidly, chief executive of sports and entertainment network BeIN Media Group. Al-Obaidly warned that the sports media rights bubble is about to burst, primarily due to the industry’s failure to tackle rampant piracy. Speaking at the Sport Business Summit held in London in early October, Al-Obaidly said: “The endless growth of sports rights is over. Not only that but in certain cases rights values are going to drop off a cliff. The very economic model of our industry is going to be rewritten.”
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