NBA missing point with crackdown on illegal streaming

NBA commissioner Adam Silver during Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
NBA commissioner Adam Silver during Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

If you are an NBA fan under a certain age, then it’s likely you’ve used an illegal stream of the sport at some point in your life.

It’s ok, I’m not the Feds.

Illegal streams represent a sizable portion of the viewing audience of any NBA game, something the league is trying to crack down on next season.

The NBA is teaming with the NFL and UFC to try and get illegal streams taken down immediately upon discovery according to The Verge.

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Currently, DMCA laws move slowly, so the game is usually long over before the illegal site actually gets shut down, if it happens at all. While the NBA has every right to protect its copyright and brand, they are missing a bigger point, which is why people use these illegal streams in the first place.

No one wants to watch the game on a crap stream with pop up ads for bitcoin and porno, so why do they do it?

NBA missing point with crackdown on illegal streaming

The death of cable TV

I am probably older than most of the people reading this and I’ve not had cable TV in a LONG time. The idea of paying loads of money per month for content I didn’t choose seems ridiculous to people used to streaming anything they want on demand.

I don’t know anyone who still has cable TV outside of the boomer generation and that is not going to change anytime soon. Since most of the nationally televised games are on TNT, ESPN and NBA TV, the league is leaving out a lot of viewers who no longer have access to those channels.

If a game is on cable and you don’t have it, your options are then limited to going to a sports bar, streaming it illegally or paying for the League Pass. Younger people have grown up with all the content they want at their fingertips, much of it for free, so getting them to pay for things is an uphill battle.

And even if you want to buy the NBA League Pass, there are huge flaws.

NBA League Pass and blackouts

I live outside of the US, so the NBA League Pass is great for me. I’m out of market, so I can watch literally every game with no blackouts.

This isn’t true if you live in the US.

The league often blacks out games on League Pass, usually the local team, making it essentially useless to anyone who cheers for the team in their area. I’ve never understood the point of this, as it’s not like someone is going to attend a live game just because it isn’t on TV.

Instead, they go straight to their favorite illegal streaming site and watch it there. I see fans complaining about this more than anything else about the NBA, so why would they pay big bucks for the League Pass when they can’t even watch the team they cheer for?

If the NBA wants to crack down on illegal streamers, that is their business, but they should consider why people are going to those sites in the first place. There need to be more ways for fans to legally access content and to ensure they can get the games that they want to watch.

Offering up games a la carte (how about two bucks per game?), and ending these ridiculous blackouts would be a good start.

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