If you're ever been sitting outside the comfort of your home and nowhere near a television, or stuck in the books at the library and felt like taking a "study break" to watch a sporting event, you've probably had either a go-to website to provide you with a live stream of your favorite team's game or a friend ready to give you with the address of one.
This type of site, such as FirstRow Sports, have grown in popularity, and naturally so. Sports streaming sites allow visitors to watch practically any athletic event on the planet free of charge, and all viewers have to do is suffer the barrage of pop-up ads thrown at them every two seconds. Moreover, these type of sites have become extremely useful to fans who want to catch games that are outside of their broadcasting market.
The most fascinating thing about these type of sites, however, is the amount of money that they can make off of copyright infringement. FirstRow, for instance, which saw nearly 10 million users visit the site in April, is said to have been making between £5 million and £9 million in annual revenue, or $7.5 million to $13.5 million, according to Dr. David Price. That's more revenue than some of the most impressive tech businesses around.
As you can imagine, though, the sports leagues that feed off an infusion of cash from networks dying to throw silly money at them in exchange for exclusive broadcast rights are not in love with sports streaming sites.
To put it simply, it's in the best interest of leagues like the NFL and NBA to take down live stream sites in order to protect the value of the colossal-cash deals they make with networks every now and then. After all, how valuable is a deal to exclusively air football games if anyone can watch them for free, with or without turning a T.V. on?
One league is trying to lead the charge from abroad to make sure it doesn't have to even consider that question. The Barclays Premier League claimed a victory today in the British high courts of London after convincing a judge to order an injunction against FirstRow, according to the Daily Mail. Now, the site will be blocked from providing live steams of games, a court order that seems to have come just in time for the Premier League, with the start of its season nearly a month away.
The legal action that England's premier soccer competition took will only take effect in the U.K., but the league has seemingly done a favor for American leagues as users across the pond won't be able to access basketball or football games on FirstRow either, since the injunction calls for the whole site to be blocked.
Now, other sporting associations may be encouraged to seek their own injunctions against similar sites in the U.S., as they try to stop an unusual, yet booming business in its tracks.