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Cricket - Now at a PC near you (live and pirated)
by Boria Majumdar
Jun 09, 2008
While people continue to suffer what is now fondly being described across the country as post IPL blues, cricket fans in Toronto, Canada already have access to all matches of the IPL in case they wish to revisit the manic spectacle that had gripped the nation and its growing diaspora for over a month and a half. These DVDs, with excellent picture quality to boost, are being sold for a bare $3 and are available all over Gerrard Street, Toronto's famous desi hub. Nicely packaged and well advertised, they are neatly shelved alongside all matches from the ICC T-20 world cup in South Africa in what turned out to be a fairly accomplished cricket collection of sorts.

The story doesn't end here. While these matches were all offered on DVD within hours of the real contests getting over, the matches themselves were all available for free viewing online. In what can be termed as cricket piracy of the highest order, websites across North America made available these games to viewers for free. While some of these site owners hooked on to the Set Max coverage, others caught on to the Setanta Sports coverage from the UK. Either way, it was free and real time.

What was most intriguing was some of the messages that were flashed on screen during these sopcasts as they were called. One of these, flashed at the end of the Chennai Super Kings innings on final day, declared with pride, "Despite issues of copyright infringement, we take pride in having presented to you the entire IPL without a hitch". Another went a step furtherin suggesting why waste money on sites like willow TV, which had rights for internet viewing, you can watch live action on this site for minimal money. While writing this piece, I realised that one of them, www.livesporton.tv has already closed shop!

Another message that attracted my attention declared, "12,000 people are watching on my site, which can only host 800 people at one time. I plead you to visit other sites please." Then in Gerrard Street for my regular supply of desi snacks, it was this message that first caught my attention and subsequently opened up for me this brave new world of cricket piracy. For the company, which has paid a whopping $50 million for online rights, I can only express my sympathies. In this virtual age that we live in, it is almost impossible to close down all such illegal operations, which have, in a perverse way,contributed in making the IPL the global phenomenon it ultimately became.

And interestingly, cricket coverage on these sites doesn't end with the IPL. Some of them are now showing the ongoing West Indies-Australia series and have already promised viewers live action from Bangladesh and subsequently from Pakistan during the Asia cup. Soccer fans too frequent these sites, which brought home to them the Champions League final between Man U and Chelsea. This match is still proudly advertised as one of the most popular events of recent times alongside the finals of the IPL!

The best thing about 'cricket piracy', however, was some of the viewer comments. Here's a taste of some of them, "Let me take this moment to thank you guys. You've brought some life into my monotonous life. Thanks a tonne!" Another ardent follower went on to suggest, "Oh thanks Colly and the rest for helping with the IPL links albeit the BCCI trying their hardest to spoil the tournament for us". Clearly then the organisers have another problem to contend with before IPL-II starts in April 2009.

DreamCricket.com Note:

DreamCricket became extremely popular with the aficionados because of its cricket DVD business. Selling mostly through word-of-mouth, the company built up a catalog of about 100 cricket DVDs containing original footage including - the 1960/61 Tied Test, all the World Cups until 2003, and the 2005 Ashes.

In 2005, when DreamCricket produced the NTSC version of Ashes 2005, it found out the hard way that a pirated Ashes DVD was out on Ebay weeks before the original was released. In the end, the company could barely recover the cost of the rights, of production, and of transfer to DVD.

Of late, sellers of gray-market DVDs as well as the video upload sites including Youtube or Google videos have all but destroyed the home-entertainment cricket business. Rampant piracy has made business impossible for companies like DreamCricket that acquired cricket rights for the DVD market.

 
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