June 25, 2012

Is it a crime to love the game?

In an Edinburgh hotel room I watched Mohammad Amir make 73 batting at No
34

In an Edinburgh hotel room I watched Mohammad Amir make 73 batting at No. 10 to almost defeat New Zealand in an ODI.

I watched the match on an illegal stream; Giles Clarke’s archenemy. According to Clarke, cricket fans who watch illegal streams are defrauding their own sport by putting existing huge money TV deals into jeopardy. The very money that funds cricket and its administration.

If you choose to watch cricket on an illegal stream instead of subscribing, then in your own way that is what you are doing. Now maybe you have a vaild reason, like having no money. Or you find subscription TV is little more than a stream of reality TV shows where Americans abuse each other while buying things from storage lockers. Having watched a fair bit of cricket on illegal internet streams, I’d doubt there are many people out there who can afford paying a subscription and still watch illegally. Watching illegally is really annoying.

When Sachin Tendulkar made his 100th hundred, it wasn't shown on TV in the UK. So I went looking for an illegal stream as he got close. The first three websites wouldn’t work at all. The fourth would, but because of the sheer numbers of people watching, kept shutting down. An ad came up in front of the action several times. The sound and vision were never once synched. The screen pixelated for almost the entire time I watched ... And more than once it just randomly paused so I was miles behind the live action. Watching illegal streams is never straight forward.

But why did I do it that day, or for Amir and Ajmal’s partnership, and again recently for Kumar Sangakkara’s flirtation with a double hundred? Because none of those matches were shown on TV in the UK. And I wanted to see them. I wasn’t trying to rip off any subscription TV company; it was just the only way for a cricket-obsessed person in the UK to watch these big moments. There is no reason to show them in the UK, unless Sky had a dedicated cricket channel, so I have to find them elsewhere.

These illegal streams might be pure evil for a cricket board trying to earn their bread, but they are sometimes they only way to watch cricket. And they’re not the only ones.

The YouTube uploaders, like the phenomenally proficient robelinda2, place illegally recorded TV clips online. TV companies despise them, and see it as stolen content. For cricket fans, people like robelinda2 give them cricket gold only a Google search away. Robelinda seems to spend all his time fighting with Indian fans or uploading classic and obscure cricket moments. Currently he has over 1700 videos on youtube, including Martin Love making 146 against South Australia, Devon Malcolm yorking Viv Richards, and Rohan Kanhai making 118 for the World XI in 1971-72.

How would you see these otherwise?

New fans find these clips and fall in love with the sport. Old fans who have moved on may come across one accidentally and rekindle their love. And for the rest of us who are obsessed it gives us something to watch when there is no live match to watch on TV or illegal streams. Broadcasters could spend hours uploading all the content they own on Vimeo and YouTube, but are often handicapped by rights deals or a lack of vision. Instead they spend a fair bit of their time, and some cricket boards’ time, chasing these people and taking their videos down.

Then there are the internet radio commentary sites like Test Match Sofa and Pitch Invasion, who watch cricket on the TV and commentate on it. It’s not illegal, but certain cricket boards have called it immoral. By that they mean they haven’t found a way to stop it, or make money from it, and that it upsets the radio companies who pay to get into the ground and commentate.

Of course, if you do pay for cricket rights, you also get access to the players and board. Meaning you have to be a bit more safe in what you say and how you say it. Pirate internet commentaries do not. They can be a much more loose, vitriolic and even sweary form of commentary, that attracts a whole new audience who may not like polite talk of cake and pigeons. While the radio stations who own the rights are angry, in real terms this provides them with a competitor for the first time, meaning they have to improve their product. Which is better for the cricket public and the radio station and, most importantly, it gives the cricket fan another way of consuming their favourite sport.

Some of these illegal, or immoral, websites and uploaders are doing this for purely financial gain. They are nothing more than thieves who are stealing content. But others are doing it for the love of cricket. Regardless of the intentions, while they make life hard for cricket boards in certain ways, there is no doubt that they all help promote the game of cricket.

How else would we watch ODIs between New Zealand and Pakistan when staying in foreign hotels, listen to commentators swear at shocking decisions or watch clips of domestic Australian cricket from the 90s?

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Joe Fraser on August 9, 2012, 19:21 GMT

    Cricket South Africa is engaged in this practise of late and has hired an Indian company to go after people who upload old highlights reels. It has created a bad vibe for CSA which it hasn't recognised yet. It's doing more harm for them than good.

  • danoz on July 6, 2012, 14:21 GMT

    the icc should be put on the indian,u.k and australian stock markets,they should own the all games played and lease the tv rights out,aswell as owning a icc cricket channels on pay t.v.

    it should cover all test,one dayers and 20/20(in australia we have fox footy a 24 hour 7 day a week channel dedicated to a.f.l footy) surely cricket could do something similar with 1 billion indians.

    we didnt get the i.p.l this year in australia but we got the english domestic comp,we missed out on sri lanka vs pakistan(missed out sangakarra hitting 190 odd in 2 test) but we got west indies vs new zealand 20/20.

    the icc should set a 2 channels dedicated to cricket this way you will never miss a game.it should cover domestic cricket too,all 4 day games,1 dayers and 20/20.it should cover the intercontantal cup games too ie holland vs ireland,canada vs kenya,namibia vs u.a.e and so on. with icc owning the tv rights its up to them to supply hot spot,snicko,hawk eye to all countries fans would love it

  • dotx on June 28, 2012, 9:27 GMT

    How about countries where the sport isnt high profile enough to anctually warrant a subscription. Most of Europe you can't get a subscription unless you are English and 'smuggling' your decoder over to Europe- which is only western Europe because that is as far as the dish reaches. .

  • plebian on June 28, 2012, 4:21 GMT

    Yeah, the people's champ as hailed by some here. Interesting that an article like this was published a little after ESPN moved away from cricket broadcasting. Surely they're not related?

  • Anonymous on June 27, 2012, 6:45 GMT

    I watched Aravinda De Silva's 167 @Gabba in 1989 from rob's channel. one of my life time dream was to see that innings.1989 was one of the hardest time in Srilankan history.(No international cricket played in the island from 1987 to 1992),No TV broadcast on AUS series,and only coverage available was ABC grandstand from SW radio.No way of seeing that innings at least from Sri Lanka(If it were a tape that innings contained shold've been taken from CH9 and it would've been broadcast here/No way).Rob uploaded it.He is a ultimate cricket lover and should be appreciate his unprecedented and quintessential work for cricket in big way.Thanks for this article.

  • alvaro on June 27, 2012, 6:34 GMT

    Robelinda's best video is every one of the other waugh's Test wickets. Most seem to be Curtly.

  • jogesh99 on June 27, 2012, 5:49 GMT

    Some of these illegal, or immoral, websites and uploaders are doing this for purely financial gain. They are nothing more than thieves who are stealing content.

    You mean like the Cricket Boards and the TV channels? Ah, now I get the difference.

  • oseebhai on June 26, 2012, 17:38 GMT

    Fantastic article. Sometimes there really is no other choice, particularly if you live in countries where cricket is not a recognized sport.

  • Cliff Bradford on June 26, 2012, 15:06 GMT

    Good article. Living in the USA the only way to get cricket "legally" here is to get a satellite dish so I can pay for 200 channels of reality shows and other such rubbish and then have to pay extra (PPV) to watch cricket. For audio the BBC provides coverage of matches played in the UK although I could take a pass on Boycs & Richards it must be said that Blowers is a national treasure. Sky Sports has exclusive video but that would require me to listen to a steady streams of Michael Holding and other luminaries. Also Sky tend to go silent for extended periods - i once counted a 3 over span when nothing was said. I suppose the four commentator rotation doesn't lend to ball-by-ball coverage. The problem with streaming that the lack of synchronization means I can't listen to the BBC while watching Sky which would be ideal (or at least better).

  • Anonymous on June 26, 2012, 15:06 GMT

    100% spot on. Cricket is the only sport I follow so no I'm not going to take out a Sky subscription here in Ireland.

  • Joe Fraser on August 9, 2012, 19:21 GMT

    Cricket South Africa is engaged in this practise of late and has hired an Indian company to go after people who upload old highlights reels. It has created a bad vibe for CSA which it hasn't recognised yet. It's doing more harm for them than good.

  • danoz on July 6, 2012, 14:21 GMT

    the icc should be put on the indian,u.k and australian stock markets,they should own the all games played and lease the tv rights out,aswell as owning a icc cricket channels on pay t.v.

    it should cover all test,one dayers and 20/20(in australia we have fox footy a 24 hour 7 day a week channel dedicated to a.f.l footy) surely cricket could do something similar with 1 billion indians.

    we didnt get the i.p.l this year in australia but we got the english domestic comp,we missed out on sri lanka vs pakistan(missed out sangakarra hitting 190 odd in 2 test) but we got west indies vs new zealand 20/20.

    the icc should set a 2 channels dedicated to cricket this way you will never miss a game.it should cover domestic cricket too,all 4 day games,1 dayers and 20/20.it should cover the intercontantal cup games too ie holland vs ireland,canada vs kenya,namibia vs u.a.e and so on. with icc owning the tv rights its up to them to supply hot spot,snicko,hawk eye to all countries fans would love it

  • dotx on June 28, 2012, 9:27 GMT

    How about countries where the sport isnt high profile enough to anctually warrant a subscription. Most of Europe you can't get a subscription unless you are English and 'smuggling' your decoder over to Europe- which is only western Europe because that is as far as the dish reaches. .

  • plebian on June 28, 2012, 4:21 GMT

    Yeah, the people's champ as hailed by some here. Interesting that an article like this was published a little after ESPN moved away from cricket broadcasting. Surely they're not related?

  • Anonymous on June 27, 2012, 6:45 GMT

    I watched Aravinda De Silva's 167 @Gabba in 1989 from rob's channel. one of my life time dream was to see that innings.1989 was one of the hardest time in Srilankan history.(No international cricket played in the island from 1987 to 1992),No TV broadcast on AUS series,and only coverage available was ABC grandstand from SW radio.No way of seeing that innings at least from Sri Lanka(If it were a tape that innings contained shold've been taken from CH9 and it would've been broadcast here/No way).Rob uploaded it.He is a ultimate cricket lover and should be appreciate his unprecedented and quintessential work for cricket in big way.Thanks for this article.

  • alvaro on June 27, 2012, 6:34 GMT

    Robelinda's best video is every one of the other waugh's Test wickets. Most seem to be Curtly.

  • jogesh99 on June 27, 2012, 5:49 GMT

    Some of these illegal, or immoral, websites and uploaders are doing this for purely financial gain. They are nothing more than thieves who are stealing content.

    You mean like the Cricket Boards and the TV channels? Ah, now I get the difference.

  • oseebhai on June 26, 2012, 17:38 GMT

    Fantastic article. Sometimes there really is no other choice, particularly if you live in countries where cricket is not a recognized sport.

  • Cliff Bradford on June 26, 2012, 15:06 GMT

    Good article. Living in the USA the only way to get cricket "legally" here is to get a satellite dish so I can pay for 200 channels of reality shows and other such rubbish and then have to pay extra (PPV) to watch cricket. For audio the BBC provides coverage of matches played in the UK although I could take a pass on Boycs & Richards it must be said that Blowers is a national treasure. Sky Sports has exclusive video but that would require me to listen to a steady streams of Michael Holding and other luminaries. Also Sky tend to go silent for extended periods - i once counted a 3 over span when nothing was said. I suppose the four commentator rotation doesn't lend to ball-by-ball coverage. The problem with streaming that the lack of synchronization means I can't listen to the BBC while watching Sky which would be ideal (or at least better).

  • Anonymous on June 26, 2012, 15:06 GMT

    100% spot on. Cricket is the only sport I follow so no I'm not going to take out a Sky subscription here in Ireland.

  • James on June 26, 2012, 13:20 GMT

    Brave article, fair play to you! An important point you raise is that in many situations and countries there is no way of legally watching cricket and the "pirates" are providing a service that otherwise does not exist.

  • Abhik on June 26, 2012, 13:12 GMT

    Trust JRod to speak for the common cricket lover. Thanks.

  • Oscar Wood on June 26, 2012, 11:12 GMT

    Lovely article as always Jarrod. It was clear when Clarke made those comments; that he clearly had no idea what he was talking about and had clearly never felt the frustration of a match not being at all viewable on TV because Sky didn't bother getting the rights. He also, presumably, doesn't no what it's like to try and watch test cricket in Mexico.

  • Marius Roodt on June 26, 2012, 8:24 GMT

    South Africa seems ahead of the UK there. Just about every single international bilateral seriesor Tournament is broadcast on one of Supersport's channels. That does mean that you have to have satellite television, but unlike the sub-continent, cricket is probably primarily a middle-class sport, apart from in some places like the Eastern Cape.

  • Aaron on June 26, 2012, 8:14 GMT

    Mate, I watch the illegal streams because I can't afford a Sky subscription, it's that simple. The cricket boards aren't missing out on my money because I don't have any. And you're right - watching online is severely irritating at times. If the various boards had an ounce of imagination they would be working on ways of showing their own stream online so that at least they would get some of the revenue instead of letting some techo guy in India get it all. They could make their stream less irritating than the illegal ones but still not as good as watching it live, lip synched and big on a 44 inch screen in the lounge. They could also put ads for Sky TV on their website to tempt people and then deliberately freeze the stream for a few seconds just as someone is about to take (or drop) a catch in the outfield. In fact I can just see Giles Clarke sitting there with a pause control for the video stream and a vengeful look in his eye waiting for a chance to piss us all off.

  • Ronnie on June 26, 2012, 8:05 GMT

    Long live robelinda2! Yes, the flame wars are irritating, but the videos are priceless.

  • Desmond Bradley on June 26, 2012, 7:38 GMT

    Streams are the only way of watching cricket in Germany. Sky will not transmit cricket on their German channels although I asked them to do so when they purchased the Premier stations rights. Streams are a godsend to any cricket fan in mainland Europe.

  • duke on June 26, 2012, 7:10 GMT

    some coroprates are imbecile.. IPL is now streamed and content is freely available on Youtube but there were "innovations" done by IPL in season 3 or 4 where action of every ball was available but as "every ball" now why would I like to click on a link which says "RR vs DD 1st innings 6.3 sehwag to menaria 0 runs" such a fucking waste of time and effort, and just shows the suits had no clue in presenting content digitally..

  • Susant Kumar Acharya on June 26, 2012, 6:22 GMT

    I can totally relate to this post. Thousands of people like me, who live aboard in countries like South Korea, Japan etc, where cricket is a unknown sport, have no option but illegal streams. There is no TV channel to subscribe which broadcasts cricket. Although the thousands of ads, pop ups, and buffering is quite annoying, but there illegal streaming is the only option here.

  • Raman on June 26, 2012, 5:53 GMT

    Completely agree with you. I live in the US and always on the road. I like to watch cricket whenever,wherever,whatever I can. Streaming is the only answer and YouTube is the only way I can relive the classic moments from yester years.

  • Anshuman Mahanty on June 26, 2012, 5:00 GMT

    These are sadly people who probably know nothing about how deeply infatuating the love for the game can be and thus strike down upon some real cricketing gems that we, admirers of the game find the most enchanting. This is what happens in all spheres of life actually( people having power striking down upon some loved possession that common people have and making it their own while themselves not knowing what to do with it).

    As the revered cricket writer C.L.R. James once said- "What do they know of cricket who only crickets know?"

  • hursha on June 26, 2012, 4:51 GMT

    I totally second you..I am in colombia (South america) and the only way for me to watch cricket is through illegal streaming..But i still love the game

  • Vedder on June 26, 2012, 4:51 GMT

    Nicely put. As a cricket fan in North America I can relate to your predicament.

  • Gas Panic on June 26, 2012, 4:49 GMT

    Exactly right - how would we? The availability of 'illegal streams' such as robelinda's YouTube channel keep this fan's love for cricket alive.

  • Robelinda2 on June 26, 2012, 4:37 GMT

    Curse on the illegal sites/uploaders for stealing AND cashing in on it, there are plenty of us who genuinely love the game and wish to share our little video creations without attempting to earn a single cent from it. How else on earth would someone watch some random cricket moment from 1984 that will never see the light of day again, if not for youtube? I'm sure my channel will be shut down in due course, so enjoy while you can folks!

  • Changaiz on June 26, 2012, 1:36 GMT

    I agree with you on this coz I Live in USA and I cannot get a dish installed in my apartment building coz It's not allowed so sometimes I have no option but to go online and Search for these live streaming sites. So yeah it's wrong but what Do I do. Gotta watch cricket right !!

  • Darren Lucas on June 26, 2012, 1:21 GMT

    There is no stealing going on. When something is copied, no one loses anything. Therefore it cannot be called stealing when a copy is made. Further one cannot steal ideas because ideas can not be copyrighted, trademarked or patented. There expression can be, and that is where things get weird. Say, how can one have an idea without an expression? Yes, it is impossible, and just another shaky ground of current "law". Stealing is stealing, not copying.

  • Darren Lucas on June 26, 2012, 1:15 GMT

    The TV is digitized, turned into pieces of data. Data once stored is stored as a big number. It is not legal to copyright or patent or trademark a number. In black and white, according to truth, there is no crime in sharing of numbers. The TV channels have gone digital and pretend this is not the truth. You are dealing with reality while they are still blind from the naked truth. The law that makes these streams illegal is a hypocritical law in that it breaks other laws. Don't feel bad, but hope that they see the truth soon! Or say, is it right to prevent people from discovering and sharing a number? Sounds like the Dark Ages to me. IANAL

  • Lawrie Colliver on June 25, 2012, 23:31 GMT

    Great piece mate. FOX SPORTS have so much winter footy on they haven't got room for SL v Pak, so if you want a look this is what you have to do. Who cares what Giles Clarke thinks?

  • sk12 on June 25, 2012, 23:13 GMT

    Lol when you mention robelinda fighting with Indian fans. You can find scores of youtube videos where immature fans (mostly kids) fight each other and some sledge just to see how many responses they get. And India, with such huge population esp emerging young poulation in the internet spend most of their time in youtube, passionate and all form most of the commenters.

  • Mo Hasan on June 25, 2012, 21:10 GMT

    And I thought the US was bad when it came to cricket. The UK is worse given that England created the sport! Can't believe there isn't a channel dedicated to International cricket or just cricket for that matter. The IPL, no permanent use of DRS and flat unsporting pitches....what is the world coming to! Cricket should be available on TV and online (legally and good quality) for free worldwide!!

  • Sifter on June 25, 2012, 21:02 GMT

    Yeah it's an interesting one. I know I've spent time doing both, watching youtube and illegal streams. Sometimes there's no choice, you can't see games in Australia. What I'd LOVE to see is boards take the initiative and stream things through their own website (things that can't be seen anywhere else in their country's TV stratopshere that is...). They could charge a small fee, $5 or something to set up an account to watch - that would help to make them some money. But they'd be gaining more through increased web traffic to their site and through the respect of fans.

  • Naman on June 25, 2012, 20:16 GMT

    IPL Second edition was available for FREE on youtube all around the globe. All tournaments happen in Bangladesh are shown on ESPN for FREE ! I'm sure all the cricket borads are generating enough money to make enough profit for everyone related to cricketting management. It surely wouldn't hurt them if they make the content FREE online. Specially in USA, where we have to pay the amount per tournament to watch it live on internet. It wouldn't be a bad idea to put all cricketing action absolutely free from all around the globe. I sometimes would want to watch cricket between Zim-NZ but for sure wouldn't want to pay $20 to buy the tournament subscription !

  • sjperera on June 25, 2012, 17:47 GMT

    Great piece Kimber... it is very difficult for us students to cough up enough money to watch this legally - IF we can find the means to do so. Since recently, willow' grown it' prescence on YouTube but to subscribe for one series is still alot of money. Perhaps if online cricket companies can follow eSport's leagues and how they offer affordable subscription packages? As for Robelinda, his coverage is amazing and I hope that they don't strike him down. He is doing a great service for cricket and if the ICC is serious about growing the brand (esp in North America), those are the kind of dedicated fans they need.

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  • sjperera on June 25, 2012, 17:47 GMT

    Great piece Kimber... it is very difficult for us students to cough up enough money to watch this legally - IF we can find the means to do so. Since recently, willow' grown it' prescence on YouTube but to subscribe for one series is still alot of money. Perhaps if online cricket companies can follow eSport's leagues and how they offer affordable subscription packages? As for Robelinda, his coverage is amazing and I hope that they don't strike him down. He is doing a great service for cricket and if the ICC is serious about growing the brand (esp in North America), those are the kind of dedicated fans they need.

  • Naman on June 25, 2012, 20:16 GMT

    IPL Second edition was available for FREE on youtube all around the globe. All tournaments happen in Bangladesh are shown on ESPN for FREE ! I'm sure all the cricket borads are generating enough money to make enough profit for everyone related to cricketting management. It surely wouldn't hurt them if they make the content FREE online. Specially in USA, where we have to pay the amount per tournament to watch it live on internet. It wouldn't be a bad idea to put all cricketing action absolutely free from all around the globe. I sometimes would want to watch cricket between Zim-NZ but for sure wouldn't want to pay $20 to buy the tournament subscription !

  • Sifter on June 25, 2012, 21:02 GMT

    Yeah it's an interesting one. I know I've spent time doing both, watching youtube and illegal streams. Sometimes there's no choice, you can't see games in Australia. What I'd LOVE to see is boards take the initiative and stream things through their own website (things that can't be seen anywhere else in their country's TV stratopshere that is...). They could charge a small fee, $5 or something to set up an account to watch - that would help to make them some money. But they'd be gaining more through increased web traffic to their site and through the respect of fans.

  • Mo Hasan on June 25, 2012, 21:10 GMT

    And I thought the US was bad when it came to cricket. The UK is worse given that England created the sport! Can't believe there isn't a channel dedicated to International cricket or just cricket for that matter. The IPL, no permanent use of DRS and flat unsporting pitches....what is the world coming to! Cricket should be available on TV and online (legally and good quality) for free worldwide!!

  • sk12 on June 25, 2012, 23:13 GMT

    Lol when you mention robelinda fighting with Indian fans. You can find scores of youtube videos where immature fans (mostly kids) fight each other and some sledge just to see how many responses they get. And India, with such huge population esp emerging young poulation in the internet spend most of their time in youtube, passionate and all form most of the commenters.

  • Lawrie Colliver on June 25, 2012, 23:31 GMT

    Great piece mate. FOX SPORTS have so much winter footy on they haven't got room for SL v Pak, so if you want a look this is what you have to do. Who cares what Giles Clarke thinks?

  • Darren Lucas on June 26, 2012, 1:15 GMT

    The TV is digitized, turned into pieces of data. Data once stored is stored as a big number. It is not legal to copyright or patent or trademark a number. In black and white, according to truth, there is no crime in sharing of numbers. The TV channels have gone digital and pretend this is not the truth. You are dealing with reality while they are still blind from the naked truth. The law that makes these streams illegal is a hypocritical law in that it breaks other laws. Don't feel bad, but hope that they see the truth soon! Or say, is it right to prevent people from discovering and sharing a number? Sounds like the Dark Ages to me. IANAL

  • Darren Lucas on June 26, 2012, 1:21 GMT

    There is no stealing going on. When something is copied, no one loses anything. Therefore it cannot be called stealing when a copy is made. Further one cannot steal ideas because ideas can not be copyrighted, trademarked or patented. There expression can be, and that is where things get weird. Say, how can one have an idea without an expression? Yes, it is impossible, and just another shaky ground of current "law". Stealing is stealing, not copying.

  • Changaiz on June 26, 2012, 1:36 GMT

    I agree with you on this coz I Live in USA and I cannot get a dish installed in my apartment building coz It's not allowed so sometimes I have no option but to go online and Search for these live streaming sites. So yeah it's wrong but what Do I do. Gotta watch cricket right !!

  • Robelinda2 on June 26, 2012, 4:37 GMT

    Curse on the illegal sites/uploaders for stealing AND cashing in on it, there are plenty of us who genuinely love the game and wish to share our little video creations without attempting to earn a single cent from it. How else on earth would someone watch some random cricket moment from 1984 that will never see the light of day again, if not for youtube? I'm sure my channel will be shut down in due course, so enjoy while you can folks!