NBA, UFC, NFL Are Coming After Illegal Streamers

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As a result of losing up to $28 billion in annual revenue due to pirated streams, the NFL, NBA and UFC are now looking to fast-track the time it takes to shut down streams once they are found.

Make no mistake, sports leagues are coming for illegal streamers.

In a letter sent to the U.S. Trade Patent and Trademark Office, the leagues are seeking to change the wording from the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

The issue has to do with the length of time it takes for a DMCA takedown notice to be issued to the illegal streamer or illegal website. Many times by the time the notice is served, the live event is already over, essentially making the crackdown useless as the leagues are trying to make revenue. Typically, a DMCA notice can take anywhere from multiple hours to even days.

Sport leagues like the UFC and NBA are looking to change the DMCA language to shut down piracy quicker. (Getty Images)D


The letter urges the DMCA to change the takedown notice processing time from “expeditiously,” to “instanteously, or near-instanteously.” They argue that the 1998 law is outdated as the Internet is a whole new world these days with the rise of social media, and the Act needs to be updated accordingly.

This, of course, is music to Narc Cuban’s ears... who creepily asked his Twitter followers a few months ago if they watched pirated sporting streams.

“Got a personal question,” the Dallas Mavericks owner began in his tweet. “Who is watching [the Heat vs Celtics] game on a pirated stream? I’m curious how prevalent it is.” I’m sure you do you Narc.

One thing that the leagues don’t understand is that if they are successful in shutting down the majority of illegal streams, it could actually have a negative impact on their own product.

For example, many people stream Jake Paul’s boxing fights? That actually benefits him because that gets people reacting and talking about him and only grows his popularity. Those same people however, are absolutely not going to go and purchase a Jake Paul fight, they’ll just say the hell with it and move on and seemingly lose interest in him and the sport.

A Plate with DMCA Digital Millennium Copyright Act sign, gavel and keyboard.


A shut down of illegal streams is an attack on the casual fan.

Sure, it may sound impressive for corporations to tell their shareholders that they have cracked down on piracy. But in the long run that actually will have a detrimental effect. When you lose the casual fan, you also lose their engagement, advertisement revenue, clicks and their interest in the subject matter at hand.

In this day and age where no one can pay attention and everyone is looking for the next best thing, to screw with your audience is a dangerous gamble. I would caution the leagues to not go all out on stopping illegal streams unless they also have a plan to reduce the cost of the legal streams. Think about the rise of Napster, which peaked interest in music, only to then shut it down. Then, the industry fell until a free streaming platform like Spotify came about.

If they don’t have a backup plan in place, they could lose on both ends.

Written by Mike Gunzelman

Mike “Gunz” Gunzelman has been involved in the sports and media industry for over a decade. He’s also a risk taker - the first time he ever had sushi was from a Duane Reade in Penn Station in NYC.

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