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Open football

March 2nd, 2009 by Graham Attwell

It is a busy period for me and hence little time for posting. Off again tomorrow to Pontypridd, then to Manchester for ThoughtFest08, a quick trip to Swindon to see my parents and then to Warwick University and on to Loughborough for the Jisc Users and Innovations programme Benefits Realisation project.

I do have the odd hour off! Last Thursday was the UEFA cup game between Werder Bremen and Milan (in Milan) and I managed to get myself to Bremen for the game. Problem was having made it to Germany, I found the game was not being seen on German TV. Conspiracy theories for this range between anti Werder bias on part of German broadcasters, ridiculous prices being charged by Milan for media rights and a desire not to show referees bias outside Italy!

So what to do? Innovation was running high. There were French, Chinese and Romanian broadcasters covering the game wide. satellite dishes were being moved, news cards plugged into computers and receivers. sadly, the only venue that my friend Lars knew was showing the match was on the wrong side of the river, it was pouring with rain and the ferry had stopped for the night. So, in the end, we decided to take our computers ot my local pub, where there is access to an open network from a nearby student house. The landlord had already positioned himself next to a radio with locals gathered around it. Lars and me got busy on our MacBooks, surfing for open feeds. And there were a lot of feeds – both on open streams and on peer to peer networks. The problem was there were also a lot of people seeking to watch those feeds. We ended up with two jerky rebuffering feeds running some 25 seconds behind the radio commentary. But nevertheless, the computers became a central focus on attention, perched on a high bar table and angled so everyone could watch.

The result, as I am sure you will guess since i am blogging this, was 2-2, so Werder progressed on the away goals rule.

But seriously, how long can this farce of closed media rights go on. As bandwidth continues to improve, I guess by next year the feeds will be reasonably good. And with so many people in China, in Romania and all over the world prepapred to generously share their satellite streams, it is only a matter of time before the football authorities  and the broadcasters have to reconsider their strategies for trying to screw as much money as possible from ordinary football fans for trying to follow their teams. Lets campaign for Open Football!

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