Last night was the first big test for the stream police after Zuffa, parent company of UFC, had subpoenaed Ustream and Justin.tv last week for the IP addresses of its users caught illegally streaming pay-per-view events. A quick look around the Internet during last night’s UFC 117 event showed one thing: streams haven’t gone away.
As you can see in this screenshot, taken right around 10:00pm ET, a search for “ufc” on Ustream turned up channels advertising an illegal stream of the event.
What seems to be happening with these streams—and that goes for all sports, not just UFC—is that you’ll find channels set up on Usteam, Justin.tv, etc. advertising the availability of a stream, but then you go off-site to actually watch the stream.
P2P streams, which are somewhat harder to fight, particularly if they’re hosted in foreign countries, were still going strong, as well.
High-quality copies of the event have already spread to various BitTorrent sites.
Bottom line is, streams are still out there. For how long that remains the case—there’s another UFC pay-per-view at the end of this month—is completely unknown.
Zuffa can subpoena whomever it wants, and it has every right to do so, but there will always be communities devoted to watching its events for free, either via a live stream (the quality of which will only improve in the years ahead) or via a download after the event finishes.
If I can make one suggestion: lower the price of the official Zuffa PPV stream. Fouty-five dollars for an Internet stream is a little on the high side, don’t you think? For that you’re almost better off paying the $60 for an HD PPV feed from your cable or satellite provider, or going out to a bar or restaurant and making a “night out” of it.
That, of course, only speaks to the PPV situation here in the U.S. I have no idea how UFC works in, say, Australia. (Though I do know the events are shown for free on ESPN in the UK, so that’s neat.)