In Guideline 10 of the Forum Posting Guidelines, there is the following statement concerning our policy on posting links to streaming sites on the messageboard forums.
Please note carefully that online streams of live football matches are also classed as questionable content and the posting of links as well as the requesting of links to such content will result in an immediate temporary ban in the first instance.
Initially, not linking to sites showing or advocating anything illegal was a contractual agreement with our hosts, but these days it’s partly a moral issue. TV money is essential to a club like Rovers and the proliferation of online streams from broadcasters outside the UK massively devalues the EPL’s TV package. Ergo, more streaming, less money for Rovers in the long run. One little BRFC site won’t make a difference in the grand scale, but it’s an important stand.
Obviously, the real solution is that the EPL get around to selling the online broadcasting rights to somebody who we can legitimately advertise and promote in the knowledge it will be benefiting, not hurting, the club. It’s also a legally grey area and once somebody does have the rights to live stream EPL games, you can bet they’ll be throwing cease and desist orders at websites in an attempt to protect their business model.
Due to the legal issue with receiving games not intended for broadcast in the UK, we don’t allow sharing (or even requesting or hinting at) streaming links. Hence, moderators are asked to remove streaming links and discussion in the forums.
This isn’t just to protect you from yourselves, or part of the agreement with our upstream hosts that we don’t link to “illegal” content, it’s a common-sense thing. Companies pay huge amounts of money for the UK rights to show EPL games, money which mostly gets filtered back to the EPL clubs and, for a club like Blackburn with a relatively small fan base (with a very small average spend per fan), this money makes up a huge percentage of the club’s income. So, as more and more people watch streams intended for broadcast in other countries, the value of the product the EPL has to sell to Sky/ESPN etc falls, so in return when the rights to show the games get renegotiated, the club gets less money in, which means either we’re signing inferior players, or your season ticket is going up. It’s also not going to take a genius to work out that in these tough times it also impacts on home tickets sales, something we don’t need from either a financial or atmosphere point of view.
We have no issue with people linking to legitimate services that have paid for the rights to show the content on the Internet (such as Yahoo’s stuff at http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/football/premier-league/video/ or even the club’s own RoversWorld service), it’s just sites that offer to connect you to streams in other countries that aren’t licensed for Internet transmission (i.e., pretty much all of them).
Yes, we know it goes on; yes, we know we can’t stop it; yes, it’s potentially legally a grey area in some areas of the world (though it’s pretty Black and White in the UK), but we don’t condone it, so we decided many years ago to ban all posting of streaming links.