Monday, April 17, 2006

How to avoid cable and watch live football for free

One of Singapore's leading newspapers has exposed how football fans are watching live international football on their computers, free of charge. According to Wang Meng Meng in The New Paper, applications such as PP Live, PP Stream, TV Koo, TV Ants, QQ Live, Feidian and SOP Cast have enabled fans to side-step paying subscription fees for cable television.

"Utilising peer-to-peer (P2P) technology, users with broadband internet access and with Windows Media Player (version 9.0 and above) installed on their computers are now able to stream live football matches and watch them on their screens. Instead of relying on servers, a P2P network depends on the computing power (the speed of the users' computers) and the collective bandwidth of the group to provide the fastest loading speeds for the moving images," he explained.

While Singapore's local cable television provider StarHub does not broadcast live football on the internet, foreign companies, particularly in China, are doing so and are offering a huge variety of leagues and games. With the help of websites like www.asiaplate.com, one is able to get an online TV guide and find out what games are live and which foreign channel is beaming it on the net.

Wang quotes one user of the service about its drawbacks: "Download times can be painfully slow sometimes. And programmes could be interrupted, which can be irritating when you watching a nail-biting match. Also, the images are not of the best quality. It is often pixellated. But what to do? It's free," he said.

StarHub told Wang that accessing the football through P2P is probably illegal. "StarHub believes that such acts constitute an infringement of intellectual property rights of the owners and the licensed broadcasters of the English Premier League, and viewers may incur personal liabilities for such unauthorised viewing. StarHub and ESPN Star Sports take a very serious view of this matter and would expect to take appropriate action against such unauthorised viewing, the company's corporate communications manager, Caitlin Fua, said.

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