Sometimes I could just stream…

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There are times when not having Foxtel sucks. The greatest one-dayer in history went to air last night, and I only got to watch five overs of it, after I rushed down to the pub as Australia were on the verge of smashing the world record.


But I didn’t stick around into the wee hours as Australia set a few more world records – for the most runs conceded in one-day history by hapless Mick Lewis, and then for the shortest time a world batting record had ever been held as the South Africans somehow hauled in Australia’s massive total with a ball to spare.
I absolutely loved watching those five overs – especially the one with four no balls that went for 28! And when I was back home during South Africa’s innings, pressing ‘refresh’ every five seconds on Cricinfo.com somehow wasn’t quite the same.
My apartment building doesn’t have Foxtel cabling, so there’s no way I can fulfil my obsession with cricket even if I want to shell out a hefty sum for a subscription. And while SBS spared us the misery of missing the Ashes last year, other great matches overseas go unwatched by most Australians because they aren’t on free-to-air. I only watched a few balls of our historic series win in India, for example.
But I’ve got a fast internet connection, and I’d be willing to pay to watch an ODI streaming down, so the question is – why can’t I?
It turns out I can, according to a friend overseas who I was complaining to via instant messenger during the innings. Not from South Africa, but most other matches from around the world can be legally watched over the internet at willow.tv. It’s associated with Rupert Murdoch’s DirecTV broadcaster.
The only catch is that it’s extremely expensive. Watching the whole of the current English tour of India, for example, costs US $84.95. But presumably these costs will come down over time.
This is clearly going to be the way of the future. I tried signing up to 3’s much-advertised mobile TV cricket service during the ICC tournament, when I was away from the TV like Darren Lehmann at the beach during those ads. But what they don’t tell you is that when Darren’s lying back watching his phone by the water in the ad, the quality’s so poor that he can’t even see the ball unless there’s a close-up replay. (The image is tiny.) In fact, he can’t even see the scores. Maybe we should wait for 4G mobiles?
Similarly, Telstra’s broadcasting some of the Commonwealth Games to its 3G mobiles. But I wouldn’t sign up if I were you. Not because the quality is poor, but because then you’ll be watching the Commonwealth Games.
It’s only a matter of time before we can watch TV over the internet, though. Another arm of Telstra, Bigpond, has already started streaming movies, and Foxtel are working on delivering pay TV over broadband connections, it turns out.
But as usual, the pirates are already there. While I was frantically refreshing the cricket score last night and reading about willow.tv, I discovered that my favourite sport, the English Premier League, is already being transmitted around the world using a number of dubious programs such as PPLive, the Napster of internet TV.
And I regret to admit that I couldn’t resist tuning in to watch Arsenal beat Liverpool on Chinese TV. Just to see how evil this really was. The quality was incredible – a large image that was very smooth almost all of the time. And the frenzied Mandarin commentary added a degree of hilariousness often missing from dour soccer broadcasts.
This is probably illegal, but like an English tabloid reporter sneaking weapons onto a plane to expose airport security, I did it just so I could draw everyone’s attention to the outrageous copyright violations going on. Really, it’s shocking that I can watch my favourite team for free, without having to go to a smoky backpacker-filled pub at 3am. Just shocking.
Because I refuse to be part of this blatant violation of intellectual property rights, I won’t include links that show you how to sign up. So if you Google “pplive” and “football”, don’t hold me responsible for any immorality that may follow.
As for Foxtel – well, I’m going to sign up just as soon as they’ve finished cabling my building, promise. Well, at least until Chinese TV starts broadcasting the cricket.

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