Wiziwig: Poor Legal Options Turn People into Pirates

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Wiziwig, one of the world's largest streaming sports portals, shut down this week to the dismay of millions of fans. TorrentFreak caught up with the site's operators who told us a now familiar story. If only sports companies and broadcasters got their act together and fulfilled consumer demand, sites such as Wiziwig would never exist.

Until our report yesterday it’s likely that Wiziwig, a streaming portal covering just about every spectator sport around, had flown under the radars of many readers. And that’s surprising.

The site is ranked #1,546 worlwide by Alexa and is the 239th most-popular site in the UK. On Thursday the term ‘wiziwig’ was the 8th most popular search on Google.co.uk, ahead of official sports broadcaster BT Sport. But the popularity wasn’t based on good news. Citing changes in Spanish law, Wiziwig had been forced to close just hours earlier.

In the wake of the closure TorrentFreak caught up with the operators of this hugely popular site to find out about events leading up to its shutdown. Interestingly it’s what didn’t happen on the site’s first day offline that topped the discussion.

Among dozens of other sports, Wiziwig carried links to live soccer games and as a result became somewhat of a magnet for companies such as the UK’s Premier League. New Year’s Day is a traditionally big date for UK soccer so coinciding with the first day of Wiziwig downtime, the site’s operators stood back and watched what happened.

“What we noticed Thursday, and that’s what we’ve always been thinking, is that the Premier League has only been focusing on Wiziwig lately to take down streams, like those from [P2P streaming service] Sopcast for example,” Wiziwig told us.

“If we added a Sopcast link for a game in the Premier League, then quickly that link was made inaccessible. On Thursday all Sopcast channels kept working all day, without any been taking down during the early kickoff, 3pm game and late game. Coincidence?”

The idea that the soccer league had been using Wiziwig to find streams and have them taken down at source was confirmed when matches streamed from other sources also remained up.

“Same applied with Veetle links, as when those previously appeared on Wiziwig they were quickly taken down. If we didn’t add them they were working all game long, while people could find them easily in Veetle. That also applied to several other links.”

Aside from changes in Spanish law where the site was based, Wiziwig also reminded us of two serious events in the UK earlier in the year. In April the operator of sports streaming site Nutjob.eu was arrested by officers from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit. That was followed by a September raid on the operator of the Coolsport streaming service.

When all things were considered (Wiziwig’s Twitter account was shutdown by a complaint in December) the team felt that the timing was right to call it a day. But even though Wiziwig is no more, other sites are bound to try and fill the gap the portal has left in the market. These, Wiziwig’s operators say, wouldn’t even exist if more effort was put into getting official services to consumers.

“We’ve seen in the past several years that people don’t get the right options to watch the sports and games they want to watch. Many sports events, and many games, aren’t available worldwide. The Leagues or competitions often don’t provide the right options for people to watch games in a legal way, which is also what we’ve seen from many replies on Twitter and Facebook,” Wiziwig explain.

“People want to subscribe to some games, some PPV events, and don’t want long contracts. In many countries there are no options to watch specific sports events and competitions. So not just the big sports/leagues, but also for smaller events.

“Then people decide to watch the online streams. A good example is the 3pm soccer games in England which aren’t shown on UK TV due to an old law designed to keep stadiums full. If the leagues fail to provide such options then websites like Wiziwig and [illicit] streams will always exist,” Wiziwig adds.

With the site closed the team are now turning their attention to GetYourFixtures, a TV guide for sports with links to only official streams.

“GetYourFixtures’ aim is to provide people with the correct TV info for all sports events, and if there isn’t a TV channel showing it then they want to give people the options to watch it officially online.

“Maybe leagues and competitions will wake up and start working on providing decent PPV options, letting people pay for just a single game, a flexible way of watching sports. On TV, mobile or tablet: wherever they are, either free and supported with advertisements when there isn’t any TV coverage/legal pay option, or just for small fees. They should work together,” Wiziwig concludes.


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