Link 1, not working; Link 2, ditto. On Sunday, as Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka fought it out for the French Open men’s singles title at Roland Garros, over in India, some tennis fans were engaged in a battle of their own - finding a web stream that worked, and continued to work.
Unlike rival broadcasters such as Star and Ten, Neo Sports, which has exclusive telecast rights for the French Open in India, does not provide a stream of any kind – paid or free – on its website. With Neo unavailable on Tata Sky, those subscribing to the D2H service are forced to look elsewhere.
For the tech-savvy viewer, alternatives – in the form of streaming websites – are a click away. Often, the same website provides links for multiple live sporting events – on Sunday for instance, the choice was between Ireland-England football friendly, Canadian Grand Prix, Fifa Women’s World Cup and, of course, the French Open final. These links, which may or may not work, are unauthorised; the quality of the feed varies wildly, but hey, it’s free.The streams provided by Star and Ten are legitimate – and thriving. The live feed of Saturday night’s Uefa Champions League final between Barcelona and Juventus was available on the latter’s website for Rs. 50 – the page got 75,000 hits. And while the computer monitor (or cellphone screen) is unlikely to replace the idiot box anytime soon, experts believe streaming can complement the conventional way of watching live sports.
"In the modern world, we have the phenomenon of place shifting, where a user starts watching content on a particular device and moves on to other devices at other places," says Rajesh Sethi, global CEO of Ten Sports. While streaming requires a fast internet connection, the official ones allow the user to choose video quality – helpful when bandwidth is limited. "We provide our streams in multiple bit rates which work on slow connections too," says Sethi.
In some cases, live streaming provides options that TV doesn’t – like choosing which feed to watch. “With streaming from six different camera angles, Moto GP is a huge success with a niche audience,” says Sethi. After years of being held hostage by the local cable operator, looks like the customer is all set to become king again.