Why ATDHE, in its current state, can be good for sports teams and leagues

ATDHE.net was shut down earlier this week as their domain name was seized as part of a Homeland Securities investigation. What streaming live sports has anything to do with defending the safety of the United States of America, I have no idea; but while the ferries I take at least once a week have no security whatsoever for walk-on passengers, we have a special agent chasing down those who aren't committing copyright infringement, just spreading it. Here's the image now in place on the old domain, while the site is back in place on a different domain.

A month ago I sung the praises of ATDHE for sports fans. Being completely honest, I went a bit too far. Sports fans absolutely cannot get by on using sites like ATDHE alone. And, for sports teams and leagues, this in-between ground where fans can check out games from time to time, but not get by on the service by itself, it is absolutely perfect.

First off, let's start with a couple reasons why ATDHE isn't that great and, as a result, serves as no legitimate threat to mainstream media outlets:

  • It is wildly inconsistent. The video streams on this site come from a number of different video services with the the feeds itself being broadcast from a wide range of individuals. The feed quality is almost never the same and, when there is a good feed, it's usually taken off the air at some point during the game.
  • It doesn't even have everything and some of the things it does have aren't found elsewhere. There are rarely any regular season Major League Baseball streams. As a Mariners fan, this site is no help whatsoever. For fans of La Liga or the English Premier League, there's nowhere else for fans on a non-ESPN3 ISP to watch these games online legally.
  • It's not even that popular amongst the general public. Almost everyone I mention it to has never heard of the site and, when I do mention it, no one ever remembers the name of the site and I have to tell them about it again later.

Now why is this good?

Almost all ATDHE users are using the site as a last resort. For the most part, they are not choosing to watch sports on ATDHE over a legal or paid method, they're choosing between watching the game on ATDHE or not watching it at all, for any number of reasons. It could be financial restraints preventing them from buying services like NBA League Pass Broadband or MLB.tv, or it could be because they just want to check the game out the game because they saw friends buzzing about it on Tweetdeck, but aren't committed to throwing down for every game.

I know the idea of giving away games for free is off-putting to some league or team officials, but in choosing between having casual fans (could still be diehard fans of the sport, but not the teams involved) watching your team's games or not doing so, why wouldn't you prefer the former?

Strengthening that point, which I admit seems ridiculous at first glance, let's look at the likely demographics of the site's user: probably younger, more technologically savvy, possibly the group of people that cannot afford sports packages or even cable at alll, but are still passionate enough to explore every possible avenue to watch the game. These are the next generation of fans. Look at who those characteristics could define: college students, sports bloggers, casual fans looking to become bigger ones and technologically-savvy fans who may use other tools to spread the word on the game.

Why shouldn't a team or league make a minor investment in allowing this group to watch sports for free over having them not watch games at all?

To close it out, fighting ATDHE is total waste of time. Not only can the site pop right back up in a matter of days with a slightly altered URL, but doing so may ultimately be detrimental to the copyright holders the site infringes upon. So, let it be. The site isn't taking a major chunk out of the mainstream media's bottom line but only giving mediocre access to casual and/or influential fans who wouldn't be watching what they're viewing otherwise.

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