Our family spends hundreds of dollars a month with Time Warner Cable. And plenty more with the NBA league pass. And plenty more with tickets to Knicks games. It's not that we don't want to pay for our sports entertainment. And it's not that we are unwilling to pay more.
But last night we were turned into "pirates" as the entertainment industry likes to call us. As 2011 turned into 2012, the executives at Time Warner Cable and MSG Network were unable to make a deal to keep MSG on Time Warner Cable. My son was fuming and so was I.
So I did what many did last night. I opened Twitter on the family room iPad and tweeted out a question.
Screw cable. Where can I watch the Knicks game online tonight?— Fred Wilson (@fredwilson) January 3, 2012
Within seconds the suggestions came pouring in. NBA.com's League Pass for broadband was widely suggested but they were blacking out the Knicks Raptors game in the NYC area. Note to NBA.com - take all Time Warner Broadband IP addresses out of your blackout code table. If you do, you'll sign up a bunch of new subsribers during this TWC/MSG spat.
So we went on to the pirate sites. That worked great. No blackout problems there. Here's the tweet I sent out when we got the game on the big screen in the family room (via our family room mac mini).
I added the #screwcable hashtag to that one. I hope others start using it. The industry sure deserves it for turning really good paying customers into pirates.
I've long believed that piracy is largely a business model problem not a human behavior problem. If you give people a legal way to consume the content they want, they will pay for it. But when you make it impossible to legally consume the content they want, they will pirate it. That's what happened last night and that is what will happen every night there is a Knicks game on TV for as long as MSG and Time Warner Cable continue to figure out how to screw their customers.