Abel to Yzerman
by VooX on 01/30/12 at 04:04 PM ET
I don’t have access to Nielsen Ratings. I don’t have access to any other metrics that our imp commissioner, Li’l Gary Bettman, has at his disposal to measure ratings of NHL hockey games.
Thanks to our tireless interns at A2Y, I do have access to some of the darker, seedier corners of The Gore. Areas where people known as “The Scene” spread their warez across the internet, much to the utter dismay of copyright holders and the DMCA. In short, “The Scene” is where piracy originates online, the source of greater than 95% of illegally shared and downloaded files. Once stolen, The Scene releases files for distribution to so-called “Topsites” which then share the files to the rest of the internet with the files eventually working their way down to being shared via Peer-to-Peer (P2P) transfers, like Bit-torrents, and direct download sites, like the recently shutdown Megaupload site.
From this research an alarming, but not surprising, fact becomes apparent: the NHL All-Star Game is so unpopular among the general public that online pirates don’t even bother stealing it for file-sharing.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t condone piracy. As someone in the entertainment industry, I understand how expensive it is to get anything produced, marketed, and distributed, even disregarding big-budget corporate releases. Without financial compensation to support themselves, no artist will be able to create anything for very long. The debate of fair compensation and the implication of piracy as a whole is far beyond the scope of this blog, so let’s move things along.
Monitoring of The Scene does offer some very valuable market research not available through official channels, and I definitely try and keep my finger on the pulse of what people are pirating, sharing, and downloading through non-legitimate channels to obtain the Neilsen Ratings of the black market.
The Scene is massive and essentially unstoppable. It operates under heavily-codified rules which are rigidly self-enforced and govern everything from acceptable quality standards and the precise method of naming released files to forbidding the posting of duplicate releases of the same content someone has already released. Among the only exceptions to the non-duplication rule is when releases are offered at different resolutions, for instance a full 720p release compared to a compressed HDTV file of a lower resolution and size, and when there is a specific and declared problem with the original release on the warez scene it will be “nuked” and a corrected, “PROPER”, duplicate release will be allowed to replace the original file on the Topsites.
Competition exists among pirates to be the first to correctly steal and release, and bragging rights are obtained by the pirate (or piracy group) through writing their name as the very last word of the pirated file’s name. Typically, bragging rights are the only thing The Scene pirates seek, all trying to earn a reputation as the best and fastest content pirates/Topsite on the planet. Piracy, like most crimes of theft, is a crime of opportunity and demand. In particular, if there is no demand for the stolen good/content, there is very little incentive to steal for the would-be thief/pirate.
Special websites aggregate almost everything released by The Scene, categorized by content type, so users can download from the content pirates with a simple mouse click. Point, Click, and Steal convenience for anyone who wants to download the pirated release. It is from these aggregate websites that download numbers can be obtained. For every download from an aggregate site, the number of downloads further “downstream” from the Topsites increase exponentially. Every “hit”, or download, on just one popular aggregate site is typically worth at least 50 downloads via P2P and direct download sites, and usually well over 100 downloads “downstream” per hit.
While the exact number can be a bit imprecise, there are ways to track Bit-torrent downloads via P2P trackers very precisely, and it is in this way that content creators find those who are illegally file-sharing their content to pursue legal threats or even litigation. Also keep in mind, it is very difficult to track the number of people tuning into illegal live online streaming broadcasts of sports (or any TV) broadcasts, even though many people watch sports on an online stream instead of downloading sporting events. Both these methods are more research than I am willing to do, as a clear enough picture can be derived just from monitoring a release’s popularity on the aggregate sites.
Enough of the lesson about the Warez Scene, allow me to discuss how this black market research relates to the (non-)popularity of the NHL’s All-Star Game.
The above screenshot is taken from one of the most popular aggregate sites for the warez scene anywhere on the internet. Listed, as of an hour ago when the screenshot was taken, are the last 48 sporting events pirated by The Scene, the number of downloads (or hits), and the age of the file, in the “Sports” category of the aggregate site.
Missing among the various releases, quite obviously to any hockey fan, is the NHL All-Star Game or All-Star Skills Competition. This is a clear indication that there is very little demand for Li’l Gary Bettman’s All-Star fiasco. Despite the league touting the importance of the event in terms of sponsors and the media, it remains painfully clear that the general public doesn’t really care about this “major” league event at all.
So what sporting events are more popular than the NHL All-Star Game, thus warranting online pirates stealing and distributing the files to the public?
The UFC on Fox event Saturday night is the most popular event, followed by the WWE Royal Rumble. The Australian Open finals, both mens and womens, are listed as are the semifinals for the event. Those are major events for their respective sports, but the NHL executive office will argue the NHL All-Star game is a major event for the NHL.
Let’s examine some of the other sports events which are popular enough for The Scene to pirate to gauge what exactly IS more popular than the NHL’s All-Star Game.
There is the FA Cup Round 4 from the UK, there is also a recent MFC event (a Canadian mixed martial arts promotion), as well as a weekly WWE show, Smackdown, and iMPACT wrestling, a WWE competitor. In addition to a handful of NBA games and the 2012 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, we find that the Australian Track Cycling Championship is more popular than the ASG, I know everyone must be talking about that one around the water cooler today. The UFC is so much more popular than the NHL’s All-Star Game that even the Weigh-Ins to the UFC on Fox event were pirated, why you would want to see men in underwear get weighed is beyond me, even though you can watch the weigh-ins for free online both live and afterwards through completely legal sources.
We find some of the most unusual events, which were still more popular than the NHL All-Star Game, listed. Want to learn how to wakeboard? Well apparently so do nearly 100 downloaders, so far, who would rather watch that than the NHL All-Star hoopla. The NHL is being trumped by Motocross events, both the Red Bull X Fighters World Tour (of 2008) and the AMA Supercross events (450 & 250 divisions) in Oakland this past weekend. When dirtbikes generate more interest than your annual NHL spectacle, Li’l Gary, maybe it’s time to reconsider the viability of the All-Star Game.
In case you’re curious, here are the most popular events since January 1, 2011, based upon downloads from The Scene’s Topsites on a major aggregate site:
A very clear pattern emerges, the UFC is absolutely destroying the NHL in terms of popularity and interest among people watching sports, something I was trying to tell Li’l Gary, a couple of years ago, only to be dismissed with that special condescension Li’l Gary reserves just for us hockey fans.
To me the highlights of the current list of sporting events pirated, which are clearly more important to the general public based upon demand than the NHL All-Star Game, is the Global Starcraft 2 League (which is a televised VIDEO GAME competition) and the 2004 DVD release, Back in the Saddle Again, promoted by the publisher as such:
Well, those ornery varmints at Pist-n-Broke are back again with the follow up to the sleeper hit of 2002. All yer favorite gunslingers will be saddling up for the most fun one can have on 2 wheels without getting tossed in the Hoosegow.
I couldn’t have said it any better myself.
Thanks Gary. Ass.
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Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977. No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y. Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation. There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature. Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: email@example.com