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Brislen on Tech

Paul Brislen, Editor. 11 October 2019, 3:05 pm

Sporting contest

As Typhoon Hagibis bears down on Japan and threatens to throw the Rugby World Cup into turmoil, so Typhoon Streaming is bearing down on Sky TV with a similar impact.

Spark Sport has won the rights to New Zealand cricket for the next six years, and Sky's share price has plunged to below a dollar a share for the first time.

Apparently this has come as a shock to many, particularly at Sky, who seemed to think the Rugby World Cup streaming was some kind of aberration and would soon all go away and we would return to the old world order of Sky TV having the rights and delivering the service as it always had.

These occasions of wailing and gnashing of teeth always make me think of Douglas Adams and his fantastic line about the natural order of things.

"Anything that is in the world when you're born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that's invented between when you're 15 and 35 is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you're 35 is against the natural order of things."

Of course, we had the same thing when Sky started winning the rights from TVNZ (and TV3), and people had to buy "a satellite dish" and "a set top box" and everyone else had to make do with black and white radio sets, or something.

Streaming is coming to television and that's really all there is to say about it. Sure, Spark has teething issues and there are plenty of grumpy customers who don't like that they have new problems to solve but it's not going to stop any time soon. Long form drama and movies are now moving rapidly to a streaming service, live sporting events will be next. It's about as inevitable a process as you would hope to find and was clearly on the cards once Netflix arrived in New Zealand and we all got excited about the opportunity.

For Spark there's still the matter of making money off the content its buying, but that's a minor issue. Spark isn't buying this content to make money, it's buying the content to give users a reason to sign up and buy the bigger and better data bundles. Disruption to pay TV was always going to come from outside the broadcasting industry in much the way Google disrupted Microsoft's strangle hold on the desktop PC, by offering a similar product for free (and the same way Microsoft destroyed Netscape, and so on and yay! unto a thousand generations past, etc).

Of course, all this new found freedom to buy only the products you want comes at a cost: you will actually have to buy the products you want. So, whereas last year you could simply pay Sky TV a lot of money each month and get nearly everything, this year you'll have to pay Sky a bit less and Spark a bit more. Next year (well, at some point soon) you'll have to pay Spark or another ISP and then Netflix, Disney, HBO, TVNZ (albeit in the form of ads), and eventually NZ Rugby, Netball NZ, English Premiere League Football, NBA, the Irish Curling League, the Welsh Bog Snorkelling Society and all the other codes that cotton on to a new world order where clipping the ticket on millions of smaller amounts is better than signing an annual deal for a clip of someone else's ticket.

Of course, there is still room for Sky TV (and TVNZ and MediaWorks) because while I'm interested in Welsh Bog Snorkelling, I'm not going to shell out 100 Welsh Pounds to watch a year's worth - I might only want a sports highlight package. And I might want to see the FA Cup but probably not every tedious third division game, so again, I'd want some kind of wrap up service with the best of the week.

There's still plenty of room and while the music is still playing and everyone is jostling for position, when it stops there will be a mad rush for a seat. Then things will get really entertaining.

NZ Herald - Howzat! Fans react to Spark Sport snagging cricket rights from Sky

NZ Herald - 2019 Rugby World Cup: Spark Sport offers home visits to 309 'hard to resolve' streaming customers

Stuff - Sky TV 'weren't going to drop the ball again'

RNZ - Rugby World Cup: Angry Spark Sport viewer threatens class action lawsuit


Life or death streaming

News that another white extremist terrorist has decided to film himself murdering innocent people probably comes as no surprise to anyone who saw the impact the Christchurch terror attacks had.

This time a far right terrorist in Germany with what appears to be a handmade gun tried to break into a synagogue but was foiled, so took it out on passers-by, killing two people and wounding two more.

The whole thing was streamed via his helmet camera to Twitch, a gamer-centric video streaming platform owned by Amazon.

While the company moved swiftly to take down the content, reacting much faster than Facebook did during the aftermath of the Christchurch attacks, the video still made it out into the world and into the hands of those who are, no doubt, reinforced in their views as a result.

The problem is that the internet is (as has been said elsewhere) a giant copying machine and every "share" is actually a duplication of the content, making blocking it once it's out nigh on impossible.

It's the initial sharing that is the problem and until the social media companies address the "live" part of live streaming, that's not going to go away anytime soon.

So well done Amazon - you've done the right thing by the Christchurch Call to move as quickly as you did. But the problem isn't resolved - far from it.

The Independent - Germany synagogue shooting: Suspect 'broadcast attack livestream on Twitch' and ranted about Holocaust, Jews and immigration

The Guardian - Germany shooting: suspected gunman livestreamed synagogue attack

NY Times - 2,200 Viewed Germany Attack Before Twitch Removed Post



Facebook gives up the fight

Mark it in your calendars, Facebook gave up the fight against fake news on October 9, 2019.

The social media giant, which has cornered the advertising marketing dollar in nearly every market around the world, has quietly removed the requirement for truth and accuracy in your adverts, so long as you're posting political ads.

That's right, you can't claim your dishwashing powder works better than mine but you can say that your political opponent is wanted for murder and shouldn't be trusted.

This is critically important in the upcoming election round, not just in the US where Donald Trump has obviously been spending up large on social media advertising, but around the world and doubly so here in New Zealand where we're already seeing electioneering shenanigans in the form of ads that breach our standards, databases being leaked to the media and goodness knows what else going on.

Given the reach and power of Facebook as a platform it's high time regulations were introduced that require Facebook and the others to conform to New Zealand Electoral Act requirements or cease publication in New Zealand during our election round. I'd like to see a much more joined-up governmental approach to social media as you know, but this is a clear and present danger to the very fabric of our electoral system and one I don't think is being addressed as loudly as it could be. Pamphlets don't cut it in a world of hyper-targeted videos.

And while we're talking about elections, the call has once again gone out for our elections to get with the programme and go digital. Of course, there are many issues with online voting and I'm not convinced moving away from paper to bits will address any of the problems with the current system, it'll just add more problems of a new kind. We only have to look at the Census turn out to know many people say they're going to fill in the forms but do they actually get round to it? Not particularly.

I will of course be laying complaints about fake 5G ads on Facebook because clearly I should be able to block fake news… but Facebook won't see them as advertising so probably won't make any of them stop publishing lies.

Techblog - Online voting back in the news

LA Times - Opinion: Facebook just gave up the fight against fake news

Business Insider - Facebook confirms Donald Trump can lie in ads, but he can't curse

The Guardian - Facebook exempts political ads from ban on making false claims

CNET - Facebook rejected Biden request to pull false Trump ad about Ukraine

Newsweek - Facebook's updated advertising policy could enable politicians to spread misinformation

CBC - Facebook blocks ads for new tree-planting initiative at 2 Oakville car dealerships

The Policy Observatory - Online voting won't engage more youth


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