YouTube Taking Punches

HBOIt is arguably life’s most absolute truism; “nothing in life is free”. Ok, it lacks the history, popularity or endorsement from Luthur Vandross of “the best things in life are free” but its resonance is irrefutable. Your place between the two schools of thought is probably decided by your natural level of cynicism and demeanour in every day life. Is the glass half full or half empty?

But whatever your perspective, nobody could deny that the advent of YouTube.com has been a revelation for all, and particularly boxing fans. We’ve all jumped aboard, but the free bus has a slow puncture.

Last weekend’s watershed bout between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather, [should I be putting Mayweather’s name first now?], proved a bridge too far for the HBO network that invested unprecedented amounts in promoting the bout around the world. The promotion was a masterpiece, drawing all the expertise of the Golden Boy himself and the experts at HBO to deliver an event that unquestionably captured the attention of sports fans globally. It has to be noted that unlike the great Ali, Dempsey and Leonard fights of the past, it was painted on a canvas, the current popularity and conspicousness of boxing, barely conducive to such success.

It is this masterpiece and investment in it that has led HBO to demand the You Tube site withdraw videos of the fight from its free to air provision. Even in clips and round sections, this is valuable material to the network and it is hard to summon an argument against the legitimacy of their demand. OK, wider availability increases the awareness of their product – the fighters and the show – but it is hard to have such a bigger picture view when the money invested is so large.

A few others whiffs of complaint have been smelt already and one wonders how long YouTube can fight off the claims of copyright breach. Grab it the beauty of You Tube while you can.

An Associated Press report is available from ESPN by clicking here. Is it only me who noticed the HBO spokesman was called Stallone?

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