Watching the Golf Channel without Cable: Cord Cutter Ethics

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Although it has nowhere near the audience of the NFL, readers of this blog do indicate they want or miss the Golf  Channel. This weekend’s Hundai Tournament does have some streaming options, but accessing them without a cable subscription might lead to an increasingly encountered ethical dilemma:

Is it OK to borrow a friend’s log-in to access streamed content?

Screen shot of Golf Channel's GolfLive log-in

Screen shot of Golf Channel’s Golf Live log-in

Recently we’ve seen more high quality top content streams available, but with a new restriction: you must first log-in with you cable provider credentials. HBO GO tops the list of in demand programming that is available only to subscribers. But is it legal?

According to this New York Time’s piece HBO is not going after people that share passwords because maybe that password borrower will eventually become a paid subscriber. Nonetheless, the HBO GO terms of service, with this statement:

“you must be a subscriber with an account in good standing …”

clearly doesn’t allow it.

Meanwhile, back at the Hundai tournament, there are several live streams available this weekend as published on the Golf Channel:

Golf Live Extra Event Schedule

Hyundai Tournament of Champions
January 3, 2014 | 5:30pm-10:00pm EST
January 4, 2014 | 2:30pm-7:00pm EST

Hyundai Tournament of Champions on NBC
January 5, 2014 | 3:00pm-4:00pm EST

Hyundai Tournament of Champions
January 5, 2014 | 4:00pm-10:00pm EST
January 6, 2014 | 4:00pm-8:00pm EST

Like HBO GO, the Golf Channel FAQ’s explain that the service is only available to those that have a PayTV subscription with “participating TV providers.” (Side note: Oddly enough, Time Warner Cable is NOT on that list, even though most all of the big boys  e.g. Comcast, Cox, DirecTV etc are.)

So what about the idea of borrowing your friend’s log-in to watch Golf Live? I advise against it and I pose this “thought experiment” to explain why:

Suppose for an instant that you are a service provider launching a new paid streaming service to a potential market audience of say 10,000 households.  You rejoice when the first  10 sign-up, but you soon learn that the other 9,990 are all watching on borrowed passwords. Are all those  homes stealing content? Yeah, pretty much. And beyond that your business fails, and you must either turn it off or look for a new model.

Clearly this borrowing is stealing. If you want Golf Live, get your broadband (TV not required) from one of the partners and log-in with a clear conscience.

Do you disagree?


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11 Responses to Watching the Golf Channel without Cable: Cord Cutter Ethics

  1. Augustine says:

    I do disagree because stealing subtracts property from someone else. Equating loss of potential gains to streaking is quite a stretch, though coded in law.

    • Greg says:

      Thanks for weighing in Augustine. I hear what you are saying, and that’s partly why I used the extreme example I did. I would argue that the data stream is a kind of property. Yes it can be infinitely duplicated, so maybe that’s where you differentiate it?

  2. Len Mullen says:

    I don’t have an ethical issue with the practice. It’s not really different than having people over to watch tv, right? Or letting friends borrow a DVD or use your wifi when they are at your house. Or having a roommate. Or subletting. If the cable company wants to restrict to a single stream or something that’s fine, but I don’t think Jeff Bezos would ever tell me not to let a friend use my kindle.

    That said, it clearly violates the ToS and there could be implications. Someone could lose cable.

    • Greg says:

      The big difference I see is your examples involve someone at your own home. if you just give your password out they can watch on another set in their own house.

  3. George says:

    No one sees Cable any more, paying 40 dlls for 100 useless channels? if you only use one or two channels?? this is the real ethical dilema.. we want to pay but only for Streaming certain channels like this one in my case

    • Greg says:

      Agreed. If you want just the golf channel and a few others Cable is expensive. $40? That would be a bargain.

  4. Young Min Kim says:

    Two pictures in golfyoung.blogspot.com

    The left is the plane( bird-eye) drawing of a golf swing, The right is the front drawing A is a ball. E is a target line. Your club head has to go on the circle A_B_C and A-F-D. 4 Dimension Golf Swing thinks about plane(bird eye), front, side drawing and time. The plane(bird-eye) drawing is the first in the world.
    The smaller plane is hands motion. The smaller plane shape is different from the bigger plane shape because of cocking.

    Thinking about a plane drawing ,you can find the gap between the heel of the club head and the sweet spot.

    However [US PGA MANUAL page 142] THE CLUBHEAD WILL ALWAYS FOLLOW THE BUTT END.
    As the club reaches a position horizontal with the ground, an extension from the butt end should point through the ball and extend toward the target. If it stays in plane it will point back along that same line well into the follow through.

    If you swing by PGA page 142,you have a shank because you ignore the gap between the heel and the sweet spot. You should substitute the capitate joint of the left hand for the above ‘the butt end’ because of the gap.
    However [US PGA MANUAL page 142] THE CLUBHEAD WILL ALWAYS FOLLOW THE BUTT END.
    As the club reaches a position horizontal with the ground, an extension from the butt end should point through the ball and extend toward the target. If it stays in plane it will point back along that same line well into the follow through.

    If you swing by PGA page 142,you have a shank because you ignore the gap between the heel and the sweet spot. You should substitute the capitate joint of the left hand for the above ‘the butt end’ because of the gap.

  5. Wow! One of the more unusual comments in a while. A little beyond the scope of this post but also damn confusing advice. I like simple things like “keep our left arm straight “.

  6. Aaron Rainey says:

    I’m fine with it because clearly there is an attempt to pigeon-hole customers. I would argue that the cable providers are playing with ethical line by trying to monoplize content and then hit customers with with rates that only make shareholders happy.

    The only way to force them to change the business model is to break their current business model. If you think I am wrong, then I offer you Napster. That broke the current business model and opened the doors for Apple to change the way customers buy their music.

    Break away!

  7. Fountami says:

    Aaron got it right. Eventually, these options will force the cable companies to do what they should have done years ago … $2 a month per channel. Then households will pick the 30 channels they want and pay (eg.) $60 a month. Many of the specialty channels (who are getting free rides as part of bundled cable packages) will go by the wayside.

    • Greg says:

      Well we are at least very slowly nudging in that direction. The skinny bundes out there are closer to a core of what people watch and then you can add on extra premiums.

      But I haven’t heard much about true a la carte lately. I think you are right about some of the specialty channels going away, unless perhaps they don’t care about making money. There is some really oddball stuff on Netflix, (e.g. Ham Radio channels) that I bet has the tiniest of following.

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