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Monday, May 01, 2006

Cleaning Up Content Distribution

Currently, I am totally disgusted with Chris Eubank and through his actions I think the mobile operators are cruising in totally the wrong direction in the content field. The end-game will be a heap of negative publicity and killing-off the content industry before it really gets started.

To recap, the early 1990s was a purple patch for British Boxing, especially in the Super-Middleweight division where there were three world class boxers all with different styles. There was Nigel “The Dark Destroyer” Benn, who was super-aggressive and seemed to punch even harder when someone had hurt him; there was Chris Eubank who a fantastic complete all-round boxer and was so cocky and pretentious that he immediately became the person that everyone hated; and there was Michael Watson a real Boxing technician, classical in his approach and loved by the “boxing” community. Of course, it all became as much pantomime as pugilistic showdown.

In the late summer of 1991 in front of packed White Hart Lane and 14 million on ITV, Chris Eubanks met Michael Watson for the second time. Over 12 rounds probably the greatest fight ever in British history played out and in the final round the referee stopped the fight. Chris Eubanks had a pyrrhic victory, Michael Watson collapsed into a coma and the TV screens went blank and.

Michael Watson lay in a coma for the rest of the summer, had several brain operations and has never recovered to this day. Chris Eubank, the ultimate self-publicist, carried on being the pantomime bad-boy even after the end of his boxing days. For millions of viewers, I’m sure they had the same guilt ridden complex that I had developed: I had spent 1 hour of my life, literally, watching someone getting their brains bashed in and enjoyed it. Brain Barwick (yes that one), the ITVs head of sport placed the TV images on embargo and the fight has never been seen again on TV and never has a DVD been released.

Michael Watson was back in the news in 2003, when he showed his amazing courage and determination by completing the London Marathon in six days. Chris Eubank was right there by his side. Last year, Chris Eubank was declared bankrupt by the Inland Revenue who claimed £1.3m.

Last week, Chris Eubank released a video of the fight from his website for £10. The mechanism for payment was via a mobile aggregator called Activefone who provide the distribution to mobiles or PC, payments gladly accepted via. Reverse SMS billing.

My points are:Why are the mobile operators letting their pipes to be used for this type of content?Whatever happened to the rating system? I suspect you can download whatever age you are.Why did Eubank choose this payment and distribution method over all the others available?

I’m sure if we asked the phone operators, they will point us in the direction of Activefone – totally avoiding responsibility. However, does the biggest retailer of DVDs stock the product? No. Does ITV still distribute the product? No.

I think the mobile operators as distribution channels and payment collectors have to realize their responsibilities.

I remember the Jamba - Crazy Frog episode and the end result. Ultimately, the industry has suffered.

My real thought is that the Mobile Operators themselves should be policing what is going on: they are not and are instead pursuing a strategy of ostrich-like short term gain sacrificing the long term future.