Friday, February 03, 2012

ICE seizes illegal sports video streaming domains ahead of first live-streamed Super Bowl

U.S. authorities began seizing the domains of several sports streaming sites on Thursday, cracking down on sites that stream unauthorized video of sporting events. The move comes, of course, shortly before Super Bowl XLVI, perhaps the biggest single televised sporting event of the year.

It's not an unusual move. The U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement agency has done this before, in what is being dubbed its "Super Bowl crackdown."

Among the sites seized on Thursday were, and The sites now display the familiar ICE / DOJ / DHS banner that is used when domain names are seized in this manner.

In 2011, there was a similar round of domain name seizures just prior to Super Bowl XLV. Then, ICE seized a dozen domain names including and You can see that some sites simply shifted operations to different domain names.

The seizure of the .tv top-level-domains (TLDs) is the first time that ICE has targeted .TV websites. While you might think .TV stands for television, it actually is country TLD belonging to the island nation of Tuvalu, which is located between Hawaii and Australia. However, for obvious reasons, some media companies register .TV domains because of the obvious atraction of having "TV" in their URLs.

While belonging to Tuvalu, the .TV TLD is administered by Verisign, a U.S. company.

While not unusual for such domain seizures to occur, and not unusual for ICE to conduct such takedowns around the Super Bowl, this year's Super Bowl has added incentive for ICE to do so: for the first time, the Super Bowl will be streamed by the broadcast network carrying it. and the NFL have streamed games online since 2008 with SNF Extra, which is NBC Sports' exclusive video adjunct. Already this playoff season, NBC has streamed the Pro Bowl and the wild-card round.

At the same time, NFL Mobile from Verizon will also stream NBC's playoff broadcasts for the first time on a mobile platform.

Don't have Verizon? You can still catch the video on a mobile device if you have a Flash-capable browser ... at least, we were able to do so for the wild-card playoff round. Assuming NBC doesn't change anything, that should be the case for Super Bowl XLVI as well.

Just in case NBC decides to exclude mobile browsers, don't forget that many, such as Dolphin Browser on Android, can change their user agent string to spoof a desktop browser.

Are you ready for the kickoff of Super Bowl XLVI? It seems ICE already is.

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