Over a third of Premier League fans watch illegally

More than a third of Premier League football fans say they regularly watch matches live online via unofficial streams, according to a survey carried out by ComRes and BBC 5 Live, the Corporation’s sport and news radio service.

The poll suggests that younger adults are those most likely to say they stream matches via unauthorised providers. Nearly a quarter of all fans surveyed regularly watch matches online via special technology, such as Kodi boxes.

According to the poll of 1,000 people for 5 live Daily:

  • Nearly half of fans say they have streamed a match online through an unofficial provider – just over a third do so at least once a month and about one in five at least once a week.
  • The main reasons include a friend/family member doing it and they just watch; the quality of the stream; and because sports TV packages are considered not good value for money.
  • Just under a third of fans do not know whether it is illegal to stream live Premier League matches online from unofficial providers, but another third believe it is always illegal.

On March 8th 2017, an application for a Court Order, that will result in servers streaming unauthorised Premier League content being blocked, was heard and granted in the English High Court. The Premier League (PL) is currently engaged in a range of activity to protect its IP, and the significant investment made in the competition by UK live broadcast partners Sky Sports and BT Sport who paid a record £5.136 billion for the rights. This activity includes:

  • Investigations and prosecution of suppliers of IPTV boxes that enable the broadcast of unauthorised PL content
  • Legal actions against pubs and commercial premises that broadcast unauthorised PL content
  • Court Orders and injunctions forcing ISPs to block certain websites and domains
  • Shutting down illegal streams/cleaning sites of infringing material
  • The PL has been involved in several recent successful actions that have resulted in custodial sentences, injunctions being granted against sellers and pubs, and significant costs awards

“The Premier League has been granted significant blocking remedies to further curtail the availability of illegal streams,” said a Premier League spokesman. “For the first time this will enable the Premier League to disrupt and prevent the illegal streaming of our matches via IPTV, so-called Kodi, boxes. The Order was granted under Section 97a of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, and further demonstrates our intellectual property rights are protected by the law.”

“This will enable us to target the suppliers of illegal streams to IPTV boxes, and the Internet, in a proportionate and precise manner. We will continue working with ISPs, government and other sports content producers to protect consumers from illegitimate services that offer no recourse when services are removed, provide no parental controls and, in many instances, are provided by individuals involved in other criminal activity.”

“Fans should know that these pre-loaded boxes enable pirate broadcasts of Premier League football, and other popular content, and are illegal. People who supply them have been jailed or ordered to pay significant financial penalties. We are increasingly seeing prominent apps and add-ons being closed down as the law catches up with them, leading to consumers being out of pocket.”

“The Premier League will continue to protect its copyright, and the legitimate investment made by its broadcasting partners. Their contribution allows our clubs to develop and acquire players, invest in facilities and support the wider football pyramid and communities – all things that fans enjoy and society benefits from.”

On April 26, a ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union said that the temporary reproduction on a multimedia player of a copyright-protected work obtained by streaming was not exempt from the right of reproduction.

Among the survey’s findings:

  • 36 per cent of supporters said they streamed live Premier League matches online through an unofficial provider at least once a month, and 22 per cent at least once a week.
  • 47 per cent of fans have watched a match through an unofficial provider at least once in the past.
  • Younger fans (aged 18-34) are considerably more likely than their older counterparts to say they stream live football matches online through an unofficial provider – 65 per cent do so at least once a month compared to 33 per cent of 35-54 year olds and 13 per cent of those aged 55+.
  • Of those fans who stream matches illegally, the most popular reasons are because a friend/family member does it and they just watch (29 per cent); because the quality of online streaming is good (25 per cent) and because sports TV packages are not good value for money (24 per cent).
  • 12 per cent per cent of Premier League fans think it is legal to stream games online (not through an official provider), while 34 per cent think it is always illegal and 32 per cent don’t know; 4 per cent believe it is not breaking the law but Sky or BT could fine you if they find out, 7 per cent think it is sometimes illegal, and 10 per cent per believe it is legal to watch but illegal to upload a stream.

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