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Half of UK Premier League Footy Fans Have Streamed Matches “Illegally”

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017 (11:13 am) - Score 589
video streaming player

A BBC commissioned ComRes interview of 1,000 adults who are regular viewers of Premier League Football has revealed that 47% have used their broadband connections to stream live matches from pirated sources (e.g. unofficially modified Kodi boxes or “illegal” steaming sites).

The results come at a time of heightened competition for premium Sports TV content between BT and Sky (Sky Broadband), which have over the past few years been battling to secure the most rights to different tournaments. Sadly this conflict has also helped to push up the price of related content, while at the same time Sky recently reported a drop of 14% in Premier League TV viewing figures (BT dropped by 2%).

In fairness some of the aforementioned changes in viewership could also be attributed to a number of big name clubs falling out of the Premier League, although copyright holders are more concerned that the rise in piracy from Internet video streaming services could be playing a big role (hardly a surprise when the prices keep rising like they do).

Summary of Survey Results

* 47% of fans have watched a match through an unofficial provider at least once in the past.

* 36% streamed live matches online through an unofficial provider at least once a month.

* 22% streamed live matches online through an unofficial provider at least once a week.

* 65% of fans aged 18-34 have streamed live football matches online through an unofficial provider, which drops to 33% for 35-45 year olds and 13% of those aged 55+.

* The most popular reasons for “illegal” streaming are because a friend/family member does it and they shared (29%), while 25% said the quality of online streaming was good and 24% felt as if premium Sports TV services were not good value for money.

* Interestingly only 12% thought it is legal to stream games online (not through an official provider), while 34% think it is always illegal and 32% don’t know; 4% believe it is not breaking the law but Sky or BT could fine you if they found out, 7% think it is sometimes illegal and 10% believe it is legal to watch but illegal to upload a stream.

Clearly this is an issue that has Rights Holders worried and earlier this year the High Court granted a request by the Premier League (Football Association), which forced Sky Broadband, BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk to block a number of servers associated with infringing match footage. However such servers usually re-emerge in new locations and so the game of whack-a-mole continues.

In April 2017 the European Court of Justice also ruled (here) that video streaming from an unlicensed source could be deemed copyright infringement, although enforcing that would be very difficult and previous attempts to do something similar (2010 Digital Economy Bill) by imposing restrictions on Internet connectivity have not survived (risked penalising millions of people and identifying the actual offender would be difficult on a shared network).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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4 Responses
  1. Avatar CarlT

    As far as the Premier League go my heart bleeds.

    The amount they are paid is outrageous, and in turn the amount of money that’s flowing from Sky and BT subscribers upwards to players and owners is ridiculous.

    I have absolutely no interest in the sport whatsoever, don’t understand the obsession people have with it at all, let alone at that price tag.

    There are a bunch of other nations that show more matches on free to air channels. UK consumers are being ripped off, know they are being ripped off, and even with the streaming evidently still continue to pay through the nose on TV subscriptions, for merchandise and ticket prices. Absolutely insane. It’s a lot of money that could be doing way better things than padding the pay packets of footballers and club owners.

    There are a lot of sports that we would be world leaders in on a fraction of the money people in this country pay to watch this.


    Sky and BT Sport have paid a record £5.136bn for live Premier League TV rights for three seasons from 2016-17.

    The figure represents a 70% increase on Sky and BT’s current £3bn deal.

  2. Avatar I Hate Football

    They are paid too much for just kicking a football about. There is no sense in it. I do not understand why a footballer is paid £100.000 plus a week just to kick a football. There are more deserving people who should be paid more for what they do, and they actually work longer hours for it. Like the nurses, doctores, and people who work in the emergency services deserve more money. Footballers have been over paid for far too long!

    • Avatar Max

      Some ignorant replies in the comments here regarding footballers pay. The reason it comes about is purely competitiveness amongst the club owners and a desire to have the most successful football team. It becomes a race to the top. When you are a multi billionaire with a club worth billions, money doesn’t really have much meaning. If you want X player because he is the best, you will pay whatever you have to because money is practically infinite to you and it means you’ll come out on top.

      In short, they are not paid 100K a week because people actually think that is what they deserve to be paid. They are paid that much because the people at the very top want to win, at any cost. And that environment will always breed higher and higher levels of money, regardless of the subject. In this case it just happens to be football.

      So you think, introduce a pay cap and a value on players of X amount. But then every club down to the 3rd division can afford Christiano Ronaldo and Messi, so that doesn’t really work. And can you blame the players ? they don’t decide their pay. Who in their right mind is going to decline being paid 100K a week ? If my employer offered me a 100K a week, i’d take it in a heartbeat, and so would everyone else here.

      At the same time, while perhaps not “worth” 100K a week salary, remember they are the best in the world at what they do. So they do deserve to be paid very well, just like you’d expect anyone who is world class in their field to paid very well.

    • Avatar CarlT

      Given the mention of ‘replies’, plural: I didn’t mention footballers’ pay, I commented on the Premier League only.

      The Premier League is the highest revenue football league in the world. Its revenues are over 60% higher per club than La Liga, well over twice that of Serie A, three times those of Ligue 1.

      The only higher revenue per club professional sports in the world are the NFL and MLB in the United States, the Premier League is higher earning than the NBA.

      A big, if not the biggest, reason for this is the insane amounts of money pumped into TV rights, alongside this very high ticket prices.

      The Premier League of course should not be mistaken for an English and Welsh domestic league. The clubs are English and Welsh and the grounds are in those countries but that’s about it. It contributes little to the success of any national team here. England have never won the European Championship and have a single World Cup over half a decade ago.

      It’s actually quite ironic in some ways. Football isn’t considered a ‘high brow’ sport but the most mainstream of sports imaginable, yet the Premier League has 16 times the revenue per club of any non-football sport, the Championship over twice the revenue per club, and only Rugby Union’s English Premiership has more revenue per club than Football League One, with Super League just above Football League Two. Definitely world class at extracting money from supporters.

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