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Could illegal Premier League match streams soon become extinct?

Friday 28th July 2017
Despite all their income from Television companies such as Sky and BT, the Premier League is still forever locked in a constant battle to clamp down on the illegal streams around the country that bypass the paid subscriptions to view live matches and content.

The high courts, however, have just issued a blocking order on such activity, in a bid to eradicate the use of illegal streaming websites and channels. Naturally, stopping any single person across the country from tuning into these illegal streams is difficult - and finding an effective method for doing so is a lengthy process.

The Premier League have however labelled this latest court order as a "game changer" in their plan to stop the streams for good, and in turn, prevent them from undermining the TV broadcasters who pay huge amounts of money for the leagues exclusive rights. Reportedly the two shelled out over £5billion to air Premier League games on their channels in the latest three season deal. Therefore the league has begun taking action to protect their assets and now they are ready to make illegal streaming extinct.

Streaming games is incredibly popular up and down the country. For 3pm kick offs on a Saturday that aren't on television, you can guarantee that countless households will stream their teams game if they aren't lucky enough to attend live. This is, of course, a tough grey area as there is no other way of watching the games. Then even the games live on either Sky or BT are being illegally streamed, mainly due to the high fees these channels demand for their content.

A monthly subscription for either is costly and requires a fixed contract, leading to people investing in what is known as Kodi. Kodi is an application that can download software for streaming and can be incorporated into a box or even put onto the likes of a Kindle Fire stick. These are produced by independent people who may sell the software and/or boxes for profit and then offer a service to maintain this. With it being so easily accessible these Kodi boxes have become incredibly popular, becoming the main source of the Premier Leagues problem with the illegal viewing of their content.

This new blocking order will allow the league to identify illegal streams and in turn block their broadcast. The Kodi software that is used is not illegal, but the way it is set up allows for external add-ons that aren't so legal. The additional content is what the Premier League are looking to block from use for good and now that they have secured this order from the high court they can begin to do so. They obtained a similar order just a matter of months ago that began the process. Reportedly around 5000 IP addresses were blocked in conjunction with this previous ruling and now with their latest legal win, they will hope for even better results as they attempt to make sure their intended exclusive rights remain exactly that.

The Premier League want their brand to be both exclusive and desirable to the highest bidder. Sky have claimed the biggest stronghold on the Premier League since its inception with BT now their biggest challengers. The partnership between broadcaster and sporting league, however, works both ways and if a channel's supposedly exclusive content is being farmed for free then they will expect the league to put a stop to this. Now, perhaps, that time could come and we will slowly see the death of the illegal streams that are used every weekend.
Ryan Stewart

23 years old, Sport Journalism graduate living in Salford. Work in web content in Media city and always looking to break in to sports writing. Manchester United season ticket holder.

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