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The Premier League has obtained a High Court Blocking Order that will make it near impossible for fans to stream matches live.
The landmark ruling will disrupt illicit streams “by any means,” requiring UK internet service providers to block servers that are hosting the streams.
The changes come into effect in time for the new season, which kicks off on August 11, and should stop people watching matches illegally over web browsers, Kodi boxes, and other devices.
Premier League director of legal services, Kevin Plumb, said: “This blocking order is a game-changer in our efforts to tackle the supply and use of illicit streams of our content.”
A BBC poll found that “a third of fans watch illegal streams of matches.” It is one reason why TV audiences for football on Sky Sports and BT Sport are falling. The broadcasters paid £5.14 billion in 2015 to show Premier League matches.
As a BI Intelligence report from June showed, the Premier League suffered the biggest drop in viewership on Sky in at least seven years. BI Intelligence said: “The causes behind the decline of live sports viewership are varied and complex.”
Premier League executive Plumb said: “The protection of our copyright, and the investment made by our broadcast partners, is hugely important to the Premier League and the future health of English football.
“The ability that clubs have to develop and acquire talented players, to build and improve stadiums, and to support communities and schools is all predicated on being able to market, sell and protect commercial rights.”