Faced with dwindling official TV audiences Premier League chiefs have been jolted into action in a bid to shut down illegal streaming sites which fans are increasingly turning to.
The sporting body is enlisting the help of police forces within the UK and abroad, as well as working with ISP’s to curb access in the midst of growing concern that the sport's lucrative TV rights deals could now be imperiled.
Piracy has grown from a niche concern to a mainstream headache for authorities with the proliferation of apps and set top boxes capable of hijacking feeds from matches, with estimates that hundreds of thousands of fans now view games in this way for free.
Speaking to the Guardian, a Premier League spokesman said: “Like other sports and creative industries our model is predicated on the ability to market and sell rights and protect our intellectual property. It is because of this that clubs can invest in and develop talented players, build world-class stadiums, support the English football pyramid and schools and communities across the country – all things that fans enjoy and wider society benefits from.”
On the ground this has seen a number of raids undertaken in the north west targeting individuals connected with the sale and distribution of ‘Kodi-boxes’, a piracy enabling device. This activity has extended overseas with the seizure of ISP equipment in Spain as well as the legal sphere, with a landmark UK court ruling enabling ISP’s to block entire servers.