Third of Premier League football fans watch illegal streams of matches | Security | News | Rapid TV News
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premierleague 27june20171In what will horrify rights holders, a BBC survey has found that 36% of UK football supporters have streamed live Premier League matches online through an unofficial provider at least once a month, and 22% at least once a week.

For the BBC 5 live survey, ComRes interviewed 1,000 adults who reported being regular viewers of Premier League football, online between 7 and 15 March.

The news couldn’t have come at a worse time for rights holders Sky and BT who collectively paid over $5 billion to show Premier League football for three seasons beginning in 2016. Indeed, the release of viewing figures in June 2016 for the 2016/2017 EPL season showed a noticeable fall in live viewing of matches, particularly those from principal rights holder Sky. According to figures from the pay-TV giant and those from secondary rights-holder BT, based on the Broadcasters Audience Research Board (BARB), there was a 14% year-on-year drop in average viewing time for the 126 games shown by Sky and a 2% fall for the 42 from BT. Total viewing dropping 6% on an annual basis.

Yet the BBC also showed that nearly half of fans (47%) have watched a match through an unofficial provider at least once in the past, many using devices such as a Kodi box. In October 2016, the latest version of the UK IP Crime Report, looking at online piracy, identified IPTV/Kodi, torrent sites and stream ripping as the main threat vectors facing publishers.

Younger fans (aged 18-34) are considerably more likely than their older counterparts to stream live football matches online through an unofficial provider. Nearly two-thirds do so at least once a month compared with 33% of 35-54-year-olds and 13% of those aged over 55.

In a crumb of comfort to rights holders worried about pricing strategies, the survey revealed that of those fans who stream matches illegally, the most popular reasons are because a friend/family member does it and they just watch (29%); because the quality of online streaming is good (25%) and because sports TV packages are not good value for money (24%).

It would appear that education is a priority. An eighth of Premier League fans think 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 find out; 7% think it is sometimes illegal; and 10% believe it is legal to watch but illegal to upload a stream.