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Illegal streaming on the rise for Premier League

The Premier League has been embroiled in a fight to quash the rising numbers of people illegally streaming Premier League matches in recent months.

However, a report released by The Athletic states that the amount of people illegally streaming Premier League matches in the UK is far greater than previously thought.

YouGov Sport Poll

The Athletic report stated that a recent study by market research company, YouGov Sport, had found that over 5 million adults across the United Kingdom had watched sport via illegal streaming in 2023 so far.

This is a far greater number than was previously predicted and a large increase from the reported 3.9 million individuals who illegally streamed sport across 2022.

The YouGov figures could potentially be even worse than 5 million, with a further 3 million adults either uncertain if they had watched an illegal stream or preferring not to say. Whilst the report only included data from over 18’s, with many tech-savvy teenagers likely engaged in the activity too.

Value for Money
Image Credit: Manchester Evening News

One of the main reasons so many people are turning to illegal streaming to watch football is because of the lack of perceived value in the current broadcasting options.

At present, Sky Sports, TNT Sports, and Amazon Prime hold the rights to Premier League matches in the UK, showing a combined 200 matches across the season. It could cost someone more than £1000 to watch every match across subscription services.

These services are becoming increasingly expensive each year, but do not offer a high volume of matches. 200 out of the 380 Premier League games will be televised in the UK this season, meaning viewers can only watch 52% of available matches.

The majority of the remaining 48% of matches will be played within the 3PM blackout Zone, on Saturday afternoon. This blackout is enforced to encourage people to attend lower league matches, to help sustain the footballing pyramid in the UK.

There is a possibility that the 3PM blackout rule could be removed to help find more value for broadcasters and customers. However, removing the blackout could severely impact the income of lower league teams, leading to a growing debate around the topic.

Premier League Crackdown

Image Credit: Premier League

If the Premier League is unable to reduce the growing amount of people illegally watching games, then it risks losing value from it’s future broadcasting contracts.

Companies such as Sky and Amazon, will not pay such high premiums for broadcasting rights if they do not feel they have those rights exclusively. Increased illegal streaming is a threat to this exclusivity.

Therefore, over recent months, the Premier League have increased their efforts to reduce illegal streaming. In May, 5 members of an illegal streaming group were sentenced to over 30 years in prison for streaming Premier League games to thousands of customers.

The Police have also recently knocked on over 1,000 doors as part of the Government aided crackdown on illegal streams.

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