Football piracy rampant, with five million Brits admitting to watching illegal streams

Despite efforts from the Premier League to clamp down on piracy, over five million football fans have admitted to accessing illegal streams.

According to the Fans of the EPL report, published by OLBG, 22% of UK football fans have admitted to using unofficial streams despite knowing their illegality. The report adds that 42% of the 1,000 fans surveyed were unaware that using online catch-up services to catch up on a match is illegal. 

Password sharing, a big issue for all aspects of the OTT business, is also having a large effect on football viewing, with 68% of respondents admitting to using somebody else’s login on a device to watch a match. Almost 10% said that they do this on a regular basis. 

Regionally, people in London are the biggest offenders. Over half (58%) of men in the city admit to using illegal streams, while 40% of Londoners admitted to skipping work to watch football.

Of the respondents, 48% said that they prefer to watch football at home while more than a third opt for a pub. The latter option is more popular with women, with 20% opting for a pub compared to only 16% of men.

Speaking on the findings, Premier League executive director Bill Bush said: This shadowy world of data piracy drains money away from the sport and threatens the integrity of the game.

“The Premier League is a successful competition that depends on audio-visual rights for the investment that keeps standards high and fans happy. We will always protect our rights to defend ourselves from piracy in any form, whether in broadcast or data rights.”

While the industry will continue to push back against piracy, many in the industry are more pessimistic and believe that sports piracy is simply a fact of life. 

BeIN Media CEO Yousef Al-Abaidly is one such exec, and he recently argued that piracy is creating a “media rights bubble” that is set to burst. BeIN was the main target of Saudi-backed pirate operation beoutQ.

Speaking at a recent conference, Al-Abaidly said: “Seemingly, everyone in this industry is asleep at the wheel and refuses to confront the piracy elephant that’s been in the room for years. We now live in a world where exclusive broadcast rights are, effectively, wholly non-exclusive. Think about that: non-exclusive. Consumers, young and old, are accessing everything for nothing – via a Kodi or a VPN or beoutQ – wherever they are, whenever they like, and this behaviour is being normalised.”