Premier League And FA Threaten To Sue


The Premier League and Football Association have finally caught up to and are threatening legal action to prevent soccer fans from around the world watching live streaming games, according to the News Of The World newspaper.

However as of this morning, the streams are still available for today’s Bolton against Manchester City derby and record numbers of fans may visit the site for the first time because of the publicity created by the News Of The World article (see screenshot above, taken from this morning).

EPL Talk wrote about in September and reviewed how easy it was to watch the England against Croatia game. Plus we detailed how many channels were available and how many users were viewing the match. The News Of The World conveniently copy and pasted my research and included it in today’s story without attributing the source.

According to the News Of The World, recent stats from include 167,138 hits for the Man United versus West Ham game and 148,063 viewers for the Arsenal against Spurs derby.

In May 2007, the Premier League filed a lawsuit against YouTube because of the game highlights available on that website. But what the YouTube lawsuit and threatened legal action against expose is another issue entirely. There is obviously a huge demand for soccer fans to watch their favorite team online, but instead of creating a solution that generates revenue for the clubs and the league, the league is focusing on persecuting the companies that are illegally streaming the games.

Sure, what and YouTube (and hundreds of other sites) are doing is illegal, but the Premier League is in a continuous cat and mouse game that it’ll never win. Even with NetResult policing the Internet to limit the amount of goal highlights shown on YouTube and other sites, it’s impossible for that organization to win.

The lawsuit against YouTube and the threats of legal action against are merely a drop in the bucket. All the legal action is doing is showing that the Premier League wants to protect the companies who have paid large amounts of money for the Internet rights to the league.

The Premier League and its clubs are missing out on a huge opportunity to provide legal streaming of matches as well as goal highlights in a package that would be available online to football fans around the world. It’s ridiculous to think that in the year 2008 with all of the technology that’s available that soccer fans should be prevented from legally watching their favorite team play week-in, week-out.

By providing a legal alternative to watch any or all of the games, it’ll put most of the illegal streamers out of business. We, as human beings, are accelerating toward a world where most of our movie and TV watching are being done online. The concern at the Premier League is probably that providing all of the games by the Internet will reduce the amount of money that networks will pay for the TV rights, but I don’t believe this would happen. TV, as we know it, will continue to be around for several years. Until TVs become obsolete, the Premier League has a massive opportunity to generate massive amounts of revenue from both TV and Internet rights.

10 thoughts on “Premier League And FA Threaten To Sue”

  1. It's been a while since i failed to find a legal way to watch EPL LIVE game online. I found some paid subscription sites but i doubt that they're doing it legally. After reading your post, i assume that there aren't any solution on this issue yet. So there's no way to watch the game online legally.

    Frustrating. Pity for the corporate EPL.

  2. As an American soccer fan in the Midwest, these streams are often the ONLY way I can watch soccer. My options are:

    1.) Get a premium cable package. I'm a student, so this is right out. For much the same reason, I can't afford Setanta or FOX's online packages.
    2.) Go to a pub, which is fine for league games, but there's a $20 cover for most CL and cup matches of any sort. Plus, they only show select matches, so there's a good chance that unless one is a fan of the big four, one does not get any chance to watch their club play.
    3.) Stream them in the comfort of my home.

  3. The Premier league ought to take Major League Baseball as its model here. They have a unified system which you can purchase through the site of each team. A subscription gives you unlimited access to every game over the course of the season. Not only do you get each game live, but you can watch games from the archive from the entire season.

    Obviously there are a lot of legal hurdles that need to be jumped to bring this together, but I can dream!

  4. Robin, that's part of the problem is that it's very difficult for the average soccer fan to even find out where the legal options are. It takes websites like this one to help people out. For example, some legal live streams of EPL games are available in the United States via Setanta Broadband. Fox Soccer Channel has a streaming service but is pretty limited and only shows games two hours after they've aired on FSC.

    The Gaffer

  5. Agreed, Ive heard it said dozens of times here from other people posting that if the PL would offer a service like GamePlan, NHL Center Ice, etc. it would generate a huge amount of revenue for the league directly.

    So what the hell is stopping them? Money in the league's pocket, more international exposure…isnt that exactly what the league has been focusing on the last few years with all the USA and Asia tours?

  6. No doubt, I would absolutely spend a good chunk of change to be able to watch every Liverpool match on my TV, why is the EPL behind MLB/NHL/NFL on this Gaf?

  7. Excellent insight on the true nature of the problem Gaffer. Free TV has been proven only to increase interest in a sports league. Period, that is the evidence. In today's world the media is the internet. Part of the EPL's problem is that TV in England is limited in order to protect the lower divisions. This translates to worry about the websites that carry games legal or illegal. I will note the NBC's contract with the NFL provides that games are shown free online! Maybe the NFL owners in the EPL should suggest something similar.

  8. Spot on Gaffer and it isnt obvious whats a legal stream and what isnt as numerous companies for a small fee guarantee streaming footy but they are all illegal.
    I have allegedly reportedly supposedly used Sopcast and other apps for games and sometimes their feed is clearer than Setanta's own online feed.
    ESPN 360 is the best legal online feed I have used to date.
    I often wonder why the Prem bothers shutting down these sites, its free exposure for them and ultimately their advertisers – surely their legal action will try cut off their nose to spite their face. This is what the EPL can learn from American Sports, internet rights.
    I hope Justin.Tv comes back as Jason.Tv and it surely will.

  9. Here in the UK, it is illegal to broadcast any live game on television that has a 15.00 GMT kick off time, meaning the only way you can leagally watch it live is by going to the stadium. Whats more, the combined monthly fees of Sky and Setanta are the highest in the World: £46 a month get you approx. 3 games a week on Sky, & 1 a week on Setanta(plus a handful of lower league matches).On Australian Tv there are a minimum of 5 live matches shown just on a saturday!

    Here is an example of the problem: If Manchester United play away at Tottenham at 15.00GMT, the only Man Utd fans in the UK who are legally allowed to watch it live are the 5000 or so in the ground, leaving hundreds of thousands of others denied the broadcast at any price…It is an even bigger kick up the backside when we find out that the rest of the world can enjoy the match live.

    Sky would never introduce a 'pay per game' scheme. The reason? We would not be tied down to a subscription. By paying for Sky Sports, you are buying the full channel lineups, not just the soccer, which would leave the rest of the channel lineup devalued. It is too late to do this now anyway…..once justin is closed down, another will start up.

    Sky and the FA have sat and counted their money, with British soccer fans up against a barrel. Now it will come crashing down, as they did not realise the power of the web.

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