The Premier League is taking a harder stance on illegal streaming as bidding continues on its domestic broadcast rights. Illegal broadcasts of games in the English top flight continue to be a major problem. Moreover, official broadcasters are submitting offers over $6 billion for three years. According to the UK’s Intellectual Property Office, a February release stated that 3.9 million people watch live sports illegally in the UK.

As a result, the Financial Times stated the Premier League assembled a legal team and private prosecutions. This group targets those that provide illegal broadcasts of games. The team for the Premier League includes lawyers, investigators and ‘content protection analysts’ to sniff out illegal content.

Last season, the Premier League helped take down over 600,000 illegal streams with a Super Block. Then, just this summer, Sky won a High Court order for internet service providers to block pirates from illegal streaming.

Speaking to the Financial Times, General Counsel of the Premier League Kevin Plumb said these illegal streams are deep. Additionally, they are more commonplace.

“When I first started doing this, our top line priority would have been pubs,” Plumb said. “There’s a little bit of that now, but piracy has evolved from peer-to-peer streaming to closed network subscriptions. You went from the pub to the teenagers in their bedrooms to families watching in their living room, and that then becomes a real priority for us,” he added.

Major punishments on Premier League illegal streaming as bidding continues

Plumb added that the Premier League and court officials are issuing real punishments on those who benefit from illegal streaming. For example, five men earned over 30-year prison sentences for running an illegal streaming network. The operation had more than 50,000 customers, pocketing the owners around $9 million in five years.

This is crucial for the Premier League, which is trying to beef up the value of its domestic streaming rights. As of now, the offers rolling in are lower than what the league wanted and expected. Apple already backed out of any bidding, too. With the blackout on the 3 p.m. local time kickoffs, the value is already somewhat lower.

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