The Premier League has made significant progress in the war on piracy following the start of the new season last weekend.
The league, which has been plagued with piracy issues ever since illegal streaming begun, obtained a unique High Court injunction early this year, which required ISPs such as Sky, BT, and Virgin to block ‘pirate’ football streams in real-time.
With streaming pirates notorious for finding ways around legal barriers, scepticism ensued as to how much effect this would have on Premier League streaming. In the final two months of the 2016/17 season, however, the league reported it was able to block 5,000 IP address that were streaming its content.
According to TorrentFreak, as soon as the matches began on Saturday, issues were reported at several of the more prominent IPTV providers. Within minutes of the match streams going live, subscribers to affected services were met with black screens. While some clearly knew that action was on the cards, relatively few had an effective plan in place.
One provider, which targets subscribers in the UK, scrambled to obtain new domain names, thinking that the existing domains had been placed on some kind of Premier League blacklist. While that may have indeed been the case, making a service more obscure in that sense was never going to outwit the systems deployed by the anti-piracy outfits involved.
An interesting side effect is that even if IPTV subscribers don’t care about football, many were affected this past weekend anyway.
TorrentFreak reported that at least three services couldn’t deliver to their UK customers with any other channels whatsoever, while the Premier League games were being aired. This suggests that the IP addresses hit by the EPL and blocked by local ISPs belonged to the same servers carrying the rest of the illegal content offered by the IPTV providers.
A VPN will likely solve the problem in many case, but from a pirate's perspective, this will mean further cost, as well as learning more about VPNs and how to set them up.
If IPTV providers can’t find a way around the Premier League's new defences, costs will rise significantly for both aspiring and veteran pirates. Pair that with the new, cheaper football package being offered by Sky, and maybe, just maybe, we'll see a shift towards legal viewing.
The Premier League appears to be winning the battle. Whether they'll be able to win the war remains to be seen.