Tackling illegal streaming: how sports broadcasters are balancing technical and legal solutions
The start of the 2018/19 football season coincides with a change in the way viewers are consuming content. An Ofcom report1 published in July confirmed that, for the first time, there are now more subscriptions to streaming services than to "traditional" pay TV services in the UK. This marks a major shift in the UK’s viewing habits, and is of particular note for broadcasters because 16 to 34-year-olds are driving this change.
As viewers continue to move online it is more important than ever for rights holders and broadcasters to take steps to protect themselves from the risks of illegal online streaming. The FA Premier League is leading this fight and the stakes are high – the FAPL licenses TV rights for £1.7 billion annually in the UK alone. If rights holders fail to take steps to combat illegal streaming of their content then this can erode the value of their rights.
This article looks at these trends from the perspective of broadcasters and rights holders, who are constantly trying to adapt and respond to changing technology and the rapid growth of online streaming. It looks at some of the contemporary legal and technical solutions being used by broadcasters to tackle illegal streaming of content. Specifically, it examines:
The scale of the challenge
Recognising illegal content
New methods of distribution
The limitations of legal remedies
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Matt Phillip is an associate with Shepherd & Wedderburn and a member of the firm’s Business of Sport team. He regularly deals with disputes in both Scotland and in England & Wales relating to commercial contracts, infringement of intellectual property, brand protection and professional negligence.