Over a third of football fans illegally stream football at least once a month, according to a survey.
36 per cent of 1,000 adults who say they’re regular viewers of Premier League football said they watch at least one match per month through an unofficial provider, with 22 per cent doing so at least once a week.
47 per cent say they’ve watched a match illegally at least once in the past.
A staggering 65 per cent of younger viewers between the ages of 18 and 34 admitted to illegally streaming matches at least once a month.
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That’s an enormous figure, and will worry the Premier League and broadcasters BT and Sky, who paid a record £5.136bn between them for Premier League television rights in 2015.
That number fell to 33 per cent for 35-54-year-olds, and to 13 per cent for over-55s.
Premier League viewing figures hit a seven-year low in the 2016/17 season, with expensive ticket prices and TV packages, the rise in popularity of so-called “fully loaded boxes’ and changing viewing habits largely being blamed.
29 per cent of the fans who admitted to watching Premier League fixtures illegally said they did so because “a friend/family member does it and they just watch”, while 25 per cent said they did so because of the high quality of online streams and 24 per cent said sports TV packages don’t represent good value for money.
34 per cent of them said they thought it was always illegal to stream games through an unofficial provider, 32 per cent claimed they didn’t know if it was legal or illegal, and 12 per cent said they thought it was legal.
10 per cent said they thought it was legal to watch but illegal to upload a stream, 7 per cent said they thought it was “sometimes” illegal, and 4 per cent said they thought it wasn’t illegal, but BT or Sky could fine you if they found out.
“Fans should know that these pre-loaded boxes enable pirate broadcasts of Premier League football, and other popular content, and are illegal,” a Premier League spokesperson told the BBC.
“People who supply them have been jailed or ordered to pay significant financial penalties. We are increasingly seeing prominent apps and add-ons being closed down as the law catches up with them, leading to consumers being out of pocket.
“The Premier League will continue to protect its copyright, and the legitimate investment made by its broadcasting partners. Their contribution allows our clubs to develop and acquire players, invest in facilities and support the wider football pyramid and communities – all things that fans enjoy and society benefits from.”
The survey was conducted by ComRes between 7 and 15 March.