What’s the danger of streaming illegal live Premier League games?

  • The ‘Boot Out Piracy’ campaign cautions against the risks of illegally streaming live Premier League games.
  • Illegal streaming of Premier League content poses serious cybersecurity threats, including identity theft.
  • Premier League and Astro collaborate on legal actions and awareness to fight content piracy in Malaysia.

Top-tier English football clubs’ players, including those from Manchester United and Liverpool, are at the forefront of the Premier League’s latest ‘Boot Out Piracy’ initiative. This campaign is designed to educate Malaysian fans about the dangers and adverse effects of accessing content illegally.

In its fourth season in Malaysia, the campaign showcases Premier League stars such as Manchester United’s Casemiro, Liverpool’s Diogo Jota, Brighton & Hove Albion’s Julio Enciso, Everton’s Abdoulaye Doucouré, and Taiwo Awoniyi from Nottingham Forest.

The players highlight the risks of using unauthorized channels to view Premier League content in these digital videos. They caution viewers about the potential for cyberattacks, including harmful malware and ransomware, which could lead to scams, data theft, and other fraudulent activities, as well as the high probability of encountering substandard streams.

Highlighting the risks of illegal streaming of live Premier League games

The Digital Citizens Alliance, in its June 2023 report, Giving Piracy Operators Credit, found that 44 percent of those who accessed pirated online content suffered identity theft. The study also revealed that piracy participants experienced malware problems at a rate of 46 percent, compared to just nine percent among non-participants.

Professor Paul Watters, a renowned cybersecurity consultant and researcher, said “There were record losses as a result of malware attacks in 2022. Consumers should be aware that sites and apps which stream pirated content are one of the main sources of these attacks. While antivirus software can help consumers, it cannot keep up with the explosion in malware variants every day. The best cure is prevention – avoid those sites that host and distribute malware.”

The Premier League collaborates closely with authorities across Asia and globally to take legal action against operators of illegal websites and distributors of illicit streaming devices. This includes ongoing partnerships with Malaysian law enforcement to bring illegal streaming device sellers to justice.

The League praises the Malaysian Government’s regulatory agencies for their continuous efforts to combat sports piracy syndicates in the country. Not only do these actions disrupt illegal streams of Premier League content, but they also limit access to unlicensed and unregulated gambling ventures, posing a risk to consumers.

Collaboration between the Premier League and Malaysia’s Ministry of Domestic Trade and Cost of Living (KPDN) has blocked nearly 300 major pirate domains for accessing illegal Premier League content, demonstrating the Malaysian government’s dedication to protecting consumer rights and intellectual property.

Awareness campaign: The dangers of illegal streaming

In the UK, illegal streaming of movies, sports, and TV shows carries severe financial risks, including the potential emptying of bank accounts and identity theft, as warned by authorities.

A recently launched awareness campaign sheds light on the hazards of using illicit streaming services to watch paid-for content. These include the risk of fraudulent credit card transactions and the potential for criminals to install malware, access bank accounts, or steal personal information.

This campaign also draws attention to the fact that people who consume pirated content might face police visits, and, in some instances, even prosecution and imprisonment.

Five operators of illegal streaming networks have been jailed. (Source – X).

With the cost of living crisis intensifying, more people are searching for free or low-cost methods to access the latest movies, football matches, and TV shows, often viewing illegal streaming as a minor or victimless crime.

The campaign is supported by a website (bestreamwise.com), posters in the London Underground and other locations, and a widely-viewed short film. The film depicts a man watching football on his laptop as ominous hands reach out from the screen, stealing his bank cards, account numbers, and personal information.

The campaign is endorsed by various organizations and companies, including the government’s Intellectual Property Office, Crimestoppers, the Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact), ITV, Sky, and the Premier League, emphasizing the increasing operation of illegal streaming services by sophisticated criminal networks.

The campaign warns that accessing unauthorized content through free streaming sites, apps, TV sticks, and modified boxes puts users at risk of malware infection and becoming targets for scams or hacking.

Kevin Plumb, the general counsel of the Premier League, stressed the ongoing Boot Out Piracy campaign’s focus on the significant risks of watching matches via illegal streams.

Educational initiatives and enforcement strategies

Plumb explained, “Those who do so not only miss out on the best possible viewing experience, they also face a range of cybersecurity dangers. By accessing pirated content, people make themselves vulnerable to criminals, who use a wide range of methods to compromise the devices of viewers. This can lead to numerous issues, including fraud and identity theft.” He advised Malaysian fans to safeguard online safety and watch Premier League football through their official broadcast partner.

Plumb also noted that in addition to educating people about the dangers of illegal streaming, the League is ramping up efforts with local authorities to dismantle pirate sites and streams, and bring those selling illegal streaming devices to justice.

In Malaysia, the Premier League is working with local broadcast partner Astro to drive the Boot Out Piracy campaign forward.

Euan Smith, Astro’s group chief executive officer, reaffirmed the company’s commitment to combatting content piracy alongside authorities and the Premier League. He asserted, “To protect the rights of our paying sports fans, Astro has been proactively working with authorities and Premier League to send a strong message that content piracy is theft, illegal and punishable by law.”

Smith further emphasized the urgency for increased collective action against piracy, recognizing its detrimental impact on consumers and the broader industry.

The campaign is set to be broadcast across a variety of channels, including broadcast networks, social media, websites, and YouTube, extending its reach not just to Malaysia but also to Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Vietnam, aiming to widen its impact in the fight against the piracy of premier league live games.