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Sky has won a High Court order that will force internet service providers to block piracy services from being able to illegally stream its best selling football games and blockbuster TV shows.
The blocking order, which was granted to the UK-based broadcaster this week, will require UK online platforms to stop people from illegally accessing streams across a range of linear channels — where viewers must tune in at a specific time to watch a programme — including Sky Sports and Sky Atlantic.
The use of internet TV media boxes that can be used to illegally stream content has become increasingly prevalent in the past few years. These boxes are preloaded with software that can stream channels from around the world.
The order granted is similar in nature to the one granted to the Premier League in each of the last four seasons, but is designed to protect a broader range of content from across its programming.
Sky will now have the means to shut down individual pirate sites at certain times, using a third-party group that identifies the source of illegal streams via IP addresses or dedicated servers. This is then passed to ISPs to block access to those locations on their network.
For example, the ruling could be used to block illegal access to The Ashes on Sky Sports Cricket, or to a specific show such as House of the Dragon on Sky Atlantic when it is first broadcast and reaches its largest audience.
Blocking is seen to be one of the most effective tools in tackling piracy in the industry. Last season the Premier League’s UK blocking order helped to block or remove over 600,000 illegal live streams.
Analysts at Enders, the media consultancy, said illegal subscription “IPTV” services delivered to TV sets through a dedicated app were in effect being enabled by major internet companies — including search engines, mobile stores and social media platforms — by allowing the discovery of, and access to, pirated content.
But court injunctions will allow Sky to enforce a real-time blocking of domains, sites and servers by internet service providers.
A Sky spokesman confirmed the court decision, saying that this would “help limit the supply of pirated Sky content”.
He added: “Blocking has been shown to be an extremely effective tool in tackling content piracy and is just one of a range of measures we take to protect our content and our business.”
Police forces have also sought to crackdown on the criminals running illegal streaming networks. Five British men involved in selling illegal IPTV “sticks” to run an illegal streaming network for Premier League games were jailed last month for up to 11 years. The illegal businesses run by the group provided streams to more than 50,000 customers.