Photographer: Glyn Kirk/AFP via Getty Images

Premier League Can Block IPTV Boxes During Games, Judge Says

  • Soccer league joins U.K. internet providers to target piracy
  • IPTV, or Kodi, boxes allow TVs to stream online content

The English Premier League won a court order to block illegal streaming of soccer games on so-called IPTV, or Kodi, boxes.

Judge Richard Arnold approved the application Wednesday, meaning that companies including TalkTalk Telecom Group Plc and BT Group Plc can cut off illegal streaming of matches involving Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and other Premier League teams. The four internet service providers at the hearing in London didn’t oppose the order.

Internet Protocol television (IPTV) boxes, which can plug into TV sets, are an increasingly popular way for consumers to access programming cheaply online. While designed for viewing legitimate content, they can also be used for illegal streaming. The U.K.’s Intellectual Property Office announced a probe into their impact in February.

The broadcast rights to top-flight soccer matches are worth billions of pounds, as a proven way to attract television or home media customers. In 2015, Sky Plc and BT paid a record 5.14 billion pounds ($6.3 billion) for the rights to broadcast live English Premier League soccer over three years.

“For the first time this will enable the Premier League to disrupt and prevent the illegal streaming of our matches via IPTV, so-called Kodi, boxes,” said Dan Johnson, a spokesman for the league.

In many instances, the pirated services “are provided by individuals involved in other criminal activity,” he said.

Judge Arnold held part of the hearing in private because the Premier League’s lawyer said it related to confidential information. Neither the Premier League or the internet providers were immediately able to provide documents outlining the details of the application.

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