UK pay-TV broadcaster Sky has won a court order that requires internet service providers (ISPs) to block the illegal streaming of its linear channels, including its valuable sports content.

The court order, first reported by the Financial Times news outlet, will make it harder for pirate streaming organizations to offer illegal access to Sky’s content, which includes rights to the top-tier English Premier League (EPL), second and third-tier English Football League, England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) action, and motor racing’s Formula 1.

The use of Internet TV media boxes that can facilitate illegal streaming has risen in recent years. They primarily come preloaded with software that allows users to stream pay-TV channels from around the world.

The ruling is similar to the EPL’s previous four-season blocking order and is designed to protect Sky’s entire range of content by giving the broadcaster the right to take down individual pirate sites during specific times, such as during high-profile events like The Ashes cricket series between England and Australia, or specific TV shows when they are first broadcast.

Under the order, a third-party group will identify the source of illegal streams via IP addresses or dedicated servers, which is then provided to internet service providers to block access to these locations on their networks.

Blocking has so far proven an effective strategy in combating piracy within the industry, with the EPL’s blocking order successfully removing over 600,000 illegal live streams.

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A Sky spokesperson said: “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.”

The EPL and Sky were among a group of 108 sports rights holders and broadcasters that urged the European Commission to take a tougher line on the illegal piracy of sports content last year. The group asked to make it easier to remove and block live streams amid fears more would turn to illegal streaming amid the cost-of-living crisis.

Last month, five people were jailed after being found guilty of selling illegal IPTV “sticks” to run an illegal streaming network for EPL games for more than 50,000 customers. The case was described as the world’s largest-ever prosecution of an illegal streaming network.

Italy’s upper house Senate, meanwhile, has unanimously supported a law against online content piracy, with the law only needing a sign-off by the country’s president Sergio Mattarella before it is published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale.

The law comes after sports subscription service DAZN urged the Italian parliament to quickly introduce a new anti-piracy bill following the release of a report highlighting the fact that illegal sports streaming was costing the industry around €290 million per year.

The bill gives the communications regulatory body AGCOM powers to shut down any site that illegally broadcasts content within 30 minutes. It also increases the penalties dolled out for those who make copyrighted content available and users consuming the content.

Serie A is currently negotiating a new domestic deal with three broadcasters interested in the rights. DAZN and Sky Italia’s deal is due to end after the upcoming season.

Image: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images