EFL launches anti-piracy campaign to preserve iFollow revenue
English soccer’s second-tier English Football League has today launched an anti-digital piracy campaign, aimed at stopping the viewing of matches through illegal websites.
As spectators are presently unable to attend professional soccer fixtures in England, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, one of the few remaining sources of income for the 72 EFL clubs is the iFollow streaming service, which offers live coverage of games.
Fans who have not already paid for season tickets, and automatically get access to the service, can watch individual matches for £10 ($13.20) each, and this arrangement is expected to remain in place until stadiums are opened again.
In announcing its 'Say no to piracy' campaign, the EFL said in relation to the lack of crowds: "Illegal streaming is therefore having a greater impact on clubs… The EFL and its clubs could potentially lose a third of income from illegal streaming this season, a figure which is potentially much higher.”
The body said that over 7,000 illegal streams showing EFL matches have been detected so far this season, with an average of 170 fans watching each stream - equating to almost 1.2 million people in total.
The EFL described a failure to adhere to iFollow’s regulations as a “serious breach [which] allows the EFL to terminate the subscription.”
The league added it was working with a specialist security agency to search for illegal streams and take action against the individual owners.
Aside from iFollow, domestic coverage of the EFL this season is available through Sky, the UK pay-TV broadcaster, which is contracted to show 130 live matches, with other midweek games available through its red button service.