In Depth

Premier League 2017-18: How to watch the action this season

Crackdown on illegal streaming means fans will have to choose between rights holders

The Premier League has declared war on illegal match streams ahead of this week's start of the new season.

Last month, it obtained a High Court Order making it harder to watch matches on websites, streaming apps or through Kodi boxes, which can be used to access copyrighted content.

The court order "allows the Premier League to work with the UK's internet service providers (ISPs), including Sky, BT and Virgin Media, to quickly block servers that are hosting illegal streams of matches", reports The Independent.

Similar tactics employed towards the end of last season were said to be "highly effective".

Last month, a BBC survey found half of all fans had streamed a match on an unofficial provider and that a third did so once a month.

"The Premier League is seeking to protect the value of its TV deal, after Sky and BT Sport paid a record £5.136bn for rights to show live matches for three seasons," says the broadcaster.

"Last season saw the biggest drop in live Premier League TV viewing figures for seven years, hitting both Sky and BT. Sky saw a 14 per cent drop, while viewing of BT channels dropped by two per cent."

So where should viewers go to watch the action this season? Consumer website Which? offers a guide to the various ways to follow the action in HD.

Full access to both Sky Sports and BT Sport doesn't come cheap, but there are alternatives. For example, Now TV offers daily passes to Sky Sports for "roughly the price of a pint and a couple of bags of crisps".

In terms of the Premier League, Sky wins the battle, says website Broadband Choices. It will show 126 matches this season compared to 42 on BT Sport.

"Although BT always nabs some big games, the sheer quantity of Premier League football on Sky still makes it the best choice for fans," it adds.

But there are other ways to follow the action.

The BBC will once again show highlights on Match of the Day and Match of the Day 2 on Saturday and Sunday evenings. Match of the Day will also be available on BBC iPlayer, but not until two days after broadcast.

BBC 5 Live will have live commentary of 144 Premier League games throughout the season, including matches 3pm Saturday kick-offs, while Talksport will have commentary on Saturday and Sunday lunchtime games, plus some 3pm Saturday matches.

The Premier League website will also show goals and for the first time, Twitter users in the UK and Ireland will be able to watch clips via the @SkyFootball account following a deal allowing it to post "near-live" highlights. Action from 3pm games will also be shown in Ireland, but not the UK.

In addition, News UK, which is owned by the same company as Sky, has a allowing it to show highlights will be available on the digital platforms of The Times and The Sun. Match of the Day will be available on BBC iPlayer but not until two days after broadcast.

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