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Live football streaming crackdown – what are the cheapest ways to watch?

A new ruling allows providers to block illegal streams. We look at the best ways to legally watch the Premier League this season

With the new season fast approaching, the Premier League has won an anti-piracy court order that allows ISPs to block people from watching its content illegally.

According to a YouGov study carried out in March 2017, almost five million people in the UK use pirated TV-streaming services. As a result, the Premier League is clamping down on fans that are watching games illegally through websites, streaming apps and Kodi boxes, by targeting the servers that broadcast games for viewers around the world.

The recent high-court ruling will see ISPs go after the IP addresses found to be hosting illegal games. Before, when one stream on a website was taken down, another would pop up in its place. But as the ISPs are now set to target servers rather than individual streams, and can do so in real time, websites found to include embedded streams could be blocked entirely in the UK.

The Premier League made an effort towards the end of the 2016/17 season to tackle the problem, which resulted in ‘more than 5,000’ servers being blocked.

Best Buy internet TV boxes – streamers with loads of supported channels

Piracy on the rise

The team at 5 live Daily polled 1,000 football fans last month, and ‘nearly half’ admitted to streaming football through an unofficial provider. Many of the fans that came clean said that they watched streams ‘because a family member was doing it’.

If you’re using a Kodi box to stream live football for free, you’re breaking the law. So what’s the best way to watch your favourite matches this season, and is there any alternative to expensive monthly subscriptions? Below, we’ve rounded up some popular bundles that will let you enjoy the upcoming season, whether you’re watching online with a laptop or on the sofa in front of an internet TV box.

This isn’t the first time Kodi has been in the spotlight in 2017 – find out more in our guide to Kodi boxes: Everything you need to know

Where to watch the 2017/2018 Premier League

You might think the only way to watch premier league football is with a pricey Sky or BT subscription, but in practice there may be alternatives available. And with the premier league season just around the corner, there are some pretty attractive offers to be had. We outline your options.

BT

BT customers can add BT Sports HD to their current TV package, which is an additional £12.50 per month for the Sports Pack on top of whatever you’re paying already. New BT customers can get BT Sport Online free for three months. To be eligible you’ll also need to pick up BT broadband and line rental for £18.99.

If you already have BT’s Total Entertainment pack (which is £54 a month with 141 channels), you can add the BT Sport Pack for free. To add all of Sky’s sports channels, it’s £33.50 a month.

Sky Sports

Sky recently rebranded its lineup of channels, shifting things around so that the most popular sports on the network have their own dedicated channels, with Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Football dedicated to the ‘beautiful game’.

To get the Sky Sports pack, you need to have it tagged onto one of Sky’s base packs, which start from £18 a month. In other words, channels are treated as an add-on, not a standalone service. If you want to watch HD football and nothing else, one Sky sports channel costs £18 a month without a contract. If you’ve got a bigger budget, you might want to look into grabbing a bigger bundle with more choice.

Virgin Media

Football fans with Virgin can watch this season’s games through Virgin TV. If you want access to Sky sports coverage in HD, it will cost you £38.75 per month on top of your existing package, which gets you all of the rebranded channels. You can’t buy access to a single channel on its own.

If you choose to sign on, you’re free to cancel your subscription after the month is up. Meanwhile, access to BT Sports (in HD) is cheaper at £18 a month. If you want both Sky Sports HD and BT Sports HD for one month, you’ll have to cough up an eye-watering £56.75.

Plusnet

BT Sport Lite is included through YouView TV from Plusnet, which lets you tune into BT Sport 1. For an additional £5 a month, you can upgrade to the complete BT Sport package, but only in SD.

If you can pick up BT Sport via Sky Digital Satellite, Plusnet’s cheapest package is £9.99 and comes with the same channels as BT Sport Lite. The £12.49 deal lets you watch in HD.

TalkTalk

It will cost you £8.50 to add Sky Sports to an existing TalkTalk package (as part of the ‘Boost’ pack), or £22 a month to subscribe to BT Sports via the TalkTalk TV box.

Now TV & Roku

For sports fans that don’t want to pay a big fee for a whole month, a day pass from Now TV will let you catch the odd game instead. The Sky Sports Day Pass on Now TV costs £6.99, or roughly the price of a pint and a couple of bags of crisps. That gives you 24 hours of access to all Sky Sports channels, and once you’ve bought your pass and activated it, you’re good to go. You won’t find yourself getting charged unexpectedly once the 24 hours is up, but you can extend the pass if you want to.

If you’re lucky enough to have your team televised more than once in a week, you can try the Sky Sports Week Pass for £10.99. There’s also the Sky Sports Month Pass, which costs £33.99. Unlike the Day Pass and Week Pass, the Month Pass bill will roll on until you manually cancel it.

Roku’s internet TV box is an option, too. Once it’s plugged into your TV, you can download the Now TV app and log in with your account details.

We’ve reviewed both the Roku 3 and Sky Now TV box to show you which comes out on top.

Set-top boxes put to the test

Our experts have reviewed all the latest TV tech in our test lab. To see which products impress, see our Best Buy Internet TV boxes, and Best Buy PVRs and set-top boxes.

And if you’re thinking of changing your TV provider, be sure to check out our TV and broadband provider reviews.

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