Foxtel who earlier this week revealed a new Play IPTV service is hoping to benefit from a UK Court decision to block access to a popular sports service that is accessed illegally by thousands of Australians.

The UK Premier League took Swedish piracy site FirstRow1.eu to court in an effort to stop illegal downloads to Countries like Australia where Fox Sport has the rights to live games played in the Premier League.

The UK High Court has granted the ban on the Swedish site who admits that their illegal content is accessed on a “regular basis” by Australians.

The FirstRow1.eu site offers easy, yet illegal, access to Premier League football streams for those who have not taken out a Foxtel subscription, currently access to live Fox Sport content and Foxtel services is costing Australian subscribers on average more than $90 a month.

The Premier League, which earlier this year signed global rights deals worth $9 billion welcomed the verdict, claiming the site was raking in up to $17m a year by showing games online.

A spokesperson said: “It is absolutely imperative that content industries are afforded protection under the law if they are to continue investing in the sort of quality talent and facilities that have made them successful and of interest in the first place,” a spokesman for the Premier League said.
“The judgement recognises the parasitic nature of the enterprise; this was an out and out commercial operation with estimated revenues of up to ?10m a year, whilst giving nothing back to the sport.”

In a statement to the BBC, FirstRow’s proprietors vowed to keep the streams online (new URLs and hosting servers are likely to replace the banned addresses) in the name of those who have no means of accessing the coverage.

The spokesperson said: “The average user is a kid or a person that doesn’t have the means to see it any other way.”

Earlier this week Foxtel moved to change their model with the launch of a new Play service which goes live next month.

Foxtel’s executive director of television, Brian Walsh, said the service, which will allow more “a la carte” access to Foxtel programming through its internet-delivered TV service, will be launched in the middle of August.

“That will liberate for a lot of people who have found Foxtel to be cost-prohibitive,” Walsh told an audience at B&T magazine’s MAD Week series.

“It will allow a lot of people who could not afford Foxtel before to get a Foxtel product over the net on to their PCs or on to their smart TVs.”

The Australian newspaper which is owned by News Corporation who also own 50% of Foxtel claims that the Foxtel Play service will not require lock-in contracts and channel packages will start from $25 a month, whereas the basic “Essentials” broadcast subscription package is currently $47 per month.

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The Play service will allow consumers to watch programs from more than 40 channels across multiple internet connected devices including selected connected TVs and games consoles at home as well as with compatible smartphones, tablets and PC and Mac computers through the Foxtel Go app.

Mr Walsh also revealed Foxtel’s “Express from the US” strategy of rush-releasing new US programming had worked well for the subscription television platform. A trial research campaign in Queensland had subsequently shown consumers were more “open” to Foxtel due to the “Express” strategy showing US shows within hours of their US broadcast.
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