Liverpool v Tottenham live stream: Free BT Sport YouTube video ‘major blow’ for online pirates

Broadcasters could conceivably capture vast audience and monetise matches in different ways

Liverpool players train ahead of Champions League final

BT Sport's unusual decision to make the Europa League and Champions League finals freely available for anyone to watch, signals a major shift in broadcaster attitudes towards online piracy, experts say.

Chelsea beat Arsenal in the Europa League final on Wednesday. The first game drew in millions of live viewers – with many of them watching live on the BT Sport YouTube channel.

Tottenham take on Liverpool in the second all-English final on Saturday, which will also be shown live on Google’s video site, as well as on traditional TV channels.

Online piracy authority MUSO suggests the move could be a major blow to digital pirates, as football fans will no longer need to go through illegal channels to watch the games for free.

The company's co-founder Andy Chatterley told The Independent that its data indicated "that there are vast numbers of people consistently watching football online via unlicensed piracy websites, so it was a smart move by BT Sport to start broadcasting the final for free."

He added: "It demonstrates that it clearly understands the opportunity and size of this audience."

Analysis by the firm on popular Premier League games last season demonstrated the popularity of football on piracy streaming sites.

The game between Manchester United and Liverpool in December, had more than 15 million illegal views.

By making the games free to watch, broadcasters would conceivably be able to capture this vast audience and monetise them in different ways, either through advertising or data collection.

Other streaming experts note that making the games broadly available will likely lead to a large shift of people moving away from illegal channels to watch the game through legitimate means.

BT Sport has taken the unusual approach of allowing people to watch the Champions League final for free on YouTube

"These advances are setting up this year's Champions League and the Europa League final to draw a record audience and offer the best viewing experience," Matt George, a senior manager at data centre firm Equinix, told The Independent.

BT Sport did not give specific details about why it had decided to make the games available for free through its YouTube channel and did not respond to a request for comment from The Independent about whether it was directly related to online piracy.

Marc Allera, the company's chief executive, said in a statement last week: "We want to make BT a company that exceeds our customers' expectations and does a brilliant job for the country. With both European finals being all-British affairs, we're going to make them easier to watch for everyone in the UK than ever before as well as being the best-connected football viewing experience our customers have ever had."

The City of London Police have nonetheless issued a warning to anyone planning to host illegal streams of the match between Tottenham and Liverpool.

The force said it would aim to shut down illegal streams at critical moments of the match in order to frustrate those watching them.

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