The Premier League are reportedly holding talks with cyber-security companies in a bid to prevent the illegal live streaming of their matches.
That's according to the Times (h/t James Whaling of the Mirror), which noted that due to the £5.1 billion spent on TV rights for the Premier League by Sky and BT Sport, chiefs are hoping to crack down on UK fans watching foreign streams of games on the Internet.
To that end, they're discussing "a virtual barrier" to stop them from accessing the streams.
Currently, supporters in the UK can only watch live games chosen for television by the broadcasters each weekend, for example the 12:45 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. kick-offs on a Saturday, afternoon kick-offs on a Sunday and Monday Night Football.
However, many fans abroad, such as those in the United States, Australia and the UAE may watch any of the 10 games live, including 3 p.m. kick-offs on a Saturday. Per the report, the 3 p.m. matches in particular are "the main cause for concern."
Further, the report noted the problem has dramatically increased in recent years, with "an estimated one million viewers" illegally accessing foreign Premier League streams on the Internet each week.
Table-toppers Leicester City have arguably not had their title push adequately represented until recently, as they have only had six of their matches televised so far this season, with only one of those coming before 28 November.
Notable 3 p.m. kick-offs fans weren't able to watch live this season include Bournemouth's 4-3 defeat of West Ham United at Upton Park, Stoke City's away victory over Everton by the same scoreline and Manchester City's 6-1 thrashing of Newcastle United—in which Sergio Aguero bagged five goals in 20 minutes—to name but a few.
Sky and BT—whose record £5.1 billion deal was 71 per cent higher than the two companies' previous agreement—will televise the Premier League in the UK until 2019.