Football fans in the UK have become all too familiar with HesGoal as an easy way to stream Premier League matches online for free. With just a quick visit to the site and a click on the embedded video player, millions of HesGoal users can watch live football that would normally require expensive pay-TV packages. But this unauthorized access has caught the attention of authorities who are now targeting HesGoal operators in efforts to shut the site down.
As a fellow football fanatic, I wanted to give you the full rundown on this situation. In this guide, we‘ll dive into:
- The HesGoal streaming service and its growth in popularity
- Legal action being pursued against HesGoal operators
- Ongoing crackdowns on football streaming piracy
- Steps you can take to stream safely and legally
And much more! My goal is to keep you informed and protected as a consumer of football live streams and other online content. So let‘s kick off…
Understanding HesGoal‘s Massive Popularity for Free Football Streaming
HesGoal first emerged in around 2017 and has since become one of the most visited websites for free football streaming with an estimated 5 million monthly users.
This kind of growth is staggering but not surprising. By offering Premier League, Champions League, La Liga and other matches at no cost, HesGoal taps into huge demand among fans priced out of expensive pay-TV.
A 2019 survey found that nearly half of UK football viewers had used illegal streams in order to watch matches for free. With broadcast rights costing billions, many are reluctant or unable to pay high subscription fees and instead turn to sites like HesGoal.
According to analytics service SimilarWeb, almost 80% of HesGoal‘s traffic comes from the UK, where football viewership is practically a religion. But it also attracts millions of users from across Europe and Asia as well.
HesGoal manages to stay online utilizing various tactics common among streaming sites operating in legal grey areas:
Spreading its content across a network of different domains and mirror sites to avoid single point failure.
Employing geo-blocking to make the site appear inaccessible in locations where authorities are trying to disable access.
Using offshore hosting and CDNs (content delivery networks) to route traffic globally and obscure infrastructure.
Constantly switching domain names and registering new ones to hop around restrictions.
These cat-and-mouse games have allowed HesGoal to continue serving streams to its millions of devoted users despite targeting by football authorities.
Premier League Deals Major Blow Through DMCA Subpoena
However, a recent legal manoeuvre by the Premier League represents a serious threat to HesGoal‘s future operations.
As outlined by TorrentFreak, the Premier League has obtained a subpoena under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) directed at Cloudflare, which provides DDoS protection, CDN and other services supporting HesGoal.
The subpoena demands Cloudflare produce any identifiable information on file for the operators of HesGoal, including names, emails, phone numbers and IP addresses.
Perhaps more concerning for users, the Premier League is also seeking details on the individual subscribers and viewers of the site. This aims to enable direct legal action against HesGoal users for accessing unauthorized streams.
According to global piracy tracking firm MUSO, over 190 billion visits to piracy sites occurred in 2021. The widespread unauthorized streaming of football matches accounted for a major portion.
This rampant piracy has provoked increasingly aggressive responses from authorities and leagues. The Premier League in particular has compelled Cloudflare and other providers in the past to hand over personal information through DMCA subpoenas.
In many cases, this data proves useless or outdated. Sophisticated streaming sites generally utilize various measures to help protect their operators‘ identities, like VPNs, proxy services and cryptocurrency payments.
But if Cloudflare has any information that could pinpoint those running HesGoal, it could mark a major breakthrough for the Premier League‘s anti-piracy fight.
Ongoing Crackdown on Football Streaming Piracy
The targeting of HesGoal is just the latest strike in the Premier League‘s war against unauthorized football streaming online. They‘ve repeatedly tried to shutdown or sue various free streaming platforms:
- LiveTV: The Premier League received a court order in 2017 compelling major UK ISPs to block this site.
- FirstRow Sports: In 2018, the organization successfully sued FirstRow in a Texas federal court for copyright infringement.
- EPLStreams: Operators agreed to an injunction blocking the site in the UK to avoid a lawsuit.
Authorities have also compelled various streaming sites and providers to hand over user data for individuals streaming copyrighted football content illegally:
In 2021, publisher Eleven Sports settled a lawsuit with the Premier League and agreed to share identities and viewing histories of sublicensees.
An investigation by the Portuguese Association of Cable Operators resulted in one hoster surrendering details on 15,000 customers who streamed illegal football matches.
Police in Singapore arrested around 40 individuals in 2021 accused of reselling illegal football streaming subscriptions.
These cases highlight the very real legal risks even for those merely viewing unauthorized football streams online. Providers like HesGoal under pressure can expose users‘ personal information, viewing habits and IP addresses to authorities, either willingly or by force.
But despite early successes shutting downcertain sites, the Premier League‘s game of whack-a-mole persists as new platforms pop up or move domains. Their latest focus on HesGoal operators could provide a new avenue to hinder these hydra-like services.
HesGoal Continues Streaming – For Now
In spite of the looming subpoena, HesGoal still appears to be functioning across various proxy domains and underground links. According to a January 2022 tweet from an affiliated account, operators quickly restored service after an interruption:
The site is backs now
— Hesgoal.Com (@hesgoalme) January 24, 2022
This demonstrates the resilience and persistence of platforms like HesGoal. Even if domains go down temporarily, their developers often have backup infrastructure to minimize disruption to users.
However, the Premier League has markedly stepped up efforts to block UK access to HesGoal at the ISP level, which could hinder reach and growth going forward.
Ongoing back-and-forth developments in this tug-of-war will determine if and when HesGoal is shuttered permanently under the pressure. But as one door shuts, another seems likely to open.
Staying Safe While Streaming Football Online
For football fans hoping to access matches online, HesGoal‘s situation is a sobering reminder to take precautions. Here are a few tips:
Use Trusted Legal Streaming Services
Rather than risking illegal streams, consider affordable legal alternatives like:
DAZN – £7.99/month for Premier League, UEFA competitions, La Liga, Serie A and more.
Peacock Premium – £4.99/month for 175 Premier League matches.
Paramount+ – £6.99/month for some Champions League and Europa League matches.
ESPN+ – £9.99/month for FA Cup, Carabao Cup and EFL Championship.
While pricier than "free" piracy sites, these give you peace of mind knowing your personal information and privacy won‘t be jeopardized.
Leverage a VPN for Added Security
A VPN also lets you circumvent ISP blocks on sites like HesGoal. And encrypting connections prevents spying by cybercriminals on public WiFi.
For streaming, make sure to choose a high-speed VPN that works seamlessly with sites like BBC iPlayer, ESPN+ and Paramount+.
Limit Password Reuse Across Sites
Using the same login credentials across multiple streaming sites and apps makes you vulnerable if any provider exposes data in a breach.
The more you compartmentalize unique logins, the harder it is for bad actors to gain access to all your accounts. Password managers like 1Password make this easier.
Beware of "Free" Streaming Offers
Often tempting "free" or cheap online TV promotions utilize illegal streams behind the scenes, even if advertised differently. Be skeptical of any service significantly undercutting normal prices with no clear business model.
Understand the Risks Involved
Streaming from unauthorized sources does carry inherent risks as highlighted above. Fines, suspensions by ISPs, and even criminal charges are possibilities authorities are pursuing more aggressively. Think carefully before accessing any questionable content.
While the Premier League‘s targeting of HesGoal signals a concerning direction, fans ultimately just want an easy and affordable means to watch the teams they love. Hopefully legal streaming options will continue evolving to meet this demand.
In the meantime, be sure to protect your privacy, data and safety when streaming football matches or any online content. Please don‘t hesitate to reach out with any questions!