Russia’s Rambler targets Twitch in latest Premier League piracy action

Russia’s Rambler Media Group has secured a court ruling suspending the streaming of English Premier League football games by video platform Twitch, claiming that the Amazon-owned service is infringing upon its exclusive content.

The Moscow City Court has suspended Twitch’s live streaming of matches as an interim measure of protection in a lawsuit filed by Rambler Internet Holding, part of the Rambler Group, according to state news agency Tass.

A court spokesperson said: “The Rambler Internet Holding LLC has found its content [the live broadcasts of the English Premier League games] on the Twitch Interactive website and requested that the Moscow City Court take interim measures of protection for the company to be able to file a lawsuit within 15 days. The Moscow City Court has introduced the interim measures.”

The spokesperson added that the suspension covers the 2019-20 to 2021-22 Premier League seasons. Rambler acquired exclusive rights across those three seasons under a deal struck in April and with matches broadcast via OTT platform Okko Sport.

Rambler told the Reuters news agency that it is holding talks with Twitch over a possible settlement deal to end the dispute.

Mikhail Gershkovich, head of Rambler Group’s sports projects, said: “Our suit against Twitch is to defend our exclusive rights to broadcast English Premier League matches and we will continue to actively combat pirate broadcasts.

“We’re currently holding talks with Twitch to sign a settlement agreement. The service has given us tools to combat pirate broadcasts and we are now only talking about compensation for damages between August and November.”

Yulianna Tabastayeva, who is representing Rambler in court, told Russian newspaper Kommersant that the company is seeking 180bn rubles (€2.58bn/$2.87bn) in damages from Twitch. This figure has been calculated by multiplying the alleged number of cases in which Twitch has pirated Rambler’s content (36,000) by the maximum compensation amount per case (5m rubles).

The Twitch case represents the latest move by Rambler to protect its exclusive rights to the Premier League. In October, the company agreed a partnership with international sports broadcaster Setanta Sports designed to combat online piracy in Russia, Ukraine and the CIS countries, with the two parties stating the agreement would have a particular focus on the Premier League.

Setanta holds rights to the Premier League in Ukraine, Moldova and Kazakhstan, launching in the former nation in August.