If you've noticed seemingly random numbers pop up while watching the Lions tour on television, don't be alarmed - unless you've been illegally streaming the action.

Sky is the exclusive rights holder for broadcasts of the British and Irish Lions tour and have undertaken a number of measures to deter illegal streamers.

One of these has been to display unique decoder numbers during the games, meaning Sky would be able to identify exactly which decoder an illegal stream was coming from.

Sky spokeswoman Kirsty Way confirmed the technique to the Herald.


"These numbers are one method we use to detect pirated streams and where they come from," she said.

However she was cagey when pressed for more details.

"That is as much as I will say, as we don't want to give our whole game away."

The same technique has been used during Joseph Parker's boxing fights, which have been frequent targets for streaming, particularly using Facebook's live feature.

People had faced court action for streaming Parker's fights, most recently for illegally broadcasting Parker's bout with Romanian Razvan Cojanu in May.

At the time, Way said Sky "took down many YouTube and Facebook streams".

She said "around 10 people" were "likely to face court with the evidence we have".

Sky said it had previously won 13 cases against those who had illegally streamed Parker's fights. They were fined up to $3000 each.

Parker had also urged people not to stream the fight before his first WBO world heavyweight boxing title defence.

"My message is don't do it because it is illegal for a reason, and if I catch you you're going to be in trouble," Parker said.

Sky chief executive John Fellet said illegal streaming was no different to "walking into a store and grabbing a physical item".

"It may be fun, it may be exciting, but at the end of the day you are taking money out of athletes, the actors and the production people and even people here in this building," Fellet said.

He said Sky would "fingerprint" the streaming signal to track back to who it goes to.

"Right now we are taking civil actions and using the courts to make our point," he said.

"In other countries around the world they take greater criminal action on these types of events."