The live streaming of sports has risen to a new level due to the coronavirus lockdown. This situation has also created a rise in illegal live sport streaming. To see how much illegal live sports streaming has risen take a look at Onsist’s previous blog post on 13 Stats on the rise of OTT live sports streaming.

Illegal live sports streaming and piracy

In its report prepared in December 2020, the European Parliamentary Research Service found that in 2019:

  • 6 million subscriptions were made to illegal broadcasting platforms in the EU
  • These subscriptions generated illicit subscription revenues of an estimated 522 million EUR
  • If the same number of subscriptions were made legally, authorised broadcasters’ revenues could increase by 3.4 billion EUR each year

Furthermore, a report published this year by Synamedia and Ampere Analysis has found that sports rights holders and streaming services lost $28.3 billion globally as a result of piracy through illegal live sport streaming in 2020.

The research reveals the true cost of sports piracy for the first time using a new model that evaluates how different illegal viewers respond to anti-piracy measures. It finds that OTT sports streaming services stand to gain $5.4bn, or 19% of the total, with the balance up for grabs by other pay-TV providers.” (Synamedia and Ampere Analysis)

Proposals by the European Parliament to stop illegal live sports streaming

Legislative Proposals

The European Parliament has requested that the EU Commission submit a proposal for legislative change, which addresses, among other things, the following:

  • Establishing a common EU-wide quality and technical reliability standard for software tools deployed by rights holders, intermediaries and other service providers, in order to identify illegal broadcasting of live sports events with a view to creating a certification scheme for “trusted flaggers”
  • Clarifying the requirement for the removal of, or disabling of access to, online illegal live sports event content as fast as possible and in any event no later than within 30 minutes of the receipt of notification from rights holders or from certified trusted flaggers
  • Allowing for immediate take down procedures targeting illegal live sports event content, provided that there is no doubt about the ownership of the right concerned and that the transmission was not authorised
  • Ensuring that the measures to be taken by intermediaries are effective, justified and proportionate by making sure, for example, that the removal of, or the disabling of access to, illegal content does not require the blocking of an entire platform containing services that are legal
  • Taking measures that make it easier to find legal means of accessing sports content, including by regularly updating the list of authorised providers on the European Online Content Portal, Agorateka, and ensuring that viewers are informed of such legal means and how to use such means to access content when blocking measures are enforced.

Amendments to the IP Enforcement Directive

The EU Parliament has also recommended amendments to the IP Enforcement Directive, which include introduction of measures to address the following:

  • Allowing the use of blocking injunctions that run during the entire live broadcast of a sports event, but are limited to the duration of the live broadcast, thus blocking the infringing website only for the duration of the event
  • Harmonising legislation allowing, where live sports events are concerned, for the use of injunctions that should have the effect of blocking the access not only to the infringing website, but to any other website that contains the same infringement, regardless of the domain name or IP address used, and without the need for a new injunction to be issued
  • Reinforcing cooperation between Member States’ authorities, including by way of exchange of data and best practices and by creating an active and up-to-date network of national authorities
  • Reinforcing the cooperation between intermediaries and rightholders, including by promoting the conclusion of Memoranda of Understanding providing for a specific notice and action procedure

Comments from the EU Parliament on illegal live sports streaming

The report was adopted with 479 votes in favor, 171 against and 40 abstentions.

MEP’s said the new rules should not target viewers, who are often not aware that the content they are watching is illegal.

Given that illegal streams are most harmful in the first 30 minutes of their appearance online, the text calls for such streams to be removed or disabled immediately and no later than 30 minutes following a notification by rights holders or a certified trusted flagger” the EU Parliament said.

According to the EU Parliament, about 80% of right owners’ revenue comes from broadcast rights, but live sports broadcasts are often transmitted illegally online.

EU lawmaker Geoffroy Didier, a member of the legal affairs committee, said “online piracy of sports events also has severe consequences for amateur clubs and sports federations.”

“For the French football industry, for example, this means a loss of nearly 500 million euros ($610 million) each year for our amateur clubs,” he said. “We must stop these illegal activities.

In a study published last year, the EU said “7.6 million subscriptions were made to illegal broadcasting platforms in 2019 across the bloc, generating illicit revenues of an estimated 522 million euros ($637 million) leading to annual value added tax avoidance of 113.5 million euros ($138 million).”

If the same number of subscriptions were made legally, legal broadcasters’ revenues could increase by 3.4 billion euros ($4.1 billion) each year,” the study found.

Can pirate customers be converted to legitimate ones

According to a survey of over 6,000 sports fans in 10 markets conducted by Ampere Analysis as part of this series of reports, 74% of sports fans are willing to switch from illegal streams if a legitimate alternative is available and if the illegal streams become unreliable.

Source: www.synamedia.com

The study finds that –

  • The converter cohort tends to be younger and are often families with young children
  • They are avid sports viewers with many watching 10 or more different sports using connected devices
  • 40% of the converter cohort say they would subscribe to OTT streaming sports services, including single-sport services run by rights owners, with the balance opting for traditional pay-TV services, particularly those that offer exclusive sports rights
  • 57% of the converter cohort already pay for legitimate services and 52% pay for pirate services

Content Protection Strategy

For any streaming platform piracy is always an achilles heel. It’s always there and will be even after the pandemic. If people don’t care about the quality of the content and just want to watch it for free, then piracy will occur. 

High quality contents, competitive subscription rates are a must to challenge this wave of content piracy but to hinder it, more expert opinion on digital content piracy is also an easy way of fighting it. 

Onsist wants to protect brands from all over the world against online theft and piracy. We want people not to fear losing their content to pirates, counterfeiters and other digital threats. Here’s a 4 minute read on How Onsist Agents Can Help You With Your Content Protection Strategy.

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