A new report about piracy has found that the biggest deterrents for viewers of pirate sports streams are the fear of disruption to their viewing and the risk of legal and social consequences, including being arrested or fined. 84% of sports fans who watch illegal streams cite both of these as reasons to reduce or stop viewing illegal services. While perceived wisdom is that consumer education can curtail piracy, the study finds that by itself it will almost certainly fail.
The ‘Tackling Sports Piracy in an IP World’ report was commissioned by Synamedia (the TV software provider with solutions spanning content protection, anti-piracy and cybersecurity, ad-tech and service delivery platforms) and conducted by research firm Ampere Analysis. The ten-country study included a survey of 6,000 sports fans and interviews with key industry players in the quest for an evidence-based approach to fighting sports piracy and luring fans towards legal services.
The study identified incentives for giving up pirate services. These include the introduction of flexible pricing models to reach those loyal fans who do not want to commit to multiple subscriptions. For example, NBA TV now offers basketball fans subscriptions covering a season, a month, one game or just the audio commentary. To reach fans unwilling to pay anything, service providers could offer a slightly delayed service, such as the near real-time French football Ligue 1 games offered for free by Iliad.
The report includes checklists for sports rights owners and rights buyers if they want to work together to reduce piracy. It says rights holders should be wary of agreeing exclusive terms with an operator who does not offer a viable multiscreen option, because fans who want to watch on a mobile device will be tempted to turn to pirate services.
One of the report’s recommendations is to negotiate content protection into rights deals based on the risk of piracy eroding the value of those rights. A clawback clause would allow licensees to recover some of their investment if levels of piracy in their market exceed defined limits. “This creates a direct incentive for rights holders to monitor and manage piracy, and to mandate a common level of content protection technology across all licensees in every market,” a report summary suggests.
Education has limited impact in the fight against piracy. Three-quarters of the sports fans surveyed already believe piracy is morally wrong yet continue to watch pirated content.
The report says it is more effective to make pirate streams so unreliable that consumers lose trust in the service, which has the simultaneous effect of making legitimate services more attractive. Deterrents include actions to identify, interrupt and take down illegal services and disrupt their sources of funding – including advertisers who are unwittingly supporting these platforms. DNS and hosting services that appear to turn a blind eye to pirates using their services, and online payment providers that process illegal transactions, should all be bought into the anti-piracy battle.
According to Simon Brydon, Senior Director, Sports Rights Anti-Piracy at Synamedia, “To remain financially viable in the face of the double whammy of Covid-19 and hyper-piracy, sports rights owners need to impose stricter contractual requirements on streaming services, while investing in their own monitoring, intelligence and automated take-downs.”
Synamedia has a long heritage in providing video security solutions and protects approximately $70 billion in operator revenues every year. The company’s solutions include Streaming Piracy Disruption (SPD), CSFEye Credentials Sharing and Fraud Insight, plus OTT and broadcast security solutions.