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FIFA World Cup TV piracy should serve as a warning for EPL broadcasters

Michelle Clancy
As the opening weekend of the 2014-2015 English Premier League kicks off, broadcasters should take note of some unexpected piracy figures that show that one can’t always predict where content piracy will hit.


During the FIFA World Cup 2014, content from Europe and North America broadcasters were the biggest targets for illegal streams worldwide, according to content security specialist Irdeto. In fact, several unexpected matches were hot targets for piracy. Through the duration of the World Cup, Irdeto’s Network Operations Center (NOC) and anti-piracy teams disrupted 3,743 streams, impacting a potential 10.6 million illegal views. The 10.6 million illegal views represented an estimated revenue value in excess of $120 million.

Irdeto’s investigations identified European broadcasters were the main targets for illegal streams -27% of streams detected – indicating a clear need for revenue assurance and anti-piracy services ahead of the new Premier League season. Interestingly, European piracy was rivalled by North America with 19% of illegal World Cup streams coming from broadcasters in that region.

Social media plays a critical role in online piracy, Irdeto noted.. The company removed 199 live YouTube streams, disrupting approximately 2.5 million viewers. Irdeto also disrupted Facebook accounts or groups with more than two million members that were distributing links to unauthorised live video streams.

During the World Cup, the most pirated match was the semi-final between the Netherlands and Argentina, with 252 illegal streams. Even though this match took place between teams from Europe and South America, it was actually a North American broadcaster whose channel was featured in the largest volume of illegal streams.

“This reaffirms that consumers will use any online source available, no matter where it originates, to watch their favourite match,” Irdeto noted.

Surprisingly, the World Cup Final between Germany and Argentina was the 11th most pirated match, with 170 streams. The top five were:

•    Brazil v Germany semi-final = 214 streams
•    Russia v South Korea group stage match = 197 streams
•    Chile v Brazil second round match = 193 streams
•    Brazil v Colombia quarter final = 190 streams

In all, Irdeto detected over 150 unique hosting sites which delivered an unauthorised live stream which featured a World Cup 2014 fixture, and over 365 unique linking sites embedding, or linking to, an unauthorized live stream which featured a World Cup 2014 fixture.