The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is drawing to a close, and the England team are on their way home (still a great performance, boys). Viewing figures have been impressive: for England’s first game of the tournament against Iran, the BBC recorded a record 8.5 million views, plus an additional 8 million streams on BBC iPlayer. Despite the various controversies surrounding the tournament, football fans worldwide have been tuning in. While UK viewers will be accustomed to having access to every match of the tournament for free, there are several countries that pay for broadcasting rights, and as always, this drives ongoing live sports piracy, as viewers search for alternative ways to watch the most popular sporting event.
As England kicked off their World Cup campaign with a spectacular 6-2 victory against Iran, we gathered with partners, customers, and media to shine a light on the importance of anti-piracy for major live sporting events. While this is a time to come together and support our respective country teams throughout the tournament, we can’t forget the constantly evolving issues behind the scenes.
Simon Hanna, Friend MTS EMEA Regional Vice President, shared some insights on the current state of live sports piracy. Piracy continues to cost content distributors and providers huge sums of money every year. Globally, $28.3 billion is lost per year to the illicit distribution of premium sports. Yet there is some hope. 74% of viewers said that they would switch to legal alternatives if illegal services are made unavailable. Clearly, there is a desire from consumers to watch officially licensed broadcasts.
When it comes to live sports, it’s often a communal event, so quality of experience is important. Pirated streams of live sports events, such as the World Cup, can often have latency issues that mean the broadcast will always be lagging behind, not to mention video and audio quality which can be appalling. But even for the consumers that pay pirates to get their sports content in good quality cheaply, there is always the risk that the stream will be shut down by an anti-piracy company right in the build up to that spectacular goal everyone will be talking about later.
Disruption is often the name of the game for anti-piracy companies (and yes, they pick the right moment to do it!). Piracy indeed has come a long way, and pirate IPTV services are evolving at a similar pace to those of legitimate providers. Several key steps must be taken to help broadcasters combat piracy of premium sports content:
As the battle to be world champions continues on the pitch, we must remember the ongoing battle off the pitch, in which piracy continues to damage the live sports industry. The FIFA World Cup is the biggest sporting event around the world, amassing record viewer numbers – and this is why it is so important to protect content from being pirated and causing huge damage to revenues, jobs, and brands for sports leagues, broadcasters and service providers. If we don’t protect this wonderful spectacle of sport, future generations might not get to enjoy it.
If you have valuable live sports content to protect, talk to our experts, we help protect FIFA’s content and can help you as well.
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