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Knockout blow for sports piracy requires incentives and deterrents, finds new Synamedia report

Synamedia today published a report that sets out an evidence-based approach to fight sports piracy.

London(26 Oct 2020)

LONDON – October 26th, 2020 – Synamedia, the world’s largest independent video software provider, today published a report that sets out an evidence-based approach to fight sports piracy. ‘Tackling Sports Piracy in an IP World’ features research conducted by Ampere Analysis alongside new strategies for sports rights owners and pay-TV providers to combat streaming piracy while proposing creative ways of luring sports fans to legal services.

The report finds 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. Three quarters of the sports fans surveyed already believe piracy is morally wrong yet they continue. Instead, the report asserts that a more effective approach is to make pirate streams so unreliable that consumers lose trust in the service while making legitimate services more attractive.

The second report in a series designed to broaden understanding of global sports streaming piracy to protect the value of sports rights, it draws on results from a 10-country study of over 6,000 sports fans and interviews with key players in the industry. The research is underpinned by a detailed analysis of consumer behaviour and attitudes, including sports fans’ fears and concerns about viewing illegal content.

One of the themes of the report is the use of incentives and deterrents to convert consumers of illegal content into paying subscribers alongside a roadmap for all players in the value chain to focus on anti-piracy interventions that are tailored to the behavior of distinct groups of consumers.

Incentives include the introduction of flexible pricing models to reach those loyal fans who don’t want to commit to multiple subscriptions. For example, NBA TV now offers basketball fans subscriptions for the season, month, a game or just the audio commentary. An alternative to reach those fans unwilling to pay anything is a slightly delayed service, such as the near real-time French football Ligue 1 games offered for free by Iliad.

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. Technology and Internet providers unintentionally facilitate piracy and the report recommends monitoring for prompt action. Examples include providers of DNS and hosting services that appear to turn a blind eye to pirates using their services, and online payment providers that process illegal transactions.

The report features checklists for both sports rights owners and rights buyers to work in lockstep to meet their mutual goal of reducing piracy. For example, 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 a full assessment of the risk of piracy eroding the value of those rights. Building clawbacks into deals to 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.

Simon Brydon, Senior Director, Sports Rights Anti-Piracy at Synamedia, said, “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. To quote one operator interviewed for this report, its ambition is to make IP sports piracy harder than selling fake designer handbags.”

Synamedia has 30+ years’ experience in video security solutions, and developed the longest unhacked solution on the market. Since its inception, Synamedia’s operational security team has brought many criminals to the attention of law enforcement officials. Synamedia protects approximately $70 billion in operator revenues every year with offerings Streaming Piracy Disruption (SPD)CSFEye Credentials Sharing and Fraud Insight, OTT and broadcast security solutions.

To download the Tackling Sports Piracy in an IP World report, click here.

Synamedia and Ampere Analysis will be hosting a webinar “Tackling sports piracy: real-world options for operators and rights holders” on Tuesday November 10, 2020 at 3-4 pm GMT. To register, click here.


Research Methodology

The online quantitative study of over 6,000 sports fans aged 18-64 was undertaken in March 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic stopped play, by data and analytics firm Ampere Analysis. Consumers were pre-filtered and chosen based on their experience of watching sport on TV. The study was run in ten markets: Brazil, Egypt, Germany, India, Italy, Jordan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, UK and USA.


About Synamedia

We’re helping service and content providers around the world to deliver, protect and monetize video content so they can win in the age of Infinite Entertainment. We do that with the world’s most complete, secure and advanced end-to-end open video delivery solution. Our portfolio features award-winning video network services, best-in-class anti-piracy solutions and intelligence, and video platforms with fully integrated capabilities including cloud DVR and advanced advertising. And we’re trusted by over 200 top satellite DTH, cable, telco and OTT operators, broadcasters and media companies. Synamedia is backed by the Permira funds and Sky.

Twitter: @SynamediaVideo

LinkedIn: Synamedia


For press and analyst queries, please contact:

Rachel Postlethwaite

Breakaway Communications for Synamedia