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Tackling sports piracy 'requires carrot and stick approach'

Sports stream
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A new report claims that a more creative strategy involving a mixture of deterrents and incentives is needed to curb online sports piracy. 

The research, “Tackling Sports Piracy in an IP World,” was published by video software provider Synamedia and included data collected by analytics firm Ampere Analysis. It found that sports fans list disruption to their viewing and risk of legal or social consequences as the two biggest deterrents to watching pirated content. 

These factors were cited by 84% of sports fans that watch illegitimate content as the driving forces behind reducing or stopping watching illegal streams.

Interesting, the study finds that improving consumer education is unlikely to be enough in the fight against online piracy. Three-quarters of respondents agreed that piracy was morally wrong, but continued to watch illegal content regardless.

The right choice

Rather than lecturing consumers about the ethical reasons for watching legitimate online content, sports fans are more likely to respond to practical incentives – like making legal services more attractive – or deterrents – like making illegal streams less reliable. Regarding the latter approach, broadcasters need to get tougher with their illegitimate rivals.

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

Other deterrents that could be implemented include disrupting the advertising-funded business model used by illegal services and tackling the online payment ecosystem that is used to process payments. Incentives that are worth exploring, meanwhile, include the use of flexible pricing models or even offering a slightly delayed service for free.