Study Finds 6.5% of North American Homes Get Illegal Live TV

Sandvine, a maker of bandwidth management and network intelligence systems, issued a study finding that 6.5% of homes in North America are accessing illegal live TV services each month, estimating that the filching of that content could cost pay TV providers more than $4 billion in revenue this year.

In a new Global Internet Phenomena report dedicated to the video piracy trend, Sandvine said the threat comes from illegal services that replicate live TV services for about $10 per month, steeply undercutting the price of legitimate cable and satellite TV offerings. One example is NecroIPTV, a company based in Germany that takes payment for the provisioning of thousands of channels from around the globe.

Sandvine based its findings on data culled from its work with several North American service providers along with research of TV piracy services.

Sandvine’s study also fixated on the devices that consumers are using to obtain illegal content. Purpose-built set-top boxes/hardware that embed software that’s solely designed to access pirated TV streams is by far the main vehicle, at about 95%.

Behind that are so-called “fully-loaded” Kodi devices, including PCs and smartphones, that can be modified with unofficial add-ons that are capable of accessing pirate video services.

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Sandvine also identified four key content categories that appear to be driving the growth of live TV piracy: premium programming, sports, news, and international/expatriate content.

More about Sandvine’s study, including the “phantom bandwidth problem” that illegal live TV services present to ISPs and consumers will be featured in the Nov. 6 issue of Broadcasting & Cable.