Study: Pirated Web Video Peaks 12-18 Hours After Broadcast

Unauthorized viewing of popular TV shows on video-sharing Web sites like YouTube peaks between 12 and 18 hours after an episode is broadcast, according to a study conducted by Akamai Technologies and content-identification service provider Vobile.

The companies tracked one broadcaster’s primetime show—which they declined to identify—over a 30-day period starting the second week of January.

They found that while illegal versions of the show became available online within minutes of broadcast, consumption was relatively low in the first 12 hours. Usage spiked the morning following broadcast and grew larger throughout the day.

Within 72 hours, unauthorized versions eroded the audience for the content owner’s own TV episode distributed online almost 20%, according to Akamai and Vobile.

Vobile used its proprietary video “fingerprinting” technology to capture the primetime broadcast, prior to airtime. It then tracked the propagation of the episode across a series of popular video-sharing Web destinations on the Internet starting one hour after airtime and continuing over 30 days. The test did not include content distributed via peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.

According to Akamai, the study shows that content owners should quickly distribute content through legitimate channels so that consumers won’t turn to bootlegged copies. Akamai sells video-syndication services as part of its content-distribution network portfolio.

The announcement is timed to coincide with the National Association of Broadcasters conference this week in Las Vegas.