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YouGov Claims 4.9 Million UK Broadband Users Streaming Pirated TV Content

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017 (3:14 pm) - Score 9,101
uk pirate music

A new survey from YouGov has suggested that around 4.9 million of the United Kingdom’s broadband connected adults use pirated TV streaming services via platforms such as “illegal Kodi boxes, Amazon Fire TV Chipped Sticks, and illegal streaming apps on smartphones and tablets.”

Back in the old days people would exchange pirated TV shows and Movies via Newsgroups and IRC chat, then as that became increasingly restricted they moved to P2P (File Sharing) and Cyberlockers (file sharing websites). However the rise of ISP website blocking and DCMS file removals have eaten into the latter two, while legal alternatives like NOW TV, Amazon Video and Netflix have also had a positive impact.

Nevertheless many people remain frustrated by the segregated market for premium video content, which often requires users to hold several subscriptions to different services in order to access all of the content they want. Meanwhile most new Movie releases continue to only be shown in the cinemas and premium sport TV content has become increasingly expensive (younger users in particular may struggle to afford these).

Perhaps unsurprisingly many internet users have taken to using pirated streaming services as an alternative, which make it very easy to get what they want and when they want it.

yougov uk internet video streaming piracy

Interestingly YouGov notes that around 87% of the 2.6 million users who expected to start using pirated streaming services “soon” (note: 400,000 people said they were looking to start using them within the next 3 months) already have a Pay TV service, while 49% of the same group expect to cancel their TV subscription within 12 months of getting a pirated device.

YouGov Summary

Those who are not yet using the pirated platforms pose an even greater challenge to subscription services. Such streaming services are seen as being of significant financial benefit to users. Nearing half (46%) of those with access to one of the platforms think that their use has saved them money on film and TV viewing, with the average saving since they began their use being £212.

Alongside the short-term problem of cancelled subscriptions is a longer term one – namely, many of the people using pirated platforms are younger. Adoption of pirated platforms is especially high among millennials, with 18-34 year-olds accounting for 37% of users (1.8 million people). There is a real danger that having got used to getting TV services for free it will hard to convince them to pay in the future.

Meanwhile the price of subscriptions meant that some feel as though they aren’t getting value for money from pay TV. One person thinking of abandoning their subscriptions in favour of using a pirated streaming platform had “mixed feelings” about the move as it would be “likely to increase prices for others.” However, they felt that sports streams are “ripping of the consumer and can see why people feel justified” in avoiding pay TV services.

We should point out that Kodi itself is not “illegal“, although it can be modified to stream pirated content just like many other platforms can (some Kodi boxes have these “fully loaded” third party apps already installed and it is the use of these platforms that YouGov have assessed).

Clearly this is an issue that has Rights Holders worried and indeed the High Court recently granted a request by the Premier League (Football Association), which forced Sky Broadband, BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk to block a number of servers associated with infringing match footage (live video streams).

No doubt we can expect more of this in the future and the police have also been cracking down on sales of related Kodi boxes, albeit with mixed success. As usual this often ends up being a game of whack-a-mole, where one stream is taken offline only for another to emerge somewhere else moments later. At the same time such blocks can often be circumvented in other ways, such as by avoiding the blocking ISP’s network.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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12 Responses
  1. Bob2002

    I have access to Sky, for free, for 12 months – Sky returning customer discount/special deal etc – and I feel there’s a more fundamental threat to broadcasters.

    Broadcasting does not provide the same degree of interest as narrowcasting, programmes made for the masses vs content that targets your own specific interests. I have a Mi Box (Android TV) and I basically alternate between traditional rolling news on my satellite box and YouTube content – which has a good user interface and voice search via the small Mi remote. Once YouTube is integrated with your main TV, and consumed like traditional channels, normal broadcasters become stale and uninteresting.

    Science, politics, news, sports, computing, electronics – whatever I want and exactly what I want. A broadcaster like Sky can’t match that targeted content. YouTube is actually becoming a TV channel provider, with traditional outlets, with innovative PVR features – but I won’t be paying a sub for that. For me narrowcasting actually makes “TV” worth watching.

  2. dragoneast

    The problem for me, and perhaps some others, is that subscriptions are designed to “lock you” into a service, to get value for money you have to use it (often a heck of a lot) whether on a continuing basis or for a short period of time. I don’t. I dip into services, occasionally. The only ones I can justify paying for are Amazon and Google (or indeed the BBC) who offer packages of services. I don’t want to watch football or films like wallpaper, or until I’m blue in the face. The media industry, apparently, only caters for addicts. (Well, I suppose cynically they’re all addicts anyway, aren’t they?)

  3. Robert

    “Amazon Fire TV Chipped Sticks”
    So Ebay ads which are pondering to the clueless, are now calling a device with pre-installed kodi and android apps “chipped” LOL
    Comedy gold along with watching “streaming” content apparently being illegal. Selling the device maybe watching content errr no.

    Not all streaming TV services are illegal either, you can legally buy IPTV services that will allow you access to a whole range of satellite channels.

    You can also legally watch channels which in this country may cost you money but in others do not. Eurosport, Nickelodeon and Discovery spring to mind all of which can be had for free via LEGAL European streaming services (one well known Kodi addon does this) or just pointing your satellite dish to 19.2e and selecting track 2 for English rather than French/German/Spanish etc audio.

    In short nothing more than more scaremongering from the government and threats, BT, Sky, Virgin etc must be getting desperate to win back subs by criminalising people that are doing nothing legally wrong.

  4. Direct link to article: https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/04/20/almost-five-million-britons-use-illegal-tv-streami/

    You have the * in there about Kodi not being illegal itself / not carrying only pirated content, but still misleadingly repeat the 4.9 million figure as “people who pirate” rather than “people who have *”access to”* pirate which still excludes those with access to Youtube which also carries pirated materials”. Useless figures.

  5. Apolloa

    ‘Amazon Fire TV chipped sticks’ WTF? Hahahaha… I think they’ll find people just sideload Kodi onto to them. Good I say, thank God for Amazon and Netflix and even Now TV as it will slowly erode the titan monopoly grip Sky has in UK TV services, I mean take Sky Q, you have to ‘pay’ £100 to £150 for someone to install your TV box, even additional ones which involves pressing WPS buttons, and you do NOT own the equipment, Sky do, and then you pay a higher subscription charge for it. It used to cost £70 for an install, so they are in effect profiteering off equipment you never own even more then before.
    It’s a dinasour business model in the digital age.

  6. David Oliver

    Sorry to be a pedant,but it’s
    nevertheless
    not
    never the less.

  7. Enki

    Its rampant now, who needs Kodi. Noticed there are several apps on the xbox1 offering pirated content…

    • Bloke Down The Pub

      Indeed, Kodi is sooooooo yesterday. Just buy a dedicated IPTV box such as a MAG 254 and subscribe to a decent IPTV service such as Ruya (search for them on facebook). I pay £24 per month for a Ruya IPTV subscription & get pretty much every channel in UK (incl sky movies, sports etc) and 14 day catch up tv on all, loads of box sets and 1000’s of blockbuster movies on demand. Basically I’ve got Sky TV, Amazon Video, netflix and my local cinema all rolled into one on my MAG 254. IPTV is the future folks 🙂

  8. Boosey

    Haven’t we been here before with music? I think we have…

    It comes back to antiquated business models and naive aspirations surrounding geographical restrictions/staggering of content (releasing shows in America first etc…)

    Content producers spend far too much time fighting innovation and change, not enough time adapting and re-inventing how they sell their content. All successful businesses start with the customer and work backwards, TV/Media broadcasters start with their profit margins. They’ll ultimately fail and some household names will go bang… but until then, the masses will find a way to keep circumventing their efforts to prevent so-called “piracy”.

    • Darren

      Well said. The fact that people who have subscriptions are canceling and moving to other means says it all.

      They will go on wacking that mole forever because they are too stupid or proud to admit it’s not working. Adapt to the market or continue to pointlessly chase that mole.. he’s behind you!

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