Left unchecked, the risk that subscription television piracy poses to CSPs is enormous: continued adoption of pirate TV streaming services could lead to increased cord-cutting, significantly impacting top-line revenue, overall profitability, and - by extension - undermining an important aspect of the business model of CSPs.
Our research reveals that across multiple tier-1 North American fixed access networks, 6.5% of households are communicating with known TV piracy services and these services accounted for more than 6% of downstream traffic in the peak evening hours.
Extending the 6.5% figure introduced previously across the United States and Canada’s fixed access broadband subscriber base (approximately 106 million users) and combining it with the average/typical price of a TV piracy service ($10 USD per month) begins to quantify the true economic impact of this piracy ecosystem: such an exercise indicates that TV piracy could quickly become almost a billion dollar a year industry for pirates.
Our report outlines, how during our investigation into subscription television piracy, we observed four distinct usage trends (premium television, live sports, international channels, and news) tied to the viewing of pirated TV services, which we believe are significant contributors to the growth of these services.
For me, the fact that news channels were among the most viewed was a revelation, but after looking at the shape of the traffic curves for these channels, we observed that the levels remain relatively constant throughout the day. Like all video applications, pirate TV bandwidth peaks in the evening but as shown in the image below, news channel traffic was still significant during the day.
We hypothesize that subscription television services might not be popular in households, but could be common in locations like waiting rooms, office lobbies, or bars where a television is installed to help distract clients while they are waiting for an appointment.
The entire report is jammed with interesting tidbits like that using data collected from multiple fixed access networks in North America and examines the mechanics, economics, and usage drivers of pirated television services. Other highlights from the report include:
Pirate television services could generate over 800 million dollars annually for the operators
Many pirate television configurations stream 24/7, whether users are watching or not, resulting in many users generating over 1TB of “phantom bandwidth” across their network each month
The Mayweather vs. MacGregor boxing match in August accounted for 80% of all pirate streams the evening it occured, and the event may have been watched by 1% of all households in North America
Dan is Sandvine’s Media & Industry Relations Manager who oversees the Global Internet Phenomena Report. His research is responsible for revealing the facts, fads and future trends about the Internet that are regularly cited by both media and Communications Service Providers across the globe.