Synamedia Report Details Ways to Incentivize Against Sports Piracy

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LONDON—A key strategy in the fight against sports piracy is to provide the right incentives to those illegally accessing content so that a legal service is their best option, according to a new report from Synamedia.

“Tackling Sports Piracy in an IP World” from Synamedia features research from Ampere Analysis and provides new strategies for sports rights owners and pay-TV providers to combat streaming piracy, as well as proposing how to bring sports fans to legal services.

There are two primary reasons that viewers become deterred from pirating sports streams, per the report—fear of disruption to their viewing and the risk of legal and social consequences; each answer was cited by 84% of pirate services users. The study also found that three-quarters of respondents already believe that sports piracy is morally wrong, but they still do it. 

One way to combat that is to make pirate streams unreliable through deterrents, including identifying, interrupting and taking down illegal services. This can include disrupting pirate services funding, which can unwittingly come from advertisers, or DNS providers and hosting services that Synamedia say “appear to turn a blind eye,” or online payment providers that process illegal transactions.

Another strategy is to provide viewers incentives that make the legal options easier and in some cases more affordable. Flexible pricing is one such strategy, with Synamedia citing NBA TV, which offers subscriptions plans for the season, a month, a game or just for audio commentary. There is also the method of offering a slightly delayed service for those unwilling to pay; French football Ligue 1 games are offered for free for near-real time streams.

Synamedia says that sports rights owners and rights buyers need to work in lockstep to combat piracy. Recommendations include rights owners being wary of agreeing to exclusive terms with operators that do not offer a viable multiscreen experience; they can also negotiate content protection into deals that allow licensees to recover some investment if levels of piracy in their market exceed defined limits.

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

The full “Tackling Sports Piracy in an IP World” report is available online (opens in new tab)