Service providers and rights holders can unlock up to $28.3 billion (€23.7bn) in new revenue each year by reducing sports piracy, according to a report from Synamedia in partnership with Ampere Analysis.
The research claims to reveal the true cost of sports piracy for the first time using a new model that evaluates how different illegal viewers respond to anti-piracy measures. It finds that OTT sports streaming services stand to gain $5.4 billion, or 19 per cent of the total, with the balance up for grabs by other pay-TV providers.
The report, Pricing piracy: the value of action, uses a detailed model that takes into account all the complexities and nuances of sports piracy viewing. It identifies the demographics and characteristics of those illegal users most likely to convert to legal services, including their reaction when illegal viewing is disrupted. As service providers address the triggers that lead consumers to seek out illegal services, this insight gives them the power to transform piracy from a cost center into a revenue opportunity with measurable ROI.
With an understanding about pirate users’ motivations and behavior, service providers can target interventions – such as disrupting streams and incentives – at those viewers most likely to switch to legitimate services: the ‘converter cohort’. According to a survey of over 6,000 sports fans in 10 markets conducted by Ampere Analysis as part of this series of reports, 74 per cent of sports fans are willing to switch from illegal streams if a legitimate alternative is available and if the illegal streams become unreliable.
The study finds that the converter cohort tends to be younger and are often families with young children. They are avid sports viewers with many watching 10 or more different sports using connected devices. 40 per cent of the converter cohort say they would subscribe to OTT streaming sports services, including single-sport services run by rights owners, with the balance opting for traditional pay-TV services, particularly those that offer exclusive sports rights. In fact, 57 per cent of the converter cohort already pay for legitimate services and 52 per cent pay for pirate services.
Converting pirate customers to legitimate ones requires service providers to address the triggers that encourage consumers to seek out illegal services in the first place. These include a flexible access without complex installations or long contracts, ease of use, and availability on every device in any location, coupled with a price point that is often much lower than a traditional pay-TV service with premium sports tiers included.
“After years of growth, a recent downturn in rights fees has been exacerbated by the pandemic, hitting sports rights hard. But just as the value of rights is being eroded, there is now the prospect of creating new revenues by converting illegal viewers into paid subscribers,” said Yael Fainaro, senior vice president of security at Synamedia. “While previous attempts to value the revenue leakage from sports streaming piracy took a crude approach, we now have the detail to develop targeted approaches and the tools to deliver quantifiable results, ensuring every investment hits the jackpot.”