These TV boxes, also known as Illicit Streaming Devices (ISDs), allow users to access hundreds of pirated television channels and video-on-demand content, usually with a low annual subscription fee. TV boxes often come pre-loaded with illegal applications allowing ‘plug-and-play’ access to pirated content.
This latest research shows a substantial increase in ISD usage when compared to a similar YouGov study undertaken last year, which found that 28% of online Filipino consumers used TV boxes to stream pirated content.
The survey, commissioned by the Asia Video Industry Association’s Coalition Against Piracy (CAP) and conducted by YouGov, highlights the detrimental effects of streaming piracy on legitimate subscription video services.
Of the 34% of consumers who purchased a TV box for free streaming, more than half (59%) stated that they had cancelled all or some of their subscription to legal pay TV services. Specifically, 30% asserted that they cancelled their International subscription services, which includes pan-Asia-only offerings, as a direct consequence of owning an ISD. While 24% cancelled a specific part of their cable TV subscription bundles/ packages.
The research also found that a staggering two thirds (66%) of online Filipino consumers have accessed streaming piracy websites or torrent sites to access premium content without paying any subscription fees.
In addition to the short-term problem of cancelled subscriptions is a longer term problem – namely, many of the people streaming pirated content are young. The survey found that 45% of 18-24 year-olds and 46% of 25-34 year olds used ISDs or other apps/ services to view infringing entertainment content.
A Bill currently before the Philippine Senate entitled the ‘Online Infringement Act’ proposes an administrative site blocking mechanism which would empower the authorities to ensure that ISPs take “reasonable steps to disable access to sites whenever these sites are reported to be infringing copyright or facilitating copyright infringement.
”The proliferation of ISDs in the market as an access of pirated content affects the livelihood of people in the local creative and film industries. There is a need to continue educating the public that online piracy is unsafe that can put data privacy and devices at risk. We encourage everyone to watch content using legitimate sources only,” Globe President and CEO Ernest Cu said.
Optical Media Board (OMB) Chairman and CEO Atty. Anselmo Adriano said that the ISDs are storage devices, even if that storage is transient and part of the buffering process. “Any digital device with a storage capability to store pirated content, no matter how small, is covered by the Optical Media Act or Republic Act 9239,” Adriano said.
Neil Gane, the General Manager of AVIA’s Coalition Against Piracy (CAP) commented:“The illicit streaming device (ISD) ecosystem is impacting all businesses involved in the production and distribution of legitimate content. Effective enforcement and disruption solutions are key, such as an efficient site blocking mechanism disabling access to egregious ISD applications and piracy streaming websites and meaningful cooperation with e-platforms where ISDs are openly sold.”