How much of a problem is illicit IPTV viewing across Central and Eastern Europe?
According to the findings of an independent study published by the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAPA) and undertaken by the UK’s Bournemouth University, it is certainly an issue but arguably not on the same scale as in other parts of the continent.
One of its main findings is that in 2021 the overall share of the population accessing such services in the EU27+UK was 4.5%.
However, there were huge variations, with the ‘top’ country being the Netherlands (8.2%) and bottom Romania (0.8%). While several West European countries had high totals (over 7% in the case of Ireland and Luxembourg), most in CEE were much lower (Poland with 1.5% and Hungary and Czech Republic with 4% and 4.4% respectively). In the latter case, Lithuania was in first place with 5.3%.
Another finding is that young people in Europe have a more tolerant attitude towards pirated online content. In CEE, over 40% of all people who access illicit IPTV in Romania, Hungary and Poland are younger than 25. On the other hand, a significant majority (70% or more) who use such services in Slovenia, Slovakia, Lithuania, Czech Republic and Latvia are aged 25-64.
The report identifies ‘hotspots’ for youth piracy in Europe, with Malta coming in first place (30.1% of people aged 16-24 using illegal IPTV) and Romania last (3.4%). Other countries, including Bulgaria (5.4%) and Poland (5.9%), are also at the lower end of the scale.
In addition, it says that many factors come into play in influencing people’s willingness to access illicit IPTV. The quality of internet infrastructure and penetration of fast broadband can play a role, as well as society’s attitude to IP infringement.
Furthermore, in the case of CEE, low usage of illicit IPTV can be explained by such factors as high pay-TV penetration in Romania (cable) and Poland (cable and DTH).
The report also shows that revenues from illicit IPTV services are at the lower end of the scale in CEE compared to other parts of the continent. In 2021, the UK was in top spot with €194.6 million, while Poland, the largest CEE market, accounted for €24.1 million.
Meanwhile, the losses in revenue suffered by legal pay-TV providers across Europe due to such piracy amounted to €3.21 billion in 2021.
While the CEE region comes out much better in the report than may have been expected, there is clearly no room for complacency and the problem of IPTV piracy is likely to remain with us for the foreseeable future.
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