Digital security specialist Irdeto claims that illegal streams of this year’s Champions League knockout stages reached some 4.89 million online viewers.
Based on its data, Irdeto said that it detected a total of 5,100 unique illegal streams, 2,093 of which were found on social media channels including Periscope, Facebook and Twitch.
Irdeto said that while web-based streams continue to be the main vehicle for illegal distribution of Champions League football, this was closely followed by social media where “potential advertising revenue drives criminals to illegally stream premium sports”.
Pirates also took advantage of illicit streaming plugins for the Kodi media player, with 886 streams identified by Irdeto on this platform.
“Criminals have targeted premium sports content such as the European Champions League and are earning a fortune from stealing the rights,” said Rory O’Connor, senior vice president of cybersecurity services, Irdeto.
“This makes it crucial for content owners, rights holders and platform owners to work together and enlist technology and proactive services to take down streams in real-time.
“The criminals who profit from these illegal streams have little regard for their viewers and are exposing them to cybercrime, inappropriate content and malware infection. Also, viewers of illegal content can face criminal penalties if they decide to share content with friends on social media.”
Irdeto said that the most illegally viewed match through social media streams was the Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich semi-final second leg which received an estimated 709,393 viewers. It claimed that, based on average pay TV subscription prices in Europe, this could represent a loss of more than €14 million per month or €170 million on an annual basis.