Let us not kid ourselves: people who have access to unlimited internet get to do all manner of things. This has been the case with Nairobian, among other locals who have the privilege to choose from a variety of ISPs, some of which sell bandwidth for a steal in a market that is trying to make access to these services and products a norm. Besides catching up on latest shows on Showmax, Netflix and Prime Video (that is now available Android TV, finally!), as well as spending some hours on YouTube, there is always the case of streaming matches because let’s face it, most Kenyans love the world’s most popular sport.
It is worth noting that people can watch these matches easily if they take a walk to their local bar. Owning a satellite dish for terrestrial signals, however, can be expensive for individuals, considering Multichoice whose Supersport has exclusive rights to broadcast popular leagues such as the EPL charges a premium in a market that largely does not have competitors. So, what do people do? Well, they access illegal streams that are distributed by unknown people on the internet. These sites are not even hidden from Google search indices, so getting access to them is as effortless as they come.
Some arguments that have been peddled for the vice is that distributors are very expensive. Secondly, and at least for people who do so locally, a budget that takes care of Wi-Fi and a DStv subscription is on the high side, so, why not kill two birds with a single stone? The only downside? You need a robust connection to get access to high-quality gameplay, but that has not stopped people from trying anyway.
So, what does this mean? – considering millions of people across the globe access these services easily – even though measures have been put in place in some places to nab illegal dustributors? Well, a recent study reports that the Premier League loses 1 million pounds of uncaptured sponsorship to illegal football streams, per match. The assessment was announced by a firm called GumGum Sports in collaboration with MUSO, a digital piracy authority for one of the EPL clubs. The study examined 8 games in the 2018/19 season and discovered that up to 7.1 million people illegally accessed the games using digital platforms in up to 149 countries.
One would ask which country is most affected, and predictably, the lion’s share of the illegal streams originated from China. Among other culprits are Vietnam, Kenya, India, and Nigeria. The U.S. and the U.K. are also affected.
As mentioned, this is not a surprise because people have devised ways of going around blocks to enjoy an EPL match on the cheap. As reiterated, these are folks who have mostly reliable broadband to watch EPL matches, among other leagues.
According to BusinessWire, GumGum is pursuing ways to change this trend, although, from our point of view, it is going to be challenging if the distribution will remain expensive. It is an entirely new dynamic that must be overhauled if any changes are to be expected, but realistically, the streams will probably stick around for a while.
“Piracy audiences have too long been disregarded as offering no real value to rights holders and distributors, but the reality is that these huge audiences still see the same shirt sponsors and commercials as people watching the game via a licensed channel,” said one of the executive members of the investigative team, Andy Chatterley. “Sports rights owners are now waking up to the fact that they are leaving sponsorship money on the table by not measuring, understanding and gaining insight from the piracy audience––and we’re looking forward to continuing our work with GumGum to change the perception of piracy audiences’ value.”