Illegal streaming is… well, illegal. It takes no genius to work out that free live streams of sports events are at least slightly fishy. But when fans see the world’s biggest football stars enjoying sketchy streams with sub par quality – questions are asked. And from the business point of view – how big of an obstacle is the piracy underground for investing in OTT?
Neymar, the world’s most expensive footballer, a 36.8 million-a-year earner, has lately been “caught red-handed” watching an illegal football stream. Having fueled a dramatic public outcry led by those who “fail to believe Neymar doesn’t pay for football”, the Brazilian has unintentionally raised another key matter. Is it even possible to watch football legally?
FLIS – Illegal Streaming Background
FLIS (Free Live Streaming) is a term coined by a research group led by Muhammad Zubair Rafique. They define it as follows:
“FLIS services enable free viewership of video content, albeit typically without the consent of a content owner, of TV channels and live events for Internet users. These services manage infrastructure to facilitate costless anonymous broadcasting of live streams, and maintain websites to index links for free live streams”
The football streaming websites we have all most likely stumbled upon, in this ecosystem, are called aggregators. They collect, catalog and share links and/or embedding codes to live streams. The “original” content comes from channel providers – they maintain media servers and broadcast (most commonly) stolen content as a third party.
And what’s the business model? Ads, obviously. A 2014 study by Digital Citizens Alliance showed that the “industry” projected a 227 million dollar annual ad revenue. And to add to that – the costs of operation are almost non-existent, resulting in FLIS providers turning up to 94% profit!
Where There’s a Need, There’s a Market
You most likely know the picture – an extremely sketchy website with even more sketchy ads. A true monstrosity that looks like someone’s very first HTML coding experiment. Ads overlapping ads, convincing you both to open your account at the bookies (all at once) and get to know ladies from your local area.
The whole aura of such websites is anything but inviting. User experience design is unheard of. Yet users willingly expose themselves to behaviours which would be more than enough for them to exit any other website.
Because they’re saving money, simple as that. They accept and experience far beyond their standard range of tolerance, as they are provided with profit, albeit intangible. Flipping the coin – we’re observing an absolute phenomenon in web design terms. FLIS owners can afford to neglect every single principle of pleasurable user experience, not worrying about losing income.
Ampere Analysis identified 4 key triggers driving sports fans to FLIS websites:
- Lack of installations and long-term contracts
- Ease of use
- Cross-platform availability
- Low (or no) cost
The Fans of the EPL report, published by OLBG showed that as many as 42% of surveyed Brits have watched football via illegal streams. And to even further twist the knife – 22% have done so with full awareness of illegality.