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No Laughing Matter: Synamedia Finds Comedy Is the Most Pirated Genre

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LONDON – February 2, 2023 – Leading video software provider Synamedia today unveiled research analyzing the impact of sports and entertainment piracy across seven countries and the potential revenues that would result from converting pirate viewers to legal subscribers. The study, conducted by Ampere Analysis, finds the value of entertainment piracy is three times bigger than sports piracy and that the fragmentation of rights across more services is now affecting piracy in the entertainment market as it has for sports.

The research reveals that comedy is the most pirated genre of entertainment, driven by titles including Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Ted Lasso, with half of all pirate viewers streaming comedy illegally. This is followed by the action and adventure genre, and the crime and thriller category respectively.

The data shows that stopping piracy of a single Hollywood major movie release can trigger revenues of between $130m and $280m in the US alone, with super-hero blockbusters offering the biggest opportunities. For a popular title like ‘Spider Man: No Way Home’, stopping piracy would lead to potential revenue for a studio streaming service of over $400m, based on the true annual lifetime value of streaming subscribers.

If piracy was stopped, sports would create $9.8bn in potential revenue in the seven surveyed markets, however this figure is dwarfed by the possibility of unlocking an additional $21.8bn revenue by converting movie and TV pirates to legal services.

Of the seven countries surveyed, Synamedia’s report finds that the market with the most to gain is the US, with the potential of $13.7bn annually by stopping movie and TV piracy and an additional $5bn related to sports. This would generate $5.9bn in annual income for US streaming providers, with the 28 most heavily pirated movies and TV titles alone contributing up to $1.8bn in new revenues.

According to the research, Germany, Italy and the UK have the lowest levels of piracy. But, by stopping piracy and converting pirate viewers to legal subscribers in the UK for example, video providers and content owners have the potential to unlock a whopping $1.36bn for entertainment and $1.17bn for sports annually.

Football is the star sports piracy attraction and, despite being available on free-to-air TV, FIFA World Cup it is the most pirated league according to the findings. This reflects its popularity globally but indicates that even free content can suffer from piracy if fans are already using illegal sites to access other sports content. UEFA Champions League and the English Premier League are second and third respectively. The only non-football league in the top 10 is the NBA. After football, the most popular sports to watch on pirate services in the seven countries surveyed are cricket and kabaddi, driven by piracy in the Indian sub-continent, and badminton, driven by piracy in Asia.

Understanding pirate viewers

Pirate viewers using both free and paid for services are more likely to be male with paying pirates more likely to be to be men under 35 with young children. The research finds that 44% of affluent consumers pay to pirate live sports, despite most pirates falling into lower income groups, indicating a desire to cut costs and watch all the leagues in one place.

As fragmentation of content rights continues, the research finds that pirate viewers tend to be those who are most engaged with content. As consumers increase the number of legal subscriptions they have, they also become increasingly likely to watch pirate content with 91% of respondents who have access to five or more legal video subscription services have also watched illegal content.

Avigail Gutman, Vice President of Intelligence and Security Operations at Synamedia, commented, “Unless the industry takes action, the fragmentation of premium content compounded by the current economic climate will continue to drive viewers to both paid and free piracy services. This represents a real risk to rights holders, broadcasters and streaming providers. As well as using tools and techniques to protect content and services, operators can counter the rise in piracy by ensuring content is easy to find and meeting consumers’ demands for mobile-first services, as well as more aggregated services and billing.”

According to Guy Bisson, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Ampere Analysis: “There is a persistent myth that the pirate consumer won't pay and will never pay. This research overturns this received wisdom, with more than half of all pirate viewers paying for pirate TV services and 54% also paying for legal services. We already knew sports piracy was a big-money issue, but what surprised us most about this study was the true scale of impact on the US major studios and Hollywood as a whole.”


For the first time, Synamedia’s research accurately determines the behavioral pathways consumers would follow if sport and entertainment piracy was completely blocked, taking into account the impact on cinema attendance, transactional behavior, traditional pay-TV and streaming subscriptions and upgrades. It takes into account not only the immediate revenue derived from a new subscription to a service or channel, but the entire annual customer value using accurate churn information. The research also measured the impact of individual movie titles and TV shows on consumers’ interest in signing up, revealing how piracy of some of the biggest movies robs studios and content creators of long-term value over months and years.

Building on Synamedia’s research report into sports piracy in 2021, this survey involved 16,000 consumers in Brazil, Italy, India, Germany, Thailand, UK and US.

Synamedia and Ampere Research will host a fireside chat ‘No laughing matter: pirates enjoy comedy’ to discuss the findings in more depth on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2023 at 11 am ET / 8 am PT. To register, click here.

Building on a 30-year heritage in security, Synamedia’s forensic-based, intelligence-led approach combines human insight with AI to deter, detect and disrupt piracy. Its portfolio includes OTT ServiceGuard, a SaaS-based solution that protects streaming content across all open platforms, and Credentials Sharing and Fraud Insight (CSFEye), a predictive analytics-as-a-service (AaaS) solution that identifies fraudulent sharers and casual sharing and triggers a response at scale.

About Synamedia

We’re trusted by service providers and content owners to protect, enrich, and deliver video. The flexibility and agility of our cloud products enable customers of all types and sizes to launch, monetise, and scale services at speed. Our award-winning portfolio includes intelligence-led anti-piracy, advanced advertising, business analytics, broadband and streaming video platforms, and video network cloud and software solutions. Synamedia is backed by the?Permira funds?and?Sky. 

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