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EU research on illegal IPTV

There has been published another research on illegal IPTV consuming. Streaming is most popular way of access and consuming of content. It could be said about audio visual content as well as music. The purpose of research “was to enhance the level of understanding about the ways illegal IPTV is carried out, how the business models around this phenomenon work” and how to handle the problem with illegal IPTV. There is no sense to overwrite the whole study, but the there is some interesting thing attracting attention, like copyright infringing business models.

Copyright Infringing Business Model Analysis

Copyright infringing IPTV distribution shows a variety of patterns and ranges from well organised large business structures to individual undertakings. While providing the same product, namely access to live streamed channels, illegal IPTV providers vary in terms of the platform on which the access to IPTV is made available, target audience, pricing strategies and other elements such as complementary products (video on demand, set-top box sales) and social media presence.

Infringement can simply commence when an unlicensed content provider legally obtains a stream from a content distributor or content provider and makes it available to third parties this way violating the terms of use. These third parties may be end users and consumers of the content, or intermediaries, in which case they may also make profit by reselling it.

Technological developments as the spread of broadband penetration and higher internet speed do not only facilitate access to legitimate IPTV sources, but in turn simplify access to those that are illicit. Technological challenges must be taken into account when considering the impact of illegal IPTV thus adding to the complexity of the analysis. Despite the variety of means of distribution, the analysis shows that illegal IPTV tend to cluster around three broadly defined business models:

  • The ‘Illegal IPTV subscription’ model, where customers are given direct access to a number of TV channels upon subscription and payment of a fee. IPTV content is made available for direct streaming on the illegal websites or through mobile device applications. This business model is based on sale of unauthorised IPTV subscriptions to consumers and revenue is generated from monthly payments collected from subscribers.
  • The ‘Business-to-business’ model. This business model is oriented toward resale of packages of IPTV channels and facilities to set up an illegal IPTV resale. This type of business model can be described as ‘business-to-business’, or ‘wholesale’ model. It is frequently combined with the former business model of direct subscription sales. In this case two sources of revenue are guaranteed to unauthorised IPTV providers: monthly payments collected from unauthorised IPTV viewers and payments collected from unauthorised IPTV resellers.
  • The ‘Streaming portal’ model, where links to streaming websites are collected and made available to end-users. IPTV streaming is offered free of charge and frequently in a lower quality compared to subscription-IPTV websites. As the streaming content is provided free of charge, unauthorised providers generate revenue through indirect sources, spreading malware or collecting ‘pay-per-view’ and ‘pay-per-click’ payments from advertising.

Interestingly, the analysis shows that the delivery of illegal IPTV relies substantially on the same ‘ecosystem’, regardless of the business models employed by the infringers. The ecosystem is defined by the interplay of a number of actors, which correspond to a specific function in the delivery of the illegal service. The analysis has identified 21 actors across four layers of content distribution: content source; hosting network; front-end delivery and applications.

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