Anti-piracy group warns of risks of watching illegal streams of soccer games

In the last several months, there have been numerous developments by rights holders such as La Liga and the Premier League in their fight to shut down sites and prosecute pirates who are profiting off illegal streams of soccer games.

One of the companies who are deploying anti-piracy technology is TMG, who have been appointed to monitor beIN SPORTS’ streaming content globally.

“Social networks and user-generated content websites have become straightforward places for fans to share content they don’t actually own the rights for,” said Bastien Casalta, Chief Technology Officer at TMG.

In the partnership between TMG and beIN SPORTS, concrete measures will include live content removal, pirate link takedown and ultimately, legal action to close non-compliant websites permanently. “It will become much more difficult – and risky – for one to indulge in pirating beIN SPORTS’s premium content over the coming years,” asserted Casalta.

How risky? We interviewed TMG CEO Alain Ghanime to find out, as well as to learn more about the risks that illegal streaming can cause to consumers.

World Soccer Talk: What are the risks to consumers (security, privacy, etc.) who watch soccer games via illegal streams?

Alain Ghanime (AG): “The first implication of looking for illegitimate content online is that you come across a string of scam websites, where you won’t be able to actually watch the content you’re looking for. Instead, those sites will attempt to get people to click on malicious links or share personal information, while flooding them with unwanted ads. As with any illegal streaming, users expose themselves to a string of digital threats. Agreeing to open non-secured video streams is an open door to viruses, malware, ransomware, and blue screens. Consequences can be more than unpleasant, as being hacked potentially means data theft or corruption, or even identity theft.”

WST: What makes the technology from TMG different than other similar companies?

AG: “TMG steps in when all other content protection systems have failed. Pay-TV and over-the-top (OTT) providers secure their premium content with conditional access systems, which protect data streams from unauthorized access. Content itself is often controlled using watermarking or digital rights management (DRM) technologies, which enable, to some extent, content use to be tracked and restricted. But none of these schemes is 100% efficient. TMG detects content that is pirated despite the above technologies, and made available online. We monitor and take down unauthorized content and streams. In terms of live sports, TMG’s technology is fast, and our verification processes ensure that results are as exhaustive as possible, and 100% accurate.”

WST: If soccer fans find illegal streams, what’s the process that needs to happen so they can report them?

AG: “They can report it to us directly, via the Report Piracy link on our website, or they can inform the rights-holder directly, or the broadcaster that has purchased expensive rights to broadcast the game.”

WST: By your own research or industry research, how prevalent is illegal streaming of soccer games?

AG: “La Liga has recently estimated an annual loss of €509m ($570 million) due to the pirating of audiovisual transmissions of soccer in Spain alone. From our point of view, soccer is top of the list in terms of pirated sports, although in the USA, other sports such as baseball or football are heavily targeted as well.”

WST: How can illegal streaming websites stay in business for so long?

AG: “Most illegal streaming sites quickly stop making content available when requested to. Non-compliant ones will certainly take more time and effort, but they eventually all shut down permanently. And every year, rights-holders file new lawsuits and sentences become harsher, including prison and heavy fines.”

SEE MORE: La Liga takes aim at fighting illegal streaming of soccer games