The researchers also estimate that the illegal providers made €1.06 billion from Europe in the same year – almost a fifth of which came from the UK.
The study was commissioned by the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAPA) trade body which represents providers of internet protocol television (IPTV). The figures relate to the 27 EU countries and the UK.
Professor Dinusha Mendis, Director of Bournemouth University’s Centre for Intellectual Property Policy and Management, who led the project said:
“This report directly sheds light on the level of financial loss that is incurred at all levels, as a result of criminal networks facilitating access to unauthorized content, signalling that more needs to be done to tackle illegal IPTV in Europe and UK.
“It raises awareness of this issue, and we hope that it will lead to policy makers, law enforcement and industry taking action to tackle piracy going forward”.
The report estimates that over seventeen million people in the 28 countries accessed pirate streaming sites in 2021, around 4.5% of the countries’ populations. Nearly a third of those were aged sixteen to twenty-four.
The UK and Ireland were amongst the countries with the highest percentage of their populations watching TV illegally – with 6.6% and 7.2% respectively. The Netherlands had the highest percentage.
The UK generated the most revenue for the illegal industry with €194.6 million – nearly a fifth of the total estimated revenue across all countries.
In 2019, Professor Mendis was part of the team that carried out a study on behalf of the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) into the scale of the illegal market; this new research goes further by exploring the cost to the legal industry and the number of young people who watch pirate content.
The researchers also noted that their study only looked at one method of accessing pirated content. Social media platforms and apps also provide access to content so the overall figures are likely to be higher.
The full report is available on the AAPA website.