The FIFA 2014 World Cup final: The most pirated sporting event in history?
James R | On 13, Jul 2014
The FIFA 2014 World Cup final is likely to be the most pirated sporting event in history, according to one copyright enforcement company.
The tournament has always attracted a huge following, with almost 1 billion people viewing the 2010 finale, but after a particularly surprising year featuring everything from biting to Brazil losing 7-1 to Germany, the odds are that even more people will be watching. But while there are many who watch the football on licensed broadcasters in their respective countries, there are also “millions” who have tuned in to pirated streams, reports TorrentFreak. And not because they want to avoid Adrian Chiles on ITV.
Content protection firm Viaccess-Orca has been tasked with sending takedown notices to various websites hosting illegal streams – including social media links – sending just over 2,000 as of the start of July.
“The success rate varies per content platform but overall we manage to get 35 percent of the streaming links disabled before the game ends,” David Leporini, Viaccess-Orca Executive Vice President of Marketing, Products and Security, tells TorrentFreak. “I think this is a great success rate, especially compared to direct download sites.”
Of course, the location of viewers will vary with each country playing – Belgium vs Russia attracted 471,541 illegitimate viewers, with the majority from Europe and Asia. Tonight’s final, though, is expected to be huge.
The response from FIFA and its associated broadcasters has been equally huge – and, in some cases, laughably incompetent.
Multi Screen Media PVT Ltd, a subsidiary of Sony Entertainment Television in India, has the rights to broadcast the World Cup to Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. But after hiring Markscan to manage its copyright enforcement, over 400 webpages were served with takedown notices – including several legal sites. One page was this how to watch the World Cup online piece on the BBC, as well as similar articles on Variety and ESPN. Another was a report on Bleacher covering Uruguay vs Germany, a World Cup match from four years ago.
But while many of those were ignored by Google, a High Court injunction later compelled Indian ISPs to block innocent sites (alongside the usual Pirate Bay, etc) including – wait for it – Google Docs and Google Video. Medianama has since reported that the original list of targeted sites has been reduced by more than half to 219, with no Google websites included.
“There is no interruption of our services mentioned in the order as of now,” a spokesman for the company told the website.
So where does that leave the final? Tonight’s match will be shown on ABC in America, but will not be available for free in all countries, including several in Asia.
“[It’s] likely [to] be the most pirated sporting event in history,” Nate Glass, owner of the agency Takedown Piracy, tells Wired. “You’re talking about, potentially, millions of people.”
The 2014 World Cup final will be available for streaming live (legally) on both BBC iPlayer and ITV Player at 8pm.
Photo: Andrew Hayes-Watkins / BBC