German study shows high losses from TV piracy

Wednesday, January 25th, 2023 

Study: Illegal TV Consumption Still Causes High Economic and Social Losses

BERLIN — The study on TV piracy shows: Illegal TV consumption still causes high economic and social losses. 5.9 million people in Germany watched illegal live TV signals in 2022. TV piracy causes annual economic losses of €1.8 billion, while foregone taxes and social security contributions total €390 million. EU regulators and the German government must introduce effective measures to stop the illegal use of live TV.

Watching illegal live content on TV was still widespread in 2022 and has actually increased noticeably in recent years. Since the economic losses are at the expense of commercial media organizations, the effect of this is to weaken media and opinion diversity in Germany. This is the conclusion of a study commissioned by the VAUNET German Media Association and carried out by the consulting and research group Goldmedia.

In Germany, a total of 5.9 million people regularly watched illegal live TV streams in 2022. Moreover, live TV piracy largely replaces the use of legal TV services. The main live TV genres watched illegally are drama, sports, documentaries and information. As a result, the media corporations concerned lose annual revenue totaling €1.1 billion. What’s more, the overall loss of revenue when upstream and downstream stages of the value chain are taken into account amounts to as much as €1.8 billion annually. And this in turn means the state forgoes taxes and social security contributions totaling around €390 million every year.

Frank Giersberg, Managing Director of VAUNET: “The results of the study clearly show that the illegal consumption of live TV signals remains a mass phenomenon with serious economic and social consequences. Once again, we therefore appeal to the government and regulators: Live content needs live protection on the internet. We see no clear sign of support from Brussels or the German government, and demand changes be made promptly.”

According to the study findings, the frequency of illegal use has also increased since 2018. In 2022, 72% of those streaming live TV illegally did so at least once a week, up from 54% in 2018. The largest group is men aged between 24 and 33. However, pronounced use of illegal live TV streams was observed among the entire population between 24 and 63, the share of older users rising especially strongly in comparison to 2018. On average, those watching illegal linear TV streams in 2022 did so for an average of about 73 minutes per day. The devices most commonly used were smartphones, PCs and laptops, along with apps and software installed on streaming sticks and boxes. Compared to 2018, access to illegal live content using apps and software has increased rapidly. Over half of those watching illegal streams in 2022 did so in one of these ways (2018: 36%) – almost as many as those using smartphones or laptops/PCs.