This evening, Liverpool and Real Madrid will go head to head in the Champions League final, one of the biggest sports events of the year.
Hundreds of millions of football fans from around the world will be glued to their televisions to follow the spectacle, while the hashtags #RMALIV and #UCLfinal are trending on social media.
While Twitter, Facebook and other social media are great ways to keep fans engaged and generate traction, they also present a threat. According to data released by the global anti-piracy outfit Irdeto, social media rivals traditional pirate streaming sites.
The company analyzed the number of pirated streams it ran into during the knockout stages of the Champions League and found 5,100 unique illegal streams that were rebroadcasting the matches.
Roughly 40 percent of these unauthorized broadcasts came from ‘social’ platforms including Periscope, Facebook and Twitch. Irdeto found 2,093 streams on these sites with an estimated 4,893,902 viewers.
Regular web-based streams on traditional sports pirate sites were the most popular (2,121), followed by ones found through Kodi-addons (886).
“These viewing figures combined with the number of UEFA Champions League streams detected across a variety of channels suggests that more needs to be done to stop the illegal distribution of high profile live European football matches,” the company writes.
Rory O’Connor, Irdeto’s Senior Vice President of Cybersecurity Services, notes that criminals are “earning a fortune” from these activities. At the same time, he stresses that people who stream the matches on social media could face criminal action.
“The criminals who profit from these illegal streams have little regard for their viewers and are exposing them to cybercrime, inappropriate content and malware infection. Also, viewers of illegal content can face criminal penalties if they decide to share content with friends on social media,” O’Connor says.
Besides sharing infographics (accidentally mistaking piracy for privacy in the title — update it’s fixed now.) and reporting interesting statistics, including that Real Madrid was the most viewed team with 2,856,011 viewers of illegal social media streams during the knock out stage, Irdeto can also take action.
Whether they already work for UEFA or if this is an unsolicited application is not known to us, but they do work for other rightsholders.
So instead of tuning into the final tonight, they will probably be busy tracking down pirate broadcasts on social media and elsewhere, hoping to shut them down as soon as possible.
The game is on.