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Pay TV firms lose viewers in Hong Kong as consumers ditch subscriptions for pirated content

Local and international subscription services are losing Hong Kong viewers after a survey revealed close to one in four customers are using a TV box built to stream pirated TV and video content.

Research commissioned by the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (Casbaa) found 24% of viewers own an Illicit Streaming Devises (ISD) with almost half of those ditching subscriptions to legal pay TV services as a result.

Casbass warned the damage done to creative industries was “beyond dispute”.

ISD’s come pre-loaded with applications allowing ‘plug-and-play’ access to pirated content for one-time fee.

The most popular in Hong Kong were found to be BossTV (9%), Ubox (7%), EVPad (6%), Lingcod (5%), and Magic Box (4%).

The survey, carried out by YouGov, found that 49% of ISD owners had cancelled some or all of their subscriptions.

Just over one in four had cancelled local pay TV services as a direct consequence of owning an ISD, with 19% stating they had cancelled a specific part of their traditional cable TV bundle or packages.

International subscription services were not immune to the illegal activity in Hong Kong. More than one in five (21%) users who had purchased an ISD said that they had cancelled their international subscription service.

Many of those with an ISD were high earning former university graduates aged 25-34.

Casbaa’s Coalition Against Piracy (CAP) managing director, Neil Gane, said purchasing equipment to stream pirated content was “fraught with risks”.

“The damage that content theft does to the creative industries is without dispute,” he said. “However, the damage done to consumers themselves, because of the nexus between content piracy and malware, is only beginning to be recognised.

“The piracy ecosystem is a hotbed for malware, whether purchasing ISDs from Sham Shui Po’s Golden Arcade or downloading content from infamous torrent sites.

“Unfortunately the appetite for free or paying cheap subscription rates for stolen content, blinkers some consumers from the real risks of malicious malware infection such as spyware”.

The survey comes after Hong Kong Customs seized more than 350 ISDs in an investigation dubbed Operation Trojan Horse.

Four shop owners and four salespersons have been charged with copyright offences.

Game has described the prevalence of ISD in Hong Kong has “staggering”.

Casbaa chief executive Louis Boswell said: “The illicit streaming device (ISD) ecosystem is impacting all businesses involved in the production and distribution of legitimate content.

“ISD piracy is also organised crime, pure and simple, with crime syndicates making substantial illicit revenues from the provision of illegally re-transmitted TV channels and the sale of such ISDs.

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