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Illicit streaming devices are used by 15% of Singaporeans to pirate content, reveals survey

A survey commissioned by the Asia Video Industry Association, a trade body for the video industry and ecosystem in the Asia-Pacific region, has found that 15% of consumers in Singapore use modified television set top boxes to stream pirated TV and video content. The TV boxes known as ISDs or illicit streaming devices come preloaded with apps allowing ‘plug and play’ access to pirated content.

The AVIA survey was conducted by its Coalition Against Piracy wing and quizzed over a thousand participants across Singapore, focusing on internet-connected consumers. A similar survey in Hong Kong put the number of consumers opting for piracy via ISDs at 20%. 

The 15% number did not include people who used general electronic devices that could possibly be avenues for pirated content such as computers, vanilla unmodified set top boxes, mobile phones, firesticks or chromecasts, indicating that the actual quantum of piracy could be a lot higher. 

Of the consumers viewing pirated content via this route, 28% had cancelled their official subscriptions to Singapore-based online video streaming services.  International subscriptions to video services were also hit, with 18% of users abandoning these for ISDs.

The devices were purchased by 62% of the respondents from South East Asia based e-commerce stores, and 21% got a hold of them via social media. Stores and exhibitions accounted for 38% of devices bought.

Commenting on the survey, the CAP’s general manager Neil Gane said: “The overt availability of ISDs in Singaporean malls and IT exhibitions is a major concern for the content industry. Unfortunately, there is no one silver bullet to deterring piracy due to the fragmented nature of the ecosystem.

“What is required is an holistic solution to include enforcement, cooperation with technology platforms and intermediaries, disabling access to pirated content through effective site blocking and consumer outreach”.

The CAP intends winning the fight against piracy via legal means with a recent High Court injunction resulting in internet service providers blocking many illegal applications.  Gane added: “Consumers are wasting their money when purchasing new subscriptions to illegal applications when they find their ISD can no longer access live sports matches or their favourite TV shows.

“CAP will continue to prevent and disrupt illegal feeds of live sports, TV channels, and VOD content through judicial blocking orders against piracy applications. ISDs can never provide quality programming and a service guarantee.”

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