Champions League Piracy: Most popular ways to watch games illegally

Roma have been given the dubious honour of being identified as the most illegally-streamed team during this season’s Champions League knockout stages.

Up to this point, more illegal streams have been dedicated to the Italian giants than any other side that reached the last 16. However, this could of course change this weekend, when Liverpool face Real Madrid in the final.

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Rome’s place at the top may initially seem highly surprising, considering the calibre of the some of the other sides in the competition, but it becomes more understandable when you consider that four of the Giallorossi’s six knockout games were high-profile goal-fests.

Cybersecurity firm Irdeto has crunched the numbers, and we’ve ranked this season’s semi-finalists in terms of the sheer numbers of illegal streams dedicated to their games:

  1. Roma − 1476 streams
  2. Real Madrid − 1354 streams
  3. Liverpool − 1252 streams
  4. Bayern Munich − 977 streams

The most-illegally-streamed individual match was the ludicrous second-leg semi-final tie between Roma and Liverpool, which ended 4-2 (6-7 on aggregate), and was viewable through 405 illegal streams.

Real Madrid were the most viewed team through illegal social media streams, attracting 2,856,011 viewers across the likes of Facebook, Periscope and Twitch.

The most illegally watched match on social media was the second-leg semi-final tie between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, which attracted around 709,393 viewers.

In all, Irdeto has identified 5100 illegal streams showing this season’s Champions League knockout games. They reached 4,893,902 viewers.

2121 of these streams were found on dedicated pirate websites, with another 2093 detected across social media channels, and a comparatively low 886 streams found through illicit Kodi addons.

Recognising this, Irdeto told Trusted Reviews: “The number of Kodi streams being lower than other channels follows a similar trend to our recent announcements on boxing piracy data. This could be a result of the recent actions around illegal boxes and increased awareness of the risks of illegal addons.”

Overall though, these are worryingly high figures, especially considering that UEFA obtained an injunction midway through this season, which was designed to make illegal streams much easier to block in real-time. We’ve contacted UEFA for comment, and will update this article when we hear back.

While dedicated websites are still number one in terms of popularity, social media platforms appear to be growing increasingly popular with pirates.

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“Criminals have targeted premium sports content such as the European Champions League and are earning a fortune from stealing the rights,” said Rory O’Connor, Irdeto’s senior vice president of cybersecurity services.

“This makes it crucial for content owners, rights holders and platform owners to work together and enlist technology and proactive services to take down streams in real-time.

“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.”

Do you think pirates will always be a step ahead of anti-piracy campaigners? Share your thoughts @TrustedReviews.

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