Arcom: French regulator finds 21% of Internet users watch illegal sports sources

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The French regulator Arcom received 51 site blocking referrals during the first nine months of 2022, relating to 9 sports competitions.  In response, the agency notified ISPs in France to block a total of 481 Internet domains. In total, added to the services blocked in execution of prior court decisions, 835 illicit sites have been blocked since the start of 2022.

Each year, Arcom (and its predecessor, HADOPI) releases a survey of French Internet users that consume video content through illegal channels.  It details what consumers watch, how frequently, through which kinds of devices, and tells how consumers respond when sites are blocked.

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Arcom survey

During July 2022, Arcom surveyed 2,342 Internet users in France aged 15 and older and found 21% of them engaging in illegal consumption.  15% accessed illegally-distributed programming via VPN and 9% accessed it via an app or a streaming device.

The top three sports categories for illegal consumption to be football (14%), tennis (10%) and motor sports  (9%).   The top four leagues consumed illegally were all football: Users watching France Ligue 1 and UEFA football programming admitting to watching it illegally were tied, at 23%.  Next came Premier League (18%) and Europa League (17%).

Sports genres watched illegally (Source: Arcom 2022)

Nearly a quarter of these consumers (22%) found links to illegal distribution via social media.  Many of these consumers watched illegal services quite frequently: 18% watched several times per day, 11% daily, 17% 3-4 times per week, and 14% 1-2 times per week.

The impact of site blocking

According to the Arcom survey, 63% of live streaming consumers over the past six months are aware of the existence of blocking measures against illegal sports sites.

  • 40% of live streaming consumers over the past six months have already experienced a blockage, ie 4% of Internet users.
  • On average, live streaming consumers over the past six months have already experienced blocking 7.3 times since the start of the year.
  • 37% of blocked illicit live streamers gave up on watching the content they wanted to watch and 15% subscribed to a legal offer.

33% of blocked Internet users went to another live streaming site and 14% used an illicit IPTV solution.

Read the report

Impact of Blockage of Illegal Sports Services by ARCOM (in French, Impact du Blocage des Services Illicites de Sport)

About Arcom

ARCOM is a new French regulatory agency created in 2021 and launched in January 2022, which combined France’s former High Authority for the Dissemination of Works and Protection of Rights on the Internet (HADOPI) with the Superior Audiovisual Council (CSA)

Since January 2022, French law (Article L. 333-10 of the Sports Code) has enabled rights-holders of competitions and sporting events to request blocking of illicit services by a judge when serious and repeated infringements are reported.

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