Germany: Illegal use in 2022 up 180% over 2018, costing German economy €1.8 billion/yr.

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At nearly 1.3 million users, illegal access was greatest among German consumers 24 to 33 years of age.  The rate stayed above 1 million for older age groups up to age 63, after which, it declined dramatically; according to a study released by VAUNet (Verband Privater Medien e. V. – The German Association of Private Media), an industry organization made up of about 150 German TV and media industry companies.

Frequency of use increased.  Illegal use at least once per week rose from 54% in 2018, to 72% in 2022.  Access to illegal content via apps and software installed on streaming devices increased while access via PCs went down.

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The overall economic loss to Germany caused by illegal streaming was estimated to total €1.8 billion annually, and this was before adding the coinciding costs of program production, loss of tax revenue and contributions to social security.

Classification and focus of TV content studies, 2022. (Source: Goldmedia Analysis 06/2022)

Additional losses attributable to illegal downloads or the illegal streaming of individual TV series and film titles were not included in VAUNET’s estimates.

Converting piracy consumers to legal services

The study found that 91% of those who consumed illegal services would be willing to convert to legal services if their illegal supply were cut off, and would pay about €29 per month for those legal alternatives.

Source: Online survey of users of illegal live streaming offers, July 2022, n=563 (Source: Goldmedia/VAUNET)


VAUNET commissioned Goldmedia GmbH, a private research firm, to conduct the study in 2021.  Technical measurement took place during Q4 of 2021 by passively measuring the online activities of over 2,700 viewers combined with a representative online survey of more than 550 users of illegal linear TV streams.  This was followed by an online consumer survey conducted in July 2022.  The study was published in January 2023.

Read the report

Study: Illegal TV Consumption Still Causes High Economic and Social Losses. Press release, VAUNET, January 25, 2023

Summary of the report “Television Piracy Study 2022/2023.” Presentation (PDF) in English. VAUNET, January 25, 2023

VAUNET Study on TV Piracy 2022/2023 (PDF) in German. VAUNET, January 25, 2023.

Why it matters

Concerns over piracy are real, and the report was intended by VAUNET to “make politicians and external stakeholders aware fot he seriousness of this problem” and to “encourage more effective action against illegal TV streaming.”  

“The results of the study clearly show that the illegal consumption of live TV signals remains a mass phenomenon with serious economic and social consequences,” said Frank Giersberg, Managing Director of VAUNET.   In a prepared statement he appeals to regulators in Germany and the European Union to strengthen regulatory measures against piracy, but is not optimistic. “Live content needs live protection on the internet. We see no clear sign of support from Brussels or the German government, and demand changes be made promptly,” he said.

According to VAUNET’s report of 2021 revenue statistics and outlook for 2022 released in October 2022, the value of the German media industry exceeded €15 billion for the first time. The amount of time spent by German consumers with audio and audiovisual media in 2022 increased by 37 minutes to 9 hours and 43 minutes in comparison to 2019.  At €6.27B, 2021 revenue for audiovisual advertising in Germany was higher than it was for content, which came in at €6.21B.

Repeating a pattern seen in recent studies from the UK, Australia, the US and elsewhere worldwide, consumer use of piracy sites has increased in recent years.  While the COVID pandemic drove a spike in 2020-2021, the longer-term upward trend has settled back in and continues.

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