Italy’s live broadcast site blocking law: Are broadcaster price hikes just coincidental?

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Earlier in July, the Italian Senate affirmed an earlier vote by the lower house to block piracy of live broadcasts, and imposes financial penalties and possible jail terms on violators.  Another attribute of the law is that the costs associated with implementing the law’s 30 minute clock to block infringing sites should not be passed along to the consumer.

Days after the vote, sports broadcaster DAZN announced prices for the 2023-2024 football season for Italian subscribers.  According to reports, DAZN’s Standard package went by 1/3, from €29.99 to €40.99 per month while its Plus package rose 37% from €39.99 to €55.99.

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Days before this vote, DAZN issued a plea to the Senate to quickly pass the anti-piracy measure, citing a 26% rise in live sports streaming piracy since 2021.

Pirate service and streaming box offering Italian sports (Screen shot from AliExpress)

ISPs also objected strongly

Prior to the Senate anti-piracy vote, Italy’s Association of Independent Internet Providers (ASSOProvider) complained that the law would favor large media companies at the expense of small ISPs, be ineffective, and force small ISPs to hire otherwise unnecessary staff at their own expense to monitor for pirates and enforce the soon-to-be-mandated blocking process.  ASSOProvider estimates this would force more than 2,000 ISPs out of business, along with 10,000 jobs.  ASSOProvider represents 12% of these small operators.

Further reading

DAZN raises prices for Serie A 2023-2024. Football, how much does it cost me.  Article. June 28, 2023. News Italy.

Italy: Senate unanimously passes anti-piracy bill; to become law after final formalities. Article. July 13, 2023. Piracy Monitor

DAZN urges Italy to introduce tougher rules to fight TV piracy. Article. June 28, 2023. Reuters

Italy Study: Piracy incidents up 9%, live sports up 26%; rights-holders nervous. Article. June 28, 2023. Piracy Monitor

TLC, Parliament puts more than 2000 electronic communications companies at risk. Article. June 30, 2023. Association of Independent Internet Providers (ASSOProvider, Italy)

Why it matters

A cynic might say that DAZN pushed for harsher piracy penalties to induce fears and provide cover as it raised its rates.  While the timing of the rate increases may seem suspicious, DAZN appears to make price adjustments on a semi-annual basis, including rate announcements for these very services at the same time every year: at the end of June in both 2022 and 2023.

In any case, DAZN’s price hikes are likely to drive consumers to illegal sites, such as piracy solutions are widely available

The ISP objection makes a point in defense of its members.  Anti-piracy platforms are available via the cloud, and complaints can be automated, so ASSOProvider’s estimates of ISP and job losses seem to be exaggerated.


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