A new survey revealed that almost a quarter or 23% of Malaysian consumers are using a TV box to stream pirated television and video content.
These TV boxes, also known as Illicit Streaming Devices (ISDs), allow users to access hundreds of pirated television channels and video-on-demand content, usually with a low annual subscription fee. TV boxes often come pre-loaded with illegal applications allowing ‘plug-and-play’ access to pirated content.
Conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Asia Video Industry Association’s (AVIA) Coalition Against Privacy, the survey highlighted the detrimental effects of streaming piracy on legitimate subscription video services.
Cancelled pay TV subscriptions
Of the 23% of consumers who purchased a TV box for free streaming, nearly two thirds (64%) stated that they had cancelled all or some of their subscription to legal pay TV services. Specifically, 34% asserted that they cancelled their local pay television subscriptions as a direct consequence of owning an ISD. International subscription services, which includes pan-Asia-only offerings, were impacted as well – 20% of Malaysian users have abandoned subscriptions in favour of ISD purchases.
Furthermore, the survey found that 50% of Malaysian online consumers have accessed streaming piracy websites or torrent sites to access premium content without paying any subscription fees.
“The piracy ecosystem is highly fragmented and so what we are developing and refining is a holistic solution to include enhanced legislation to allow for effective enforcement; meaningful cooperation with e-platforms and other intermediaries, disabling access to pirated content through efficient and effective site blocking and consumer outreach,” said Neil Gane, general manager of AVIA’s Coalition Against Piracy.
Video content piracy rampant among the youth
Meanwhile, the survey pointed out a longer-term problem than the cancelled subscription. It found many of the people using ISDs are young, particularly popular among 18- to 24-year-olds, with 76% cancelling legitimate subscription services as a result of owning ISDs.
The Malaysian government is currently mulling on how to address the issue of video content piracy caused by installing ISDs.
In February, it was reported that the Malaysian Communications and Multi-Media Commission (MCMC) and the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) were conducting an in-depth study on a potential TV box ban. Currently, the sale of TV boxes requires SIRIM approvals and the sale of “unlicensed” TV boxes can result in a hefty fine.
In June, four Malaysian businessmen were charged for possessing and selling unlicensed Android TV boxes and audio-video sender equipment and fined RM70,000 (USD$16,500).