Study: Illegal TV Consumption Still Causes High Economic and Social Losses

Berlin, January 25, 2023 - The study on TV piracy shows: Illegal TV consumption still causes high economic and social losses. 5.9 million people in Germany watched illegal live TV signals in 2022. TV piracy causes annual economic losses of €1.8 billion, while foregone taxes and social security contributions total €390 million. EU regulators and the German government must introduce effective measures to stop the illegal use of live TV.

Watching illegal live content on TV was still widespread in 2022 and has actually increased noticeably in recent years. Since the economic losses are at the expense of commercial media organizations, the effect of this is to weaken media and opinion diversity in Germany. This is the conclusion of a study commissioned by the VAUNET German Media Association and carried out by the consulting and research group Goldmedia.

In Germany, a total of 5.9 million people regularly watched illegal live TV streams in 2022. Moreover, live TV piracy largely replaces the use of legal TV services. The main live TV genres watched illegally are drama, sports, documentaries and information. As a result, the media corporations concerned lose annual revenue totaling €1.1 billion. What’s more, the overall loss of revenue when upstream and downstream stages of the value chain are taken into account amounts to as much as €1.8 billion annually. And this in turn means the state forgoes taxes and social security contributions totaling around €390 million every year.

Live content needs live protection on the internet

Frank Giersberg, Managing Director of VAUNET

Frank Giersberg, Managing Director of VAUNET: “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. Once again, we therefore appeal to the government and regulators: 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.”

According to the study findings, the frequency of illegal use has also increased since 2018. In 2022, 72% of those streaming live TV illegally did so at least once a week, up from 54% in 2018. The largest group is men aged between 24 and 33. However, pronounced use of illegal live TV streams was observed among the entire population between 24 and 63, the share of older users rising especially strongly in comparison to 2018. On average, those watching illegal linear TV streams in 2022 did so for an average of about 73 minutes per day. The devices most commonly used were smartphones, PCs and laptops, along with apps and software installed on streaming sticks and boxes. Compared to 2018, access to illegal live content using apps and software has increased rapidly. Over half of those watching illegal streams in 2022 did so in one of these ways (2018: 36%) – almost as many as those using smartphones or laptops/PCs.



Summary of the report “Television Piracy Study 2022/2023”

VAUNET study on TV piracy 2022/2023 (in German)


The study was compiled 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. The online survey took place from 12 to 18 July 2022. The study and the analysis focused on linear free and pay TV streams that are distributed illegally. Note that additional use and losses caused by illegal downloads or illegal video-on-demand weren’t covered. Compared to the study carried out in 2018, the data quality of the measuring panel has been improved, enabling the use of illegal live streams to be gauged even more precisely and extensively. To ensure direct comparability of measured consumption and the results, the methodology used in 2022 was applied retrospectively to the static measurement data from 2018. In addition, it should be borne in mind that due to some participants’ reluctance to provide socially undesirable responses, the actual use of illegal linear TV streams may be even higher than indicated by the survey findings.

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