Internet connected TV set-top boxes and sticks are a great way to enjoy digital entertainment through the home television and no doubt many people will have received such a device this Christmas. But new research reveals a growing number of people are using this technology to pirate film, TV and sports content through unauthorised apps. It also reveals they could be getting more than they bargained for.
Unfit for families
Digital TV Piracy is the act of connecting a TV to an internet connected box or stick to access unauthorised entertainment online. Unauthorised apps installed on the boxes and sticks ‘scrape’ content from illegal file-sharing sites, cyber-lockers and streaming sites to download and stream infringing film, TV and sports content. In doing so, they expose users to many of the security and safety risks traditionally associated with pirate websites, but deliver these through a much more trusted and social family viewing medium – the television.
The first ever detailed study of this type of piracy has just been completed and reveals one in ten of those engaging in it have been inadvertently exposed to pornographic or age-inappropriate content. While a supporting technical analysis found that one third of advertising served to viewers was of an adult nature.
The technical analysis showed that the problem is exacerbated by a lack of parental controls, which are often not supported by the apps and add-ons used to pirate content. Of 16 of the highest-traffic apps, none of them included British Board of Film Classification age ratings or any guidance regarding suitability. As a result, the research showed popular children’s films featured alongside titles with very explicit and violent content.
What’s most concerning in the research is the tendency for families to engage in Digital TV Piracy, usually through their trusted family TV and, more often than not, leaving children to use the technology on their own.
In fact, more than three quarters (79%) of parents who have participated in Digital TV Piracy…