As more people opt for and sign up for streaming services as compared to traditional TV, the threat of illegal third party providers remains a reality despite affordable pricing. It is not uncommon to bump into ads on social media with users selling Netflix subscriptions for a subsidized fee.
These users normally subscribe to premium accounts on the streaming service and because Netflix allows you to add up to 4 accounts, the account holder finds viewers who cannot afford to pay for the subscription but can collectively pay an amount that would allow them pay for their subscription and make a small profit.
In yesteryears, DSTV struggled with clients who had started a ‘Sambaza’ package around highly populated neighbor hoods. So popular were the packages that the illegal service providers openly marketed and provided the services complete with technical support.
Home Wi-Fi providers such as Zuku also sounded the alarm but were saved by the introduction of more affordable low-bandwidth packages that made it difficult to host more subscribers.
In Europe, police busted an illegal streaming ring that had amassed a customer base of over 2 million subscribers. The ring was so sophisticated that it even had a customer service team.
The criminal activities had been in operation for over five years offering more than 40,000 channels including documentaries, movies and other content. This was revealed by Europol, the European Police Coordination.
Big streaming platforms are still grappling with content theft as criminals up their game on hacking anti-piracy systems in place.
The criminal group even offered technical assistance services, quality assurance and customer service raking in about $15 million euros through Paypal payments, banks transfers and cryptocurrencies.
This kind of threat is likely to be replicated if Netflix, Walt Disney and other streaming companies raise their prices in the near future as demand for their services grow. More subscribers and viewers may be tempted to look for cheaper and illegal alternatives.
“The background threat of piracy means that the subscription video-on-demand services will have the ongoing threat of piracy as a pricing factor,” Midia Research Analyst Tim Mulligan told Bloomberg through Email.
The criminal ring was operating in Spain. Police forces searched 15 houses arresting 11 people taking down 50 of their servers in nine countries.
Property, jewellery, luxury cars, cash and Cryptocurrencies worth 4.8 million euros were seized in the operation and 1.1 million euros in various bank accounts frozen.