Research: World’s Biggest Payment Platforms Are Unwittingly Enabling IPTV Piracy

2018 has been a tough year for pirate IPTV services. Just last month we reported on two separate incidents, one in the UK and one in Sweden, where people involved in peddling pirated IPTV content received prison sentences of five years and three months in the first instance and two and a half years of jail time plus a whopping 24 million dollar fine in the second.

And now a software security and media technology company called Irdeto has released a report that details the payment methods employed by pirate IPTV streaming sites.

Irdeto has a history of assisting copyright holders and law enforcement agencies in bringing down offenders – its clients’ list includes the likes of Comcast, Foxtel, and ITV. Its latest research should give pirates pause.

“Investigators often get told to follow the money”, their blog post reads. “The time has come to extend this approach to the fight against online piracy, as new Irdeto research reveals the scale at which payment platforms are being used to enable illegal streaming.”

For its research, Irdeto looked at more than 400 active pirate IPTV streaming supplier sites and found that the majority of them offered multiple payment options. Their analysis also revealed that 76% of them openly advertised their payment methods.

The shocking part: Visa and MasterCard, two of the biggest global payment companies, lead the charts, each accounting for 21% of all advertised payment methods. Hard on their heels was PayPal with 14%, followed by American Express (9%) and Discover (7%).

Cryptocurrencies were found to account for around 4% of the payment method mentions on the analyzed sites; Bitcoin was by far the most popular option.

Here’s the breakdown:

IPTV payment methodThe report rightly points out that the harm goes beyond merely enabling piracy from a technical perspective. What the researchers found to be equally worrying was the fact that “those secure payment facilities are a big part of the pirates’ veneer of respectability, with many supporting transactions via industry big hitters like Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, American Express and the rest.”