About 24 percent of Hong Kong consumers use a pirated TV box, according to industry association CASBAA.
Dubbed “illegal streaming devices” (ISD), these boxes, available under brands such as BossTV, Ubox, EVPad, Lingcod and Magic Box, deliver a raft of pirated channels and on-demand content, usually for a one-time fee. In a recent Hong Kong Customs operation, 350 of such boxes were seized and four shop owners and four salespeople were arrested and charged with copyright offenses.
The study was commissioned by Casbaa’s Coalition Against Piracy (CAP) and conducted by YouGov. It found that of the consumers who had a pirated box, some 49 percent had canceled some or all of their legitimate pay-TV subscriptions. About 26 percent said they had cancelled a pay-TV subscription as a direct result of owning an ISD, and 19 percent said they had dropped a specific part of the pay-TV bundle after buying a pirated box. In addition, 21 percent said they had nixed an international subscription service that was available to them in Hong Kong because they had an ISD.
Neil Gane, managing director for CAP, noted, “The damage that content theft does to the creative industries is without dispute. However, the damage done to consumers themselves, because of the nexus between content piracy and malware, is only beginning to be recognised. The piracy ecosystem is a hotbed for malware, whether purchasing ISDs from Sham Shui Po’s Golden Arcade or downloading content from infamous torrent sites. Unfortunately the appetite for free or paying cheap subscription rates for stolen content, blinkers some consumers from the real risks of malicious malware infection such as spyware.”
“The illicit streaming device ecosystem is impacting all businesses involved in the production and distribution of legitimate content,” added Louis Boswell, CEO of CASBAA. “ISD piracy is also organized crime, pure and simple, with crime syndicates making substantial illicit revenues from the provision of illegally re-transmitted TV channels and the sale of such ISDs.”