London, 10 October, 2016 – GlobalWebIndex (GWI), operator of the world’s largest study on digital consumer behaviours and trends, has revealed that a significant number of UK sports fans are faking their location, using VPNs or proxy servers, in order to watch live sports or sports highlights packages online from foreign broadcasters. Faking their location using these tools allows sports fans to access foreign broadcasts of Premier League content, often with English commentary.
GWI’s core research programme has shown that VPNs and proxy servers are a major trend among UK sports fans. 21% say they have used a VPN, with gaining access to better entertainment content being the most important motivation. Most of these VPN users are accessing these tools regularly, with 61% using their VPN at least once a week.
In a special study in partnership with GeoGuard, GWI found that 31% of UK sports fans know that it is possible for somebody using the internet to fake their location in order to watch live sports or sports highlights packages, and that 7% have done so. This translates to a significant number of sports fans who are accessing foreign sports broadcasts by using VPNs or proxy servers. Football is the most popular sport watched using this method, with the Premier League being the most popular competition watched by sports fans faking their location.
Accessing content not shown in the UK (such as football games being played at 3pm on Saturdays) is a major motivator here, as is avoiding the higher cost of UK domestic sports TV subscriptions. This trend could have an impact on the 14.7 million households in the UK who subscribe to pay-TV, with 39% of sports fans saying they would consider switching from their TV supplier to a different international vendor and 33% saying they would consider leaving their TV supplier (and TV suppliers in general) in order to exclusively watch content online.
Jason Mander, Chief Research Officer at GlobalWebIndex, has commented: “Access is the key issue here; UK sports fans who use VPNs are actually more likely than average to be paying for cable/satellite TV. These fans will find a way to watch the matches they want and denying them access is becoming increasingly futile.”
David Briggs, Chairman of GeoGuard, has commented: ‘Territorial exclusivity has long been the biggest driver of value for broadcasters in purchasing premium content. However, without better defences against location spoofing the very notion of any content being sold exclusively in one territory could soon be a thing of the past.”