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June 3, 2021

A Technical Knockout: Winning the PPV Prize

  • Blog
  • Media & Entertainment

By James Clark

UFC fighter Jake Paul’s recent victory over Ben Askren reportedly generated more than $75 million in pay-per-view (PPV) purchases alone. The world heavyweight title fight between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury in Saudi Arabia this August is expected to draw similar online crowds. As it has been for years, boxing remains a big PPV business.

But PPV matches are priced differently in different countries. For the Paul-Askren fight, for example, the official streaming provider Fite charged fans in some countries only $14.99 while U.S. viewers paid $49.99. For a growing number of fans, there’s just too great a temptation to use a VPN to spoof their location and live-stream events from another market at a lower price rather than paying full price.

On The Ropes

Using a VPN to circumvent the PPV pricing model might seem like a harmless jab, but it’s a body blow to the entire professional sports ecosystem, because it displaces legitimate viewing, which in turn hammers the bottom line.

Forty percent of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fans admitted to frequently using illegal online events streams in a 2020 survey by the sports website, The Athletic. In addition, a recent survey by the University of Amsterdam’s Institute for Information Law found that for every 10 pirated views of a blockbuster movie, the broadcaster lost between four to five legitimate views.

A drop in PPV subscribers due to geo-piracy results in a significant loss of revenue for rightsholders and OTTs, and erodes the value of live sports content over time. It could also have an impact on future sports rights negotiations for more expensive PPV territories because audiences will be smaller, as a result of many of their viewers turning to pirated content.

The Comeback

While streaming providers’ contracts state that they must employ effective geo-blocking measures to protect valuable territorial rights, content leakage via VPNs still happens due to the adoption of inferior or poorly implemented solutions. Fifty-one percent of all internet users use VPNs to access “better entertainment content,” according to a survey in 2018 by GlobalWebIndex. The value and volume of PPV sports events, which are expected to increase, require a robust VPN and DNS proxy detection solution.

The Knockout

GeoGuard DB, GeoComply’s award-winning solution for VPN and proxy detection, is the industry’s only solution to have been independently rated by Kingsmead Security as 99.6% effective in detecting VPNs and DNS proxies. It also has the advantage of being fully integrated with both Akamai and Amazon Cloudfront. Delivering the industry’s lowest false positives and highest accuracy rates, GeoGuard DB ensures rightsowners and PPV streaming providers can knock out geo-piracy cold.