With each new edition of the World Cup, the number of spectators taking advantage of illegal TV is increasing. The last edition was no different and it is estimated that almost 30% of the spectators have taken advantage of illegal broadcasts during the competition.

A new type of discussion has also been listed on Reddit or Quora: it seems that previously viewers were using only one IPTV provider for the whole Cup. Now, they check out the threads on social media and switch services depending on the matches.

This edition of the Cup was also marked by the specificity of the Middle East region: indeed, even if piracy is similar from one region to another, the problems in the region are exacerbated by legal systems that do not necessarily respond to this issue, and a highly developed piracy culture. 

 Some people, sensitive to the “sportwashing” from which Qatar has benefited to hide the problems related to human rights in the country, have considered piracyto be a form of resistance and think that they have thus found a way to watch a sport they like without financing the economy of a country with a politics they despise. 

However, the rights holders are not powerless against this phenomenon; the factors listed above have just made them more proactive and a set of methods have been put in place, by broadcasters and by national and international authorities, to fight against this phenomenon. 

Thus, about a hundred sites and their mirrors have been closed since the United States, several countries such as France, Morocco or Canada have issued blocking orders prior to broadcasting and arrests have accompanied these actions.

The methods used remain classic (monitoring, removal and watermarking or dynamic blocking), but what was noticed during the Cup was a combination of several of these methods as well as extensive cooperation with the authorities – especially with regard to dynamic blocking.


With this technique, it is  possible to trace the original content back to the account that purchased it, and easily and quickly disable any account used to illegally rebroadcast live sporting events, cutting off the source material used by pirates and preventing them from redistributing it.

Watermarking plays an important role in the fight against sports piracy. Accounts used by hackers can be quickly identified and immediate action can be taken, such as account blocking and legal action.

However, not all types of watermarking offer the same results when it comes to fighting live event piracy. Server-side watermarking in particular relies on long video captures – so the event can be over by the time the pirate account is identified.

Client-side watermarking is much more likely to provide a quick result – necessary for live sports. At the moment, it is the only type of watermark available on the market that can fight piracy while the game is still in progress.

However, several sports broadcasters, including Bein, have said that watermarking alone is not enough; that’s why during the 2022 World Cup, unlike previous Cups, dynamic blocking has been developed in many countries, allowing a real-time response, including against mirror sites, which is the whole point of this technique.

The relevance of dynamic blocking at the 2022 World Cup

The major difficulty with traditional judicial blocking measures is that rights holders must update the original court order – which covers one or more sites – with additional website addresses (and the new domain names used) or IP addresses so that Internet service providers can block them. For a long time, mirror sites easily escaped blocking orders.

One solution – widely explored during the World Cup in Qatar – allows for greater flexibility in court decisions, and it is now possible in many countries to quickly update blocking measures as illegal sites migrate. 

In practical terms, this means that the court can – in addition to blocking the illegal sites identified in the original decision – order the blocking of domain names and, where appropriate, IP addresses identified by the rights holders and notified to the ISPs (and/or search engines) for updating the decision without going back to the court.

Accountability of end-users

There is also the question of how to take into account the role played by Internet users who are active participants in these services. 

In some countries, complementary or alternative measures to sanctions include the promotion of legal offers and the development of awareness and communication tools aimed at the general public or specific categories of the public. 

Measures aimed at making end-users more responsible have historically been divided between two trends: warning systems and demand solutions, which can coexist in the same country. However, for the time being these measures have yielded few results and have been partly abandoned.

What seems to be more effective is the systematic redirection of users to legal content (white-hat marketing); indeed the user will often look for the easiest content to find. Making pirate content less accessible while highlighting legal content and offering an attractive offer seems to be the best way to encourage users to watch live sports content legally.

Check back in April for our next article on YouTube’s role in piracy.  

In the meantime, if you have content that needs to be protected – whether it’s a movie, series, music album or live event – please contact one of our account managers and we’ll be happy to help you, so you can regain control of your revenue!