Over one million set-top boxes capable of streaming pirated TV shows, movies and live sport have been sold in the UK in the last two years, a research report has claimed. The stunning figure comes from a new report by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), which looks at the current state of piracy in Britain.
The research, which was conducted in collaboration with the government's Intellectual Property Office (IPO), once again highlights the meteoric rise of so-called 'Kodi boxes' and other types of IPTV devices that access premium content through third-party extensions.
"The vast majority of British people do not watch or download illegally pirated material online, such as movies, TV shows or footage of live sporting events," reads the report.
"The most recent stats show that 75% of Brits who look at content online abide by the law and don't download or stream it illegally – up from 70% in 2013."
The remaining 25%, however, is where the report's concern lies, particularly those using Kodi box-like devices.
"In digital piracy, the biggest concern and focus for law enforcement and industry relates to the increasing problem of illicit streaming devices – a newer way to access illegal content, which has only existed for a few years.
"The Intellectual Property Office estimated, based on its experience working across the UK on this issue, that over one million of these devices have been sold in the UK in the last two years," FACT states.
For Kodi in particular, the report focuses on the availability of illegal extensions, as well as the bubbling black market for set-top devices pre-loaded with pirate add-ons – especially those sold on social media.
"The availability of illegal add-ons to Kodi software has helped the organised gangs behind digital piracy to reach a wider audience. While Kodi itself is legal, these add-ons are not; they have no parental controls or security standards, and open up users to a range of risks from adult and inappropriate content.
"The criminals selling illicit streaming devices are moving their business online. Fewer and fewer are selling these goods through traditional locations like pubs, markets and car boot sales. Instead, they're advertising their wares on social media platforms and e-commerce sites. This helps them attract a potentially much wider audience and try to remain anonymous and avoid capture."
The report also places a spotlight on stream "ripping", and the rise in dark web listings related to 'Kodi boxes', as well as the use of Bitcoin to mask the transactions.
The IPO announced in February that it is considering recommending "legislative change to deal with the issue of illicit IPTV streaming devices", although it is yet to be seen whether this will come to pass.
You can read the report in full here.