Intelligent broadband network solutions provider Sandvine’s Global Internet Phenomena Spotlight report focusing on the ‘fully-loaded’ Kodi ecosystem in North America, suggests that 68.6 per cent of households with Kodi devices also have unofficial Add-ons configured to access unlicensed content.

The report is based on data collected from multiple tier-1 fixed access networks in North America and examines the mechanics and economics of using Kodi to access what many content owners believe to be unlicensed live and on-demand video content.

Kodi  is an open source media player that allows users to view local and remote videos on PCs, set-top boxes, smartphones, and tablets. Recently, the Kodi name has become increasingly associated with streaming of unlicensed content thanks to the availability of ‘fully-loaded’ Kodi set-top boxes. These set-top boxes are sold online and in retail stores with versions of Kodi that contain unofficial ‘Add-ons’ and modifications designed to drastically lower the technical know-how required to access unlicensed live and on-demand video content.

The report also seeks to correct the misconception that Kodi and its developers, the XBMC Foundation, are the primary beneficiaries in an ecosystem of streaming unlicensed content. The major beneficiaries of this new form of piracy appear to be parties in the ecosystem that are selling the ‘fully-loaded’ hardware, unlicensed streaming services, and hosting services for monetary gain. Even absent the Kodi software, this ecosystem would still be in place and unlicensed video content still accessible via web browsers and other media players.

Key findings include:

  • 8 per cent of North American households have at least one device in their household with an active Kodi installation
  • 6 per cent of households with Kodi devices also have unofficial Add-ons configured to access unlicensed content
  • Approximately 6 per cent of all households in North America, currently have a Kodi device configured to access unlicensed content
  • ‘Fully-loaded’ Kodi boxes can access unlicensed content for free, as well as premium services featuring larger amounts of unlicensed content for a monthly fee

“Kodi is often referred to by name as the root of the unlicensed content streaming problem, but the true roots of the problem appear to be the illegitimate video service providers and file hosts who are making a profit by enabling access to unlicensed content,” said Don Bowman, CTO, Sandvine. “Sandvine’s business intelligence tools can help communications service providers to measure and track not only the applications being used to access unlicensed video content but more importantly to understand the origin of unlicensed content so that they can work with law enforcement to ensure that their licence rights are upheld.”

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By Expat