Brazil and Portugal’s matches were the most illegally streamed during the World Cup group stage

Neymar Jr of Brazil goes down injured during the 2018 World Cup Russia match between Brazil and Switzerland.

Neymar Jr of Brazil goes down injured during the match between Brazil and Switzerland – the group stage game that attracted the most illegal eyeballs on social media with an estimated 614k viewers.
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

The World Cup is now into its most exciting phase – the knockout stage – and while there are many ways to catch the games, streaming it illegally is still something many choose to do.

During the group stage of the tournament, Dutch cybersecurity services company Irdeto detected 5088 unique illegal streams redistributing games via the internet.

Social media channels such as Facebook, Periscope, YouTube and Twitch were the main vehicle with 3773 of the total 5088 streams detected on those platforms. Viewership is estimated at just shy of 4.3 million.

Portugal was the most illegally viewed team on social media channels with an estimated 827k tuning in to catch Cristiano Ronaldo in action.

The group stage game that attracted the most illegal eyeballs on social media was Brazil vs. Switzerland, with an estimated 614k viewers.

Incidentally, the bookies and streamers both share a favourite with Brazil emerging as the most pirated team. More than 582 illegal streams were detected for the Seleção’s three group stage matches.

Morocco were second (561 streams), followed by Portugal (535 streams) and Belgium (526 streams).

England rounded up the top five (523 streams) despite all the games in England being shown on free-to-air channels.

Germany have had a World Cup to forget for more reasons than one – not only were the reigning champions eliminated at the group stage, their lack of popularity with pirates also saw them failing to crack the top ten list of most pirated teams.

On the findings, Rory O’Connor, Irdeto’s senior vice president of Cybersecurity Services, said, “As one of the biggest sporting events around, the World Cup inevitably attracts a lot of global attention from pirates… Viewers of these streams really must consider the risks they are exposing themselves to by viewing illegal streams, and the potential threat of criminal penalties.”

Read also: 5 million streamed Champions League matches illegally; Roma, Bayern, Real Madrid and Liverpool most pirated