One in five Brazilians watch Pay TV illegally

Losses amount to R$2bn; operators demand heavy penalties to those using pirate decoders

One in five Brazilians watch to Pay TV content illegally - that's 4,2 million users out of the 23,2 million people who access premium television content in the country.

According to the Brazilian Pay TV Association (ABTA), who released the numbers at a sector event last week, the concerted use of pirate TV decoders in Brazil is causing annual losses of R$2bn ($878m) to operators.

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This has caused premium TV providers to campaign for the approval of a Bill that proposes a jail term of two years for anyone caught using pirate TV decoders - which are openly available in shopping districts in capitals like São Paulo or online for about R$ 300 ($131).

The cheapest Pay TV package in Brazil costs about R$50 ($22) per month, so R$600 ($263) per year, plus any sign-up/set-up fees and contracts that lock customers in for a year.

If the number of pirate users were signed up to any company, that would be the third largest service provider in Brazil: the two biggest premium TV operators in Brazil are Net, with 6,1 million customers, followed by Sky with 5,1 million.

Out of the 1750 pay TV users polled by ABTA across Brazil, 42 percent of the pirate users are based in major urban centers and 58 percent live in the countryside.

According to the ABTA study, most people watching Pay TV through pirate equipment are from the so-called Classes D and E - so the very bottom of the social pyramid in the country.