Half of Singaporeans admit to online piracy

Despite major growth in the number and range of legal online content choices available to them, recent studies have found Singaporeans to be among the top consumers of pirated online content around the world. A new consumer research study from research company Sycamore, revealed at an event sponsored by digital multichannel TV trade body CASBAA, further examined online piracy behaviour within Singapore and found several striking trends:

  • Almost half the population admit to having engaged in online piracy, with 39 per cent stating they currently illegally stream or download movies, TV shows or live sports channels.
  • Illicit Streaming Devices (TV boxes) are changing the face of piracy in Singapore, with 14 per cent of Singaporeans admitting to currently using an illicit streaming device.
  • 74 per cent of active pirates recognise that accessing pirated content puts them at greater risk of getting viruses, spyware and other malware. In fact, the risk of malware was the primary reason (40 per cent) cited by those who said they had stopped pirating for their change in behaviour, followed by recognition that there were now more legal options available (37 per cent).
  • 68 per cent of Singaporeans recognise that pirating movies, TV shows or sporting events is stealing or theft, with almost a third agreeing that blocking of sites which profit from pirated content would be the most effective means of reducing online piracy.

The Sycamore study combined qualitative and quantitative methodologies. This included a survey of 1,000 respondents in Singapore, weighted to be representative of the population, plus a further 300 users of illicit streaming devices, to better understand the details of their behaviours.

“The implications of these results are significant,” commented CASBAA’s Chief Policy Officer, John Medeiros. “Admitted usage of TV boxes which provide illegal access to TV series, movies and live sports events is much greater in Singapore than in other developed markets, such as the US and the UK. While these numbers are already concerning, they rely on the candour of respondents and undoubtedly underestimate the true scale of the problem.”

These findings point to an equally worrying trend in the Singaporean market. Despite the fact that two-thirds of Singaporeans agree that piracy is stealing, the study revealed that nearly three quarters of the population consider piracy to be a normal or typical behaviour.

“The notion that piracy is something that everybody does nowadays turns it into a socially acceptable behaviour,” said Sycamore Research Director, Anna Meadows. “Numerous studies have shown that what we perceive others to be doing has a far stronger influence on our behaviour than what we know we ‘ought’ to do. People know that they shouldn’t really pirate, but they continue to do so because they believe those around them do as well. Interestingly, even among active pirates, almost a third agree that authorities should be able to take more action to deter piracy.”

Those Singaporeans who admitted to actively streaming or downloading pirated content admitted that the primary incentive behind their behaviour is that it costs nothing to pirate. An overwhelming 63 per cent of respondents answered that their decision to pirate was motivated by the desire to access content for free.

“On the other hand, there are few perceived downsides to piracy. Whilst the risk of devices being infected with viruses or malware is understood, it is underweighted. In the face of the benefit of free content, people appear to discount the risks, as the idea of getting something for nothing is so psychologically powerful,” noted Meadows.

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