Advanced Television

Spain: Piracy down further 6%

April 6, 2018

By Colin Mann

Digital piracy has experienced a decrease in Spain for second consecutive year in terms of absolute figures, although the percentage of individuals accessing pirate content remains the same.

In 2017, there were 4.005 billion digital illegal accesses to content with a market value of €21.899 billion. The profit loss suffered by the sector increased 4.1 per cent and reached €1.857 billion. These are some of main results gathered by the Piracy observatory and digital content consumption habits 2017, carried out by independent consultant GFK and released by the Coalition of Creators and Content Industries (La Coalición de creadores e industrias de contenidos) and LaLiga.

According to Carlota Navarrete, director of the Coalition, the trend initiated in 2016 has been maintained. “Although it is still far away from the amount of blocked pirate websites in countries like Portugal (more than 800) or Italy (450), we believe the results show that the commitment undertaken is the right one and that our claim to strengthen and expedite the enforcement of legislative measures, as well as to increase the Public Administration’s staff and technical resources, while carrying out awareness campaigns, it is clearly a very good decision.”

“We also want to highlight that the continuous effort carried out by the industry to fight piracy in all levels, and the boost of almost 90 per cent of the claims submitted trough administrative procedure, caused that last year we achieved important successes in both civil and criminal procedures and we will not stop in our will to improve the legal offer of contents.”

“As the problem continues being a serious problem, this slight progress in the fight against piracy should encourage us to continue working and asking all private and public implicated actors to make greater efforts to fight against it,” she concluded.

“LaLiga is satisfied to continue with this trend of decrease on the number of individuals who watch football illegally, as it has been reduced a total of 5 percentage points since 2015, from 21 per cent in 2015 to 16 per cent in 2017,” explained Emilio Fernandez, the Head of the LaLiga Antipiracy Department. “After the creation by LaLiga of a department specifically for the fight against audiovisual piracy and the protection of audiovisual rights, LaLiga Legal Department has blocked 12 websites domains. Besides, thanks to Marauder there have been blocked almost 168,000 videos in social networks and 124 apps, reaching a blocking percentage of 98.44 per cent. LaLiga commitment to the fight against piracy has developed our own technological tools to face it, Marauder and Lumiere.”


Percentages of people accessing illicitly to content splits as music (22 per cent), films (33 per cent), videogames (11 per cent), books (24 per cent), TV series (30 per cent) and football (10 per cent).

€1.857 billion loss profit caused by piracy is split as follows: Music €507m (€488m online and €19m physical), films 453m (€140m online and €313m cinema theatres and physical), TV series €167m, books €203m (€96m online and €107m physical), videogames €242m (€52m online and €189m physical) and football €285m.

Fifty-one per cent of consumers who access to illegal content argue that “original contents are very expensive”. Other reasons are that “access is fast and easy” 43 per cent; “ I’m already paying for my Internet connection” 50 per cent. All these percentages are higher compared to those of 2016. It also increases the weight of reasons, “I’m not doing anybody any harm” or “there are no legal consequences for those who pirate, nothing happens”, this year reaches in both cases up to 25 per cent.

These grounds are expressed by both consumers of cultural and entertainment content and of football retransmissions, and this shows that there is still a need from the Government to send clear messages on this issue.

Besides, according to the results from this year’s Observatory, 15 per cent of consumers acknowledge having big difficulties to differentiate legal pages from illegal ones and another 44 per cent only acknowledges it sometimes.

Sixty-eight per cent of users taking an internet connection take into account mainly the access speed that enables to access faster to content, same percentage as 2016. However, the percentage of users who value specially the combined offer (high speed or fibre plus content packages) when choosing Internet access providers, has increased up to 56 per cent compared to 51 per cent in 2016.


Regarding means of access, search engines keep having the main weight as method to access to illegal content, with 75 per cent, and google is used for nine out of ten accesses to pirate content. Regarding social networks, Facebook is the most used to access (83 per cent), followed by twitter (42 per cent) and Instagram (34 per cent), therefore it is most valuable the fact that Facebook reaches agreements with different industries to become a legal source and to regularise the access to content.

The percentage of websites from which illegal content was accessed financed by advertising has increased up to 95 per cent (67 per cent in 2016). From such publicity, 68 per cent corresponds to online gaming and betting sites, 58 per cent dating sites and more than 55 per cent is adult content.

According to the Coalition, it is particularly remarkable that publicity of pirate sites (26 per cent) belongs to consumer products of re-owned, percentage still remains elevated (it was 37.6 per cent in 2016), indicating the urgent need to improve collaboration between industry and advertisers to improve the ecosystem of online publicity.

Sources of income of these sites are diverse, and it is to be particularly highlighted that eight out of ten consumers (81 per cent) had to register as user, transferring personal data that pirates gather in databases that are used for e-marketing campaigns and reach very high prices in the market.

“Pirate sites also get much more valuable data than one could a priori imagine and which will allow them to get important economic benefits, as for example, Internet surfing habits, rest of web sites visited by consumers, preferences, likes, purchase habits,” says the Coalition.

Likewise, means of payment play a significant role in the running of pirate sites, especially in the cases in which those sites commercialise premium accounts, get donations or standardise a system to send mobile messages to registered users, to inform of the release of new content on the site, etc. Users who have ever paid for content they have downloaded from these sites already reach up to 8 per cent.

Illegal consumers of books are the ones most willing to pay to avoid advertising (43 per cent), videogames and films (39 per cent) and tv series (37 per cent) and piracy consumers who are the less willing to pay to avoid advertising music (35 per cent) and football (34 per cent).

The percentage of consumers who can remember communication campaigns against piracy comes at two out of ten; this percentage has increased compared with the previous year, which is a very positive fact that confirms that the Government should continue following such a line, suggests the Coalition.

Almost all Internet users know the existence of the legal content offer through subscription platforms and other means, such as Netflix (91 per cent), Spotify (81 per cent), Movistar+ (80 per cent), or HBO (68 per cent), which invalidates the reasons given by pirate users who said they did so because of the lack of accessible legal offer at affordable prices. In this respect, it is worth noting that web surfers who are pirates and are online registered in these platforms do no stop pirating, (although they pirate less in some sectors, like music, when registration increases then piracy falls).


The impact of piracy on employment provides disturbing figures for creators and cultural and content industries. Content industries today employ 69,861 people, out of 99,095 employees working for the digital cultural sector, according to Government data. A scenario without piracy will allow the creation of 20,375 new direct jobs, 29 per cent increase and 122,250 more jobs that are indirect.

The Exchequer has failed to receive almost €372 million of VAT because of piracy, as well as €157 million in social security contributions and more than €46 million in personal income tax. That is to say, the State has stopped receiving in 2017, €575 million because of illegal accesses to content, with an accumulated amount since 2012 of €3.347 billion.



  • There is a slight increase in the number of individuals who access legally to music and piracy consumption decreases although it still represents 23 per cent.
  • During 2017, 1.560 billion items of music content were illicitly accessed, with a market value of €5.183 billion. It is worth noting the increase of the ratio of converting in music from the 7 per cent, in 2016, to 10 per cent in 2017, so despite piracy decreases, loss profit rises.
  • Number of consumers accessing illegal content decreases from 26 per cent in 2016 to 22 per cent in 2017.
  • 47 per cent of these accesses corresponds to contents with less than a year after their commercial release (48 per cent in 2016).


  • Despite the significant increase in the legal consumption of films, piracy percentage of Internet users who pirate is maintained up to 34 per cent.
  • The volume of films accessed illegally during 2017 was of 726 million, with a market value of €5.725 billion, compared to €6.935 billion in 2016.
  • 35 per cent of accesses happened meanwhile the film was still on screens in cinema theatres, while this percentage was 33 per cent in 2016.


  • 30 per cent of users access illicitly to TV series, summing up 945 million episodes illegally played or downloaded during 2017. Their market value is €1.405 billion.
  • 46 per cent of accesses happened during the period the episodes still being showed on tv (39 per cent in 2016).


  • 24 per cent of Internet users download books in digital format from illegal platforms, therefore, in 2017, 419 million illegal digital accesses to books were recorded, with a market value of €3.609 billion.
  • More than 41 per cent of accesses represented content published less than one year previously.


  • The illegal consumption of videogames is maintained, with 241 million of illegal accesses during 2017. These products’ value reached €5.622 billion.
  • 45 per cent of videogames accessed illegally had been in the market for less than a year (it is maintained compared to 2015).


16 per cent of Internet users watched football matches on illegal channels. Therefore, during 2017, 113 million of football matches were illegally watched in 10 per cent of Spanish households, as well as in 2016, with a market value of €355 million.


The most efficient measures against piracy would be, according to the Internet users’ own view, blocking access to the website offering content (78 per cent) and penalising internet providers (73 per cent). Following these two, the best measure to reduce infringements would be, according to consumers, the promotion of social awareness campaigns against piracy (61 per cent). This suggests that increased collaboration between the content sector and the ISP (Internet Service Providers) could count with the consumers’ support and positive assessment.

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