Online pirates seek legal content first

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Research from content protection and data-analytics solutions specialist MUSO suggests that 83 per cent of UK users who consume pirated content try to find it legally first, and that those who access unlicensed music, film and TV are actually more likely to have subscription services such as Netflix or Spotify.

In the survey of 1,000 UK adults into how the public accesses media online, carried out through personal data and insights platform CitizenMe, 60 per cent of people admitted to having illegally streamed or downloaded music, film or TV programmes. Of those, 83 per cent said they try to find content by legal means first. The research was undertaken to support the quantitative data created through the MUSO platform, which recently revealed that global piracy rose 1.6 per cent through the course of 2017.

“The entertainment industry tends to envisage piracy audiences as a criminal element, and writes them off as money lost – but they are wrong to do so,” said Paul Briley, CCO of MUSO. “The reality is that the majority of people who have gone through the effort of finding and accessing such unlicensed content are, first and foremost, fans – fans who are more often than not trying to get content legally if they can. Rather than dismissing these audiences, content creators need to acknowledge the problem and find new ways to engage this high-intent audience, who for one reason or another are unable to easily access the content they want legitimately.”

When asked why they had downloaded or streamed content illegally, the most popular reason was a cost barrier (35.2 per cent). However, this was closely followed by it not being available on the subscription service or channel they subscribe to (34.9 per cent), and it not being available where they live (34.7 per cent).

Eighty—six per cent of the survey respondents subscribed to a subscription service, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime for TV and film, or Spotify and Apple Music for music. Interestingly, this percentage was higher (91 per cent) among those who admitted to illegally accessing content.

“There is a prevailing myth that streaming services have killed piracy, but unfortunately this just isn’t the case,” said Briley. “Our own piracy data shows that global piracy has increased year-on-year, even as these subscription services grow in popularity. The fact that nine out of ten people who are accessing unlicensed content also have legal subscription services, simply supports the fact that subscription services haven’t solved the problem for content owners or consumers.”

“While streaming services have made huge amounts of content more readily available, it’s still siloed,” he noted. “The results of this survey demonstrate that if the show consumers are looking for isn’t available on their particular on-demand service, they will turn to unlicensed alternatives because it is too expensive to subscribe to every single service. As new, more niche, subscription services from film studios, broadcasting companies and tech giants begin to emerge, the further division of content is likely to make this situation worse.”

Fifty-three per cent of those who stream or download content said that they think it is wrong to do so, which is actually slightly higher than the total consensus of 52 per cent. This suggests that many wouldn’t, if there was a suitable alternative.

“We want to fundamentally challenge the perception that piracy audiences will not pay for content. It is damaging for both the industry and the consumer. If content owners accept that these are high-intent audiences, they can explore new ways of making their content more readily discoverable, engage these audiences, and create new revenue opportunity in the process,” he concluded.


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