Advanced Television

Study: Dramatic increase in US digital video piracy

June 25, 2019

By Colin Mann

The US Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC), in partnership with NERA Economic Consulting, has published a study, Impacts of Digital Video Piracy on the US Economy, detailing the economic impact digital video piracy has on the US economy. While the proliferation of streaming services provides consumers with unprecedented choice, content, and convenience, it also presents new challenges.

“As the video streaming industry has grown, we have seen a dramatic increase in digital video piracy, especially of US-produced television series and movies,” said Jeff Eisenach, Managing Director and Co-Chair of NERA’s Communications, Media, and Internet Practice. “Those illegal views and downloads deprive the content production industry and the broader US economy billions in lost revenue – and hundreds of thousands of jobs – every year.”

In 2017, the US movie and television production industry accounted for approximately $229 billion in domestic revenues and 2.6 million jobs. In recent years, video streaming has grown in popularity with more than 500 licensed online video portals worldwide. Currently, more subscribers pay for streaming services than traditional cable. This shift has given rise to a new source of online piracy. Now, over 80 per cent of stolen and shared content is viewed on streaming sites. Overall, the study finds that approximately 26.6 billion viewings of US-produced movies and 126.7 billion viewings of US-produced TV episodes are digitally pirated each year.

“Video streaming, driven by innovative technologies, has transformed the industry, fuelled the US economy, and changed how people around the world consume content. However, digital piracy has emerged as a serious problem that undermines this growth,” said Jonathan Weinberger, Senior Vice President of the Global Innovation Policy Center. “The findings from this study highlight the urgent need to coordinate enforcement efforts against illegal streaming and strengthen IP protections both in the US and abroad. GIPC will continue to champion strong IP protections to promote creativity and protect content online.”

“For anyone in the creative, inventive, or innovative community, intellectual property laws are the only bulwark that protects our ability to make a living,” noted Mark Olshaker, bestselling author of Mindhunter and the Emmy Award-winning writer of Roman City. Theft of intellectual property is the same as theft of money or anything material because it prevents us from earning a living. Moreover, it rewards the copycat or exploiter at the expense of the creator.”


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