Piracy in the streaming world: what is it and how to deal with it


Piracy is a scourge that still strikes the film industry. This phenomenon, which was gradually disappearing, is resurfacing.

The rise of streaming platforms and the numerous services offered (SVOD, VOD, AVOD, TVOD) have not succeeded in overcoming this problem.

According to research conducted by Global Innovation Policy Center of the U.S. Chamber of commerce, “More than 80 percent of piracy is attributable to streaming; and illegal streaming is enabled by piracy devices and applications, which have overtaken BitTorrent and other download-based technologies that enable unauthorized live TV and video-on-demand (VOD) over the internet.”  

Towards a decline in the attractiveness of streaming platforms

Streaming platforms continue to multiply. According to Nielsen: “streaming usage increased 21 % between May 2021 and May 2022.”

However, we cannot ignore the phenomenon of piracy. Data from MUSO indicates that the rise in digital piracy for film and television will continue into 2023, driven by a combination of factors such as the increased volume of content post-pandemic, the increasing exclusivity of releases on many legal subscription platforms, and global inflationary and economic pressures.

In addition, the study conducted by Global Innovation Policy Center of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce using macroeconomic modeling of digital piracy, found that global online piracy costs the U.S. economy an estimated $29.2 billion in lost revenue each year.

In their early days, OTT (Over the top) platforms attracted a lot of consumer interest. With subscriptions priced lower than cable TV, choice was simple, and piracy was becoming less of a problem.

The rise of these platforms and the increase in their rates have partly contributed to the resurgence of piracy.

Today, the prices set by some streaming platforms make them less accessible for many. The consumer has to pay a considerable amount of money to enjoy a rich and diversified catalog.

Let’s take the example of Netflix whose price can reach 17.99 euros per month for Netflix premium formula in France. In order to mitigate the increase of its prices, it intends to integrate advertisements that should help to lower them. Nevertheless, we do not know yet if customer satisfaction will be guaranteed following this change (ads) and others, including the blocking of account sharing. This could lead to subscription cancellations and to piracy.

What measures should be taken to deal with piracy?

It seems that punitive measures such as censorship of pirate sites, legal proceedings, fines of up to 1500 euros are not very effective.  

One of the ways to fight against piracy is the re-centering of the consumer within the business model of OTT platforms.
Some platforms need to review their offer, i.e. the prices they charge and the content they offer. Offering users quality and exclusive content at affordable prices can be considered as remedy against piracy.

Today more than ever, it is crucial to understand consumer expectations and ensure that customer satisfaction and a unique customer experience are achieved.  

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