Tactically, knowing your enemy is key—and it’s been proven that consumers of illegal content online are likely not hardened criminals. Here at Entura, we know this to be true. But this was further confirmed by a study in New Zealand earlier this year, which concluded piracy isn’t driven by ‘law-breakers’.
Only 11% of NZ consumers use illegal streaming services and 10% download material via torrents or an equivalent, according to telecoms group Vocus. And its research linked this to the rise of legitimate subscription services. Vocus went as far as to credit them with “stamping out piracy”. The explanation for how they’ve been able to do this? “Making available the shows people want to enjoy, at a reasonable cost and with maximum convenience”. Certainly seems simple enough.
But this idea isn’t new. Research and opinion pieces pop up from time to time, making the same point of availability vs piracy. Going one step further, Australian research from 2016 found that 37% of people who used paid streaming services actually wanted to support rights holders—and avoid using illegal sites.
The research acknowledged the importance of speed and convenience, but showed piracy isn’t the first choice for many. Instead, it’s more likely a reluctant last resort. So the very existence of genuine streaming services, and—crucially—how they operate, can fight piracy too.
Here at Entura, we talk about the Three As of Casual Piracy: Availability, Accessibility and Affordability.
- Availability – is content available to me in a timely manner (i.e. not months after its initial release)?
- Accessibility – is it on a platform that I can access?
- Affordability – can I afford it?
If these conditions aren’t met, it’s more likely that everyday internet users on the hunt for a TV show or movie will turn to piracy. Because that’s what most pirates are – casual users, somehow blocked from the content they want to watch. A simple solution is, as Vocus put it, is to “give people the content they want, in a format they can consume, at a price they can afford”. Which streaming services can.
However, one challenge that may affect this is the growing number of platforms. The platforms themselves don’t necessarily pose difficulties, but exclusive shows and the siloing of content may do. It’s easy to imagine an everyday consumer pirating just one show, because it’s not available on their streaming service of choice. Provided pricing doesn’t increase too much, this shouldn’t deter too many consumers from watching shows and movies legally, but you can’t compete with free.
Only time will tell how much the evolving availability, accessibility and affordability of online content will affect piracy rates. Our hope is that as long as we all bear the Three As in mind, streamers will make the right choice.