Viewers are increasingly turning to pirate content sites to watch movies and TV shows

Movie piracy increased by almost 39% in 2022, according to research from Muso. — Photography baona/Getty Images/AFP Relaxnews

Internet users are increasingly going to content piracy sites to watch movies and TV shows illegally. According to an American study, content piracy increased by 18% in 2022, a situation not seen since 2020 and the rise of streaming platforms that helped pass the time during Covid lockdowns.

The proliferation – and success – of streaming platforms, such as Netflix, Disney+ or Prime Video, was thought to have solved the problem of movie and TV content piracy. But it would seem not, according to a Muso study reported by Variety. The increase in the volume of content since the pandemic, with a growing number of platform-exclusive releases, combined with inflation and rising subscription prices could explain why illegal sites are experiencing a new surge of interest.

The study by Muso, a data company specializing in global piracy, estimates that content piracy sites were visited 215 billion times in 2022 worldwide, an increase of 18% compared to 2021.

"Top Gun: Maverick" and "House of the Dragon"

Among the most pirated content, TV shows account for almost half of the traffic to these sites (46%), compared to 13% for movies. However, it is the world of cinema that shows the most significant growth in terms of illegal piracy. With a jump of 38.6% in one year, pirated films surpass TV content, which grew 8.8% compared to 2021. "Like legal services, film and TV piracy sites allow for immediate access to content, rather than having to wait for a physical copy to be delivered or for the film to be released in a certain country," explains the study.

And among the most illegally sourced content are animated and big-budget series such as "House of the Dragon," broadcast on HBO and "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power," available on Prime Video. On the movie side, the blockbusters "Top Gun: Maverick" and "The Batman" have driven up demand for illegal content.

However, far from the clichés, consumers of pirate content still spend their money on legal content. "They turn to piracy to access content that is not available in their region or is not affordable at the time, but this audience will still spend significant sums on legal content when given the opportunity," the study states.

Users know where to go

Consumption patterns have also changed. If torrent sites, for downloading large files, were once the most popular way to obtain content in a free but illegal way, it is now illegal streaming sites that have taken over, reports the Muso study. According to the data collected, 57% of pirated movies were viewed via pirate content streaming sites, compared to 16% via torrent files. The difference is even more striking with TV content, since 95% of these shows were watched illegally on streaming sites compared to 2% via torrents.

This mode of consumption is visibly well established in the habits of internet users, who are well versed in illegal streaming. They are now so used to using these kinds of sites that they don't need to turn to search engines to find them. Indeed, according to the data collected, only a quarter of the traffic to these illegal sites is generated via search engines, compared to 65% of direct traffic, Variety highlights. – AFP Relaxnews

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