Piracy expected to skyrocket as cost of living and subscription fatigue collide

Illegal piracy of movies and TV shows has been a constant thorn in the side of content creators like Hollywood studios and independent producers.

For a while, piracy dropped as early streaming services became an affordable and convenient way to find entertrainment.

But, as the streaming market has become more fragmented and the cost of living continues to rise – many are seemingly turning back to illegal downloads.

Data from MUSO, which tracks global piracy and unlicenced media consumption, found piracy across all media sectors is up 25% in the first 6 months of 2022.

When combined with the statistics on cancelled subscription packages, it’s not hard to see the connection.

A survey by the Broadcast Audience Research Board (BARB) found Netflix and Amazon lost around 800,000 subscribers between April and June 2022. Both services have recently increased the cost of their subscription packages.

Amazon’s Prime Video was hit hardest, losing 589,000 households but Netflix also took a 206,000 hit. Membership of Sky’s Now streaming service also fell by 43,000.

Perhaps these people are turning to illegal downloading or streaming instead?

‘Faced with an increasingly fractured streaming landscape, the consumer does the math and realizes that having access to all the shows they want to watch is not a justifiable expense when their grocery bill has doubled and they’re cycling or carpooling to work to save money on fuel,’ explains MUSO CEO Andy Chatterley.

The additional pull towards piracy comes not just from the expense, but also because viewers can’t get all the content they want under one roof.

While Netflix may have been the OG streaming service, there’s now Prime Video, Disney+, Paramount+, Now, Apple TV+ and BritBox. Each has its own exclusive shows and movies that people want to watch.

‘Exclusive content and a proliferation of platforms have long resulted in a customer acquisition war for providers. But this overwhelming choice – before one even gets to the myriad costs involved – can be bewildering for the consumer,’ Mr Chatterley said.

‘And in the absence of a one-stop shop like Spotify is to music lovers, and now that piracy sites have evolved to become sophisticated, easy-to-use experiences, people who have never resorted to piracy before are finding it more appealing than ever. Everything you could ever want to watch, all in one place, only a few clicks away and all for free. What’s not to like?’

Unfortunately, for the likes of Netflix, the cost of living crisis is expected to worsen as the year goes on, driving even more people towards piracy.

‘In the immortal words of Jon Snow, winter is coming,’ Mr Chatterley added.

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