Why is Piracy Still Thriving?

Despite affordable streaming services, the many alternative methods for downloading TV shows & movies online continue to be popular

With Amazon Prime USA (UK version), Netflix and Hulu now the same cost as other ways (arguably less legitimate ways) that people obtain TV shows and movies, why are people not migrating to these streaming services?

Why aren’t people going “legit” if doing so shields them from the risks associated with the alternative ways of getting TV and movie content online. There are now many alternative methods (listed by popularity):

Why do people carry on with these methods, especially if signing up for one of the big streaming services is now about the same cost as the alternative methods above?

Why Aren’t People Going “Legit”?

Here are our theories why online piracy continues to thrive:

  • Although buffering is not a common problem with the big streaming services, when it does happen it drives people crazy! Downloading TV shows or movies first to a computer or device and then watching them gets rid of any buffering annoyances
  • People hate big, greedy corporations. Many people perceive the parent companies of the streaming services as falling into this category of company. Some people want to give companies they perceive as greedy a poke in the eye.
  • Even if people don’t hold a grudge against the streaming services, they consider the Hollywood studios and their executives as greedy buggers and don’t want to support their licensing arrangements including any geo-restrictions.
  • People just love to collect things and TV show and movie files are no different. Many people are proud of the terabytes of content they have collected.

Over time, it is almost certain that more and more people will migrate over to Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hulu or similar services that may yet emerge.

However, for the reasons above, we also think the alternate methods will be with us for many years to come.

(if you can think of other reasons why people will continue shunning the big streaming services for the alternative methods above, let us know with a comment!)


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Ian - April 21, 2016

I think there’s a big reason for me that you’ve missed: Timely availability. Living in the UK means that our market is sometimes weeks, sometimes months behind the US TV schedules. It’s maddeningly frustrating to be halfway through a show like Scandal, only to accidentally read a spoiler on Twitter because the season finished in the US 3 months ago.

I’d happily pay for an up-to-date streaming service, like Hulu, but guess what? They won’t let anyone outside the US subscribe because of outdated regional licensing agreements. TV companies don’t seem to realise that people like me, who are very US-centric in their viewing habits are not the same audience that waits 6 months for a show to be licensed to a UK terrestrial broadcaster. We want it NOW and we’re willing to pay for it. Were a service like HULU to open up it’s geographical borders, they would likely find an additional subscriber base without cannibalising their existing market agreements.

We will probably have to wait until the existing executives die off and are replaced by the kids who “get it” before there’s a significant change in the way that shows are syndicated Worldwide.


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