Since the Coronavirus lockdowns came into force, many people have been trapped at home. So many bored people trying to kill time has been a bonanza for streaming services, with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and Disney+ all doing very well out of having what’s almost literally a captive audience. While this is a rare bit of good news for the somewhat beleaguered entertainment industry, there’s a flipside they won’t be happy about.
According to some recent data, movie piracy has soared since the lockdowns began. A new study by Muso says that domestic traffic to illegal movie streaming and torrent sites spiked by 41.4% in the last week of March compared to just one month earlier. Other countries under similar restrictions have mirrored this, with the UK’s piracy traffic jumping by 42.5%, Germany’s by 35.5% and Italy’s (one of the strictest lockdowns) by a whopping 66%.
So, what’s fueling this, other than the obvious answer that people want entertainment? Well, my theory is that with a number of recent releases making a very high-profile jump from theaters to VOD, this has effectively acted as an advertisement for piracy. After all, the moment that a movie becomes available to digitally rent it’s possible to create a pristine copy of it for pirate sites. Parents, in particular, seem to be struggling to entertain kids stuck at home, so why not sneakily pick up Trolls World Tour or Onward?
Beyond that may be the simple fact that movie availability online is becoming very fragmented. For example, while you can watch Despicable Me on Netflix, its sequels are unavailable except by rental from Amazon. Plus, if you have a subscription to a few streaming services but want to watch something only available on one you don’t have, then it’s understandable that you may not want to sign up for a subscription for just one movie.
Whatever the case, if piracy is leaping by this much then expect ISPs to be sending letters out to those customers who aren’t sensible enough to access these sites with a VPN. That pirated copy of Trolls World Tour may prove to be quite pricey, after all.