Pirating videos was on the decline; it isn’t anymore

Hollywood’s fight against illegal streaming sites enters its latest chapter.

Here’s your list of top streaming services that didn’t increase prices in the last year:

A collage with a small white dog in front of laptop, a bulldog wearing a pirate hat, and a Chihuahua in a pink robe lounges with popcorn and a remote control.

… Then let’s add in password-sharing crackdowns, upcharges to dodge ads, and subscription fatigue from the sheer number of services available.

The cost of watching one’s stories has never felt higher. As a result, people are heading back to illegal streaming sites, per Bloomberg.

Piracy never went away

Ferreting out free content is as foundational to the internet as cat videos. But entering this decade, illegal video streaming sites faced significant headwinds:

  • Many consumers ditched shady, pop-up-riddled sites for the ease and relative affordability of legitimate streaming services.
  • US laws changed: 2020 legislation turned running a streaming operation from a misdemeanor into a felony.
  • Hollywood bit back: Since 2018, the Motion Picture Association has taken 1.2k+ illegal streamers offline in North America alone.

In 2020, global visits to video piracy sites had dropped to 104B; by 2023, that number rose back to ~141B.

What now?

Just as the cost of getting quality, above-board content has risen, the illegal streaming industry has grown more sophisticated — and more enticing for consumers looking to save a buck.

  • In 2022, piracy increased 39% for films and 9% for TV shows globally.

Some illegitimate streaming operations are making ~$2B annually through ads and subscriptions while growing harder to shut down (think: accepting subscription payments in untraceable cryptocurrency).

The MPA will keep fighting

The Hollywood trade group’s leader, Charlie Rivkin, spared no punches on piracy, telling Bloomberg: “This is organized crime.”

  • The MPA’s special anti-piracy unit is led by a Marine Corps and Interpol veteran who previously fought drug trafficking.

This may help them get more law enforcement support: A US Chamber of Commerce estimate says the American economy loses $30B in annual revenue, and ~250k jobs, to illegal streaming.

Though, to be fair, Hollywood is pretty good at slashing jobs — it cut 44k between May and October 2023 — all on its own.

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Topics: Entertainment

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