Fragmented Streaming Landscape Keeps Piracy Relevant, Research Suggests

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Fragmented Streaming Landscape Keeps Piracy Relevant, Research Suggests


There is little doubt that, for many people, streaming services have become the standard for watching movies and TV-shows.

This is no surprise, since subscription-based streaming services are among the best and most convenient alternatives to piracy at this point.

There is a problem though. The whole appeal of the streaming model becomes diluted when there are too many ‘Netflixes.’

More choice wouldn’t be a bad thing if all these services offered a broad library of content. The problem, however, is that all have different ‘libraries’ and exclusive productions are becoming more and more common.

Since most households have a limited budget for online entertainment, consumers have to choose which services they want. This is a problem that keeps getting worse, especially now that Apple and Disney are planning to release their own streaming platforms soon.

The irony of this situation is that the platforms, which are supposed to make piracy obsolete, are in fact keeping it relevant. This has been argued anecdotally in the past, but research by piracy research firm MUSO among 1,000 UK adults, shows that this is indeed happening.

The vast majority of all surveyed consumers, 80.4%,  feel that they’re already paying too much for content streaming. At the same time, 64.2% of the people who took part in the survey are not willing to pay for any more streaming services this year.

Even more worrying is that more than half of all respondents, 50.8%, said they were likely or very likely to use unlicensed platforms to search for content that’s not available to them. In other words, they are considering to pirate video in order to get what they want.

“This research shows that people will inevitably seek it elsewhere via unlicensed platforms, but this does, however, create further opportunities for content owners to understand this audience with meaningful and valuable insights,” MUSO CEO Andy Chatterley notes.

“With most people only subscribing to only a couple of services, it’s going to be really interesting to see what happens with the launch of Disney+ and Apple TV+. Will consumers ditch an existing service for one of the new ones? Or will Apple struggle to crack the TV market again?”

While it’s easy to blame rightsholders and streaming platforms, this puzzle isn’t easy to solve.

Ideally, there would be a single platform where people can access everything they want, similar to pirate sites and services. The problem is, however, that this won’t bring in enough revenue, at least not at the subscription rates we have now.

That said, there has to be a better option than to keep adding more and more services and fragmenting the steaming landscape?

In any case, the flawed argument that people have no ‘excuse’ to pirate because there are plenty of legal alternatives is weakening every year. Yes, pretty much everything can be accessed legally, but people need deep pockets to do so.

It appears that the people who benefit the most from increased fragmentation are the operators of pirate sites and services. That’s probably not what Hollywood intended.

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Written by David Minister

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