New Report Claims Abundance of Streaming Services is Leading to a Rise in Piracy

By Tom Pritchard on at

Streaming services have long been lauded as a way to stop piracy in its tracks, despite the fact there's conflicting evidence on its effectiveness. That said having access to a large range of content on a service with an affordable price is a good thing for consumers, who generally dislike having to jump through a bunch of hoops to watch their favourite films and TV shows. But as streaming becomes more successful you end up with company trying to carve their own space, without having to share the money with services like Amazon or Netflix.

According to one new study this is actually causing more people to pirate content. Who could have guessed this would happen? Other than everyone with an ounce of common sense, I mean.

This news comes from Sandvine’s Global Inernet Phenomena report, which claims that piracy is on the rise due to the simple fact that more and more services are producing exclusive content. People can't afford to subscribe to everything, so they just go and opt for some legally dubious option that doesn't cost them nearly as much.

This also means there's been a rise in BitTorrent traffic, meaning the file-sharing protocol isn't quite as dead as some people would believe. Apparently BitTorrent accounts for 97 per cent of file-sharing traffic, which itself accounts for 3 per cent and 22 per cent of down and upstream traffic, respectively. The report points out that these numbers are likely higher, though, since most tech-savvy users will be masking their traffic using proxies or VPNs. But the report claims the two phenomena are linked, with the increasing push to walling off content being blamed. Sandvine’s Cam Cullen said in a blog post:

“More sources than ever are producing "exclusive" content available on a single streaming or broadcast service—think Game of Thrones for HBO, House of Cards for Netflix, The Handmaid's Tale for Hulu, or Jack Ryan for Amazon. To get access to all of these services, it gets very expensive for a consumer, so they subscribe to one or two and pirate the rest.”

That said, Sandvine points out that most of these shows are US-based, with poorer international distribution, which can account for some of the piracy figures. After all, there are cases where Brits have to wait months to see new episodes after their US debut, and that's likely to be incredibly frustrating for a lot of people. The slightly better news is that most of the in-house streaming services are limited to North America, so on an international level (particularly here) it's possible to see everything that's available without spending nearly as much as our American counterparts.

But as slicing off content for new services becomes more common Stateside, it's likely to have an impact on what we get to see here. The trend doesn't look to be changing anytime soon, so if these conclusions are accurate then we can only expect piracy figures to rise. [Sandvine via Ubergizmo]