Are Streaming Services to Blame for Increasing Piracy?

After refusing to pay $21.99 for a movie, she turned to a torrent site that she hadn’t been to in years...

In early October, a report published by Sandvine exposed a steady increase in the number of online consumers visiting BitTorrent, a popular site that allows people to illegally download pirated movies and television shows. Prior to this, the number of illegal downloads had been on the decline. When it was going down, many industry insiders had credited streaming services with offering affordable alternatives that discouraged piracy. Now that it’s going back up, it seems that streaming services are still being blamed.

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On Sunday, Slash Gear published an article making 2019 predictions for the streaming industry. The article, again, pointed out the increase in piracy and credited the “fragmentation” of streaming services for driving subscribers back into the arms of illegal torrent sites, writing:

“As companies and networks pull their content from services like Netflix and wall it off behind their subscription services, piracy grows.”

While there’s definitely some truth to this, a cursory glance through the most popular content being offered on illegal torrent sites tells a slightly different story. The vast majority of downloads currently center around new releases that aren’t accessible via traditional avenues. Many of these movies are being offered first in theatres at inflated prices, and then in video stores and through cable providers like Comcast.

One anonymous user said that her most recent illegal download was of a movie that her cable provider had listed as only “for sale.” Since she didn’t want to pay the $21.99 to own a movie she’d never seen, she turned to a torrent site that she hadn’t been to in years.

The exact reason behind the increase in piracy may not be as clear cut as it seems. One thing that is certain, though, is that we can expect to see an even more diverse group of streaming services to choose from in 2019.

Patricia Howard


Article Author

Patricia Howard is a freelance journalist and Netflix enthusiast from rural Indiana. She has a bachelor''s degree in communication with a concentration in journalism. When Patricia isn''t writing, she enjoys catching up on her favorite shows with her husband and seven children.

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