Online piracy is on the rise, with television and movies leading the charge

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,573   +174
Staff member
The big picture: The recent flood of subscription-based streaming services appeared effective in slowing online piracy in recent years, but the latest data from UK piracy tracking firm MUSO suggests the tide is turning once again.

Through the first eight months of 2022, traffic to piracy sites increased 21.9 percent compared to the same period a year earlier. That equates to a staggering 141.7 billion visits to piracy sites across all measured categories.

A deeper dive reveals television as the top media category for pirates, accounting for 46.6 percent of all pirated content. Publishing made up the second largest slice of the pie at 27.8 percent followed by film at 12.4 percent and music at seven percent.

Looking at year-over-year sector growth shows increases across every category. Film led the way here, however, as piracy in this category grew 49.1 percent year over year. Music saw the lowest increase at 3.87 percent, suggesting consumers are willing to pay for content they believe is reasonably priced and easy to access and consume.

Why is television and movie piracy so high? One possible explanation could be the fragmentation of streaming services. Sure, there are affordable and easy avenues to watch your favorites but content is scattered between rightsholders' respective distribution platforms. To watch a variety of content, you're going to have to pay for access to multiple services which eventually becomes cost prohibitive to some.

The US accounted for the largest percentage of worldwide piracy from January through August 2022 at 10.9 percent, or nearly 15.5 billion visits to piracy sites. Russia ranked second with around 8.3 billion visits followed by India, China and France with 7.9 billion, 4.7 billion and 4.5 billion visits, respectively.

Unsurprisingly, piracy activity spikes during the weekends when more people are home and looking for something to fill their free time.

Analysis further reveals that most pirates already know where to get the goods. According to MUSO, nearly 62 percent of traffic is direct and only 28.4 percent comes from search engines. The remaining 10 percent of traffic originates from referrals, social medial, ads and e-mail.

Permalink to story.



Posts: 4,974   +6,434
Fragmented steaming options are totally to blame. It's more expensive than cable to at this point to have several streaming services.

I always say lower the peice and piracy will go down but I'm sure they've done a cost analysis and figured keeping prices high with lower viewership is more profitable.

My biggest problem with multiple streaming services is switch sites or apps on my smart TV. "Oh yeah, this show is here, but only season 1 through 5. It's that service that has seasons 6 and 7"

Price is one thing, but when it is easier and more convient to pirate you have a major problem


Posts: 169   +172
A major problem for the consumer
How is piracy a major problem for the consumer? I am the consumer and I haven't noticed anything being a problem for me, from VHS tapes with two minute piracy warning and notices before film started, to this day. Choices never been better, for me the consumer.
Meanwhile, Hollywood always moaning, always making millions in the process.


Posts: 851   +1,445
Long time ago when I was young and internet was not very popular I used to pirate games because I didn't even known original copies exists. But after I realised how this works I made sure I always pay for my entertainment.
The rule is simple: not to use other person work without paying for it. This is not a food, you can live without playing a new game or watching some videos. I never seen game of thrones because I didn't want to pay for yet another service.
Anyway, piracy is stupid. It is just leeching on other people work.


Posts: 4,974   +6,434
How is piracy a major problem for the consumer? I am the consumer and I haven't noticed anything being a problem for me, from VHS tapes with two minute piracy warning and notices before film started, to this day. Choices never been better, for me the consumer.
Meanwhile, Hollywood always moaning, always making millions in the process.
Are you arguing for the sake of arguing? Streaming was suppose to make content consumption cheaper and more convenient, it has become the opposite.

Revolution 11

Posts: 235   +329
Fragmented streaming services might be a reason but what DEFINITELY is a cause is higher prices of streaming even at single sources of streaming content. I am looking at you, Netflix.

Piracy is a cludgy, cumbersome way to get media and it is legally dangerous. Piracy only succeeded in the first place because the existing legal alternatives were too expensive for consumers. When streaming first took off, it was a cheap easy way to get TV and movies.

Now that prices for all streaming services are rising very fast, piracy is poised for a major return.

kira setsu

Posts: 447   +434
The pirate groups legit do some things better than the actual paid services.

once someone *finds* their site of choice, you literally have a buffet of content laid out by show, seasons, fully packed with in hd with audio choices and subtitles.

meanwhile your buddy over there paying cableTV prices for their ever-growing streaming garden is about to kick the tv because they forgot which service holds which show.

I'm not advocating for the latter but I can see why its an alternative for some.


Posts: 1,517   +2,260
I thought a 21% increase seemed low but then one has to keep in mind that most of what the media pumps out these days isn't worth the bandwidth cost to download it in the first place.

I pray the effect on that media is just as ruinous as they claim the piracy is.


Posts: 692   +727
"reveals television as the top media category for pirates"

Cable TV / streaming TV Providers are getting too expensive when all you want to get are the major networks and for some sports broadcasts. It comes with too much useless garbage for $50 to $100 a month.



Posts: 3,428   +3,109
I'm a "boomer"...considering what hollyweirdoland is offering and what's on tv, I just watch the old channels like Grit, INSP, MeTv, Cozi, AntennaTV most of the time. If there is a movie I want to watch, I probably already have it, WITHOUT the commercial interruptions.


Posts: 65   +57
Many of us saw the writing on the wall and knew as soon as streaming had a good market share over cable service that they would start jacking prices up - and that's exactly whats happening. It's getting to the point that the price no longer feels justified. I can see why piracy is starting to make an uprise again, because these greedy companies keep raising their prices. There are other reasons as well, but I believe price to be the primary one for most pirates.


Posts: 1,406   +987
No one wants to subscribe to dozens of services. I have 2, Amazon Prime and YouTubeRed(premium). I have Prime mostly for the free 2 day shipping. And YouTube comes without ads. I'm NOT paying to watch fricken ads and every service except YT shows ads. I'm far from alone. Some people don't care about pirating because they look at the way companies try to keep a strangle hold on shows and both charge for access AND show tons of ads as dishonest.


Posts: 7   +11
Is this really a surprise? Gas prices are going through the roof and everything else has become 10-30% more expensive in the past year.

The following are over the top examples to make a point, I just picked random names of shows/providers:

You have fragmentation of franchises:
Season 1-3 on HBO, season 4-6 on Netflix, season 7-9 on Prime.

Or something like Batman movie 1 on Netflix and Batman movie 2 on Disney.

You have fragmentation in quality/feature/pricing tiers:
SD > HD > Full HD > Ultra HD
1 device > 2/3/4+ devices simultaneously
Ads > No ads
8USD > 12USD > 15USD+

You have entire franchises or seasons disappearing or missing from the provider(s). I've heard of cases where random episodes were missing as well.

You have different compression methods and depending on your connection and availability of offline download option the quality can be significantly worse than rips.

If you prefer the highest quality and a certain show is spread over 2 or more providers, even if you cancel the subs afterward, watching a show can cost 30+ bucks.

Now you also have Netflix punishing people that share their accounts as well.

I have watched several shows ripped, despite them being on providers my household has a subscription for because the base quality is simply far higher and with the use of MadVR I can push the quality even further.

These providers are making the experience worse over time, they remove shows you were planning to watch, the quality is being locked behind premium tiers and the cost is only increasing.

If anything it's their business practices that is pushing people towards piracy, because when Netflix started out, many people subscribed to it and started pirating less over time.


Posts: 152   +131
JustWatch helps with finding the show, but piracy is still easier with all the fragmentation these days.


Posts: 303   +204
I am pretty close to closing all my accounts down and leave netflix on (they have some decent originals and would like them to keep that up). Sometimes, even with the 6 different services I have, they still don't have what I want. Pirates are kings

Cycloid Torus

Posts: 4,863   +1,682
This makes me think of the $21 aspirin at hospital or the $650 hammer in a DoD contract. I would like to see more competition, which means cutting back on all the 'legal rights' which is choking the marketplace.