“CODA” Piracy Skyrockets After Best Picture Oscar Win

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Last weekend "CODA" won the Best Picture award at the Oscars. The Apple film is the first streaming release to receive the prestigious prize, which must feel like a slap in the face to Netflix. The win will undoubtedly have boosted the streaming numbers and data collected by TorrentFreak shows that "CODA" piracy surged to an all-time high.

CODA filmThe Oscars are the most anticipated movie awards show of the year, closely followed by hundreds of millions of movie fans around the world.

This year’s awards ceremony received plenty of attention as well, with most of the media focusing on the Will Smith incident. Luckily, the winners didn’t get unnoticed by the public at large.

There are two films that clearly stand out. The first one is “Dune”, which received the most awards, winning in six categories. The other one is “CODA“, which picked up three awards including the most prestigious of “Best Picture”.

Historic Win

CODA’s win goes in the history books as the first film from a streaming platform to win the top Oscar. This honor goes to Apple, which beat Netflix, which was also in the run for the best picture award with “Don’t Look Up”.

In the past we have seen that Oscar wins are not just about prestige, they also increase sales. With a streaming release that’s harder to measure but it’s logical to assume that more people watched the film on Apple’s platform after the awards show.

The Oscars also have a direct impact on the interest among pirates. This is something we can measure and the results leave little room for doubt. Based on a sample of torrent downloads tracked by IKnow, we can report that the estimated number of pirated CODA downloads skyrocketed on Monday.

Piracy Surge

The graph below shows that during the first months of the year CODA had a median of roughly 5,000 downloads per day. When the nominations were announced in early February this number doubled momentarily. Leading up to the awards ceremony there was a gradual increase again, with a surge over more than 60,000 estimated downloads on Monday.

CODA Piracy

CODA oscar

The number of post-Oscar downloads of “CODA” is higher than the pirated downloads per day last August when the film first leaked online.

It’s worth keeping in mind that this sample only tracks pirated downloads through torrent sites. Most piracy takes place through unauthorized streaming sites nowadays. These views can’t be tracked publicly, but it means that the total piracy count will be much higher.

The data clearly show that the Best Picture award boosted CODA’s piracy numbers; but what about the other major Oscar winner Dune?

Will Smith Impact

Interestingly, the data show that Dune also got a piracy boost, but nowhere near the levels seen for CODA. We assume that this is in part because Dune was a blockbuster release that many people had watched already.

The numbers we’ve seen only include one other film that comes close to the relative piracy boost CODA got and that’s “King Richard”. While the film wasn’t nominated in the Best Picture category, Will Smith won the Oscar for Best Actor for his role as Richard Williams.

Apparently, Smith’s controversial behavior on stage at the Oscars also raised people’s interest in the film itself.

Oscar Piracy Effects

All Oscar

All in all, we see that the ‘Oscar effect’ is clearly visible for CODA, Dune, and King Richard. Winning an award definitely impacts the piracy numbers. That is also clear when we contrast the download estimates for the aforementioned films with Netflix’s “Don’t Look Up” which didn’t win anything.

More Oscar Piracy Trends

There are some other Oscar-related piracy trends that are worth pointing out as well. As we previously observed, screener leaks have become a relatively rare occurrence in recent times. This makes sense, as release windows are dropping or completely disappearing as the result of the online streaming boom.

Only three screeners for Oscar-nominated films leaked online this year. This was confirmed by screener-watcher Andy Baio last weekend, who has kept track of these leaks for two decades.

The drop in leaks isn’t so much the result of better anti-piracy protection or the Academy banning physical screeners. No, there are simply fewer incentives for release groups to leak screeners, since better quality, pirated copies are often available already.

Take CODA, for example. A high-quality copy of the film was shared on pirate sites on the same day it premiered on the Apple TV+ platform. This was long before the first screeners are usually sent out. So, even if a release group has access to a screener, there would be no point in leaking it.


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