The Coalition of Creators and Content Industries, which represents Spain’s leading entertainment industry companies, is keeping a close eye on the local piracy landscape.
The outfit has just published its latest Piracy Observatory and Digital Content Consumption Habits report, carried out by the independent consultant GFK, and there is good news to report on headline piracy figures.
During 2017, the report estimates that people accessed unlicensed digital content just over four billion times, which equates to almost 21.9 billion euros in lost revenues. While this is a significant number, it’s a decrease of 6% compared to 2016 and an accumulated decrease of 9% compared to 2015, the coalition reports.
Overall, movies are most popular with pirates, with 34% helping themselves to content without paying.
“The volume of films accessed illegally during 2017 was 726 million, with a market value of 5.7 billion euros, compared to 6.9 billion in 2016. 35% of accesses happened while the film was still on screens in cinema theaters, while this percentage was 33% in 2016,” the report notes.
TV shows are in a close second position with 30% of users gobbling up 945 million episodes illegally during 2017. A surprisingly high 24% of users went for eBooks, with music relegated to fourth place with ‘just’ 22%, followed by videogames (11%) and football (10%).
The reasons given by pirates for their habits are both varied and familiar. 51% said that original content is too expensive while 43% said that taking the illegal route “is fast and easy”. Half of the pirates said that simply paying for an internet connection was justification for getting content for free.
A quarter of all pirates believe that they aren’t doing anyone any harm, with the same number saying they get content without paying because there are no consequences for doing so. But it isn’t just pirates themselves in the firing line.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given the current climate, the report heavily criticizes search engines for facilitating access to infringing content.
“With 75%, search engines are the main method of accessing illegal content and Google is used for nine out of ten accesses to pirate content,” the report reads.
“Regarding social networks, Facebook is the most used method of access (83%), followed by Twitter (42%) and Instagram (34%). Therefore it is most valuable that Facebook has reached agreements with different industries to become a legal source and to regulate access to content.”
Once on pirate sites, some consumers reported difficulties in determining whether they’re legal or not. Around 15% said that they had “big difficulties” telling whether a site is authorized with 44% saying they had problems “sometimes”.
That being said, given the amount of advertising on pirate sites, it’s no surprise that most knew a pirate site when they visited one and, according to the report, advertising placement is only on the up.
Just over a quarter of advertising appearing on pirate sites features well-known brands, although this is a reduction from more than 37% in 2016. This needs to be further improved, the coalition says, via collaboration between all parties involved in the industry.
A curious claim from the report is that 81% of pirate site users said they were required to register in order to use a platform. This resulted in “transferring personal data” to pirate site operators who gather it in databases that are used for profitable “e-marketing campaigns”.
“Pirate sites also get much more valuable data than one could imagine which allow them to get important economic benefits, as for example, Internet surfing habits, other websites visited by consumers, preferences, likes, and purchase habits,” the report states.
So what can be done to reduce consumer reliance on pirate sites? The report finds that consumers are largely in line with how the entertainment industries believe piracy should or could be tackled.
“The most efficient measures against piracy would be, according to the internet users’ own view, blocking access to the website offering content (78%) and penalizing internet providers (73%),” the report reads.
“Following these two, the best measure to reduce infringements would be, according to consumers, to promote social awareness campaigns against piracy (61%). This suggests that increased collaboration between the content sector and the ISPs (Internet Service Providers) could count on consumers’ support and positive assessment.”
Finally, consumers in Spain are familiar with the legal options, should they wish to take that route in future. Netflix awareness in the country is at 91%, Spotify at 81%, with Movistar+ and HBO at 80% and 68% respectively.
“This invalidates the reasons given by pirate users who said they did so because of the lack of an accessible legal offer at affordable prices,” the report adds.
However, those who take the plunge into the legal world don’t always kick the pirate habit, with the paper stating that users of pirates sites tend to carry on pirating, although they do pirate less in some sectors, notably music. The study also departs from findings in other regions that pirates can also be avid consumers of legitimate content.
In Spain, however, the situation appears to be much more pessimistic, with only 8% of people who access illegal digital content paying for legal content too. That seems low given that Netflix alone had more than a million Spanish subscribers at the end of 2017 and six million Spanish households currently subscribe to other pay TV services.
The report is available here (Spanish, pdf)