Pirates Like Streaming, But Don’t Completely Abandon Ship

A survey into the movie and TV show consumption habits of Danish citizens has revealed an interesting trend. While streaming service subscriptions are up 40% over the previous year and are credited with reducing piracy by 7% in the same period, the number of people still engaging in illegal downloading has remained static.

piratesaintIn 2012, Denmark effectively rejected entertainment industry calls to crack down hard on citizens engaged in illegal file-sharing. Instead the government announced its “Pirate Package“, an initiative focused on the development and promotion of legal offerings rather than punishing file-sharers.

A YouGov study in the same year suggested this was a good move. While many people admitted engaging in piracy they also indicated a desire to obtain their movies and TV shows from legal sources – if those services were convenient and accessible.

Two years on and YouGov are back with a new media consumption study of 1,180 Danes aged between 20-65. Commissioned by TDC Group, Denmark’s leading telecoms company, it reveals encouraging signs for the both the entertainment industry and the government’s strategy, but also an interesting twist.

Firstly, piracy of both movies and TV shows is down. This year’s survey suggests that illegal consumption of movies sits at 5.1 million copies. That’s down from the 5.8 million reported in last year’s study and the 8.6 million from 2012.

TV shows tell a similar story. In 2012, around 10 million TV shows were pirated, a figure that dropped to 8.1 million in 2013. This year’s study shows a drop again to 7.9 million copies.

According to TDC Group media director Ulf Lund, the continued decrease in the consumption of infringing content is due to the development of legal offerings.

“Our position has always been that the best way to combat illegal consumption is by developing good legal alternatives,” Lund says. “This is what we can see now that services like Netflix, HBO, Viaplay and YouBio have really materialized here at home.”

The study’s findings show that the public is responding to this increased availability. In last year’s survey 32 percent of households with resident 20 to 65-year-olds reported subscribing to a premium streaming service. This year that figure increased to an impressive 45 percent.

But while piracy of movies and TV shows continues to fall in the face of impressive take-up of streaming services, it appears that pirates aren’t prepared to kick their old habits just yet.

The study found that the total of those who download or stream illegally has not significantly changed from last year, with 15 percent of respondents admitting that someone in their household had obtained content illegally in the preceding three months, up from 14 percent in 2013.

“Things are certainly going in the right direction, but we are far from there yet,” Lund says. “Magnitude has decreased, but the level is still very high and there are still many who admit that they consume content illegally.”

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