Despite the widespread availability of legal options, online piracy remains rampant. Every day pirate sites are visited hundreds of millions of times.
This presents a serious problem for major content producers, Hollywood studios included, who are working hard to shut down the most egregious piracy sources.
141 Billion Visits in 2023
Fresh data released by piracy tracking outfit MUSO and consulting firm Kearney suggests that piracy remains rampant nonetheless. In a report released today they reveal that there were 141 billion video piracy visits globally in 2023, a 12% increase since 2019.
It’s not clear why the report uses a comparison base this far out. The reported visits for 2023 are up roughly 10% when compared to previously released data for 2022.
The data covers over 730,000 films and TV titles and includes a wide variety of pirate sites. These include sites that offer software and music, but only visits to video content are counted. Traditionally, this is the most popular content category by far.
TV, Films, Anime, and Sport
Zooming in on the numbers we see that film and TV content are in the lead, good for 65% of the visits. Anime is in second place with a quarter of all video piracy visits, followed at a distance by live sports (9%) and live linear broadcasts (1%).
There are some regional differences in what type of content is most popular. In part, this depends on how easy or affordable it is to access legal content. In the Asia–Pacific region, for example, live sports accounts for 5.3% of pirate site visits, a figure that can reach 11.3% in the US.
In previous years we have repeatedly mentioned that the United States is the top country when it comes to the absolute number of pirate site visits. There was no change in 2023, but there is some serious competition now.
India Rises Through the Ranks
India is on its way to surpass the U.S. as the top piracy nation in the world. This isn’t a surprise as India is also the country with the largest population, over 1.4 billion people. However, the increase in Internet penetration is just as important.
Roughly 15 years ago, India only had about five million broadband subscribers. Today, there are more than 700 million. This massive increase in access has left its mark on society and, as predicted, proved to be a growth market for pirates.
The 2023 report places the U.S. and India as joint leaders, both with 11% of the global video piracy visits. However, the piracy rate in India has increased 80% year-on-year, which suggests that it will be the sole leader next year. The top four is completed by Russia (6%) and the UK (3%) at a respectable distance.
Comparing countries without taking the population size into account doesn’t say much, of course. If we look at the average number of visits per capita, a new region comes to the fore.
Europe leads the relative chart with 34 pirate site visits per capita, followed by North America with 26 visits. With 13 visits, the relative numbers are much lower in South America, dropping to ‘just’ 5 visits per capita in the Asia-Pacific region.
Piracy as a Goldmine
These numbers are not exactly uplifting for the video entertainment industry. However, MUSO and Kearney stress that understanding why people pirate, and responding appropriately, can help to convert some pirates into paying consumers.
“The global rise of video content piracy is concerning. However, with a slight adjustment of perspective, it also becomes an opportunity for those media companies that can change their approach to commercialize pirate users and plug the revenue leakage,” Kearney’s Christophe Firth says.
MUSO Founder and CEO, Andy Chatterley, adds that piracy today is more of a problem than ever, so understanding why people pirate is key.
“MUSO’s data is driving real transformation for entertainment companies to truly understand how their content can be better positioned, better marketed and better tailored towards a vast audience that is not currently being satisfied with legal offerings,” Chatterley says.
According to the press release, legal subscription services can earn billions extra if they convert just a fraction of these pirates. This messaging is in part out of self-interest, as MUSO offers piracy insights and solutions as a commercial service.
In closing, it’s worth highlighting that the numbers reported above only apply to regular pirate site visits. This means that a large and growing part of the piracy ecosystem, including dedicated piracy apps and illegal IPTV offerings, are not included.