Piracy: Streaming Video Accounts for 74% of Illegal Film and TV Activity, Study Finds

Pirates have largely shifted from peer-to-peer downloads to illegal streaming-video sites for film and television content, according to a new study.

In 2015, out of a total 78.5 billion visits worldwide to film and TV piracy sites visits, 73.7% were to streaming sites, according to a data analysis by U.K. antipiracy firm Muso. Torrent-based sites like the Pirate Bay and the recently shut down Kickass Torrents represented just 17.2% of overall user visits, with direct-download sites accounting for the remainder.

In addition, Muso’s study found that traffic to torrent sites for movie and TV shows declined by 19% in the last six month of 2015 compared with the first half of the year.

The results indicate a marked uptick in piracy on streaming sites. A study last year by the nonprofit Digital Citizens Alliance found that video streaming accounted for 21% of revenue generated by piracy-site operators in 2014, up from 12% the year before.

“Piracy audiences are becoming better connected, more tech savvy, and know what they want, which is why so many of them have chosen to stream infringing content, rather than download it illegally,” said Muso chief commercial officer Christopher Elkins.

The massive volume of piracy activity overall illustrates the daunting — and unending — task entertainment and media industries face in fighting the problem. Hollywood has urged Google to improve efforts to remove pirate websites from search results, but with illegal piracy cabals able to resurface virtually instantly using different URLs and mask their identities and locations using anonymizing services the epidemic shows no signs of stopping.

Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to be the biggest source of piracy activity with over 12% (9.86 billion visits) of the global piracy audience, according to Muso. France, Germany and the U.K. are each in the top 10 countries globally by visits.

The report, “Global Film & TV Piracy Market Insight Report 2016,” is based on global traffic to 14,000 of the largest global piracy websites. For 2015, Muso measured more than 141 billion visits to these sites across 200 million devices.

Muso is based in London, with offices in Paris and the U.S. in Burbank, Calif. Customers include eOne, Sony Music Entertainment and Rotana Group.

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