05/03/2021   Tony Maroulis
Content piracy during lockdown: SVoD availability is key

Content piracy remains a persistent problem for rights holders and content providers to tackle. Incidence rates of certain forms of pirate service usage—such as torrents and locker sites—have declined over the past three years. But a combination of increased consumer demand for content during lockdown, and new ways of accessing that content illegally means that the threat of piracy is evolving, not disappearing. 

However, having shows that are frequently pirated, however unwelcome, is not necessarily disastrous for the platforms hosting those shows legally. The most pirated TV show in 2020, for example, according to TorrentFreak’s annual top 10, was Disney+’s flagship series The Mandalorian. Amazon Prime Video’s flagship titles—including The Boys, Vikings and Star Trek: Picard—also featured heavily on the listIn contrast, none of Netflix’s top titles, despite their popularity with viewers, featured on this list. But despite this, piracy has not had an obviously negative impact on the three international SVoD services, which all saw record-breaking subscriber growth during 2020.

Availability of content remains a key factor when considering incidences of digital piracy. While Netflix’s Originals are globally available from publication, Amazon’s Prime Video catalogues vary significantly by country, and Disney+ is still only available in a minority of countries. Would-be subscribers outside those countries currently do not have a legal way to access these titles, which helps explain their presence among the most pirated titles. 

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