12/06/2020   Tingting Li
Piracy during lockdown: Top-performing movies title on BitTorrent

Perhaps unsurprisingly, current box office titles have been the most torrented movies on BitTorrent during the Covid-19 crisis. As cinemas are shut down, downloading from piracy sites is the only way to access some of the movies due to be released during this period. However, other movie titles featuring on BitTorrent’s top 10 weekly downloads have been available for viewing legitimately. For example, Pixar’s newest animation production Onward (released in cinemas in March) and DreamWorks’ Trolls World Tour (originally scheduled for release in April) have both been available via one-off transactional downloads (Premium VoD). And, despite being readily available via the world’s largest SVoD platform, Netflix’s popular movie titles are also being pirated significantly.

Ampere previously found that Netflix original TV shows are typically pirated less frequently than TV shows produced by broadcasters, partly due to Netflix's extensive global reach and low monthly price. However, Netflix original movies Spenser Confidential and Extraction have been the top downloaded SVoD movies on BitTorrent during the lockdown. This is partially the result of the current slump in big-screen movie releases, which makes Netflix titles more visible than they would be under normal circumstances. Extraction has been a top title globally on Netflix since its release in April, and the same level of popularity is also shown on BitTorrent, where it was the most popular movie for 2 weeks. The action title’s popularity on both websites was almost synchronous, suggesting Netflix still needs to make further effort to prevent piracy of its original movies.

During the lockdown, Action & Adventure has been the most popular genre among BitTorrent’s top titles. The sequels of existing movies also stand out, with notable titles such as Star Wars: Episode IX, Jumanji: The Next Level and Ip Man 4, indicating current viewers’ (and the industry’s) preference for existing franchises. In addition, Children & Family titles have been popular, with the like of Frozen II and Sonic The Hedgehog also among the most heavily torrented titles.

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