Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Pirate Site Traffic Surged in 2021

Ernesto Van der Sar, TorrentFreak:

The “State of the Internet” report that was released by Akamai this week shows that there is plenty of potential. According to their data, provided by MUSO, the number of global visits to pirate sites rose significantly over the past year.

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Looking at the various content categories, it’s clear that TV-related piracy is dominant. The report shows that there were over 67 billion TV piracy visits, which is roughly 50% of all pirate site traffic.

The publishing category is in second place with 30 billion visits (23%), followed by films with 14.5 billion (11%) and music with 10.8 billion (8%). Software piracy closes the ranks with a ‘measly’ 9 billion visits (7%).

Severing ties to legacy media subscriptions — cable television in particular — was idealized as a way to only pay for the media you want to watch, using whatever devices are most convenient for you. Software companies were supposed to do what they are best at, studios would provide media, and everyone would be happier.

Instead, it looks like a combination of many of the worst legacy traits. There are conglomerates hoarding companies at every stage of the media production and distribution pipeline, and guarding their intellectual property. This makes it harder and more expensive for consumers to watch a variety of movies and shows. Because software is, somewhat unfortunately, eating the world, conglomerates are now developers shipping crappy apps we must use to access their media. They have successfully migrated the miserable set top box experience onto this century’s sophisticated devices. Bravo.

Look at the category splits in Akamai’s research: about two-thirds of all piracy site traffic is for movies and TV shows, and only a tiny sliver is for music. It does not matter what music streaming service we use; we can access mostly everything we want to listen to from any provider. But visual media are locked to specific studios’ streaming services with inconsistent libraries in different countries.

We can pay ten dollars per month per service to maybe see a show we are interested in, or we can do some light googling. That is not an exclusive “or” — Akamai’s research found that many people choose to do both, which is unsurprising to me. A terrible streaming app is still better than most illicit providers’ websites. But is that the very low bar well-funded movie studios just barely wish to cross?