Why Piracy is Making a Comeback


Americans cut the cable cord for more affordable accessibility to the shows and films they love through streaming services. Streaming services, however, are no longer offering the convenience they once did.

Between 2011 and 2015 piracy fell by about 50% as the Goliath of streaming services, Netflix cornered the market on affordable, convenient access to our favorite television shows and films. Other companies saw the impact of Netflix and wanted a piece of the pie—Hulu, Amazon Prime to name a few. And as we enter 2019, almost every entertainment company has a streaming service or seeking to enter into the streaming market. Facebook even has decided to enter into the arena.

People flocked to streaming services because of the exorbitant pricing of bundled cable and satellite television services. These bundles forced consumers to pay upwards of one-hundred dollars for 5-10 channels that they actually watch because services bundled those handful of channels to only be purchased with the addition of 200+ other channels. Not only that, but Netflix offered consumers convenience. Soon, other streaming services followed suit and illegal downloads fell. So what happened?



The combination of over-saturation of the streaming services with exclusive content on those streaming happened. If you want to watch Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan you have to subscribe to Amazon Prime. If you want to watch The Handmaid’s Tale you have to subscribe to Hulu. If you want to watch Stranger Things, you need to have a Netflix subscription. And with Disney, AT&T and other companies jumping into the streaming arena, it’s only going to get worse.

Where partnerships like those between HBO and Amazon flourished, companies are looking to launch their own streaming services. AT&T-owned HBO is ending their partnership with Amazon. Disney is pulling their Marvel shows from Netflix as they prepare to launch their streaming service in late 2019, premiering a first look at their investor meeting in April 2019. Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger, told The Hollywood Reporter that Disney’s focus will be on exclusive, not original content.

While piracy has remained pretty active in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) and APAC (Asia-Pacific) because of the lack of availability of American television shows and cinema, it died down quite a bit in the U.S. But the exclusivity of shows and films to one service or another has taken away the one thing that streaming services had over cable TV and satellite: convenience. And that’s why BitTorrent is back on the rise in the U.S. Consumers typically “subscribe to one or two streaming services but will pirate the rest.”

The belief used to be that better streaming services would curb piracy. And it did, for a time. But now, the market is so saturated that subscribing to multiple services just to watch your favorite shows can be a burden on your wallet. Could this be the beginning of the end of streaming service?