The launch of Netflix in Australia really is killing piracy. At least that’s according to a new survey. There’s a bit of a problem with that survey though, and it’s one that keeps popping up when we try to chart piracy.
Aussie consumer group, Choice, has run another survey to find out how many people illegally download TV shows and movies. The headline finding is that fewer people are downloading TV shows every month (17 per cent of “regular pirates” down from 23 per cent last year), fewer people are saying they “never stream pirated movies or TV shows” (up to 70 per cent from 67 per cent last year), and more people have paid up accounts to services like Netflix, Stan and Presto.
In fact, a third of those people who have subscribed to these online video services are reporting that they’re “downloading much less often since subscribing to streaming services”.
Good for you.
It’s proof that decent pricing and content availability in the local market are deterrents to piracy. You can read more findings here.
The survey isn’t without issue, however.
Here’s your first problem when trying to measure levels piracy by asking people about it. Everybody lies. Especially when you ask them about things they probably shouldn’t have been doing in the first place.
No matter how you phrase a question about content piracy, you’re going to immediately corrupt your survey base thanks to the fear that comes from being asked to be honest about your illegal activity.
That paranoia escalates tenfold when you realise that the people you’re asking are most likely engaged content consumers, and are aware of both the upcoming Government crackdown on piracy, as well as the recent case involving the studio behind Dallas Buyers Club. Both of these issues weren’t happening in 2014 when the first study was conducted, so people were likely to be more honest about their brazen content theft. These days, the game has changed. Everyone needs a VPN and a secure way to get their weekly Game Of Thrones fix. Nobody wants to get a letter in the mail demanding money for pirating a movie, so nobody is going to fess up willingly to piracy in 2015. Of course, if people lie through their teeth and say they aren’t pirating, your figures are going to be skewed.
There’s no accurate way to measure how many people are pirating a piece of content. Even with trackers inside torrent swarms, you’ll still wind up with a whole bunch of false positives while letting actual pirates through the net thanks to their ability to cover their tracks.
I’m all for big streaming services like Netflix coming to Australia to increase access to content at a price the market can bear, but let’s not kid ourselves: you can never accurately measure the rates of piracy.