3 Million Aussies Visited The Top Two Torrent Sites In May

More than two-and-a-half million Australians visited the two largest illegal content download websites in May, data shows.

The figures, from Australia's digital industry ratings agency Nielsen, show the scope of illegal content downloading in Australia, and the scale of the threat this poses to media businesses in the country.

These Nielsen Online Ratings Hybrid figures show an unduplicated audience for The Pirate Bay and Kickass Torrent -- the two largest sites -- of almost 2.8 million users last month. Nielsen estimates the total market of internet users in Australia at 17.3 million.

The Pirate Bay and Kickass Torrent are portal sites that give visitors access to locations of content files that can be downloaded. The numbers do not count multiple visits from users, or how many files each user accessed.

Adding in audience reach for other sites, the data show at least three million Australians visited a torrent website in May. This comes after it was revealed Australia was one of the main illegal download locations for the season four finale of hit HBO series Game of Thrones.

TorrentFreak reported the episode set a new record for illegal downloads this week, with about 1.5 million users accessing a copy. Australia was already considered one of the main locations for piracy of this and other popular shows released earlier in the US.

"Australia, I'm sorry to say, is the worst offender of any country in the world when it comes to [online] piracy, and I am very concerned that the legitimate rights and interests of rights holders and content creators are being compromised by that activity," Attorney-General George Brandis in a recent Senate estimates hearings.

"We want to do something about that."

In May 1.856 million users accessed the Pirate Bay, the largest site in terms of Australian audience, and 1.675 million accessed Kickass Torrent, according to the Nielsen data.

The sites share a duplicated audience of 751,000, but even when this figure is subtracted, the data shows 2.78 million Australians accessed one of the two during May.

Again, this data does not capture the total volume of downloads, just the total Australian audience for the website. There's no way of telling how many files each user downloaded. But the data do give a reasonable estimate of the number of people in Australia that the major torrent sites reach.

There are other ways to access torrent files beyond websites, including within torrent software programs such as BitTorrent and uTorrent.

The scale of illegal downloads are an issue for businesses such as Foxtel, who have licensing rights to popular content, such as Game of Thrones, and other hit shows which are a big part of their offering to subscribers.

"Illegal downloading is a serious problem that affects more than just Foxtel’s business," a spokesperson for the company said.

"It’s important to understand that it undermines the viability of all creative businesses. it’s not just an issue for businesses it affects the livelihoods of actors, writers, directors, set designers, and everyone else involved in the production of these programs."

The Foxtel spokesperson said the company had been involved in discussions with both sides of politics over policy options to curb piracy rates in Australia.

"The responsibility for combating illegal downloading doesn’t just stop with the government, it’s something that needs to be shouldered by everyone," the spokesperson said.

"Unfortunately, Australian law has fallen behind the rest of the world on this issue, therefore the Government should put in place a regulatory system that encourages legitimate use and discourages illegitimate use of content."

Foxtel also said internet service providers should take more of a role in ensuring their networks, where possible, are not used for these purposes. However, the sites exist in a murky legal framework which makes them incredibly difficult to combat.

The federal Government has raised the possibility it could force ISPs to take more responsibility, by issuing warnings to repeat offenders, and potentially blocking the sites from their network.

In New Zealand the government has the ability to fine a person whose internet connection is used to repeatedly download illegal content, and there is speculation this is an option that could be considered in Australia.

Business Insider has contacted the office of Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull for comment.

Some commentators have pointed out that, while illegal, the rate isn't surprising given how popular these programs are, and the delay between their US and Australian screening.

The situation was summed up perfectly by the comedian Louis CK in an interview last year, when he explained that pirating has become acceptable in Australia because the content is not available through any other channel.

But to be fair, Foxtel has made a significant effort to evolve its offering with shows airing hours after they screen in the US, and available on tablets and other mobile devices.

"Here [the United States] weirdos kind of pirate, there's not that many people who pirate here ... But in Australia mums and dads pirate video, because we're not letting them buy it," he said. "We have shows that have been on the air for like three years, and we won't even give them."

You can hear his full interview below. [Contains strong language]

Originally published on Business Insider Australia



    I just can't dig these dark ages types of shows.

      So from that entire article, that's all you have to say...is that you don't enjoy shows like GoT?

        Yep and that's why I can't understand the desire for some people to pirate(steal) it.

        Last edited 24/06/14 1:48 pm

          I don't particularly like peanut butter, but I really don't have any difficulty understanding that other people do.

    Foxtel expects all Australian’s and those conducting business in Australia (such as ISP’s) to exist and trade exactly how Foxtel demands.. I’m sorry but the world has changed. Media content is so readily available worldwide. We live in a modern world of digital distribution. The demand is there, the willing paying customers are there, the modern service delivery of media content is NOT. We are hit with nothing but restrictions., delay’s and bloated/inflated recommended retail prices for digital media and electronics.

    There is a decreasing interest in receiving media by our current force fed and delayed methods.

    Any forum anywhere on this topic is peppered with people basically saying “Make my content readily available to me when the rest of the world gets it, SHUTUP AND TAKE MY MONEY” however this does not suit Foxtel.

    Piracy is NOT the problem, it is the result of a problem – the problems are the limited distribution, supply chain middle men, inflated retail prices – THEY are the problems. It’s a simple lesson is Cause and Effect.

      Can't up-vote this enough ^_^

      And i admit - im a heavy pirate (excess of 200GB a month) but if like above mention, they made it available like netflix i would quite happily pay the small fee to access content without delays!

      But until that day comes or they take my interwebz away from me i shall continue to defy foxtel!

      Here here! Such an narrow minded view to think piracy is the problem here.. Look at why it's happening, the whole system on Australia belongs in the dark ages... Will pay happily, except when restrictions are placed on what I am allowed to get and when!

      Spot on.

      I've been happily paying for Netflix the last few months compared to my old pirating ways. I helped my brother signup last week and now my mums wants it.

      What's that Foxtel? you don't want to keep up with the ever evolving market but insist people still pay you? Well you can go get fu*ked!

      Australians wouldn't have to download if a) tickets to the movies weren't such a rip off b) you didnt have sit in a theatre with selfish gits with mobile phones glowing as they text thoughout the movie c) tv stations put shows on when they are available not 12/24 months later or never! or interupt shows to put on 20/20 cricket and finally d) foxtel would offer the option to subscribe to SPECIFIC channels not uber expenisve subscriptions just so you can get the ONE channel you want. 'nuff said

    One question, how do they get this figures? I don't think telco or those website will be happily gives these numbers. I bet these are just estimates, based on totally biased method sponsored by foxtel

      Torrent trackers. Some movie distributors sneakily upload the torrent, then track the IP addresses of the downloaders and send cease and desist notice. Encrypting the torrent does help a bit, but only IP routers or VNP services actually mask a users IP address.

      Last edited 20/06/14 6:43 pm

      I would expect a level of nonsense.

      Like the whole, 'Aussies Download GOT more than anyone.' Then you look into it and that is from a couple of websites in the first 12 hours it's online. Which of course takes place in Australia from about 1pm - 1am. Which in somewhere like New york is 11pm - 11am.

      So the time frame is complete bias to pick up Australians. Taking aside everything else, most of the world besides Asia and Australia is asleep for most of that time.

      i only went to piratesofthebay for the ads

    The federal Government has raised the possibility it could force ISPs to take more responsibility, by issuing warnings to repeat offenders, and potentially blocking the sites from their network. Does no one actually use VPN's...? I really don't understand how they can be so sure of those figures unless those they are tracking are just using an open service...! How could they possibly know what people using a VPN service are downloading..? They can see how much but not what...!

    Last edited 20/06/14 1:33 pm

      I don't currently, as there is almost no point. If any pointless laws pass that will change. For now, meh.

        Well as it stands today, a production house can send your ISP a letter to demand you stop downloading pirated content. Your ISP then requests you delete the files and remove the downloading application or they can limit your service. I got one many years ago from Optus. I don't understand the brouhaha over the net laws, they already exist now.

      Enh. I doubt VPN usage is quite as high as in the demographic of gizmodo readers/your own circles of tech-savvy friends.

      Average mum & dad might know to google 'Game of Thrones torrent' thanks to some helpful coaching from their teenager or 'that guy from work who knows this stuff', and maybe have bittorrent or utorrent installed, but installing VPN software and selecting a free provider or paying a subscription?

      Not to mention that the idea of paying money to a VPN might be anathema to the portion of pirates who are pirating purely because they don't want to spend money on... anything. While not as large a section of the pirate demo as might be implied by content-providers, it's definitely non-zero, and I'd wager 'quite high'.

        Heh... That'll change in a hurry if they start their enforcement program... Then what will they complain about, if no one can be tracked..? :)

          Resounding policy success! Bonuses and handjobs all round, media releases crowing about the successful reduction in detected piracy.

    I want to legally purchase my shows. But it's pretty much impossible. I don't have a good enough internet connection to make use of streaming services however downloading a file and waiting until it is done works fine.
    My main reason i pirate though is that I will never subscribe to foxtel just to get access to a couple shows that i would actually want to watch. let me pay to watch a specific show then sure. For game of thrones i always buy the blu ray box sets when they come out for each season so i don't feel guilty.

    "Again, this data does not capture the total volume of downloads, just the total Australian audience for the website. There’s no way of telling how many files each user downloaded."

    Or if they downloaded any at all. Or if any of the content was actually infringing. Or if the same users weren't accessing these sites from different networks.
    Visiting a torrent site does not make one a pirate, nor does simply using a p2p protocol.
    Not that dinosaurs like Brandis would understand that. Numbers are numbers, relevant/accurate or not.

    I like the idea that every time someone downloads a movie it means that the movie studio has lost money. Like how photocopying ended the sale of books, or video tapes stopped people going to the movies, or cassette tapes stopped people buying CDs. Oh wait, allowing people to copy actually grew thosee respective industries.

    “The responsibility for combating illegal downloading doesn’t just stop with the government, it’s something that needs to be shouldered by everyone,” the spokesperson said.
    "Everyone, that is, except the content-producers and distributors who insist on treating Australia as a region ripe for over-charging and delayed releases, hoping that consumers will conveniently ignore the fact that there is a widely-used electronic network capable of distributing digital entertainment data globally, instantly, without cost differences by region," the spokesperson didn't say.

    What these figures demonstrate, more than anything, is that there is enormous demand for popular movies and TV shows in this country.

    It's very clear that something is very wrong with the current legal avenues of accessing this kind of content, for so many people to go through all the hassle of visiting shady internet sites and doing illegal things. And that's what consumers say, time after time, when the issue of piracy is raised.

    Common complaints are:

    1. Access to content requires a specific device. In a world where most consumers have 3 or 4 screens to choose from, that's inconvenient and stupid.

    2. Access to content requires an expensive monthly subscription, often with long contrats and additional fees to access particularly popular shows. Subscriptions are okay as a business model, if they're affordable and offer a wide variety of content. But compared to the Netflix model in the US, the price and range of content available here is poor and over-priced.

    3. Content is poor quality. 1080p is the current industry standard. Deliver that, or be ignored. By all means offer lower-definitiion versions at a reduced price though, but make sure the HD stuff is available.

    4. Content is released weeks or months later than other places in the world. In a world where everyone is connected to the internet, that's stupid and totally unjustifiable. If you can release content in part of the world online, you can just as easily release it everywhere else as well.

    It's true that Foxtel has taken a few steps in the right direction with their Play offering. But it's still restricted to certain devices, the quality isn't as good as other offerings, and the price and range is not even close to what's available in the US.

    Consider this: there are plenty of Australians who are quite willing to pay for Netflix and Hulu Plus subscriptions in the US, plus a paid VPN service to avoid the geo-blocks, in order to get quality content in a timely and affordable manner. That's quite expensive, but it's still better than Foxtel by a fair margin - and it just shows how desperate people are to get this content.

    The first company that gets the mix right here in Australia will be sitting on a gold mine. Most people WANT to do the right thing, and they'd jump at the chance to get this stuff legally. But without decent local offerings here, of course they're going to look for alternatives.

    Hey guys, what's the deal with streaming videos from websites that host them? Is it every bit as illegal as torrenting? Do ISP companies still notice it, and give strikes for it?

      I strongly suspect that no-one knows how it works because the policy-makers went to their boffins and nerds to tell them how it would work, only to find that the engineers had barricaded themselves in their cubicles and were throwing unmentionable substances while shouting, "WE TOLD YOU, IT CAN'T BE DONE, IT WON'T WORK."

      Mentally noting to install more passive-aggressive signs on the cubicles about unmentionable substances, the policy-makers will then turn to google for Online University of Elbonia graduate consultants to provide suggestions plausible enough to write off as 'expert advice' worth blaming should anything go wrong.

      Asses sufficiently covered, they'll head off three hours early to beat the traffic for their boating weekend.

      Neither torrenting nor streaming are illegal. It's all about the source of the file. If you download or torrent or stream a file from an official source, or if the file is not restricted to begin with, then it's all completely legal.

      As for unauthorized sources, however... usually steaming and torrenting are treated the same as far as legal matters are concerned, but in some countries I believe there is a legal difference. It's been reasoned that streamed files are only stored temporarily and thus it isn't the user's intention to keep or distribute unauthorized content. Along the same lines, since p2p involves uploading the files you download, whereas traditional streaming doesn't, some say that p2p is worse and should be treated differently.

      In Australia, I don't believe there's any legal difference. Just a difference in how people will perceive what you say. If you ever did end up on the receiving end, it's a lot easier to claim that you thought a stream was legal; too many people think that all torrents are illegal and that saying you torrented something is an admission of guilt.

      As for strikes and actually getting caught, the two are usually handled very differently.

      Unauthorized streams are usually targeted by DMCA requests, since third parties can't easily monitor who accesses what stream and thus have a harder time tracking down "pirates". It's possible, if your ISP is monitoring you, and the site in question makes it obvious that it's hosting unauthorized content, that you would get a strike.

      Torrents, on the other hand, involve anonymous people sharing files directly. They can't really be taken down, but they can be monitored by outsiders. This means that torrents can be tracked by both your ISP and outside copyright infringement companies.

      In the end, the only way to safely get past your ISP is with a VPN.
      If you're just torrenting, you can get by with a proxy and encryption forced in your torrent client.

    Or perhaps if there was something better on freeview other than MasterMyKitchenHouseBlockLoserRulesVoiceFactorChef people wouldn't resort to downloading as much... Its a case of 'here watch another one of 20 mind numbing reality crap shows we have produced... oh and do it at a time we say is convenient for you'... is it any wonder the rate of torrenting is so high...

      Free view television hasn't changed in like, two decades. Short of to remove the stuff that was actually ok and replace it with your aforementioned "reality" BS.

      I wanted to start a TV channel when the NBN was looking like it would be capable of handling it. But alas, no. IPTV for the masses ruined. =(

    i think half of the downloading is because of availability and part Aussie rebellion giving the middle finger to what they believe in a blatantly unfair system

    Removed. Reply didn't work properly...

    Last edited 20/06/14 3:28 pm

    Real question is , why is no one looking at this huge potential market , seeing how badly Foxtel is at servicing it & jump in . Is it too hard , or has Foxtel got a monopoly ? With the absolute shite that is the majority of Australian free to air , why is it surprising we torrent so much ?

    1. The traffic figures are estimates only, as there is no way to know for sure, and b) it doesn't mean the same number of people actually downloaded anything illegally.

    Therefore, these numbers are meaningless and don't prove a thing. The trouble is they will be jumped on by the anti-piracy lobby and touted as fact.

      Agreed. Accidental site visits would be counted in their data. If I Google for a TV show and accidentally click on a torrent site link and then go back to google, that'd still count as a visit.

      Actually, it'd be nice to know exactly how Neilsen got their data. However, it appears their Australian Connected Consumers Report (I assume that is the one) is hidden behind a AUD$17,215.00 pay wall.

      I guess only those who can afford to will get that report and they'll only release what suits their interest.

      Makes me wonder who paid for that report...

    The while issue in australia is being ignored, australia does not have great affordable access to these things like Netflix or the like, australia had to look at ways to Make content affordable along with other things, it's not that people want to download they want same time access to it as in other countries and at an affordable rate for all to enjoy

    Since I got Netflix/Hulu my pirating has halved. If HBO Go was available for those without the channel they would rake in the cash.

    You can look at it a couple of ways.

    So many people are breaking the law. Or that so many people are doing something, why is it against the law?

    Why is normal behavior of so many people considered illegal?

    Also can we drop this, 'Australia downloads GOT the most' argument. All these reports deal with the first 12 hours the torrents are up. Which starts in the afternoon in Australia, but late at night in the USA and Europe. It is a completely bias selection of time. Simple fact is, Australians are up, able to download and watch that evening. If you were going to downloading it in the USA and Europe, are they going to be doing it in the middle of the night? Early morning? Or the next evening when they get home to watch it. Which is of course out of the selected time.

    Last edited 21/06/14 2:04 pm

    Pfft Foxtel, It's full of adds and you can't choose what you want to watch when you want to watch it. Who could possibly watch a GOT episode and have it broken appart with adds? What If we want to binge watch several episodes? Foxtel is an outdated platform and the only people I know with Foxtel are those who are not in the least tech savy. Might try GooglePlay though, so long as there is a non-streaming option as our internet is not up for hd streaming.

    3 million people wanted to watch GoT without being locked into a Foxtel contracts.
    3 million - 1 actually, i just wanted to play an uncensored version of South Park the Stick of Truth*

    *(disclaimer - in no way shape or form did i download an uncensored version of South Park the Stick of Truth via torrent to get around Australia's censorship laws. The above statement in its entirety is not an admission of guilt and should be taken as complete fiction)

      If we have to start putting disclaimers in our posts, well, I'll see y'all in prison.

      As for South Park, there's a patch to uncensor it IIRC.

    "But to be fair, Foxtel has made a significant effort to evolve its offering with shows airing hours after they screen in the US, and available on tablets and other mobile devices."

    Which is great except that your leaving out that its at the cost of approx 300 dollars for Foxtel Inc game of thrones. Per season. Now I'm not aware of what Foxtel paid HBO to be the sole distributor of GOT until the season ended. However if each episode cost $1 for a HD download the day it was released in the states, then HBO would have made around 3 Million per episode or 30 million per season, and that's just from SOME of the pirate's in Australia.

    Now the larger problem is that foxtel cant handle competition, because it will destroy thier empire.

    If Netflix ( yes i know the less adequate Quickflix and FetchTV etc. are here) was available in Australia you would see Foxtel subscriptions plummet. Its a piracy problem caused by a content distribution problem. Fix the distribution and the piracy goes away.

    Funny how everyone who's pockets AREN'T being lined by the situation can see this but the Governor General cant.

    It would be good if the government could also demand the binary system to stop popping up when mums and dads search for a torrent. And while they are at it stop people spamming me and inforce the no junk mail sign on my letterbox, I'm talking to you Harvey Norman.

    I think that TV Shows and movies should have websites where you can donate directly to them instead of having to overpay because of there being no competition for consumers. This would allow for people to receive content and still let the people who make the media that we love to still make a living.

    Cant you just shut the fuck up about this? Can't you see you are making it worse for people by constantly writing these articles about piracy?

    Those bastards! Ban them all from the internet! Sue them for all they are worth! Lock them all up! We need to send a strong message, if you watch content without advertisements then your life will be ruined!

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now