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People who illegally download movies are just as happy to spend money watching them legally


Movie downloading

According to research carried out at the University of Portsmouth those who illegally download movies are more likely to go to the cinema and are happy to pay for movies.

Movie downloaders also cut down their torrenting if they feel like they are actually hurting the industry. They are also, apparently, wealthier than those who steal music and are generally people who like to be at the forefront of technology.

They are also mostly young men, who according to University of Plymouth economists Dr Joe Cox and Professor Alan Collins have the expertise and equipment needed to handle the more complex world of movie downloading.

The results, based on a Finnish survey of 6,100 people, between the ages of seven and 84, suggested that, on average, they had downloaded 90 movies and 2900 music files. Their conclusions were that movie downloaders were less likely to cut back their legitimate spend as a result of downloading and believe they are less likely to be caught than music downloaders.

The conclusions drawn were that the adverts which discourage illegal movie downloads are more effective than those which try to prevent music downloads. In fact, we suspect that the truth is that users like the convenience of downloading movies, and the hassle-free nature of cutting out physical formats. If you have an opinion on why the two are so different, we would love to hear about it in the comments below.


May 6, 2014, 10:08 pm

An interesting post..

Personally (whilst I don’t download) I wouldn’t find a need to do so if the likes of netflicks, love film etc actually got decent media deals in place to provide better content, faster. The content available for download has always been far better then whats available at a cost from these provisioners (so I am told) and much quicker. I would happily pay a provider more money if they offered the content I wanted..when I wanted it. Having worked in the interactive TV business I also know how hard it is to negotiate these deals but if the content providers did better deals with the content provisioners I truly believe there would be less illegal downloading. To get access to everything, you need to be signed up to every online service there is, but downloaders can get this all in one place for far less money. The content creators dig their own graves in my mind! Having said all that..not sure how many 84 year olds are illegally downloading content… my mum, who is far younger struggles to actually send email :-) so in reality how accurate are these stats???

Ian Morris

May 7, 2014, 8:56 am

I've wondered for a long time if the government made "exclusive" deals illegal, how much better media would be in the UK. You would pick your supplier, and they would be able to offer you any movie or TV show. Then prices would be kept in place by competition and everyone would have access to anything.

As for the sample of 7-84, I think that's just the nature of an unbiased selection process.

Gavin Martin

May 7, 2014, 10:11 am

One example that springs to mind - I'd really like to purchase and download Game of Thrones - allegedly the most pirated show going. Unfortunately because HBO and Sky want to keep it exclusive, it's not available through iTunes or other download service to buy, only on DVD & Blu-Ray. I do have Sky Atlantic and so can watch it online but if I want to purchase the whole series via an online format (to negate the need for physical media), I'm out of luck. The industry itself, in the hopes of driving up subscriptions, is cutting off avenues of access (and revenue). The only way to download this show and keep it as far as I know, is through torrents. This doesn't help the consumer or the industry. I've bought it on Blu Ray but I can't take those travelling with me, and that's where the downloaded copy is useful.

Game of Thrones is the most pirated TV show why? Because they won't let people buy it. It's that simple. Not everyone wants a £50 a month cable subscription just to watch one or two shows. HBO in the USA only enables access to the online service for existing cable customers so instead of getting marginal revenue of say $10-$15 per month on people who don't want or need the cable, they miss out by restricting access only to those willing to pay $100+ per month for full cable TV. They are completely tied to old business models.

I'm sure this show is only one example of many which are restricted in this way. I have no interest in subscribing to Blinkbox, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Ultraviolet and all other services - I just want one service with all content when I want it. I'd happily pay a higher fee than the £5.99 Netflix subscription for the convenience of everything in one place, with downloads (funny thing, streaming doesn't work on the Tube or on planes). But content creators are so determined to keep their fences up they make it tougher for consumers - their ultimate source of revenue.

Prem Desai

May 7, 2014, 10:43 am

I can see from comment below (which agree with mine) that whilst people are willing to pay, they simply cannot get what they want without resorting to illegal downloads.

I agree with this. The network really need to sort themselves out and get away from this exclusive deals and release windows nonsense. It's antiquated and only encourages piracy.

This used to happen with software a lot - now we have 'apps' which are either free or cost pennies. Piracy is gone (ok, at least down).

Ian Morris

May 7, 2014, 7:18 pm

Yeah, apps are a great example of how reducing the initial cost can really help sell a product. And MP3s are 80p or 99p too, so it's far more hassle to illegally download them than just simply pay.


May 9, 2014, 1:09 pm

Piracy has helped remove release windows, where movies might take months to be released in the cinema in europe after being released in the states.

Not exactly people power, just movie companies wanting to maximise their profilts. Pity they didn't do it sooner, might've made piracy less of an issue.

Actionable Steps

May 11, 2014, 3:25 am

I just think it's stupid that even over the past 5-8 years as internet speeds have become fast enough to stream movies that the industry as a whole hasn't updated their practice. Instead they make the movies even more expensive to buy and the only streaming services that have anything worth watching will get them 6 months to a year after they are available on DVD.
I know they wanna get their money but where's the consumer choice? Why wait 6 months to a year for a box set of a tv show and pay an extortionate amount for it when you can watch it in 720p the day after it airs for free with the convenience of not having to put a disk in your computer/blu-ray drive/ whatever, and going through all the DVD options boxes to choose which episode to watch. They make it a ton of hassle and you have to pay for it, and if you don't they tell you you're an asshole and try to sue you. They are the assholes for not listening to their consumers, or doing any market research like all respectable companies do.
Once they get their heads out of their asses and do ad supported or subscription based streaming legally this whole problem will go away overnight. Nobody would argue with paying £1 per episode of Game of Thrones, or £4 to own a movie, would they? (rhetorical question)
Someone said recently that they see the future of streaming changing to what quality the broadcast is in. For those who just wanna see it in standard def can get the standard quality for just a few squidoodles, and those who want a 4k copy can pay a higher price. I can see that, but the industry needs to wake up and smell the change - nobody wants to go out and buy a disk anymore. People want to support the industry and they want to pay a reasonable price for a convenient product.

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