Despite numerous high-profile attempts to stop the illegal accessing of content, 36,806 adults in Ireland continue to illegally download TV or movies daily.
New research from communications group Core Media shows that 1 in 5 of all adults in the country have downloaded some content illegally over the last 12 months.
The research, conducted across a thousand people also showed that 1 in 3 adults aged between 15 and 24 have downloaded movies or TV illegally in the last 12 months.
However, this is not just confined to younger age groups as 1 in 4 adults aged 25 to 34 have also downloaded TV or movies illegally in the last year. Even adults over the age of 55+ are illegally downloading movies or TV, with 1 in 20 having done so in the last year.
The analysis also looked at how legal download services like Netflix are affecting consumer’s behaviour. Of those who had downloaded video content in the past 12 months, 31% said they are now downloading more material legally than 12 months ago.
Nevertheless, 12% are still downloading more illegal material than before. With the remaining 59% claiming their behaviour had not changed. This is despite a Netflix Irish subscription base estimated at 175,000.
“This research has identified a large cohort of Irish individuals who are still accessing broadcast content illegally, despite government attempts to stop this behaviour. 42% of people are doing so because they can’t get this content elsewhere or they want to see it before their friends. This highlights the importance for broadcasters to time their schedules as close as possible to foreign release dates,” says Nick Fletcher, broadcast director of Core Media.
It is no surprise to see searches for programmes like ‘The Walking Dead’ reduce when it showed the next day following its US premiere. It also highlights to Irish broadcasters the importance of home produced programming. Imported shows are often downloaded, live sport is now ubiquitous across the Internet, but when it comes to home produced programming, viewers have a reason to tune into Irish channels.
Guilty of illegal downloads
Online searches for programmes like ‘Love/Hate’ are consistently lower than those for international programming. Another key factor is distribution. Predictably, the most illegally downloaded TV shows are those on stations with limited penetration in Ireland. ‘Game of Thrones’ for example, is exclusive to SKY Atlantic – which is only available in 46% of Irish homes. It also happens to be the second highest downloaded show after ‘Breaking Bad’.”
Conor Hughes, director of Ignite Research added; “In the past, many people saw illegal downloading as being all about music. However, with increasing broadband penetration and more importantly, increasing speed of broadband we are seeing a large increase in the number of people illegally downloading broadcast content. 40% of our “illegal downloaders” are using torrent sites and other peer to peer networks to obtain television programmes. The two key reasons for this are still the fact that it is free and the easy availability of such content.”
Ed Sheeran and the Arctic Monkeys
In addition to the work conducted by Ignite Research, Core Media have also tracked online search requests to identify what is being requested by Irish adults.
David Mulligan, client director, Search & Analytics at Radical explained; “We ran search trend reports on two of the highest selling music albums of the year, Ed Sheeran and the Arctic Monkeys. We did the same for two of the highest grossing movies – Transformers and the Lego Movie. These were measured with keywords – “download, stream or torrent”. When we compared the results with ‘Breaking Bad’ or ‘Walking Dead’ – the results were startling. TV programmes were 4 times more frequently searched than movies or music. We saw a larger desire for viewers to watch Irish content online or via streaming services rather than downloaded directly – the US shows were more frequently downloaded rather than actually viewed online.
“We have seen the music business attempt to end the piracy business to little effect. However, what they have done is to deliver alternatives for consumers. While there will always be a group of people who will refuse to pay for content, if media companies can offer their programming in multiple ways, across multiple devices, quickly and efficiently the research shows that most people are willing to pay for great entertainment,” says Nick Fletcher, Core Media.